I have great appreciation for the Buddhist concept of the “three poisons” or “unwholesome roots”:
• greed (attachment, desire, sensuality),
• hatred (aversion, anger, ill will),
• delusion (confusion, ignorance).
The poisons represent the root causes of suffering, the “craving and clinging” in the second Noble Truth. We encourage suffering when we act with greed, hatred or delusion. We encourage happiness when we act with generosity, loving-kindness or wisdom.
During the 2016 election, I was disappointed with the overt expressions of the poisons, particularly hatred. Things such as appeals to mistrust and hatred of immigrants, and characterizing opponent’s supporters as deplorable. The candidates did not seem to be acting in the best interests of themselves or the country.
I thought about how I might influence this situation. Eventually I put up a “Hatred is Poison” webpage and a Zazzle store and moved on to other things. Predictably, the effects of my work reflected the small amount of effort I put into promoting it. Much public discussion still reflects greed, hatred and delusion. Both sides of American politics still appeal to the poisons. Both sides are still failing.
So here in February 2018 I’m doing a reboot at this neglected blog. Some reflections and quotes. Comments & contributions welcome.
this thing called hatred
The word hatred can have a range of meanings:
from an exaggerated dislike or preference (“I hate washing the dishes”),
to an all-consuming obsession (“I hate them – I want them dead!”).
Hatred is an extreme expression of aversion. We don’t just ignore, avoid, disfavor, dislike, abhor or detest something, we HATE it!
All hatred has negative consequences. Inside the mind, hatred colors our attitude towards life, emphasizing the unsatisfactory and encouraging a general unhappiness. Outside, when we speak or act from hatred we must contend with how other people react.
Even if the situation isn’t serious, the strength of our reaction can foster suffering: if you really HATE washing the dishes, you will suffer while washing the dishes; without the hatred, washing the dishes can just be washing the dishes.
Anger is a related but more inescapable part of life. Anger is an emotion that comes and goes. It is often expressed as an immediate reaction that soon cools. It can get us into trouble, particularly when the mind turns a brief angry reaction into ongoing hatred or belligerence. However, anger can sometimes have apparently positive effects, encouraging the effort needed to resolve a problem.
Hatred can be a holding onto anger.
Hatred can be a continuing force that fuels a smoldering anger.
Hatred can amplify angry reactions: an attitude of hatred can turn a minor affront into an infuriating offense.
Anger is related to fear. Fear is related to flight, anger is related to fight. When we are truly confronted with danger, then anger or fear (fight or flight) are appropriate responses. But it is hard to realistically evaluate danger, particularly in a complex culture where descriptions of dangerous things are used to entertain and persuade. It is easy to get drawn into fear and anger by exaggerations of danger.
But there is a possibility of change:
Less fear leads to less anger
Less anger leads to less hatred
Less hatred leads to less suffering
Less suffering leads to less fear
Give up anger, abandon fury,
do not be vexed;
it can only do harm.
— David (Psalms 37)
An angry person is ugly and sleeps poorly.
Gaining a profit, he turns it into a loss,
having done damage with word and deed.
A person overwhelmed with anger destroys his wealth.
Maddened with anger, he destroys his status.
Relatives, friends, and colleagues avoid him.
Anger brings loss.
Anger inflames the mind.
He doesn’t realize that his danger is born from within.
An angry person doesn’t know his own benefit.
— Buddha (Kodhana Sutta)
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
— Jesus (Matthew 5:43-45 ESV)
In this world
hate never yet dispelled hate.
Only love dispels hate.
This is the law,
ancient and inexhaustible.
— Buddha (The Dhammapada, rendered by Thomas Byrom)
But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
— John the Evangelist (1 John 2:11 ESV)
By doing this [becoming angry] you are like a man who wants to hit another and picks up a burning ember or excrement in his hand and so first burns himself or makes himself stink.
— Buddhaghosa (Visuddhimagga)
When someone criticizes or disagrees with you, a small ant of hatred and antagonism is born in your heart. If you do not squash that ant at once, it might grow into a snake, or even a dragon.
— Jalaluddin al-Rumi (Mathnavi)
“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.
— Martin Luther King Jr (Strength to Love)
Darkness can only be scattered by light, hatred can only be conquered by love.
— Pope John Paul II (Address to the Diplomatic Corps, January 2002)
The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but it is really fear.
— Gandhi (The Story of My Experiments with Truth)
… there are many different kinds of afflictive or negative emotions, such as conceit, arrogance, jealousy, desire, lust, closed-mindedness, and so on. But out of all these, hatred and anger are considered to be the greatest evils because they are the greatest obstacles to developing compassion and altruism, and they destroy one’s virtue and calmness of mind.
— The Dalai Lama (The Art of Happiness)
Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.
— Martin Luther King Jr (Montgomery Alabama, 1956)
To be angry is to let others’ mistakes punish yourself.
To forgive others is to be good to yourself.
— Cheng Yen (Buddhist Quotations on Aversion, Anger and Hatred)
Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
— from the Alcoholics Anonymous tradition (fakebuddhaquotes)
No Scientific Christian ever considers hatred or execration to be “justifiable” in any circumstances, but whatever your opinion about that might be, there is no question about its practical consequences to you. You might as well swallow a dose of Prussic acid in two gulps, and think to protect yourself by saying, “This one is for Robespierre; and this one for the Bristol murderer” [who had previously been cited as objects of hatred]. You will hardly have any doubt as to who will receive the benefit of the poison.
— Emmet Fox (The Sermon on the Mount)
Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate and hate leads to suffering.
— Yoda (Star Wars: The Phantom Menace)