The Power to Tolerate by Alka Patel
“Toleration is the greatest gift of the mind; it requires the same effort of the brain that it takes to balance oneself on a bicycle.”   Helen Keller

Tolerance is a power that works deeply underground.  It is one of the greatest tools in our daily life; a tool for life itself. Each of us has a toolbox containing the eight powers of life.  In this third of a series of eight, we discuss what tolerance is and how to make the best use of it.
When I am silent inside there is space for tolerance.  Where there is love, there is openness, where there is openness, there is space for tolerance.  Tolerant people are often thought of as weak, however the greatness of a person is revealed through their capacity to tolerate.  Tolerance is like a water tank; everyone has their own tank and is responsible for topping up the tank with the water of patience. With this water of patience the tank starts to over flow and tolerance becomes abundant.  Many people want to prove that they are right, that the other person is wrong.  A tolerant person never needs to prove anything.  The truth will always out is a very old proverb and if I understand it then I can accept others exactly the way they are.  Let me be the one to change my attitude towards others and be more loving, kind and understanding.

Tolerance is based on going beyond the superficial things that divide us.  We tend to blame others for our bad feelings but let me look within and get to know myself.  When I am intolerant and accept that actually I am angry then things will start to change.  Let me be unselfish and be concerned about others’ needs so I can handle anything.  We often say, ‘I need to be understood’ but what we should say is ‘I need to understand’.   Stop saying ‘they should change’ to ‘let me give what is needed’.  With such different ways of thinking patience, peace and maturity develop.    Spiritual tolerance cultivates innate wisdom, the kind you can’t get from books.

Tolerant people are able to resolve difficult circumstances by always finding a quiet solution.  When I am faced with any insult, tolerance gives me the power to be stable and cool. I don’t need to become defensive but to smile and stand in my self respect which helps me to move beyond the situation.  Tolerant people are accommodating, adjusting and able to face difficulties by seeing them as opportunities to rise above whatever is going on around them.

This third power comes from inner strength and integrity.  There is no the feeling of having to tolerate, but a feeling of just accepting by being generous and open.  When you notice that your relationships and interactions are happier then you are using your powers, especially tolerance.  Spiritual power comes from understanding who you are and standing on the foundation of your values that are sustain you in your truth, no matter what the surrounding circumstances.
For instance, when I am irritated I become intolerant and this creates barriers.  A small story illustrates this well.  A mother was becoming very annoyed with her daughter who would keep borrowing her brush and never returning it.  Each time it happened she angrily told her daughter to put back the brush after using it, but of course her teenager never did. It continued to happen in spite of these constant angry reminders from mum.  It caused her daughter to become very “anti” her mother and over such a small matter there was quite a rift.  Many things happen in life that causes these barriers to form and often there are such simple solutions.  The mother could have just bought another brush, knowing that her daughter would never bother to put it back.  That’s what teenagers do and they do grow out of such habits.  But the mother wanted to prove herself right and had no power of tolerance to deal with the situation.

With an open, loving and generous heart I have the capacity to accommodate.  This power turns into a strength and helps in my capacity to accommodate, and to become tolerant.  A quiet peaceful state of mind enables difficult circumstances to become a little easier with this strength.  Tolerance is nourishment for the inner self.

If I say I have to tolerate, then there is actually no power in me.  When I deal with the situation, circumstance or person with love then there is no feeling of tolerating.
Tolerant people are like brick walls.  No matter what they are up against they rebound and yet remain strong and secure and loving.  It’s all about absorbing and accepting.  A paper towel is able to absorb and soak up water.  Gardens and fields are able to withstand any type of weather.  Can we be the same and yet keep on smiling?  Without a doubt….read on.

A resounding yes.  Willpower and determination can move mountains.  Each of us is living human trees who go through all four seasons; everyone’s capacity to tolerate is different.  Inner strength comes from understanding.  As I stand still I begin to understand that actually I am not tolerating, but just have a big and generous heart to accept and absorb what is coming towards me.  If, like the ocean, I am able to accept anything that comes my way with open arms then life becomes easier, relationships are happier.  When I resist something, problems occur and even escalate.
When I think deeply about it, tolerance is my life long companion and patience is my friend.  Both are required throughout the day at different moments and so are with me like my shadow as I move along in life.

Tolerance is just a dance, stepping in and out at the right moment.  How do I re-act, relate and tolerate everyone around me, those I work with and those I live with.  Each moment a different dance technique is required in this dance of life…  Sometimes a tango, sometimes a waltz…. Quick, quick, quick; slow, slow, slow.

Flowers continue to grow and blossom even though weeds are beside them.  In the same way I am living in a world where there are people around me who are so different, yet how do I respond to them?  My strength is in not how I respond, but how I adapt and adjust.  All these are signs of tolerating.  So I discover that tolerance is a strength not a weakness, it is a gift in a storm, the light at the end of the tunnel.  With tolerance I mature and grow in experience.  Each experience is a precious moment in my life.

Sometimes, we feel pain and resentment, both of which are negative qualities.  We are unable to tolerate and instead feel empty and at a loss.  Our capacity to tolerate is just not there and we start to re-act and blame.  However when we learn to just accept and move on, we again begin to fill ourselves with inner strength and our capacity to tolerate again increases.  Difficult circumstances are like a mirror and we see ourselves in our real colors.  My responsibility is to respond in the best possible way.   Imagine a tree laden with fruits and a small boy throwing stones at it as he tries to get the fruit down.  The tree doesn’t get upset with the boy but yields its fruit anyway.  Let me learn to have such tolerance and my life will definitely become happier.

A good mother has so much tolerance for her family.  She accommodates and adjusts and learns to fulfill the heavy demands and needs of each member. Why?  Because she has deep love and commitment and responsibility.  Where there is love and commitment there is no feeling of having to tolerate.  Where there is no love, the feeling of having to tolerate comes in.

Inspirations for the Power to tolerate

Love melts impatience
Kindness reaches out to hardened hearts and makes them soft and kind
Compassion creates confidence
By remaining a companion of tolerance, we remain safe
A silent mind and quiet heart bring the power to tolerate
Tolerant people continue to inspire and carry on.  They never give up
Tolerance works like a bridge bringing everyone together and uniting
Sometimes in life we are forced to face situations in which we have no choice

Tap inside and feel the power within; use the inspirations above to bring about change in your life and see how much happiness it can bring to you and others.

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