“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.
Many say “don’t hate, just love” and while we want to love more and reduce our hatred, we don’t as much as we would like. Hate can come spontaneously and is hard to deal with...but there is a way to change it, to move from hate to love. Let’s look at how we can hate less and love more.
“You get older. In the end, you end up accepting everything in your life - suffering, horror, love, loss, hate - all of it.” - Harry Dean Stanton
Hatred won’t go away just because we desire it to. It is not by pushing it back that we will have less hatred, really to push it far from us is like saying “I hate hatred” and really that is just more hatred...and not a strong step closer to love.
To love we must first work on accepting hatred, on making it a normal part of our life, on almost seeking it...and learn from it more.
“What are you saying? That’s insane! I don’t want to hate, I want to love.” Well that’s related, see...love is about observing and accepting our life, learning from any experience that we have, any person we meet, any emotion we live...and hate is a part of it as well. Our hatred deserves our love, our attention and care just like any other emotion inside of us.
When we feel hatred it is difficult to wait, to look at it...we want to lash out and expel it out of us because we dislike it and can’t bear to keep it inside of us...but to reduce it we first have to wait and look at it more deeply.
“Immature love says: 'I love you because I need you.' Mature love says 'I need you because I love you.'” - Erich Fromm
To grow love, we must first make sure that we understand what it is. It seems obvious, to know what love is...but actually a lot of people get it confused with attachment. Attachment is not love, for where attachment says “I want you to make me happy”, love says “I want you to be happy”.
That is a huge difference, phenomenal in fact. Clinging goes against love because it restricts the object that we cling to. We don’t give it any freedom or make any effort to make it more happy, but instead imprison it in our own desire to be happy. Let’s take a concrete example: A friend calls me and asks me to help him move to another apartment. If I don’t want to do any physical effort, I might think “no”...out of hate and rejection, but if I love deeply my friend, I might say “yes” instead to make him happy even though it means that I will go against what I wanted earlier.
“Perfect love is perfectly patient.” - Neal A. Maxwell
If clinging is the opposite of love, then any effort we put to reduce our clinging is the same as growing our love. For example: I hate authority figures, I really do and I am aware of it. Everytime I see a policeman, a professor or a judge I feel uneasy and I want that person or authority symbol to be out of my sight.
Because I know this, I can practice it’s opposite. I can go into a police station and wait there, talk to a policeman and think about him...his struggles and difficulties when it comes to authority...I can look more at what I hate...and that is love and how I can grow it.
When we wait for things to unfold without reacting to them, we learn to let them be and be more patient with them...and to go even further we can think about their own beautiful traits, their importance, and their limits in this life. The more we put effort to be patient and compassionate, the less space left there is for any hate.
“Practice love until you remember that you are love.” - Swami Sai Premananda
Love more...go on...do it ! Welllll it’s not that easy right. Love really requires practice and effort. There is no secret here, to love more we have to...practice loving more. We can start by loving more what we already love...ourselves. Yes, we all love ourselves a lot, because we know ourselves a lot, because we have learned to appreciate who we are for our entire life.
Any practice of love is easier when we start with ourselves, so no need to make our lives more difficult but choosing something hard to love...let's start with the basics. Here are two types of exercises that you can do to love more, whether it’s directed at people, things, or events in your life.
Loving-kindness is the feeling we have when we wish for the well-being and happiness of ourselves or others. That desire is essential, universal, and the start of our journey. Loving-kindness can be developed during meditation through visualization, and should be done in the following way.
First, you visualize yourself and think about your own wish to be happy and in good health. To help you, you can repeat certain phrases such as “May I be well in body and mind”, “May I be at ease and happy”, or express that feeling in your own words.
You should take your time to nurture a strong feeling of loving-kindness toward yourself before including others, and once you feel ready to do so...you should start by directing that feeling toward a person dear to you such as a parent, child or teacher. Gradually, you can include people further away from you such as a friend, a neutral person, and finally a hostile person.
Compassion arises from the contemplation of suffering and the wish for it to end, and reduces by opposite the cruelty, violence, and hate that lives inside ourselves and around us. Just as for loving-kindness, the development of compassion requires visualization and should be done in a particular fashion.
First, you visualize a person that is currently undergoing suffering such as pain, sickness, or old age. Then you meditate on the fact that just like you, this person wishes to be free from suffering. You should keep doing that exercise until a strong feeling of compassion is present.
Once it is strong enough, you can extend your compassion to people who are currently enjoying happiness by immoral means, but will also suffer later on from pain, sickness and old age.
While this meditation does not nurture any particular emotion in it, it does increase one’s patience, focus and understanding of oneself and others. We recommend also this approach which goes as following. Sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and look at your breath as fully as possible. Try to be aware of the air as it comes in and out of your nostrils, and every time you forget about the exercise, just go back to looking at the breath again. Doing as little as 10 minutes of breathing meditation daily can have a major impact on how much hate you transform into love.
At headpause, we organize a free meditation group every week to help you start the practice of meditation and increase your love for life. Or try out our introduction to mindfulness workshop to welcome more love into your daily life.
6 February 2018