When I have the power of tolerance, I automatically claim everyone’s blessings. All other powers naturally follow and enable me to carry out my work peacefully, whilst giving and receiving blessings. – Dadi Janki
November 16 is the UN International Day of Tolerance. Between now and the end of the year, we are issuing an invitation to youth, young adults, and emerging young leaders to participate with us in a season of experiments with values. We will begin in September by exploring the value of peace, in October by exploring Nonviolence and in November by we will explore Tolerance. We will finish the year off by exploring Human Rights in December by using the value of Dignity.
Tolerance doesn’t mean you let people walk on you…it’s smiling as you pass through challenges on the way to your dreams. It’s appreciating the beauty of the tree instead of complaining that it’s 100 degrees. Tolerance is loving the people around you through their toughest moments (including yourself). It’s accepting people as they are instead of expecting them to be superstars. But when boundaries have been stepped on and your dignity is at stake, tolerance knows your worth and steps in to draw its lines. Tolerance sees a stepping-stone in every moment and a chance in every challenge.
- From the Spotlight Values Teen Facilitator Guide
Self-realization is to know ‘who am I’. When I understand and experience who am I, then I am able to connect to others from this deep spiritual meaning of life and relationships. To realize myself as a soul, a spiritual being is to feel my own uniqueness. And even though I share universal core values of peace, love, purity, happiness, and truth, the way I express them in my life is unique to who I am. This realization enables me to understand that this is the same for others. Self-realization is the first step in expressing the value of tolerance. Because I am aware of my own uniqueness, I am therefore able to tolerate the uniqueness of others. Tolerance gives others the space and permission to be who they are without judgment or comparison. Tolerance also gives me the space, permission, and courage to be who I am while living in an interdependent world.
With the increasingly rapid changes in society today, there has never been as great a need as there is now to exercise tolerance.
Religious tolerance, cultural tolerance, tolerance towards the weather, to globalization, to wealth inequality… the list is endless. And what about those small events at home or in the office that press our buttons? The dishwasher remaining un-emptied, that tea cup left unwashed by your colleague, or the water cooler humming away as you try to meditate… all these and more, in fact anything and everything, can become a reason to create havoc in the mind if one has not mastered the ‘power’ of tolerance.
To tolerate sounds like a tedious, tiresome task. The term has been degraded over time to imply a struggle, suffering, or a battle to be endured. Some believe that to tolerate means to become a doormat… but this is far from the case when we develop real ‘toleration power’.
The power to tolerate means to remain seated in self respect and to not give power away to a situation or a person and thereby hurting oneself. It’s about being a master and choosing an appropriate peaceful response, rather than being a ‘slave’ who is pushed and pulled around by circumstances, feeling agonised and out of control.
It is therefore logical to say that it is not the situation itself that is the problem, but rather one’s inability to deal with it that creates a feeling of weakness or intolerance. For example, the sound of the ticking clock is not the real problem for the yogi, but without the power of tolerance it will seem to irritate as we sit to meditate, yet it is our inability to shut out that sound that creates the negative, uncomfortable feelings of intolerance. Similarly we cannot blame language or dialect when our communication with others breaks down; perhaps it’s our lack of patience.
One who has mastered the power of tolerance presides over the situation, and will not create extra, unnecessary, thought about the person (who might be messy), or the event (which may be being delayed), or the thing (the car breaking down) instead he will be the detached observer; not caught up in fixing things, but accepting the flow of the drama, and the roles of all the fellow actors. To want to change something in the drama of life means to change the master script and that key is only in the hands of the One!
The yogi, as a master, knows to be free from expectation and judgement; nothing is right or wrong… it just is. So accept ‘what is’ first of all, and then move on from there. It’s not all about being passive. Yes, we may have to take some corrective action – but if this is done from a place of tolerance and love, it will be much more effective than anger and condemnation.
As the master learns not to react but stay silent, he is also freeing himself from his ego and his karmic debts. To shout back in return to someone’s bitter words will only intensify the bondage of karma. To step back instead of jumping ‘out’ takes courage and self-respect.
To take it one step further, the master will see but not see, hear but not hear; he will be in a state of equanimity (and indifferent). And that is when he knows he is beyond. The drama is perfect… he is at complete peace, in complete calm, and his responses will be ones of compassion, understanding, and love, even in the face of criticism, much like the tolerant mother who continues to forgive and give.
It’s time… to disengage from our egos and take a good look at ourselves, knowing that the solution to our own intolerance lies within us. If we care enough for our self, then it’s time to develop compassion and self respect. Cultivate more peace within, and peace with others. That way we won’t even feel that we’re tolerating, but that life’s a game and whilst playing… we always have fun!