Exploring our hatred
Almost all of us have been taught by our culture and families that hatred is bad, wrong and evil. As children, many of us were punished, threatened or rejected if we dared to express any hatefulness. So as adults, we tend to automatically reject our own hateful feelings, fearing that we’ll be outcasts if we don’t.
What we generally don’t see is that our hatred is actually trying to help us, despite the mayhem it causes. After all, it seems to be at the root of much of the world’s suffering, fuelling rejection, abuse, murder and war. And this is absolutely true – when hatred is acted upon, these are its tragic results.
But there is a great difference between acting on an emotion, and just feeling it. We have little control over our emotional uprisings, those winds that continually blow through us, but we can control our actions. What I’m proposing is that, in order to understand it better, we start to become more aware of our hatred, while trusting that we have the power to not act it out on ourselves or those around us.
You may be feeling quite challenged by now, and if so, I invite you to take a deep breath, feel your feet on the floor, and invoke whatever courage and curiosity you have. Let’s use those qualities to explore our hatred and see what it’s really about. And you don’t have to like hatred to do this investigation, so don’t worry if that’s how you feel. The aim is just to explore.
How hatred tries to serve us
When we really sense into our hatred, it can be felt as a dark force whose energy and intent is to destroy. We can see this on many levels. At the personal level, we attack and reject the parts of ourselves that appear to be weak, shameful, unloving or unenlightened, hoping they’ll go away. At a societal level, we punish criminals with the intent of stamping out crime. At a national level, we engage in wars where we kill others who seem to threaten our freedom and peace. And so on.
So let’s look more precisely at what hatred actually wants to destroy. When we do, we see that it always seeks to eliminate whatever obstructs our wellbeing – it wants to annihilate anything that looks like it’s in the way of happiness, harmony, fulfillment, freedom, peace, love, and enlightenment, whether that be a feeling, a person or a nation.
In this way it is trying to help us, but from a very limited perspective. In the physical world, if something’s in our way, it makes sense to get rid of it. If there’s a tree blocking the road, we get out the chainsaw. So the ego assumes that the same method works for emotional impediments, and the very best tool it has is the destructive force of hatred. So the action of our hatred is to hate and reject the parts of us that seem to block what we most desire.
However, this ends up creating exactly the opposite effect that hatred had hoped for, because “what we resist, persists”. The hated parts dig in their heels, solidify their position, and retreat further from consciousness. They push back at the hatred however they can, creating stuck and agitated places in the soul. We are divided against ourselves. The result is tension, agitation, unconsciousness and rigidity.
The power to be
So rather than acting on our impulse to hate or reject, what’s needed is simply to be curious about it and investigate it, just as we would any other emotion. We can just sit with this dark, annihilating force within us. As we work on the issues around it, and slowly deepen into it, we eventually start to uncover its true nature. We find that at the level of Spirit, or Essence, it is actually the power that makes possible the disappearance of the ego. For it is only as the ego dissolves that we can live fully as Essence, and know the profound peace that’s available when all the agitation of ego is gone.
The desire to live as Essence, as peace, contentment and joy, is a true drive in our soul. It is the desire of the soul to know itself fully, as its deepest nature. But in order to live as Essence, all parts of the ego, not just the negative places, eventually need to dissolve. What our hatred attempts to do is to help us “disappear” ourselves in the quest for enlightenment. It does not understand that true annihilation of the ego cannot come from a head-on attack. On the contrary, what eventually dissolves the ego is self-understanding. And we can only understand ourselves when we relax into ourselves with acceptance, curiosity and compassion.
As we do so, we see that hatred is simply a very limited expression of the annihilating power of Essence, which gently dissolves the ego, piece by piece, in the deep, still, luminous, loving blackness of the ground of Being. We discover that slowly, with the help of this power, we can become who we are. We discover that we too are a powerful peace, a peaceful power, and that just as sunlight imperceptibly dissolves the mist, this power annihilates all inner division in the unified ground of Being. We find that we ARE the peace, joy and contentment that we have always sought. And we understand that exploring our hatred as an emotion like any other, is an essential part of the journey towards living as Essence.
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