Imperience - Centre for Research and Training in P.A.M

Pujya Babuji Maharaj Birthday Celebrations 2006 Talks - Tolerance by Sri. T. Ramanathan



Revered & Respected Brothers and Sisters,

My Humble Pranams. On this auspicious occasion of the 107th Birthday Celebrations of Our Revered Master Pujya Sri Babuji Maharaj, I am happy and grateful that I got an opportunity to express some of my thoughts related to the virtue of “TOLERANCE”.

What is Tolerance ?

Generally we all understand Tolerance as “To put up with”. That means to put up with ideas, concepts, methods, practices, and their purposes with which we do not have agreement. The field of disagreement can be many or rather in all the fields namely, physical, emotional, mental, intellectual, political, cultural & religious, and spiritual. Some of the meanings given in dictionaries for tolerance are:

The capacity for (or) the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others.
The capacity to endure hardship or pain.
The disposition to allow freedom of choice and behavior.
A disposition to tolerate or accept people or situations.
A disposition to yield to the wishes of someone.
The act of tolerating something.
An inclination to tolerate or overlook opposing or shocking opinions or behavior.

Tolerance is accepting that another person has ideas different from yours and they have every right to believe strongly about it just as you believe strongly about yours. Tolerance does not mean accepting or vehemently opposing, but bear it or ignore it.

TOLERANCE – A Virtue and its Value

That tolerance is a virtue is a fact that is felt and accepted universally. It promotes harmony, as it is not only putting up with, but respecting the beliefs and practices of others. With reference to religions, even in one faith, there are many divisions with different concepts and beliefs. Each one has its own philosophy that has many differences with each other. Some even diametrically opposite. In each one of these divisions, there exists further subdivisions or sub sects with many differences amongst them. No religion is free of this. Inspite of these differences, if we are able to live in peace and harmony, it is only because of Tolerance. In fact, all the countries in the world rightly admired India for this great virtue.

It is only tolerance that helps us to gain the next virtue of co-operation. If everybody has the same or similar concepts or ideas or goals, practices and attitudes, then the very word co-operation itself may not have any meaning. It goes to say that one has to co-operate with others even though they may not be in agreement with him in order to maintain a peaceful and an overall growth-enabling environment for the society. Otherwise there can be no harmony and peace. In short, Tolerance is the suffering and the flowers are harmony and peace.

Tolerance enables us to look into the viewpoint of others and appreciate the good and the right in them. It also helps one to grow over oneself and understand that like oneself, everyone also has his right to freedom. Tolerance not only leads us to see the viewpoint of others, but also the circumstances that forced them to arrive at that viewpoint. It is because of this, one is able to express the virtues of forbearance, sympathy and empathy. And out of that are born the great virtues of Forgiveness, Compassion, Sharing, and Sacrifice. The development of these virtues is not limited to one’s own clan but Unconditional and Universal. Therefore, I feel bold to say that Tolerance is not only a Virtue but the Mother of all Virtues.

Tolerance – Its value in Sadhana

Spirituality is a word that is not understood correctly by many. They think that if one goes regularly to temples, participates in bhajans and discourses and performs religious rituals, then he is considered to be spiritual. Persons who do some tantric tricks are also considered to be spiritual. As against this, one of the definitions of Spirituality given by our Master Pujya Babuji Maharaj is “Spirituality is a sort of feeling or consciousness of the Highest. It is the doorway to enter into Divinity, Pure and Simple, i.e., the Highest Evenness all along.” [Pg. 157, SDG 3rd Edn.]. Therefore, it is necessary for one to get rid of those things that create noise inside him so that he gets into a State of Silence, which alone can help him to feel the Highest Evenness or Divinity, which is the Subtlest. To feel the subtlest, we have to become subtle ourselves.

In order to move into the state of feeling the Highest Evenness, in other words the presence of the Divine in the heart and identifying oneself with That, the spiritual practices are undertaken. In our system we begin with meditation. What we do in meditation is to give the suggestion of the presence of Divine Light without Luminosity in the heart once and then ignoring whatever thought that rises. Rev. Sir remarked in one of the letters to an abhyasi that “Learning to Ignore thoughts is another definition for meditation in our system”. This is what is Tolerance, as one of its definitions is, “to put up with or to ignore the disagreeable” and here in meditation any thought other than the Divine Light is not acceptable.

We are also asked to maintain a waiting attitude for the Divine in meditation. That alone is etiquette before the divine. One cannot have any sort of demands but has to patiently wait. This waiting also can be called as Tolerance.
Thus, in a way, we begin our Sadhana with the practice of Tolerance.

Rev. Sir has also expressed once that “Tolerance does not mean acceptance”. We may tolerate many ideas and behaviors of others but that does not mean that we accept them as right. All that we do is just ignore them. Any forceful rejection of the same, which is what is termed as Intolerance, will lead to anger, resistance, hatred, and violence. These things will spoil the peace, harmony and balance. This is what will happen if we entertain thoughts by way of resisting them during our meditation. That is why Rev. Master has given us Tolerance as the only way that is to stay indifferent to the thoughts that arise during meditation by asking us to treat the thoughts as uninvited guests.

Some are of the opinion that it is difficult if not impossible to maintain this tolerance or indifference and meditate in an already disturbed and perturbed atmoshpere. Once to such a query to an abhyasi, Rev. Sir expressed that by assiduously cultivating an attitude of indifference (tolerance), we will be able to meditate and pray in any environment.

By developing the right attitudes in our Sadhana with the support of Pranahuti, when we proceed in meditation, we gain Viveka. Viveka is identifying the real and the unreal, the temporary and the permanent, the good and the bad, then the capacity to ignore successfully the bad and the unreal develops. In other words, when we mature in Knot-1, our tolerance and patience gains maturity. Rev. Sir has also expressed that the highest Viveka is what is Vairagya and that is the attachment to the REAL or the MASTER. So we can understand that the value of Tolerance in Spiritual Sadhana is indispensable and without it there can be no progress.

Nothingness is taken as the goal in our system. That means we have to empty ourselves. In other words, we have to get rid off all our thoughts, ideas, notions, and concepts that are buried in us. This is what happens to us during our meditations during which time, these various ideas rise up to leave us. If at that time we deal with these thoughts, either by enjoying them or by forcefully resisting or suppressing them, we do not then allow these things to leave us. The only way during that time that will help our purpose is to ignore or tolerate them. This method continues till the end until we become totally empty. That is why in our system the method is the same from the beginning to the end.

While proceeding thus on the meditative path, we begin to understand that these thoughts and ideas are mostly related to the external life. That is, meeting the personal needs, the dealings with others, and our desires and imaginary projections which are all related to sensory perceptions. In order to reduce the load of these impressions, we have to prevent them from entering into our consciousness. It is for this purpose, we have to be tolerant in our life in all aspects.

Intolerance allows negative attachments, thereby providing an entry for these inputs adding to the existing contents. To become empty, we have to do two things, firstly we have to throw out what is already in us, and secondly to prevent outer things to enter into us. The practices of meditation on Points A & B in PAM is mainly for this purpose. Moreover, it is only in this system alone, we get the Pranahuti which is indispensable in developing the Viveka essential for developing Tolerance which in turn helps us in emptying the content of our consciousness as well as preventing further accumulations.

We understand, in our system, that in order to become empty to reach the goal of Nothingness, we have to get rid of the samskaras. These samskaras come to us for bhog in the form of miseries and sufferings, which can be due to:

Our wrong doings.
Ill health, poverty, etc.
Adverse actions of fellow human beings
Natural Calamities

These things cause considerable pain and hardships. When such samskaras come to bhog, we have to exercise tolerance towards them. Otherwise, we will be creating more samskaras and defeat the purpose of emptying ourselves. It is for this purpose Rev. Lalaji Maharaj used to say,

"Our home is the training ground of patience and endurance. To endure calmly the adversities of a household life is for us the greatest penance which is the noblest of all other forms of penances. What we have, therefore, to do under the circumstances is not to give way to the feeling of anger or grief but to assume an unquestioning attitude thinking that we ourselves are in the wrong for which we have to forbear with a cool mind. Solitary life in a forest and aloofness from all worldly concerns may be, to some, the means of cultivating patience and forbearance but to us, the taunts and rebukes of our friends and relations is the greatest penance and the surest means of success". In fact, to put up coolly with miseries and troubles contributes much to our betterment, hence they are valuable assets to our progress. It is only by their wrong use that we spoil their effect and thus get deprived of their best advantages. [DR-29, 30]

This emphasizes the value of Tolerance and its indispensability in practicing the 5th and 7th Commandments effectively. This signifies the value of tolerance in achieving our goal.

The Viveka that we develop gradually makes us feel the dependency on Master more and more, thereby leading us to a state where we not only tolerate the faults of others, but also forgive, forget and pray to the Master for their transformation. This kind of prayer grows from the level of praying for an individual or for a few, to praying for the entire humanity. This is the kind of service or participation in the Divine Endeavor. This is how we get transformed from animal to human to the Divine.

The life of the Masters of the Order reveals the virtue of Tolerance they expressed in their lives. Rev. Lalaji Maharaj was a big Zamindar, lost all of his 532 villages including the house in which he was living. He had to live a life in poverty. Yet, he tolerated all these and said, “These are all nothing in comparison to reality”. In the life of Pujya Babuji Maharaj, he displayed Tolerance and Compassion to a person who made his life miserable in the court where he worked. In the case of Rev. Dr. KCV, he put up with the discriminative treatment meted out to him in the University where he was working. His juniors superceded him and were given promotions. His salary was reduced to half. Yet he continued in the service tolerating all these ridicules as he considered Reality more than anything else. These are a very few of many such instances in their lives. I would request all to go through the stories of their lives, which will be an inspiration for all of us to aspire for the virtues displayed by the Great Masters.

I wish to conclude by saying that tolerance is an indispensable virtue that has to be developed by one and all. It ensures the birth and development of all other virtues and helps us to progress on the Natural Path, with the support of Pranahuti and the Blessings and the Grace of the Master.

My Humble Pranams.