The Tolerant Heart
There are lots of ways to be aware of the negative potential in one’s relationships. The emotional and psychological dynamics in a family comes to mind as being full of negative potential in the love dilemma department.
How, what, when and why do we reside here so often in loving affection and angry frustration: Because the family says it all—the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. Therefore the family offers us a lifetime of challenge to live vital and emotionally intimate lives if we can allow ourselves to feel and then learn to trust and engage our tolerant nature in that feeling place.
Jack Kornfield, (2001) the articulate Buddhist teacher writes about the importance of acceptance and tolerance in families, between partners and with our children. He encourages one to develop in loving relationships “the tolerant heart” (p. 221).
Kornfield writes in his book After the Ecstasy the Laundry, that while “traditional teachings focus so often on love and its transformative spirit…we can overlook a more basic and fundamental power, the tolerant heart” (p.221).
Facing the love dilemma requires no less than the tolerant heart. In the tolerance of other’s way of being in the world we discover their rhythm, aesthetic sense, emotional responses and fears. They discover ours. Kornfield again, “Without tolerance there is no ground for relationship, no possibility of intimacy. Without tolerance family life can be unbearable” (p. 222). Our beloved is our deepest relationship and the one we come to when frustrated and hurt. In this closeness we can too often become critical and judging of each other. That is why says Kornfield, “The birth of tolerance and acceptance is most truly won close to home” (p. 223). In the mist of great celebration and joy and in the throes of great frustration, disappointment and pain often what our divine self truly wants is to be “held in spite of it all”. (p223).
Kornfield says of his own partnership with his wife and family, “I have come to be nourished and protected by my family and to love it as it is, and praise my wife’s wisdom every day” (p. 224).
“Family is a mirror. In our spouses, our lovers, our parents and children we find our needs and hopes and fears writ large” that is why even in our families, to say that we love one another underneath it all is not enough. We also need to be tolerant and respectful of one another” (p. 225).
The tolerant heart offers the union of “the two” who come together—the opportunity to practice the negative potential of the good the bad, the ugly and the beautiful surrounding our daily lives. Remembering the tolerant heart helps us listen and wait “together” for what can comes next — the quiet holding of each other in tolerance and grace.