As the process of self-dissolution intensifies, the meaning of tolerance becomes deeply significant as a way to endure the often severe pressure to be true to life and love. Spiritual progress is made through a deepening tolerance of the unconscious actions of the personal self without judgement. However, for a long time the person may experience periods of intolerance, not only through the stress and demands of their own emotional self but in the reflection of others whose behaviour and presence triggers the painful experience of the past.
All of us in our ordinary living lives are compelled to be more tolerant in one way or another. For example, tolerance is necessary living close to neighbours who periodically ramp up the sound of their stereo, or the barking dog left at home by its owners at work; parents with children who cry incessantly for no apparent reason have to overcome their own frustration and display great love and tolerance; people in a work situation often have to be tolerant of someone in charge (and therefore who has the power) whose decisions and demands go against their own good sense – or else they can quit the job. At this level we all have the opportunity in provocative situations to gain a deeper understanding of the workings of our inner self. To reach the exalted states of higher consciousness and live the truth in the world, an individual must display enormous tolerance towards the often hostile reactions of those still intolerant of being responsible for life and love now.
If our perception is swift enough, we can see that tolerance is not compromise. Compromise is the way that people avoid being honest for fear of upsetting others, or making the best of things at the expense of emotional suffering. Tolerance is having the discernment, when in a difficult situation, to see whether to take action or to do nothing but surrender to what is. In other words, it’s knowing why something is happening and being prepared to live it through, if necessary, because there’s no choice or that it’s right for now. This acceptance, when truly offered up as the surrender of any movement to be anywhere else but fully engaged in the matter at hand, is tolerance aligned with the flow of life. Next moment something may happen that opens up a new possibility, or the situation itself may change to make things more bearable and less intense than before.
In a worldly sense, we see examples of tolerance being practised in religion and racial equality. Although there can be good intent and a movement in many to bring about reconciliation, there’s never any lasting peace – as history shows. This is because tolerance is a state of being which can only be realised in the absence of any position of mind; otherwise force is present which needs to be defended against the forceful position of others. An individual identified with race, colour or creed unavoidably creates a position that attracts an opposite polarity which will eventually turn to violence and oppression for the vanquished. Tolerance is realised by reducing existence back to nothing – nothing that needs to be defended as a position of ignorance in the world. Tolerance is being transparent and able to let existence pass through the body, just as space allows the forms of life to exist without being identified with their movement.
As is often the case in the spiritual life, things aren’t quite how they first appear. A man or woman may have realised an extraordinary degree of tolerance, but this quality may go unrecognised by those still attached to their personal likes and dislikes. A truly spiritual human being is one who has passed through the feelings of the emotional self while holding to the sense of higher purpose. What happens is that the attached outer casing of emotional hardness softens and evaporates as space purified of its corrupted matter. This induces an upsurge of inspirational energy as the trapped emotion is restored to love, its original state. As the process deepens and the individual man or woman remains steadfast in their resolve, love is transcended to consciousness which releases, as self-knowledge, the virtue of the living experience. The man or woman then functions more as an instinctual being of the earth, responding spontaneously to the immediacy of life in the moment.