Yoga, Compassion, & Tolerance – Part 1
16 November is International Day for Tolerance. Jivva, a yoga, meditation & mindfulness community, invited me for a webinar collaboration with the topic of tolerance. Before they approached me, I didn’t know that there’s such a thing called ‘International Day for Tolerance’. Turned out it’s been observed since 1995, initiated by The United Nations.
The webinar was held on 15 November 2020 through Zoom. It went well with about 60 participants attending. Below is the content of my presentation.
What is compassion? Compassion means “to suffer together, and have the intention to reduce the suffering of others”. I find this picture of Anja Ringgren Lovén giving drinks & food to a starved child really speaks for compassion.
Story behind the picture: in Nigeria there’s this superstition that children can be born as a witch; and when the family thinks so, the child is cast away. This boy was just 2 years old and left alone by his family to die. Anja found a charity organization DINNødhjælp, which has been protecting and rescuing children accused of being witches in Nigeria since 2012.
Tolerance means the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behaviors that one does not necessarily agree with.
I asked a quick poll to the participants of the webinar, the question was “Do you think the world now is….”
- More tolerant
- Less tolerant
Result: almost 70% thinks the world now is less tolerant.
I chose ‘both’ – I think in some ways the world is becoming more tolerant, but also less tolerant in other ways.
I gave a trivial example.
Story behind the picture: Some hardcore religious organization protested about the graphics of Indonesia’s Independence Day, saying that the graphics resembles Christian cross. The government had to issue a clarification, denying any religious elements on the design.
There are plenty of other more serious examples, like racism, religion-related violence, gender & sexual orientation, etc.
What’s the relation between yoga, compassion, and tolerance?
I think yoga make someone more compassionate and more tolerant. The question is… how so?
Yoga makes us become more in tune with our inner world, more aware of what’s going on inside. When we are more in tune with ourself, we’re also become more in tune with others; we feel what’s going on with the other person. This is empathy; and empathy is the base for compassion and tolerance.
To be continued to Part 2, where I’ll discuss where tolerance & compassion are mentioned in Patañjali’s Yogasūtra.