TOLERANCE - THE SIKH PERSPECTIVE Don't speak empty words; burn away your anger with the Divine Name and gather the true wealth of tolerance (sggs 1013). Faith contentment and tolerance are the wealth and provisions of the godly beings. Because of this, they attain the Divine Vision, while those who just talk find no place of Peace (sggs 83). <><><><> To attain perfection in life, one must discover the joy of harmony with the universe, and live in attunement with it. One who has so mastered his life will have no anxiety, fear or conflicts while living his life. To feel this closeness between the universe and the individual we need to eradicate all our intolerance, hate, animosity, discord or antagonisms with the external world of plurality. With the attitude of tolerance and "love for all and malice for none", we can end brutality and conquer even the most cruel and evil forces around us. To live such a life of perfection and joy is the aim of human life. This is God-realization, the state beyond distress, tensions, conflicts, discords, vengeance, differences, disharmony, pain and suffering. This is the joyous fulfillment that life can ever offer us. The scripture of the Sikh Way of life is lovingly called Sri Guru Granth Sahib (sggs). As mentioned in other scriptures, the Gurbani also says that God created man in His True Image. From a practical standpoint, the implication is that if God created the man in His true image than He must have endowed the man with His divine qualities as well. As underlined in the Gurbani, one of these sweet divine qualities is tolerance. Other divine qualities echoed in the Gurbani include harmony, patience, forgiveness, truth, purity, selflessness, love, goodwill, compassion, kindness, contentment, knowledge, mercy, humility, even-mindedness, broadmindedness, peace, joy, faith, moral excellence, discerning intellect, temperance, self-confidence, forbearance, devotion, modesty, sympathy, fearlessness, and so on. ਇਉ ਕਹੈ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਮਨ ਤੂੰ ਜੋਤਿ ਸਰੂਪੁ ਹੈ ਅਪਣਾ ਮੂਲੁ ਪਛਾਣੁ ॥੫॥: Iou kahai Nanak mann toon joti saroop hai apanaa mool pashaan ||5||: Thus says Nanak: O my mind, you are the embodiment or the True Image of the Divine Light (i.e., God) - recognize your Origin ||5|| (sggs 441). God created the man in His Image (Bible, Genesis 1:27). Tat tvam asi: Thou art That (Vedas). If you know your Soul you know your God (Sufi Master Jalaluddin Rumi). What Is Tolerance Simply put, tolerance means one should be able to bear physiological insult and dishonor from others. In other words, tolerance is the strength of the mind that enables a person to accept pleasant and unpleasant or conducive and unconducive circumstances with even-mindedness and courage. It is the capacity to endure pain or hardship and withstand adversity or stress. Furthermore, tolerance is the act of recognition, sympathy and respect for beliefs, opinions, actions or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own. A man of truth and wisdom is never disturbed in any situations; for he is fully aware of the fact that the appearance of happiness or distress is fleeting and that they arise from limited sense of perception. Hence he tolerates both the feelings of "likes" and "dislikes" in life and sees everything with an even eye. Such person is an asset not only to his society and nation, but also to the entire world. As emphasized in the Gurbani, such individual who can tolerate the onslaught of pleasant and unpleasant experiences is the best among men, eligible for spiritual liberation or God-realization. ਸਿਦਕੁ ਸਬੂਰੀ ਸਾਦਿਕਾ ਸਬਰੁ ਤੋਸਾ ਮਲਾਇਕਾਂ ॥ ਦੀਦਾਰੁ ਪੂਰੇ ਪਾਇਸਾ ਥਾਉ ਨਾਹੀ ਖਾਇਕਾ ॥: Sidak sabooree saadikaa sabar tosaa malaaikaan. Deedaar pooray paaisaa thaaou naahee khaaikaa: Faith, contentment and tolerance are the wealth and provisions of the godly beings. Because of this, they attain the Divine Visions, while those who just talk find no place of Peace (sggs 83). ਸੁਖੁ ਦੁਖੁ ਦੋਨੋ ਸਮ ਕਰਿ ਜਾਨੈ ਅਉਰੁ ਮਾਨੁ ਅਪਮਾਨਾ ॥ ਹਰਖ ਸੋਗ ਤੇ ਰਹੈ ਅਤੀਤਾ ਤਿਨਿ ਜਗਿ ਤਤੁ ਪਛਾਨਾ ॥੧॥ ਉਸਤਤਿ ਨਿੰਦਾ ਦੋਊ ਤਿਆਗੈ ਖੋਜੈ ਪਦੁ ਨਿਰਬਾਨਾ ॥ ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਇਹੁ ਖੇਲੁ ਕਠਨੁ ਹੈ ਕਿਨਹੂੰ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਜਾਨਾ ॥੨॥੧॥ : Sukh dukh dono sam kari jaanai aour maanu apamaanaa. Harakh sog te rahai ateetaa tini jagi tatu pashaanaa. Usatat nindaa do-oo tiaagai khojai padu nirabaanaa. Jan Nanak ihu khel kathan hai kinahoon gurmukhi jaanaa ||2||1||: One who knows that pain and pleasure are both the same, and honor and dishonor as well, who remains detached from joy and sorrow, realizes the true essence in the world ||1||. Renounce both praise and blame; seek instead the state of Nirvaanaa (Aatmic Avasthaa devoid of Vaasnaa). O servant Nanak, this is such a difficult game; only a rare Gurmukh understands it! ||2||1|| (sggs 219). Thus, as indicated in the Gurbani, tolerance is a natural quality by which a true and a wise person functions in his life. Such person always remains undisturbed in all situations. He flows with life without creating any anxiety or distress for himself or for others. How is he able to work like this? In other words, how can he bear both happiness and distress with equal vision? A tolerant person does not see things from a standpoint of body-consciousness. For him the body is a temporary object, nothing more than nine holes in the flesh and bones. He is fully aware that with the disappearance of the life breath, the body also banishes. So he does not identify with the physical body. Hence he does not attach much importance to the body for he perfectly knows that he is something other than the biological body - that is, he is Pure Consciousness, the True Image of God. Therefore, he is free from false ego-sense (I-ness and my-ness), the mother of all material concepts. He is equipoised in all circumstances. As he is tolerant to the world, he takes life as it comes. In other words, he cannot be swayed by antagonism, contradictions or falsehood because he is fixed in divine virtues. ਖਿਮਾ ਗਹੀ ਮਨੁ ਸਤਗੁਰਿ ਦੀਆ ॥: Khimaa gahee man satgur deeaa: I have adopted the way of tolerance, and given my mind to the True Guru: the Pure Consciousness or Self within (sggs 932). ਖਿਮਾ ਗਰੀਬੀ ਅਨਦ ਸਹਜ ਜਪਤ ਰਹਹਿ ਗੁਣਤਾਸ ॥: Khimaa gareebee anad sahj japat raheh guntaas: With tolerance, humility, bliss and intuitive poise, continue to meditate on the Lord, the Treasure of excellence (sggs 253). This noble virtue of tolerance also translates as forgiveness. We are advised by the scriptures to forgive and forget, and live and let live. Therefore, it befits any person who is godly by nature. Forgiveness is a reflection of God's eternal calm, the everlasting patience, peace, mercy, forbearance, gentleness, compassion and steadfastness, which are very essential for contemplation and meditation. A person devoid of forgiveness is not in tune with his godly nature. Therefore tolerance or forgiveness is holiness. It is the quite of mind, an indication of a pious person. It is a mighty weapon against bodily instincts such as seeing evil, listening evil, tasting evil, touching evil, thinking evil, willing evil, feeling evil, speaking evil, remembering evil, and doing evil. In essence, tolerance and forgiveness is sacrifice and a humble gesture. In fact, continuation of the living entities is due to the man being forgiving and tolerant. Thus, forgiveness and tolerance is like glue, which holds the universe together. ਖਿਮਾ ਗਹੀ ਬ੍ਰਤੁ ਸੀਲ ਸੰਤੋਖੰ ॥: Khimaa gahee brat seel santokh: To practice forgiveness is the true fast, good conduct and contentment (sggs 223). ਖਿਮਾ ਧੀਰਜੁ ਕਰਿ ਗਊ ਲਵੇਰੀ ਸਹਜੇ ਬਛਰਾ ਖੀਰੁ ਪੀਐ ॥ਸਿਫਤਿ ਸਰਮ ਕਾ ਕਪੜਾ ਮਾਂਗਉ ਹਰਿ ਗੁਣ ਨਾਨਕ ਰਵਤੁ ਰਹੈ ॥: Khimaa dheeraj kar gayoo laveree sahje bashraa kheer peeai. Sifat saram kaa kapraa maangau Hari gun Nanak ravat rahe: Let forgiveness and patience be my milk-cows, and let the calf of my mind intuitively drink in this milk. I beg for the clothes of modesty and God's Praise; Nanak chants the Glorious Praises of Him (sggs 1329). ਸਚੁ ਵਰਤੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ॥ ਦਇਆ ਦੇਵਤਾ ਖਿਮਾ ਜਪਮਾਲੀ ਤੇ ਮਾਣਸ ਪਰਧਾਨ ॥: Sach varat santokh teerath giaan dhian isnaan. Daya devta khimaa japmaalee te manas pardhaan: The most excellent people (Pardhaan) are those persons who make truth their fasting, contentment their pilgrim-station, cognition and meditation their ablution, compassion their deity, and forgiveness their rosary (sggs 1245). But the material nature of this world is crooked like a dog's tail: its nature is to curl! Therefore, one should expect in life both joy and sorrow, praise and blame, honor and dishonor. Especially if one is pursuing the path of truth, there will be plenty of insults and dishonor from others. As repeatedly exemplified in the Gurbani, a boy like Prahlaada, who was only five years old, was engaged in the advancement of the spiritual knowledge, and was endangered so many ways when his own father became intolerant of his spiritual activities. But he tolerated the insult and pain, and continued his progress with conviction and determination in spite of many hurdles. As we know it, even Christ was condemned to death on the cross by the intolerant people. An intolerant Muslim ruler boiled the fifth Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Arjan Dev, to death — he was placed on a hot plate while boiling sand was poured onto his head. Also, an intolerant Muslim ruler beheaded Guru Teg Bahadur, the ninth Guru of the Sikhs. ਬਿਖਿਆ ਕਾ ਸਭੁ ਧੰਧੁ ਪਸਾਰੁ ॥: Bikhiaa kaa sabh dhandh pasaar: All of man's conflicts are extensions of his corruption (sggs 1145). ਠਹਕਿ ਮੁਈ ਅਵਗੁਣਿ ਪਛੁਤਾਇ ॥: Thahaaki muee avaguni pashutaae: The world is destroyed by conflict, regretting its sinful mistakes (sggs 933). ਖਿੰਚੋਤਾਣਿ ਕਰਹਿ ਬੇਤਾਲੇ ॥: Khinchotaan karahi betaale: The demons stir up conflict and strife (sggs 1031). ਕਾਹੇ ਜਨਮੁ ਗਵਾਵਹੁ ਵੈਰਿ ਵਾਦਿ ॥: Kaahae janam gavaavahu vair vaad: Why do you waste your life in hatred, vengeance and conflict? (sggs 1176). ਝਖਿ ਬੋਲਣੁ ਕਿਆ ਜਗ ਸਿਉ ਵਾਦੁ ॥ ਝੂਰਿ ਮਰੈ ਦੇਖੈ ਪਰਮਾਦੁ ॥: Jhakh bolan kiaa jag siou vaad. Jhoor marai dekhai paramaad: Why do you speak nonsense, and argue with the world? Seeing your madness (of arguing with the world instead of God's meditation or Naam-Simran, etc.), you will die repenting in the end (sggs 933). ਪੁਤ੍ਰੁ ਕਲਤ੍ਰੁ ਨਿਤ ਵੇਖੈ ਵਿਗਸੈ ਮੋਹਿ ਮਾਇਆ ॥ ਦੇਸਿ ਪਰਦੇਸਿ ਧਨੁ ਚੋਰਾਇ ਆਣਿ ਮੁਹਿ ਪਾਇਆ ॥ ਅੰਤਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਵੈਰ ਵਿਰੋਧੁ ਕੋ ਸਕੈ ਨ ਛਡਾਇਆ ॥: Putru kaltru nit vekhai vigasai mohi maya. Desi prades dhann choraai aan muhi paaiaa. Anti hovai vair virodh ko sakai na shadaaiaa. : Gazing on his children and his wife, the man is pleased and attached to Maya. Stealing the wealth of his own country and other lands, he brings it home and feeds them. In the end, hatred and conflict well up, and no one can save him (sggs 1249). ਅੰਧਾ ਝਖਿ ਝਖਿ ਪਇਆ ਝੇਰਿ ॥: Andhaa jhakh jhakh paiaa jheri: The spiritually blind fool is caught in conflict, bothered and bewildered (sggs 1287). ਹਉਮੈ ਧੰਧੁ ਛੋਡਹੁ ਲੰਪਟਾਈ ॥: Houmai dhandh shoddahu lanpattaaee: Abandon your involvement in egotistical affairs and conflicts (sggs 1026). ਕਲਿਜੁਗ ਮਹਿ ਧੜੇ ਪੰਚ ਚੋਰ ਝਗੜਾਏ ॥: Kalijug mahi dharre panch chor jhagarraae: In this Dark Age of Kali Yuga, the five thieves (all evil passions — lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride, etc.) instigate alliances and conflicts (sggs 366). Tolerance brings harmony among people, nations, religions, and racial and ethnic groups. Our capacity to endure tolerance helps resolve conflicts for the common good. But, unfortunately, for the majority of us this harmony appears to be an accidental vision or unpredictable happening, which comes and goes at its own will. And even when we feel the glimpse of this harmony and universal love, we do not know how to sustain it and make it permanent.