Tolerance means to call off our war with reality
Tolerance is sometimes equated with weakness and passivity. But it is actually the basis for strength and dynamism. Tolerance essentially means that when faced with unpleasant situations, we don’t let our energy be wasted in denial and resentment. Fighting the reality of the problem with denial and resentment is always a lost cause.
The Bhagavad-gita (02.14) urges us to tolerate the dualities of pleasure-pain just as we tolerate the dualities of heat-cold, knowing that they are temporary. And yet the Mahabharata of which the Gita is a part describes palaces with comfortable ventilation and shelters for travelers worn out by heat or cold. So even in those times tolerance didn’t necessarily mean passivity.
By refusing to wage a futile mental war of denial and resentment against reality, we can concentrate all our intelligence and energy in determining the best response to reality.
Conversely, the capacity to change things doesn’t do away with the need for tolerance. Even if we have the most hi-tech room heating or air conditioning, still the device may break down or the power may get cut off. The point is that we can’t prevent unpleasantness in the real world.
By refusing to wage a futile mental war of denial and resentment against reality, we can concentrate all our intelligence and energy in determining the best response to reality. Based on time-place-circumstance, that response can range from enduring the problem if it is unchangeable and focusing on more fruitful things, or endeavoring to change it and enduring it till the change takes place.
Gita wisdom makes tolerating reality easier by introducing us to the two levels of reality: material and spiritual. By its delineation of yoga, it gives us access to higher spiritual reality wherein we can always find peace, power and pleasure by meditating on our spiritual identity and by connecting with the supreme spiritual reality Krishna. The more we place our consciousness in spiritual reality, the more we can face material reality tolerantly and effectively.
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