Tolerance And Patience Vital To Freedom

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | The Times of India, Speaking Tree Website | August 17, 2016

In my village in Uttar Pradesh, at an early age, i witnessed an incident so upsetting that even today i have a vivid memory of it. There was a mango tree, which was laden with fruit. One day i saw a boy throwing stones at the tree till mangoes rained down on him. What impressed me was that while the boy was giving the mango tree stones, the tree was giving him fruit in return.

I did not react to this incident, but learned a positive lesson from it. I was in the school of nature, which was teaching me this: ‘If someone throws stones at you, even then you should give him fruits in return.’ This would epitomise the highest of values in life. Moreover, this is the greatest way to further one’s intellectual and spiritual development.

In the present world, someone or the other is bound to ‘throw stones’ at you. If you react, you will get nothing but anger in return. But if you curb any reaction on your part, you will have demonstrated certain great things – the spirit of tolerance, the spirit of forgiveness and the capacity to maintain your positivity even in negative situations.

Later on in life, i discovered that in this world of problems, this is the only way to maintain one’s spirituality.

This is the only way of living by which you can satisfactorily develop your personality.

This was the first lesson of my life. This lesson told me what spiritual culture was, how one could maintain one’s mental balance sufficiently to develop a spiritual personality. In my childhood, i understood this lesson unconsciously, but in my later life, this lesson became rooted in my conscious mind. Now it has become second nature to me. Having a nature like this has proved invaluable.

I am an even-tempered person who is not easily provoked or who allows his thinking to become negative. Having such a personality is my greatest asset, and perhaps the credit goes to the village boy who made me learn this lesson through a shocking experience.

We all love freedom. Everyone wants to live with total freedom. But this freedom culture creates a serious problem. That is, when i exercise my freedom, say, by swinging my arms, it is very likely that i hit another person’s nose. The freedom of one person can be a problem for another. Such a situation is an integral part of our lives. No one has the power to eliminate this problem.

When we react to a negative experience and start fighting with another, we are not merely fighting with a person, but are rather infringing on his freedom, which is part of nature and not part of that person. Because we cannot abolish freedom, the result will be that we will be fighting all the time. Thus, we will live in frustration and negativity, and that being so, we will lose our greatest assets – spirituality and positive thinking.

To save our own freedom, we have to tolerate the freedom of others. And to save our own spirituality, we have to overlook the misuse of freedom by others so long as it is within limits. We have to ensure that our own personality development will proceed along the right lines.

The wise way of living in this world is the way of patience. It is the realistic approach to life. Sometimes, we must simply accept things as they are.