Greetings from the Land of Enchantment: Tolerance and Spiritual Practice

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Tolerance and Spiritual Practice

Spirituality without tolerance is like milk with
potassium cyanide. Touch it on the tongue and you
will be dead on the spot. --Yogi Bhajan, circa 1981

In these days and times, it is said that fanaticism will be the contrast to the expansiveness coming into consciousness, coming into being. Let me be clear, I'm not the most tolerant person in the world. I'm easily agitated, often annoyed, and in general, fairly aloof, which as a package doesn't look like the picture of equanimity and grace--tolerance. But at the core of my being, I believe everyone has a right to exist. Even me. And the fanaticism that I see growing with each passing day--in every walk of faith--makes me nauseated. We are all guilty of it--Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, even Buddhists are getting in on it!--because we're all so terribly afraid.

What would it look like to just take a deep breath and see the other person as you? What would the world look like? How would I see myself in the mirror? The word that comes to mind is relief.

Yogi Bhajan used to say that the only difference between him and us was that he accepted himself totally, without any reservations. That kind of radical acceptance requires a lot of tolerance, a lot of patience, and a relationship to the infinite.

May we all aspire to that kind of acceptance, the radical notion that I'm okay. You're okay. (yes, I said it--ick!). But it's really the bottom line of spiritual practice. Can I be kind and tolerant to you, even when we disagree?


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