Vaisesika Dasa: As with practitioners of other skills, those who consciously take up the practice of tolerance develop a greater capacity for it.
Unlike the practice of many other talents however, to practice tolerance one needn’t go anywhere or buy anything, as ample opportunities to exercise one’s toleration muscle come unsought.
A first step in the practice of tolerance is to prepare oneself to welcome disturbances when they arise.
As the Dalai Lama puts it, “In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher.”
Acting on such sage advice, once while my friend and Godbrother, Satyadeva Prabhu and I were touring through Japan, we were obligated by circumstance to travel for many hours in a car alongside an unruly child. At first, we both felt frustrated and disturbed. However, when we decided to take our encounter as a chance to practice tolerance, we felt relief and soon, we were both smiling after nicknaming our restless prepubescent travel mate, “guruji.” At the end of the trip, we both thanked guruji for teaching us tolerance.
In the Gita, Lord Sri Krishna lists tolerance among nineteen other vital elements on the path to spiritual knowledge. (Bg. 13. 8-12)
One who practices tolerance gains a unique perspective to see how circumstances come and go and also sees that he or she is not the master of them. Admitting that I am not the supreme controller is not only foundational to advancing in spiritual life; it is also a great relief.
Some synonyms for the word tolerance are: open-mindedness, broad-mindedness, forbearance, liberality, patience, charity, and understanding. (Sounds nice, right?)
Try greeting the day with a determined aim to tolerate some unfavorable news, a difficult person, or some awkward circumstance. Not only will you be surprised at how many opportunities you’ll get, you may also be stunned by the spiritual insight you gain just from this one simple practice.
Those who practice tolerance not only become spiritually wise, they also please Krishna.
“The Lord is very satisfied with His devotee when the devotee greets other people with tolerance, mercy, friendship and equality.” (SB 4.11.13)
“One who is not envious but is a kind friend to all living entities, who does not think himself a proprietor and is free from false ego, who is equal in both happiness and distress, who is tolerant, always satisfied, self-controlled, and engaged in devotional service with determination, his mind and intelligence fixed on Me-such a devotee of Mine is very dear to Me.” (BG 12.13-14)