Originally published in Crazy Wisdom magazine, Vol 6, No 6, Nov/Dec 1987.
“Only when people transcend themselves in response to wise men and Realizers will the work of the wise men and Realizers make any difference.”
HEART-MASTER DA: Conflict among religions has for a long time been a cause of stress and struggle and war all over the world. Ramakrishna was a voice for tolerance in his own time. He hoped that by speaking ecstatically as a wise man he could influence people to be more tolerant of one another. Shirdi Sai Baba tried to reduce the conflict between Hindus and Muslims. Gandhi continued that tradition by demonstrating and constantly vocalizing the attitude of tolerance, expecting people would see the reasonableness of it and change, or tolerate one another. Except for those who were already disposed to do so, people did nothing of the kind.
“There will be no grand transformation of humanity, no matter how many Realizers appear and speak of tolerance, or communicate Realization, until human beings in their ordinariness grasp the logic of it.”
I likewise speak for the disposition of tolerance. But my mere speaking is not going to change anybody. You must not be naive. My speaking is not even changing anything in you, unless you are disposed to change and not merely disposed to agree with what I say. You should feel criticized by the demand for tolerance. Observe and understand yourself, and transcend your limits and your intolerance. Only when people transcend themselves in response to wise men and Realizers will the work of the wise men and Realizers make any difference. Wise men and Realizers naturally talk about tolerance, because tolerance is inherent to Realization, but they are speaking to people who are not Realized. There will be no grand transformation of humanity, no matter how many Realizers appear and speak of tolerance, or communicate Realization, until human beings in their ordinariness grasp the logic of it.
No difference has ever been made by any Realizer relative to the matter of tolerance. The difference must be made by everybody else. Realizers are simply Realizers. They are inherently tolerant. They are not the problem – everybody else is the problem. You are the problem. The ego is not tolerant. The ego is clinging, dependent, self-indulgent, resistive, reactive, adolescent, reactively moved toward independence, wanting to affirm without intelligence, wanting to believe without inspection, wanting to be religious without self-knowledge and self-overcoming.
Religious institutions have therefore tended historically to be the circumstance of egos dramatizing even intolerance. Many millions, even billions, of people on Earth think of themselves as religious, yet how many of them are Realized? How many of them are even tolerant of one another, even though in every tradition there are Realizers, or virtuous spokesmen, who speak of tolerance, love, goodwill, and forgiveness? These virtues are supposed to be fundamental to all religious traditions, and yet there are people all over the Earth who call themselves religious and who do not exhibit these signs.
Nations, and politics itself, must not be based on mere idealism. The realities of human life and the immaturity of human beings must be taken into account. Therefore, even though you may be of a virtuous opinion, tolerant in your attitude toward other practitioners, other forms of practice, and other religious views, you must be very practical about what you do to preserve the Communion and this Way of life. You must not be naive and expect that simply because you speak virtuously or stand for virtuous opinion, everybody, merely by listening to you, will likewise be made virtuous, or is already so by virtue of religious practice.
Thus, be tolerant, yes, and do not be reactive. But on the other hand, as a practical matter, do what you must do to survive, to help others to survive, to help your community to survive, to help this Way of life to survive. In doing so you may have to struggle with the negative limitations and the intolerance of others. You cannot be merely naive or idealistic you must be realistic. But in principle and at heart you must be free of intolerance even to be realistic and to survive and to help your own community to survive.
Tolerance can be communicated, but tolerance must also be exhibited through very practical efforts that effectively help human beings to grow and to survive and that help the community to grow and to survive. You cannot afford to be idealistic if your way of life is to survive.
Therefore, even though you voice tolerant views and have no bad intentions in the world, you must take into account the realities of the world and the realities of others. You must survive, you must defend yourselves, you must be strong, and you must also be good in heart. (August 22, 1987)