Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A Reflection on Tolerance


Tolerance means to endure, to remain the same, to not get upset and lose your composure, to not be thrown into disorder, in a turmoil. You see, it is actually possible to deal with issues without getting all perturbed by them. You just acknowledge the problem and deal with it, to the best of your ability under the present circumstances and conditions.

The world, life itself, is full of reasons to get disturbed about. This seems to be the very nature of this world. People you meet, your work, the school system, the health care, the government, the dynamics of your growth and development, the weather... you name it, and there are always reasons to get irritated about. The world simply ain't perfect. We are not perfect. As I see it, you really have one choice, to be disturbed about every thing you find to your inconvenience, or to choose not to. Our frustrations are a function of our expectations. Better not entertain unreasonable expectations. Problems are there, go on with your life.

Anxiety arrives from thoughts like, ”Why is this happening? I don't want this to be happening!” In other words, opposing and resisting the inevitable. But as one person put it, "You might feel the situation is unfair, you might find yourself in a dilemma, but just remember, all the people and factors involved are simply playing out roles in the play YOU wrote." A sobering thought. That's accepting responsibility. In the words of Srila Prabhupada, ”Don't become angry at the instrument of your own karma.”

I'm not saying that we should adopt a laissez-fair attitude in life. We only have to learn to choose our battles more wisely. Because if you're going to get all worked up every time something goes wrong, well, be prepared to be incinerated, since there is no end to causes of disturbance around you. We can and we should work on improving and amending what's wrong, but we don't have to get emotionally and mentally invested with every single problem, or any problem for that matter. Keep a cool head. By not spending that much energy on getting disturbed about why something is the way it is, saves us energy and mental composure for actually dealing with the issue at hand, if we so choose to.

And finally, don't forget to remember all that's already right with your life, with the world, with the people around you. Focus on the things you really want. The Yoga Sutras say that it is the conditioned nature of the mind to compulsively focus on what's bad, on the negative. So we have to exercise some willpower, some proactivity in order to turn our attention and focus on what's good, and in this way come to rest more and more in gratitude and contentment.

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