Abstract Thinking ► 31 ► [31.06] - Anupreksha of Tolerance - Criterion of Religiousness

Posted: 30.08.2007

The first criterion of a religious person is tolerance - the capacity to put up with a particular situation. He never tries to avoid pain or hardship. The person who demands not to be disturbed in any way extinguishes all possibility of achievement. Will the law of nature or the law of karma send change for him? A religious person never wishes to subvert the truth.

The world is all conflict. The Sanskrit word, dwandw, has two connotations - It means 'two' and it also means 'conflict'. Wherever there are two persons, conflict is bound to be. To be born in this dualistic world and to expect that a man should never experience pain, a hostile predicament or hardship! It is just not possible. To think in terms of a life totally free from conflict is sheer idiocy.

If even a religious person is subject to suffering, what is the utility of religious? Such a question might arise. The answer is very clear. Religion affords a man’s power to bear pain. When confronted with suffering, a religious person does not wail or cry, on the contrary, he accepts it with joy. The religious person is as much subject to disease, old age and death as the non-religious. The only difference is that the non-religious person laments and whines in pain, even to the extent of waking up the neighbour; whereas the religious person bears it calmly. The others do not even come to known that he is in pain. Kundanmalji Swami's is a case in point. He suffered from a painful wart. The doctor said it must be incised. Chowthmalji Swami began the operation with a scissors. Kundanmalji kept sitting like a statue, without anaesthetic. He said, "Chouthmalji! Kindly cut it off at one go!" How does one find the energy to bear things calmly! Those who learn to discriminate between the body and the soul, who come to realize that the body and the soul are different from each other, develop the power of tolerance.

Once I said to my mother, Sadhvi Baluji, "It is good that you tell beads. Now add this much to your recitation - "The soul is different from the body and the body is different from the soul." She rasped this point very well indeed. Whenever I visited her and asked how she was, she would say,"I have no disease, am perfectly all right and enjoy utmost peace." I said, "But is it not a denial of truth to say one is well when one is not?" She said, "No. The truth is that my soul is at peace. It is the body which is diseased, not I."

She used to tell other sadhavis - "Now we have no dependence upon one another. You are on your own and I am on mine!"

Giving man the secret of a happy life, Bertrand Russel said - "Only that man is happy who does not abruptly cut off his relationship with other people and does not allow it to become strained. The man who respects another person's individuality and takes joy in establishing intimacy with the whole of human society is always happy."

The creation of such a state of mind is possible only on the basis of tolerance. Only the person, who knows how to endure whatever happens, can reach the great ideal of forgiveness. The secret behind the success and sweetness of collective life is - tolerance. In the seventeenth century the family of the then minister Ochisan had become very famous throughout Japan on account of their goodwill - it was an enlightened family of a hundred people. The tradition of the joint family had prevailed for years. There had never been a single instance of mutual rancour on account of petty differences. Emperor Yamato of Japan came to hear of their renown and it aroused in him great wonder. In order to find out the secret of his family's renown the Emperor paid a visit to the Minister' house. The goodwill of the family was really astounding. The Emperor expressed his curiosity about the spirit of extraordinary love and friendship pervading the family and wanted to know the cause thereof. The eldest person in the family had grown very old. Because of extreme old age, he could not even speak. He made a sign, requisitioning pen and paper and when these were given, he wrote on the paper a single word - ‘Tolerance’!

Tolerance is the consummation of forgiveness. Here. the question of age does not arise. The elderly people treat the young with forbearance and the young treat their elders likewise. In this mutual forbearance, no obligation is involved; it only inspires respect for oneself.

Tolerance of others because of self-interest is no loving forbearance, but helplessness.

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