Having Tolerance Renders Us Tolerable
Love doesn’t require that everything is “as it should be”. The actual reality is that everything is completely “as it should be” but we see with biased psychological filters, fears and fallacies.
Tolerance: without it, we're pretty much useless to others.
The idea of austerity is, in principle, voluntarily taking on discomfort for the benefit of ourselves and others. Physical austerity is one thing, but as we mature in life, we should naturally develop some psychological resilience. This is not possible without a philosophical framework that starts with a ‘detached identity’ from the mind and body. Such an outlook is only theory until we have been blessed with an ‘attached identity’ in a positive sense in service to God.
In the ancient Vedic text Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (Bhāgavata Purāṇa), Kapiladeva explained to his mother Devahuti:
titikṣavaḥ kāruṇikāḥ suhṛdaḥ sarva-dehinām
ajāta-śatravaḥ śāntāḥ sādhavaḥ sādhu-bhūṣaṇāḥ
“The symptoms of a sādhu (saint) are that he is tolerant, merciful and friendly to all living entities. He has no enemies, he is peaceful, he is guided by the sacred texts, and all his characteristics are sublime.”
Most people who can be bothered reading this have already been blessed, to different degrees, with experience in such a positive identity in loving service to God. However, I have yet to find a devotional community with a very established sense of tolerance towards others. It’s one thing when a guest shows up to a program and expresses doubts. That’s easy. We can even pride ourselves in being able to assuage such concerns by sharing our realisations and convincing philosophical presentations. It’s easy to see through such understandable hesitations and nurture someone’s yearning for spiritual truth.
What about when someone has been practising devotional life for some time and then starts to express some major doubts about certain aspects of philosophy or lines of authority? That’s when things, from my experience, can get pretty vicious. Someone may have made progress in cultivation of their own faith to the point of feeling fearless to have an honest look at what they really accept and don’t accept. When they’ve reached a point of being open to others about this, they can, sadly, be thrown to the curb. This is hard on the heart, and I seriously doubt that it's in any way pleasing to God. It’s like we’re afraid of that quality of independent thinking in ourselves. This is evidence that our faith is so weak that we practically conjure a threat to it so that we can rally against it. This doesn’t get us anywhere on the road to self-realisation.
I don’t want to be this sort of shallow practitioner who lives in an imaginary combat zone trying to defend ideas and swing swords at windmills. Love knows better than this and doesn’t require that everything is “as it should be”. The actual reality is that everything is completely “as it should be” but we are putting our psychological filters, fears and fallacies on how we interpret the situation.
Someone close to me called me a “fucking cunt” a few years ago. I admit, this was hard for my ego to take, and I reacted in a regrettable way. But I didn’t give up on this person and push them out of my life. Part of me wanted to, but some ideas from beyond myself helped me to reframe it in a positive light. I prayed for a higher perspective, and I was given one, which I’ll share with you below. Recently, they gifted me with about a tonne of Rimu (an excellent hardwood) to help me build my house. I’m sure we’ll have friction in the future, and I pray that I can keep this perspective:
The purpose of their lives is the same as mine: to learn how to love God.
Loving God, whether we squirm away from it or not, involves the purifying process of learning how to love ALL of his creation, most especially other people.
If I am actually going to be of any value to this person in their learning how to love, they have to see and experience my love for them.
This means a high degree of accepting what I can’t change, seeing through the temporary or maybe even semi-permanent issues and making sure they have plenty of evidence that I not only love them, but that they are loveable.
To get bent out of shape every time I feel dishonoured by someone will end up with me sitting in the forest alone. I may even ‘find my bliss’, but I won’t be of much value to others and won’t be setting much of an example. Also, the mosquitoes and flies will dishonour me according to my karma.
Suburban Mysticism is free, but if you feel inspired and want to share some love, consider buying Ekendra a broccoli.
No part of this text was generated with artificial intelligence; just “flawsome” human thoughts here … with, of course, homage to The Algorithm that abides over us all.
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