Tolerance is often termed as Sahan-Shakti. The name itself defines tolerance to be a power of the self. But today it is often disguised to be a weakness. We have heard people saying ‘why should we tolerate this…..’ and also ‘a person who tolerates is treated as a doormat’ etc. It has become a common understanding that Tolerance no more works in the world today. This is a result of shallow understanding of the real meaning of tolerance.
In today’s world joint families have shrunk down to nuclear families and now even a couple finds it difficult to manage with each other. What has changed? On one hand resources have increased, on the other hand education and science has progressed. World has become very small in terms of communication but it is vice-versa when we talk of relations. This is due to lack of tolerance. The mere reason behind breaking a relationship is the lack of the power of tolerance. That is why we hear people saying ‘I could not tolerate, so had to leave…’, whether be it family or profession. Then we search for counselors. It is not that we do not have the will to tolerate, but that we have forgotten the art of tolerance. If only we could learn the trick once again by introducing spirituality inour lives, we would again be capable enough to use the power of tolerance to withstand any situation whether in our personal, professional or social life.
So, let us figure out what tolerance is, how can it be used as a power and how can we practically implement the power of tolerance?
1. Understanding Tolerance
Tolerance does not merely mean not saying anything, not opposing or keeping ones mouth shut when something against our understanding happens or someone shouts at us. This is only an incomplete understanding of Tolerance.
What happens outside in our behavior is not the primary demonstration of tolerance, but what is happening inside decides how tolerant one is. For example, if we are being abused by a person and we do not shout back, can we say that we are tolerant? Before judging whether we are or not, we need to see what is going on inside. It doesn’t matter if our mouth is shut, but what if we are shouting at that person from inside, not speaking a word but abusing the person by creating negative thoughts for that person? Can we still be called tolerant? The answer is no. This is because, by not responding at that moment and creating negative thoughts, we are only postponing our response. These negative thoughts shall accumulate inside and whenever that person will again come in front of us and if the situation is in our favour, the entire accumulated negativity shall burst out. This explosion of the negativity that was already there inside, will not only spoil the communication and relation between the two but would also adversely affect our own mind.
So tolerance in the real sense means not getting disturbed by any situation, words or actions of others and reflecting the same thing outside, naturally. Let’s find out the means to do this.
2. The Art of Acceptance
For being stable from inside, there is a pre-requisite called the Power of Acceptance. The more we accept, the more we can tolerate. Tolerance does not mean accepting something forcibly. Anything done by force is temporary and as soon as the force is removed, situation or thought process comes back to the way it was. So tolerance can only be permanent when it is done on the basis of acceptance.
Our response internally or physically is not dependent only upon external factors, but is primarily dependent on the amount of acceptance we have for the situation or for the other person. We have many examples of this in our day to day life. For example, if any adverse situation, which was already expected, comes in front of us, we have a greater amount of tolerance for it because we have already prepared ourselves to accept whatever is going to happen. Taking another example, a mother has a very high range of acceptance for her child and so in any event if there are chances of harm to the child then in order to protect him she can easily be seen demonstrating the power of tolerance beyond ones imagination. In that situation, a mother would never even feel that she has tolerated so much, because she is doing it for someone with which she has ‘unlimited affection’. So we can say that prior knowledge of a situation and unlimited affection helps us tolerate situations and leads to the power of tolerance by increasing our acceptance. In the later part we shall see the details of both of them.
But only having the keys is not sufficient. In order to open the lock, we need to use the key. Today the problem lies with the fact that we do not even want to accept each other or situations as they are. On our list of ‘want to change’ our name is unfortunately always on the last. Everyone wants the other person to change first. This leads to misunderstandings, complains, dissatisfaction and ultimately stressed minds and relations. It is high time we need to understand this very clearly that until ‘we’imbibe real unlimited affection and make acceptance a natural nature, tolerance would not be an easy thing to practice, and without the power of tolerance, no family or team shall be able to sustain forever.
3. Changing our mindset
Whenever we are interacting or working with people, we often see others with reference to ourselves. The more they are like us, the more is the acceptance and vice-versa.
So, we first need to realize and have clear knowledge about who each one of us are. We are not the names, the faces, the skin color or the religion that we carry. We are living energies called souls driving this body. We all carry different names, faces and identities. No two individuals on this earth have the exact same identity. Nature has created all of us differently. It is a law. Then have we ever thought why we wish others to be like us? Why this false expectation beyond the natural rule? We are different, because we are meant to be different. But the irony is that we are unable to tolerate this difference.
When we say that ‘my nature is not like that…’ we are actually talking about our sanskaars. As souls, we have developed these sanskaarsthroughout the journey of our many births. Since each soul has been through a different journey, hence the sanskaarsare different. We think, speak and act according to our sanskaars. Hence no two souls can think and act in the same way. Our only job is to match the sanskaars, synchronize with others and move forward. Like in a movie, we have a hero, a villain and all kinds of actors. We never get angry on the villain, instead we appreciate the wonderful role of a villain played by that actor. If the role of all the actors is the same, will anyone want to see the movie? Will there be any enjoyment left? Also if all are heroes with no villain, will that movie be interesting. Similarly, in life, each one of us has our own roles according to our sanskaars.
We in original form are embodiments of peace, love, purity, happiness, bliss, knowledge and power; and so is each and every soul. We have come with these qualities inbuilt and the purpose of life is to experience all of these. Each and every one of us today are on the same quest to attain these qualities. When we are in the awareness of who we are and what is our real identity, only then can we understand and see others in their true identity and only then can we appreciate,that whatever each one of us are doing, we are only heading towards a common goal i.e. to fill our lives with these qualities. Having this awareness is the means to having unlimited acceptance for everything and everyone.The more we remain in this stage called the soul-conscious stage; where we remain in the awareness of being a soul and see others as soul;we shall automatically start understanding others behavior and there shall be no space for any ill feelings. Such elevated consciousness is the soil where flowers of love and acceptance flourish. This love and acceptance is then unconditional, non-expecting, unbiased and by all means universal and unlimited.
Hence understanding that we all are part of a wonderful drama with different roles but same goals, we can admire the role of each and every individual, fading out the differences. It is then that we shall imbibe unlimited acceptance for each and every person and situation, hence increasing the power of tolerance.
4. Practicing Soul- Consciousness
We have seen above that practicing soul-consciousness is the means to accept and tolerate. The basic definition of soul-conscious stage is being aware that we are soul and others are also souls. But is mere awareness enough? Although awareness is the first step towards a soul-conscious stage, but more important is the practice of it. Being soul conscious means to constantly practice the original qualities of the soul discussed above. Every thought, word and action of a soul-conscious person is filled with peace, love, purity, happiness… etc. But in order to maintain these qualities even in adverse situations, we need to make them a part of our day to day life. For example, a student can perform well and pass in an examination only if he has prepared himself well before the exam. Same way if we do not practice soul consciousness constantly, we shall not be able to make it our natural nature or ‘sanskaar’ and then again in case of a situation we shall land up having to tolerate superficially.
The tool to practice this stage is Rajyog Meditation. Hearing the word ‘meditation’ we often think of a person sitting in silence in a disciplined posture and concentrating on something. Rajyoga Meditation is way beyond this physical practice. It is not a method but a way of life. It is not just limited to regaining focus or to experience peace, but it means to constantly be a master of every thought, word and action. Like a master has the full rule over his servants, similarly Rajyog Meditation helps us to naturally practice our original nature of divine qualities.