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Why to Become Free from Hatred

angry man“Occasions of hatred are certainly never settled by hatred. They are settled by freedom from hatred. This is the eternal law”
(Dhammapada 5).

Let us not waste our time trying to apply this to world peace or strife among nations. Certainly the principle enunciated by Buddha would bring peace, but vast numbers of people are simply not going to follow spiritual wisdom. That is the nature of the world. It is the violent ward of the lunatic asylum we call the universe. Everyone here is either an active or a recovering homicidal maniac. This is the truth. Recovery is never in a group; it is entirely an individual matter. The intelligent recognize this and work toward their own recovery so they can be released from the cosmic booby hatch. They may encourage and even assist other individuals who wish to further their own cure, but they can accomplish nothing on a mass level.

Also, we need to cure ourselves of addiction to “others.” We are individuals and have to live as individuals. What others think or do should not influence us at all. Whether we are supported or opposed it should make no difference at all. We should do the needful and get off the revolving wheel of birth and death. And it is only done one-by-one, not in batches or multitudes. Buddha’s wisdom must be applied personally to our own lives. Even if millions do so it will still be absolutely individual. A vast forest is green because each tree in the forest is green. There is no “universal green” in the forest, it is all individual.

All right: what shall we do? Well, first of all, negativity is never counteracted by like negativity. So we do not react with hatred, anger, or suchlike. But neither do we mistakenly think that “positive” reaction is the answer either. Yes, I know, we have been told from Day One that love overcomes hatred, generosity overcomes selfishness, and gentleness overcomes violence. IT DOES NOT. Since negativity directed toward us comes from within us, our overt response effects nothing. Buddha does not say that love cancels out hatred. He says something far more profound (and practical): freedom from hatred within ourselves eliminates hatred directed toward us. Nothing else. Oh, indeed, we can shame others by our positive reaction, and even make them conclude (selfishly) that “nice” is more advantageous than “nasty.” But in the long-term nothing will change, just be delayed.

Until we are freed from negativity–consciously and subconsciously–negativity will occur in our life. That is the fact. Buddha says: “This is the eternal law.” Until we become incapable of evil our lives will be riddled with evil.

Further reading—the Dharma for Awakening Series:

  • Dhammapada for Awakening — A full commentary on the Dhammapada, a collection of the words of Gautama Buddha on the most important subjects for those seeking Nirvana. It was compiled only three months after his passing away by his enlightened disciples (arhats), who gave it the name Dhammapada, which means “Portions of the Dharma” or “The Way of Dharma.” The Dhammapada is a distillation of forty-five years of teaching.
  • Bhagavad Gita for Awakening  — The endless spiritual treasures of this essential scripture have been mined by saints, scholars, and devotees throughout the ages. Through a unique combination of exhaustive study and scholarship, and insight and wisdom gleaned from personal experience, Abbot George Burke’s commentary offers new gems that will enrich all true seekers.
  • Upanishads for Awakening  — A commentary on the main Upanishads, the eleven texts (upanishad means “teaching”–literally “that which was heard when sitting near”) which were attached to the Vedas, the ancient hymns of the Indian sages, and also knows as Vedanta, the End of the Vedas.
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