How to Become Tolerant

From Rikhiapeeth Satsangs 4, Swami Satyananda Saraswati Satsangs 4

To become more tolerant of other people's faults, one should first be able to see one's own shortcomings. When you can see your own weaknesses, then you will understand. If you see a fault in someone else, also look for it within yourself.

Buraajo dekhana maina chalaa, buraa na milyaa koee,
Jo dila dekhaa aapnaa, mujha saa buraa na koee.

When I tried to search for bad people, I did not find anyone who was bad;
when I looked into my own heart, I found that no one was as bad as me.

Saints and holy men use this technique; instead of looking at another's faults, one should look for faults within oneself, but this does not often happen. If you see too many faults in yourself, then your self-confidence goes down. You will feel as if you are unworthy. That is why self-introspection is not a natural law. It is nature's law that one cannot see one's own face. Nature has made this law for everyone. People are unable to find their own faults and negative qualities even after searching for them within. At first, you see the fault in another: that person is lazy, talks too much, is very egotistic. Then you analyse those faults, ask what is arrogance and what is jealousy. At first, study these things in others, you will not find them within no matter how hard you try. I can openly say to all of you sitting here that no matter how hard you try, you will not find any fault in yourself. You will find faults only in others.

Learn from the mirror

This is the law of nature. First study another, and then you will know about yourself. How do you know that eyes are supposed to be a certain way? It is because you saw another person's eyes; you saw their nose, lips, hair, forehead, and only then did you know that your own must be similar. Nature has created others as mirrors for us to know ourselves. The other person is your mirror. He shows you what anger is. What do you know about anger? You know about it when another person gets very angry in front of you. Then you say to yourself, 'Oh, this man is very angry, so this is called anger. 'Looking at your parents you will' think, 'My parents love me very much. So this is love.' The textbooks from which you learn about love, anger and hatred are the people around you. Then search for the same fault within yourself.

It is a mistake to look for bad qualities within yourself from the start. That is why at first you gossip about and criticize other people. It is natural to criticize another. It is a law of nature in the process of expansion and evolution of the human mind. How can you state at the start that you are unworthy when you do not know what being unworthy is? That is just forming an opinion, an opinion that you are worthless and of no use at all, without really knowing what it means. This hurts the individual personality. It is the same situation when you praise yourself, 'I am very beautiful, I sing very well, I am very good.' However, do you know what beauty is? What a tuneful voice is? What goodness is? First get to know beauty, music and goodness, and then you will find them within yourself. Otherwise, stating "I am good" will be full of egoism. That is why we have to understand the laws that nature has made while creating life. If someone criticizes you, speaks ill of you, let him. Keep quiet. Do not react. Then, when you are criticizing someone else, look within yourself to see if you can find the same fault there.

The hardest thing in the world is to know oneself. A man can know all things in life yet not know himself. To know one's self is self-realization. This is not an ordinary achievement, but a very high achievement. We say, "You are very good, very wise," but to know one's own self is the greatest achievement in life. The Upanishads call this atmajnana, self-knowledge; someone else has called it God-realization. Swami Sivananda used to say that both are the same, to know God or to know yourself is the same.

-30 October 1997, Rikhiapeeth