Cultivating Tolerance

There is a saying in Chinese, “A prime minister’s belly should be big enough to row a boat in!” A person’s achievements depend on the capacity of their heart. If we have no regard for others and care only for ourselves, we can only sustain ourselves. If we have the capacity to love and tolerate our family, we are the head of the family. If we can care about a county, a province, or a country, we can be trusted to oversee them. It would be a true shame if a person has the capacity to love his or her country and all of its people, but is not given the opportunity to govern them.

The greatest kings and emperors in history books did not rely on supernatural powers. They succeeded due to their great tolerance. If those with little tolerance cannot accept others, how will others accept them? The monk Budai was widely praised, for “his large belly can tolerate all worldly matters; his laughing face can laugh off all worldly sorrows.”

Throughout history, wise men have been keen to cultivate their capabilities, knowledge, energy, ethics, heart, and tolerance. Tolerance is necessary to handle many kinds of situations. The Song Dynasty prime miniseter Fu Bi was extremely cautious with any matter he handled. Others often criticized him for this.

Once his subordinate told him, “Someone is criticizing you!”

Fu Bi did not care and replied, “It must be about somebody else.”

The subordinate explained, “Sir, he was not criticizing someone else. He was actually naming you.”

Fu Bi simply replied, “There are many people in the world with the same name.”

With this capacity for tolerance, how could he not be the prime minister? When we have tolerance, we will have a good temperament. Then, it will be easy to make connections with others and further our careers and personal lives. Though tolerance is an innate trait, it can also be learned and cultivated. In history books, many saints and sages are praised for their tolerance, not for their achievements. Tolerance is a key factor to accomplishment.

How do we cultivate tolerance?

1. We should not bicker over small matters. We must always be forgiving of others’ faults and be careful when dealing with major issues. We should have a good sense of right and wrong.

2. We should not let ourselves become discouraged by adversity. We should face it as it comes and not be disturbed.

3. When we are criticized or slandered, we first look at ourselves before attempting to retaliate.

4. We should learn to accept disadvantageous terms and let others enjoy benefits first.

5. When we see others commit good deeds, we should forget all their faults. Those who can only see other’s shortcomings and ignore their strengths can never develop tolerance.

Buddhist sutras say, “The mind can embrace the universe, as well as contain dharma realms as numerous as grains of sand.” If we can hold the whole universe in our heart, then we truly have great capacity. It is said that, “we become disadvantaged when we try to take advantage, and only the heavens will know. By having a righteous mind, we need not worry about being taken advantage of.”

Those with tolerance will never be disadvantaged!