2020-06-25: The Roots (4 of 5) Non-Hate
2:51PM Jun 25, 2020
So this topic of the roots, the unwholesome and the roots of the wholesome, is phenomenally important for society, for the world. If all the ways in which human beings live that are harmful, that are unwholesome, arise out of greed, hate and delusion, then we really want to understand these forces in ourselves. And then understand that their opposites, understand the roots of what's wholesome. And what's unique about this teaching of the Buddha, I don't know if unique but noteworthy, is that the way the Buddha defines the wholesome is using the negative prefix not or non. So the wholesome opposite of greed is non greed. The wholesome opposite of hate is non hate. And the opposite of delusion is non delusion. And it's a little bit, can seem maybe a little bit weak to offer this non. It's like an absence or nothing's there. There's nothing you know, that's not very inspiring. But I believe that one of the reasons why this non greed, non hate, non delusion is used is that we don't succumb to the problem of thinking the opposite of these unwholesome things is a particular thing, is a particular beautiful state. Because then we limit ourselves. We've may reify or solidify around this and hold on to that, get stuck on that, and measure ourselves by it or think that that's how I'm supposed to be. If the opposite of hate is love, which is a beautiful opposite, may we have more of it. But if we think that's the only opposite and think that's how we're supposed to be. It can kind of lead to certain kind of freezing up or tightening or confusion, or maybe even an inappropriate application of love in times when something else is needed. For example, maybe what's needed is generosity. Maybe what's needed is a deep sense of acceptance for the person we're with. And love might be nice, but it might be a very different experience to receive than some kind of acceptance.
So there's all kinds of, there's a wide range of things that fit into the category of non hate, and to be fluid, to be able to move and flow between all the different responses that are wholesome. I think it's part of the art of what Buddhist practice is leading us to. And because it's leading us away from any way of being stuck, any way of being holding on to this is how it's supposed to be. There's one way and I have to fit myself into that one way. I think it's very respectful for human beings for us, all of us, to let each of us find our own opposite of hate. Because maybe in different days we tap into some different quality inside of ourselves, or maybe because of our life experience. There's a different quality, we each have different qualities, different ways manifest with non hate is. We don't have to be the same in all this ways. We don't have to measure ourselves by seeing what someone else is that way. And, you know, I suppose to be that way as well. Non hate makes a lot of room for us to kind of be ourselves, to find the response that's appropriate for the situation we're in. And it might look very differen in different situations.
So certainly there are things like all the different flavors of love. There's, you know, loving kindness, there's compassion, there's appreciated joy, there's equanimity, there's anukampā, there's care, caring for people, there's generosity. There is wanting to unite people and create harmony and there is reconciliation, movement towards creating peace for people. There's people itself. For some people not hate, the opposite of that is peace, deep peace.
And so the idea is to find out what it is for each of us. And then the interesting reflection around this is do we have confidence in it? Do we have confidence in non hate? Because one of the reasons people hate is because they feel helpless or hopeless because they have no confidence in the other. In some people the way they behave, they behave you know, if you kind of look at them, it seems like they have a lot of confidence in hate. They really believe in it. They put a lot of effort into it. And they feel justified in having hate. And sometimes it's interesting to see this justification of hate or why in things we have no influence over, things that are far from us. Things that might affect us. But the momentum of the hate is not going to change anything for the better. We don't have any role and any power any, you know, involvement in the choices and decisions there. That the only person who's being harmed is ourself with the hate. Unless we feel like the benefit comes from a feeling of I'm right. I'm right. I'm powerful. I can do something and it's a kind of a unhealthy expression of coming out of a kind of helplessness or hopelessness or lack of faith or lack of confidence in oneself. To have to take and discover how to have confidence, more confidence in non hate. Not by believing it or thinking our way into it. By recognizing what is non hate for ourselves and then beginning to act on it. Confidence is discovered through acting on it. You develop confidence in riding a bicycle if you've never ridden one, by riding the bicycle, and maybe beginning with training wheels. So the same way, the way to develop confidence in non hate. To see the power of it, the value of it, the benefit that comes from it, and how the situation is better served through finding powerful ways of non hate, effective ways. Not ways of kind of accepting things passively and allowing things to continue. But the fierce disapproval that has no hate in it. That doesn't hate individual people, but has fierce disapproval of what they do, and how they are in the world. To have confidence in it, and to develop over time that confidence is an important part of, I think growing and developing in the Dharma.
So to switch where the confidence is, and many people wouldn't think they have confidence in hate, but it doesn't take too much kind of digging under the surface to see well, the however strong it is, there is something that inside that has confidence in it.
And so there's this wonderful teaching. You know, of course, that we can't expect to always have non hate. How then do we practice with the unskillful? How do we practice with things like hate? So there's this wonderful teaching that the Buddha gave and he starts this way. "Do not think," it's interesting he uses the word think here. "Do not think evil, unwholesome thoughts. That is sensual thought, thoughts of ill will, or thoughts of harming." Ill will is this word for hostility. "For what reason? These thoughts are not beneficial. They're irrelevant to the path of practice. They do not lead to dispassion, to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbana." This is a very interesting idea that this ill will or hate or hostility is not beneficial, irrelevant for the path of practice, and does not lead to peace, to enlightenment to Nibbana. But then because of course, we have these things, these kinds of thoughts. And this is what the Buddha says next that I want to share with you. "What you should think about," so don't think those thoughts. What you should think about is "this is suffering, this is the arising of suffering, this is the cessation of suffering, and this is the practice of the cessation of suffering."
So, what's interesting here is that there are times of course, we're going to think on unskillful and unwholesome thoughts, maybe even thoughts of ill will. In those circumstances, rather than saying, now I'm wrong, I'm doing it wrong and being upset or discouraged about oneself. The instructions are to change the orientation we have to being that and seeing it as suffering. Wow, I'm hurting now. There's hurt, there's maybe even self harm that's going on. This is a drag. And I've known people and I've seen it myself. That's the only way I could feel the suffering of my anger or my hostility, and saw how much I was harming myself, that I was willing to let go the way I was holding on to it. But it gets more interesting because it's not just seeing the suffering, but to be present for that suffering well enough, we start seeing it as something that's coming and going. Start seeing the impermanence of it, the inconstancy of it, to see its fluidity and that's the direction towards freedom. The unskillful states like greed, hatred and delusion, lend themselves to a freezing, a tightening, a holding on of not seeing change and impermanence, but seeing a kind of permanence, so this is the way it is. The Dharma is found by discovering the changing nature of phenomena, the fluidity, that we thaw, how we're frozen, we break up the hard knots we get caught into, so that the inner life can be fluid again. And the fluid inner life that flows with things and that can move and not be stuck. That's the place where the wholesome, the beautiful qualities of mind and heart have a chance to flow.
So when when there's hate, the practice of it is to turn around and look at it. And until we can really feel the suffering of what it's like for ourselves, but not just see the suffering, not analyze it or figure it out. But really relax and settle into feel it till we start seeing how it comes and goes, the inconstancy of it. And that's where the chance for a whole different way of being arises. Where the non hate can flow forth. Non hate comes out of the flowing nature of our inner life. When things are free. That's where we should have our confidence.
So thank you. And I believe I'll talk a little bit about the delusion tomorrow, the third of the three roots and we'll see where we go for this and whether we want to spend more time on these roots.
A couple of things I wanted to say, announcements. One is that tomorrow after this little Dharma talk, I thought I would take questions in the chat box and do that. And then maybe next week, we can do one another, these community meetings on zoom if you want to meet each other and talk and like that. However, I won't be here next Friday. So we'll do that on Thursday. And Friday, we won't have one of these sittings next week. I'm taking a little vacation with my wife. And then the other thing I wanted to let you know is that in the little bit thinking of this, you all participating here and these morning sittings. We're having a retreat, an online retreat from July 16 to 19th that through the insight retreat center, that you're welcome to sign up for, it's kind of designed to be very inclusive of a lot of people and maybe suited suited for people, both for beginners and experienced people. And one that is a little bit of continuation of these, the way I'm teaching here for these early mornings. So some of you might be interested.
So until tomorrow, I hope that you're well, I hope that your exploration of hostility, hate and now non hate is something where you can bring more non hate and all the different aspects of it into your life. Thank you.