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Today is the International Day for Tolerance

For those of us who are brave enough to really enter into the spirit of the day it is an opportunity for greater freedom, assuming of course that we have not yet achieved sainthood.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama is quoted as saying, “In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher”.  And that deep truth opens up a path of enquiry … Do I really know my enemy, is it who I perceive it to be, and do I have the courage to hear the answer?

For the sake of freedom, our own and that of others, we can, with a little curioisty and courage, investigate.

(Best done with paper and pen, but simple contemplation will work well too.)

1) Who or what is it that we (I) really can’t stand or find hard to tolerate ?

Go with what springs to mind and there may be many answers arising : individuals, situations, attitudes, groups, nations, ideas, sounds, smells …. it doesn’t matter, just make a note of them all. For the sake of really getting to know what it is that is eating you up inside, write  down the specifics, be precise. What is it about each of these people, things and occurences that really keeps you from being able to feel peace? Let it all come up to the surface for freedom of expression and recognition, especially if you are very wrapped up in political correctness and trying to be a good person, or maybe a very tolerant person.

Pick just one from your list for today …. the one that really gets to you.

2)  Now let yourself feel the emotions and feelings that are truly residing with this thing or person that you cannot tolerate. It may be anger, frustration, hatred, irritation, confusion, rage, sadness, jealousy ….  it doesn’t matter …. welcome all of it.  These feelings exist so it is best to let it be acknowledged and held in the safe embrace of awareness where we no longer have to waste our precious energy trying to hide it from our own beings.

3) Now, rather than try to control, or judge, or suppress what has arisen, and rather than feeding it with more story or “evidence” to make it more true, simply ask yourself, “What if these feelings, ideas and judgements were just a distraction so that we could avoid feeling something else? What if it were more true that I give energy and attention to this “enemy” to avoid another experience or feeling?”

4) Allow the answers to come, and with each one ask again, “What if this were just a distraction from something deeper?” Keep going; you may hit a wall of not knowing, again ask the same question.

When you have gone as far as you can go, congratulate yourself. Well done!

The perceived enemy that you started this enquiry with has just been the friend that opened the door for you to meet the hidden “enemies” that keep you from the present.

Ultimately you will only have one “enemy” left to face, and that is some form of fear, fear of the present moment, of life, of the unknown, of self. The final enemy that keeps you in separation, keeps you from the greatest gift, keeps you from experiencing and knowing all that you are.

Our perceived enemies are perhaps our greatest friends or teachers, the ones that invite us and may even lead us back to oneness and The Big Love.

And, if you made a note of those enemies …. look at how many new friends you just made.

Happy International Day for Tolerance !