We always make a decision. I type these words and you will decide what they mean to you. It doesn’t have to be deliberate. We are conditioned if we aren’t instead mindful. It will happen one way or another.
As human beings, we are subject to a number of emotions and feelings. It is the sixth sense that we are blessed with that enables us to feel much more than animals and other life forms, and it is this sense that teaches us the difference between right and wrong. While most of us stick to the moral path when it comes to major wrongdoings like stealing and killing, we do stray from it when we tell white lies, lose our temper and use other people for our own purposes. But the biggest sin we commit is that of intolerance, the act of not accepting people as they are or accepting things as they happen.
It is difficult for us to contain our tempers, to go about our daily lives maintaining peace at all costs – imagine a situation where you don’t vent your anger at your spouse for an indiscretion, where you don’t shout at the driver of the other car for reckless speed, where you don’t push aside the person who cut across you in the line at the supermarket – the list is endless. In short, none of us are capable of such superhuman behavior because we are inherently human and our tolerance levels are pretty low.
But tolerance in social life is different from tolerance in spiritual life, because we are able to accept intolerance for various reasons in our social life. For example, we would forgive the actions of the mother of a child who was murdered or abused against the perpetrator of the crime, no matter how horrible they are. In our minds, although it is legally unacceptable, she is entitled to revenge because of the trauma and pain she has undergone. But when you begin to lead a spiritual existence, tolerance is demanded under all circumstances. In fact, there is no excuse whatsoever for intolerance, no matter how extenuating the situation.
When you choose to lead a spiritual existence, one that you have dedicated to God, you must free yourself of all earthly desires. And to do this, you must be able to tolerate anything that life throws at you. The first lesson is to tolerate your situation and your fellow human beings. It is hard, but when you reach a level of maturity that allows you to control your emotions, it is easy enough.
A Hindu parable tells the story of a guru and his disciple who had to cross a river. A young boy who was of a lower caste asked them if they could help him across since he did not know how to swim. The disciple was aghast at the suggestion that they touch a boy of a lower caste. But the guru had no hesitation whatsoever in letting the boy climb on his shoulders and cross the river. The disciple did not say a word until a few miles ahead when he could no longer hold his tongue. He asked his guru why he touched and carried a person of a lower status than him. The guru replied, “My son, I carried the boy only across the river. But while I let go of him at the bank, you are still carrying him.” The disciple realized the error of his ways.
This story goes to tell us that no matter what your religion or social status is, when you are dedicated to a life of spirituality, tolerance is one of the most important virtues you must uphold.
This guest article was written by Adrienne Carlson, who regularly writes on the topic of christian college online. Adrienne welcomes your comments and questions at her email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.