Tolerance comes by meditating on not just matter’s ephemerality but also spirit’s eternality
Tolerance is a great power that enables us to keep small things small so that we can focus on big things.
How can we increase our capacity to tolerate? By contemplating that difficult situations are temporary. The Bhagavad-gita (2.14) urges us to tolerate by knowing that all physical sensations and the mental emotions thereof are time-bound – they begin and end.
Significantly, this Gita verse about tolerance is preceded by a reminder of our spirituality (02.13), and succeeded by an assurance that those who tolerate the ephemeral realize the eternal (02.15). These framing verses point to a more positive purpose for tolerating – not just the ephemerality of material things, but also the eternality of spiritual reality that can be attained by tolerating material things. When we contemplate the eternal fruit of realizing our spirituality, temporary inconveniences become much more bearable.
In fact, tolerance offers us an even bigger fruit: realizing not just our eternality, but also our relationship with the supreme eternal being, Krishna. He is our greatest well-wisher (05.29) – he accompanies us in our hearts and orchestrates things for our ultimate wellbeing.
To help us contemplate on Krishna, the Gita outlines the process of bhakti-yoga. When we practice bhakti-yoga, we sense that whatever our difficulties, Krishna is always ready to shelter us. Moreover, as we appreciate his omni-benevolence, we start seeing difficulties in a new light: not just as pointless difficulties to be borne by gritting our teeth, but as purposeful opportunities provided for our ultimate spiritual elevation. This fresh vision makes tolerance much easier.
Additionally, when we absorb ourselves in Krishna amidst difficulties, we get relief and strength, thereby further enhancing our capacity to tolerate.
Ultimately, if we steadily absorb ourselves in Krishna, our tolerance of the material transforms into our transcendence of the material.
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