Winning—what an attractive term! After eight years of fighting its Japanese invaders, all of China rejoiced in its victory. When the Allies successfully landed in Normandy and laid the foundation for victory in World War II, the whole world turned to watch.
Many of the world’s nations pursue freedom and democracy through elections. In every election, the winner of the most votes rejoices, while the loser is dejected. The stark contrast is often moving. Many have tasted the sweet fruits of victory. The medals and trophies received are presented to winners.
Many buy victory with money, power, physical strength, and even eloquent speech. Some win by deceit and underhanded means, while others gain victory by applying social pressure and influencing public opinion. However, there are some who ultimately win with the strength of their compassion, wisdom, morals, righteousness, and tolerance.
In Buddhism, to be tolerant is not to be passive, stagnant, or submissive. Tolerance is strong. It is being responsible and progressive. It is the motivation of the most benevolent and courageous. We must clearly understand the meaning of tolerance. Most associate tolerance with enduring pain, suffering, humiliation, or defamation. However, tolerance also means sacrificing oneself for righteousness and benevolence. Tolerance is stepping back to help others succeed. It is readiness to suffer for all sentient beings in exchange for their peace and well-being.
In one of his previous lives, when Sakyamuni Buddha was known as Dighayu, he endured the insults of his fores and thereby won a war for his country. As stated in the Diamond Sutra, when the Buddha did not bear any hatred or anger as he was being dismembered by King Kali. His selflessness ultimately led him to triumph over Kali.
Tolerance is not passively submitting to others. It is active sacrifice as a matter of course in order to win. Some bear insults so they can attain final victory. In being tolerant, we gain great strength, and are able to shoulder great responsibility. The Buddha once said, “Those who cannot bear insults, harsh words, slander, and defamation and take them as sweet dew are not truly strong.”
Though it may take time, tolerance will ultimately lead to success. The world is different now. Not only do we need the strength of tolerance, we also need compassion and morality to triumph. This is especially true in the age of democracy, when winning the support of the voters is key. We win when we are humble and praise others for their work, and when we help others with their problems and work for their benefit. When we are tolerant, courageous, diligent, wise, and responsible, we create the conditions for winning.