Just as we protect ourselves from unseasonal rains and earthquakes by building good, strong shelters, similarly we need to systematically cultivate the divine qualities that give us protection during the storms of strife and doubts. We build a safe haven before the storm; we cultivate humility and tolerance to face the negative stimulants. Srila Prabhupada often said, “One’s greatness is estimated by one’s ability to tolerate provoking situations.”
In an age when relationships are strained over minor misunderstandings and we dispute over trifles, how can we cultivate tolerance? While in the midst of a misunderstanding, instead of investigating who’s actually guilty, and trying to get to the bottom of issues, we need to remember that a forest fire isn’t started by anyone. When the wind blows and the bamboos rub against each other the friction causes fire. We can’t blame anyone for that. Likewise the nature of this forest-like material world is individual egos clash and for no reason, even without any ill motives and prejudices, there will be misunderstandings.
At such times we need to remember a classic verse from the sacred text, Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita – “One who thinks himself lower than a blade of grass, who is more tolerant than a tree, and who does not expect personal honour but is always prepared to give all respect to others can very easily and always chant the holy name of the Lord.” (Chaitanya Charitamrita, Antya, 20.21). A tree silently faces bitter winters and cruel summers, and offers its life for the benefit of others without ever retaliating. When life treats us unjustly, we should accept it as mercy of God, and respond with compassion, love and respect.
As soon as a propensity to judge, criticize or quarrel arises in our minds, we could try to remember this verse. The scripture further recommends us to thread this verse on the string of the holy name of God and wear this verse around our neck always. In India it is common to see people wearing a talisman on their necks or arms. Some put on precious gems, or astrological stones on their bodies, hoping it will offer magical protection against evil spells or disease. But the real amulet for all quarrels and dissensions is the jewel of humility and tolerance. – Radhanath Swami