You Too Are Correct
To reflect on our ability to respect and tolerate all opinions with no need to refute anyone. Let’s begin with a short story:
Two monks who came out of a lecture by their master got into a hot debate regarding what they had heard during the lecture. Each of them insisted that his understanding was the correct one. To settle the dispute, they went to see the master for a judgement. After hearing the argument put forth by the first monk, the master said, “You are correct!” The monk was overjoyed and, smirking in triumph, left the room. The second monk was upset and started to explain his understanding to the master. After he finished, the master looked at him and said, “You are also correct.” Hearing this, the second monk brightened up and went on his way. A third monk, who was also in the room, was greatly puzzled by what he had seen. He said to the master, “I am confused, master! Their positions regarding the issue are completely opposite. They can’t be both right! How could you say that they are both correct?” The master smiled as he looked into the eyes of this third monk, “You too are also correct!”
Each of the monks walked away feeling content that he was correct. How did the master achieve this? Having no need to refute anyone’s point of view, the master quietly listened and allowed each monk the freedom to express his point of view, which for each monk was the correct one since it was his point of view. Often, we think that one point of view must prevail over another; somebody must be right and somebody must be wrong. The diversity of beliefs, opinions, understanding, etc. that we encounter on a daily basis is sometimes difficult for us to accept. Let’s read what Swami has said about this:
This is the age of Kali (Darkness), which is often described as Kalaha Yuga, the age of discord in which there will be misunderstanding and quarrels between husband and wife, father and son, preceptor and disciples. Giving up the quarrelsome attitude, people must cultivate love and compassion and shine as embodiments of the love which they really are. (SS May 1994 p123)
Always respect another’s opinion and another’s point of view. Don’t start a quarrel at the slightest difference of opinion. He may be right and you may be wrong! Ponder over his argument. He might have had the advantage of knowing more about the subject. Or he may not know as much as you do. (GA p129)
First, be fixed in the Consciousness that you are the immortal Soul, which is indestructible, which is holy, which is pure and divine. That will give you unshakable courage and strength. Then, you must develop a mutual love and respect. Tolerate all kinds of persons and various opinions, all attitudes and peculiarities. (TOSSSB p. 92)
Questions for Discussion:
Quote #1: Being born in the age of Kali (Darkness), we are especially challenged to give up quarrelsome attitudes. Let’s focus our attention on family. On a scale from 1-10, how would you describe your need for your point of view to prevail in discussions with family members (10 being the strongest need). Do you allow family members the freedom to express their point of view without your being argumentative?
Quote #2: In this quote, Swami counsels us to exercise restraint and not be so quick to discount another’s opinion. This is harder to do, of course, when we have strong beliefs about the topic. Do you find yourself getting into heated debates about certain topics?
Quote #3: With this quote, we are reminded of the master in the story. Swami tells us that once we abide in the Consciousness of being the immortal Soul, we can accept with mutual love and respect all kinds of persons and opinions, all attitudes and peculiarities without the need to change any of them. They are all correct as the master in the story said. Are you open to accepting this challenge? What habits can you cultivate to help you do so?
During the week, let’s get to know ourselves a little better to realize how tolerant we are of other people’s points of view. There’s no need to change anything; just observe. When conversing with family, friends, or coworkers, observe how you react (mentally, verbally, emotionally or physically) when confronted with a differing opinion or an opposing point of view.
(key to citations: SS – Sanathana Sarathi, GA -Golden Age, TOSSSB -Teachings of Sri Sathya Sai Baba)