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How Much Can You Tolerate?

Tuesday, 07 January 2020 / Published in Articles / 7,689 views

By Giriraj Swami

As long as we are in the material world, we must suffer—pain caused by others, pain caused by our own bodies and minds, pain caused by acts of nature. And unless we can tolerate, we cannot live in this world.

But how much can a person tolerate? Should we not on occasion resist? Why should we tolerate? And if we must, what will enable us to endure the difficulty without being disturbed?

Srila Prabhupada told the story of a young boy who tolerated more than I can imagine, giving some idea of why the boy did not resist and how he was able to abide without being disturbed:

“Prahlada Maharaja—his father was putting him in so many dangerous conditions, even giving him poison. He knew that ‘My father has given me poison to drink. All right, let me drink. If Krishna likes, He will save me. Father is giving poison. Who can check?’ And his father was such a big, powerful demon—Hiranyakasipu. Prahlada’s mother cried, requested, but his father forced her: ‘Give your son this poison.’ She begged so much, but he was a demon: ‘No, you must give.’ So the mother knew, and the son knew, that the father was giving this poison. What could he do, a small child? ‘All right, let me drink.’ He was not agitated. ‘All right, if Krishna likes, I will live.’ ”

So, one reason to tolerate is that we have no choice. The forces that act in opposition to our will are too great, too powerful for us to resist. And what will enable us to endure without being disturbed? Faith in God, in Krishna. “If Krishna likes, He will save me. I will survive—and progress.”

In the same talk, Srila Prabhupada explained, “A sadhu [devotee] is titiksava—he tolerates all kinds of miserable conditions. Because this is a place of miserable conditions, a sadhu learns how to tolerate. A sadhu is never disturbed. Yasmin sthito gurunapi duhkhena na vicalyate [Gita 6.22]. A sadhu, who has got the shelter of Krishna, if he is placed in the severest type of dangerous condition, he is never disturbed.”

So, again, one who has faith in God, who has taken shelter of God, can tolerate. But when he can resist, or leave, why should he tolerate? Srila Prabhupada answered with one word: karunikahtitiksavah karunikah:

Titiksavah—the sadhu does not become disturbed. At the same time, karunikah. He is himself being disturbed, but he is merciful to others.

“Just like Jesus Christ. He was being crucified, and still he was merciful: ‘God, these people do not know what they are doing. Please excuse them.’ This issadhu. Personally, he is being disturbed by the demons, but still, he is merciful to the general people. They are suffering for want of Krishna consciousness. Even up to the point of death, he is trying to preach Krishna consciousness. ‘Let the people be benefited. What is this material body? Even if I am killed, I am not killed; this body is killed, that’s all.’ This is sadhu. Titiksavah karunikah. On the one side he is tolerant, and on the other side, merciful.

“In the material world, when a man is disturbed, he cannot do any beneficial work for others. He is disturbed: ‘No, I am very much disturbed. Don’t talk with me.’ But a sadhu still goes on benefiting the people in general. Titiksavah karunikah [SB 3.25.21].”

We all face situations that are painful and difficult, and we want to do what is just and right—ultimately, what will please God. If we act on the basis of our true self, the soul—not the body or the mind—with faith in God, to please Him, to present His message, He will give us the intelligence how to proceed and we will follow His direction.

I pray that He gives me that strength and intelligence.

From the dream of the material world to the delights of the spiritual world
Too Proud To Hear

7 Responses to “How Much Can You Tolerate?”

  1. soma108 says :

    Dear Maharaj,

    Please accept my humble obeisances. All Glories to Srila Prabhupada.

    I thank you for your article. I would like to comment, since this has opened up my eyes in many ways & has encouraged me very much. Since I am 55 years old now & have gone through years of trials and tribulations one of the positive things is that I have learned to grow through personal experiences. Those various periods I have been ‘tested to tolerate’ conditions beyond my control & have suffered emotional or physical pain. I have made it my personal focus point to never ever be upset with Krsna, but to be humble and pray. To pray for patience and understanding. To have knowledge that everything is meant to be a lesson in life & for a spiritual purpose. To make me a stronger devotee.

    That guideline and that focus point has carried me through many tough times. I also make it a point to go before the Lord, to attend aroti, and to simply fold my hands & pray before the Lord. The be humble & try not to ask for anything except Mercy, Blessings and Spiritual Strength.

    One of the biggest lessons in my life was when I took care of Sudama Prabhu when he left his body. I learned that at the time of death nothing else matters except seeing Krsna & Prabhupada. Leaving this material body and praying for Prabhupada to come & take his disciple back to the spiritual world. To beg and pray for this special mercy. To pray for the spiritual eyes to see Krsna at the time of death. Nothing matters in the material world any more. It is so so unimportant. These desires, these needs, this family, it is all gone at the time of death.

    So at age 55 from personal experience & having gone through some trials and tribulations — I pray now for more mercy & more spiritual strength. Now that I see, hear & know some of my Godbrothers & Godsisters being ill, or having left their bodies, I too myself think- how much time do I have? This year in 11 months I have been sick a total of over 32 weeks & it is a big wake up call for me. I am increasing my chanting & praying. I am increasing my desire to pray to Prabhupada for his shelter & protection. I know this is the most important thing in my life.

    The material world is full of suffering. The transcendentalist sees everything with spiritual vision — not being affected by heat or cold, happiness or distress. Knowing these things simply come and go — like the seasons.

    Your humble servant,
    Omkara devi dasi

  2. trivikramaswami says :

    Thank you Omkara devi dasi for your powerful comments. I was also inspired by Giriraja Maharaja’s timely article which he has presented so soberly. We all know that death is approaching, but as Yudhistira Maharaja said, the most wonderful thing is that somehow we think we can avoid it.

    All glories to Srila Prabhupada for giving us his personal example and repeated instructions on how to face this inevitable condition with dignity, courage, and a steady humor.

    Your insignificant servant,
    Trivikrama Swami

  3. vibhavakrsna das says :

    Dear Maharaj,

    Thank you very much for your absorbing article. The thoughts are quite humbling and with your realizations have become even more penetrating. Actually every difficult situation can be instead taken as an oppportunity to surrender more unto Guru and Krsna.

    This was an excellent summarisation of the whole article :

    “We all face situations that are painful and difficult, and we want to do what is just and right–ultimately, what will please God. If we act on the basis of our true self, the soul–not the body or the mind–with faith in God, to please Him, to present His message, He will give us the intelligence how to proceed and we will follow His direction.”

    There is so much to learn out of this and yes thats what we have seen in our lives the more we do the will of God the more we advance in our spiritual lives.

    your humble servant,
    vibhava krsna dasa

  4. This is very refreshing, to me it is always a joy to at least be abel to associate with devotees like this on the internet
    CC Madhya 8.248: Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu asked, “Of all kinds of distress, what is the most painful?”Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya replied, “Apart from separation from the devotee of Kṛṣṇa, I know of no unbearable unhappiness.”
    Otherwise our great Acarya Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has stated that he accepts obstacels in devotional service with great joy ( he was prepared to overcome them with Krsnas grace). One important realization I had this year ,that helps me tolerate the agitation and disturbance of the material nature is taking shelter of the holy name.Srila Prabhupada asked some of the first disciples to chant 64 rounds every day, and having pondered on this I have decieded to do it. So my understanding now is based on I will chant and associate with devotees that are eager to hear and chant about Krsna, this will make my life perfect.HH Giriraja Swami once gave an amazing seminar in Vrindavana about the teachings of Lord Caitanya to Srila Rupa Goswami ,the Caitanya Caritamrta and the holy name and the association of devotees are some of the great gifts Srila Prabhupada has given.
    CC Madhya 8.251: Then Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu asked, “Out of all auspicious and beneficial activities, which is best for the living entity?”Rāmānanda Rāya replied, “The only auspicious activity is association with the devotees of Kṛṣṇa.”

    CC Madhya 8.252: Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu asked, “What should all living entities constantly remember?”Rāmānanda Rāya replied, “The chief objects of remembrance are always the Lord’s holy name, qualities and pastimes.”
    I am thankfull for the association of such great souls as Giriraja Swami and Trivikrama Swami and others,I pray to Srila Prabhupada to be in such good association and my life will be perfect.My humble realization is if we take to chanting sincerely then all fears of material nature goes away.
    ar naiko kalir bhoy
    acandale den nama nitai doyamoy
    “We no longer need to fear the terrible Age of Quarrel, for the most merciful Lord Nityananda gives the Holy Name to anyone and everyone-even to the lowest among men.

  5. today I was listening to Srila Prabhupadas wonderful lecture about Radha Madan Mohan
    http://www.prabhupadavani.org/main/Caitanya_Caritamrta/CC014.html ,

  6. soma108 says :

    Dear Trivikrama Maharaj,

    Thank you for your comment and posting, as well as for your acknowledgment.

    I would like to add to Giriraj Swami’s wonderful article as follows: As long as we are in this material world and in this material body, we will need to tolerate. That is necessary.

    This morning, in New Dwaraka, I attended Srimad Bhagvatam class and Srila Prabhupada gave a lecture. He said: Krsna is non different than His Name. When you are chanting Hare Krsna, you are associating with His Name. When you are reading Bhagavad Gita, you are associating with Krsna. Krsna is non different than Bhagavad Gita.

    Prabhupada had oftentimes emphasized association. Being in proper association. Association of devotees — this is what I most commonly thought of. Now I will more so think of association of the Holy Name and Bhagavad Gita too. Krsna is everywhere — so it can be very easy to surround our self with this association. This is our safekeeping from the grip of Maya.

    Tolerating gives us the opportunity to become humble. We learn from scripture how to surrender to the Lord. We learn that by surrender we can be happy. And if we give up these mundane attachments our attachment for Krsna will fructify.

    If we struggle and give into material attachment then we only increase our suffering. It is not worth it. Our life is so short and this struggle is useless. Better to be happy and chant Hare Krsna.

    I beg to remain. Your servant,
    Omkara devi dasi

  7. Pusta Krishna das says :

    There is a saying:

    God does not give us what we cannot handle,
    He helps us handle what we are given.

    We have no control over what the world presents us with. That is under the control of Krishna and His agents. But, taking shelter of Krishna, He will provide us with the qualities necessary to advance, dadami buddhi yogam tam. Tolerance is not something you should wrestle with. Rather remembrance of Krishna is always wanting. When there is light, the darkness of ignorance disappears. This process is positive and progressive.

    Association is always desirable. Unfortunately, people are so caught up in their own small existences that the association is not available. The mercy aspect of such association is often more easily talked about than practically realized. Fortunately, Krishna has made Himself so easily accessible through His Holy Names. We shall always take that to heart. Pusta Krishna das

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