“Tolerance” means to tolerate blame from others and even insults. When faced with such difficult situations, should we exercise tolerance or retaliate mercilessly? Why do Buddhists always tell us to tolerate others? What is the truth of tolerance? Master JinBodhi explains the importance of tolerance with his trademark humor and wisdom.

【You willearn】

  • How to be tolerant
  • The benefits of tolerance
  • The four praises and four humiliations within the “eight winds” theory

【Featured aphorism】

  • Accepting insults can make you strong and powerful.
  • Only with a forgiving heart can you resolve difficulties.


Do you understand what tolerance means? It means to tolerate insults. To tolerate others’ blame. Maybe others say, “Why are you so ugly? Why didn’t you do the work well?” It is insulting indeed. But sometimes, it is really your mistake.

When you hear “Why didn’t you do the work well,” it doesn’t sound as pleasant as “Wow, well done!” You must be happy hearing praise. When others blame you, you feel insulted. You feel your character is insulted. But sometimes when others criticize you and point out your mistakes, they don’t mean to insult you, but it sounds unpleasant so you take it as an insult. It is actually not insulting. People like to hear pleasant things. You accept all praise, but reject any negative language and emotion.

Also, if it is truly insulting, we need to learn to bear and accept it. Once you can do this, you are stronger and more powerful. Analyze others’ blame. If they are right, accept it. We elevate when we correct ourselves. You did something wrong and your boss said, “You didn’t do it well.” Correct it and do it right next time.

I used to remind people when they didn’t do things well. Some misunderstood me. Once when I was traveling from Qinghai to Tibet, there was no bus for passengers, only big trucks. I realized a wheel of the truck was turning abnormally. Usually, the wheels are aligned, especially for trucks. I often traveled, so I was experienced. When I saw the wheel shaking, I knew some screws were loose. If it flew off the truck, not only would the truck lose a wheel, people might get injured. I waved at the driver, pointing to the back. He knew it was the wheel. Drivers all know that.

He stared at me and shouted, “Damn it, you want a ride?” He thought I would take advantage of him. I was still frowning, meaning something serious.

He ignored me. After a while, the wheel flew into a valley ahead. I warned him, but he thought I wanted to take advantage of him. So, he had to run for a kilometer to retrieve the wheel. It was so difficult! The mountain slope was over 50m high. The wheel was heavy, not only the rubber tire, the iron rim in the center weighed at least 50kg.

By the time he had carried it back, he was exhausted. So I helped him install the wheel. “My friend, I was trying to kindly warn you.” He said, “Oh, I thought you wanted to get a ride from me.” I said, “What is wrong with that since I am so handsome?” He said, “To be honest, if a beautiful girl waved at me, I would stop. I don’t stop for a handsome man. Many tried this trick for a ride to Tibet.” With tolerance, you can avoid your own trouble.

Thus, learning to tolerate plays an important part in cultivation. It can transform a petty, ordinary small self into a saint. We call it “big self.” There is a process of changing into a selfless person. In the process of changing from small self to big self, we need fortitude. Some people would insult you on purpose, saying you did something wrong, but in fact what you did is correct. We are not talking about perfection. That doesn’t exist. When you are right, others deliberately say you are wrong. This is to challenge your fortitude and endurance.

People with fortitude are certainly broadminded. Your mind and inner world can tolerate many negative things. We know that many people’s brain capacity isn’t large enough to keep all good things and bad.

I have told many stories. Students in China have read the story “Fan Jin Passed the Imperial Examination.” Fan Jin had been studying hard for the imperial exam. He failed many times until he was about 50, then he finally passed. An official came to the village calling, “Anyone named Fan Jin? He passed the imperial exam.” Fan Jin heard the news and became insane. He had a good memory but poor bearing capacity. His lack of merits and virtues led to his mental illness.

Is anyone like this? In every 100 people, about one to 3 of them are like this. Without enough blessings, they can’t hold anything, either good or bad.

It would be worse for bad things. People like Fan Jin, with poor bearing capacity, will hate you forever if you say they are not good, as they are petty. People with the great bearing capacity to hold negative comments are very few. People with such power tend to achieve success easily. Because of their fortitude.

With fortitude, they are composed and think, “Was it my fault or was he just insulting me? If I was wrong, I will correct myself.” What a great attitude! If you have the broadmindedness to contain all, and then analyze and dissect matters, you wouldn’t feel any negativity. That is wisdom. To obtain wisdom, you must be able to accept and bear insults. Such insults forge strong fortitude. Fortitude unlocks wisdom.

A reminder for those seeking higher mental states: In the past, I had to leave my country because there were different comments from different people about me. Some made up stories to defame me. Some told me, “Master, they criticized you. Are you this kind of person?” “No, I am not.” “But I read several articles giving the same criticism.” I said, “They are elevating me.” He said, “They say you are a cheater.” “They don’t even know me. How can they know I am a cheater?” “They said you teach wrong dharma.” “They don’t know what Buddhadharma is. How can they know I teach it wrong?” It hones my fortitude, analyzing ability and tolerance.

People with little bearing capacity will explode with one negative comment. They are disturbed. In the past, when 2 countries were at war, the commanders or leaders of the armies were studied. Zhuge Liang, in the Three Kingdoms period, fought with East Wu. He knew the commander of East Wu was Zhou Yu. “Zhou Yu is smart, capable and has strong executive power, but he is narrowminded. I’ll make him angry.” He didn’t fight Zhou Yu with weapons, he used words to anger him. So there is the story “Angering Zhou Yu 3 Times.”

Finally, Zhou Yu was angered to death. He was only in his 30s. Zhuge Liang made the greatest contribution to his death. To anger him, he didn’t use any weapon, just gossip. One’s broadmindedness matters. Zhou Yu was smart and capable. He was good at the art of war and fighting. Why anger him to death? Zhou Yu was the best commander. If the best commander dies, no one better could replace him. It would be easier to beat the Wu Kingdom. Thus, what is a weapon? It could be anything. It doesn’t have to be a knife or gun.

When facing insults, negativity and slander, be composed. A well-known story contains the line, “8 winds can’t move a composed person sitting on a purple and golden throne.” It was a popular story about the famous poet Su Dongpo. One day, he was meditating. He was a cultivator too. As a philosopher or writer, his inspiration came from the greater, wider world. Studying Buddhism one day, he felt as if he were radiating golden light.

Across the river lived his old friend, Meditation Master Fo Yin. Then Master Fo Yin said, “That is crap.” Su Dongpo heard him. “Wow, you scold me with bad language! I am leaving.” He was rowing his boat toward home. Master Fo Yin waved to him and said, “I thought you were sitting composedly on the lotus seat. But a fart sent you across the river. I just said ‘fart’ and you ran away angrily. You have no fortitude at all.” The 8 winds did move him.

What are these 8 winds? Let’s review them. Praise… Try to remember step-by-step. If not today, gradually retain all this. Praise. Everyone likes being praised. Second: sarcasm; harsh, bitter irony. Third: disgrace; often being humiliated and blamed. It is the bad stuff, attack and destruction. Fourth: decline, hopelessness. Fifth: honor and glory. Sixth: benefits; it is about gaining advantages or benefits. Seventh: suffering; bitterness. You all know it, no need to explain. Eighth: pleasure. They consist of 2 groups of 4 things, 4 favorable and 4 adverse.

4 favors please you; they are positive. However bad-looking you are, one says, “You look so beautiful.” Try it with the person sitting beside you, looking into the eyes. Then today everyone will eat well and sleep tight. It sounds pleasing. Adverse ones are negative. As for 4 favorable ones and 4 adverse ones, what is easily accepted is favorable. What is rejected and unacceptable is adverse. These 8 worldly winds are from others, not you. They are passed to you and you feel them. Will they affect your emotions, muscles, or create tension in your heart? Think about it. Will they? (Yes.) Will they affect your sleep? (Yes.) They will affect sensitive people’s sleep, appetite and moods.

Through tolerance, we cultivate fortitude. In practicing fortitude, bearing insult is often thought to be negative. But let me remind you of this: When it comes to the 8 worldly winds, whether it is praise or censure, even disgrace or insult, we should learn to accept. At the beginning, you don’t have such high wisdom. What to do? Learn what I taught today: to accept. “It doesn’t matter. Maybe it was my fault.” Then analyze where your fault was. If you can’t find it, maybe there was miscommunication. We ought to judge right or wrong and view matters from different perspectives.

I hope you all have the broadmindedness to face compliments, insults and defamation. Treat and accept all good and bad situations rationally. Tolerance is important for our achievements.

Learn to be tolerant and accepting. Broadmindedness helps us to be unwavering in all good and bad times.