The three roots 5 – hatred

Greed, hatred, delusion
Generosity, loving kindness, wisdom

Now we’re on to my specialty: hatred (dosa in Pali). It’s a strong word and represents a wide range of meanings from boredom through irritation, impatience, and aggravation, all the way to blind fury and rage.

Though I’m more familiar with this quality than with greed, there are parallels. Like greed, hatred leads us to stay obsessed with the self and to ignore the needs and feelings of others. However, we are not helpless in the face of these internal challenges — if we make persistent attempts to investigate and counteract them.

I witnessed an interesting exercise in understanding anger/hatred earlier this year. A forgiveness technique was presented which made the connection (strongly for me) between expectations and anger. Whenever we get angry, it’s because we hold some expectation that’s not being met. Sometimes it’s a reasonable expectation, but often it’s not.

Think about what irritates you. Frequently it’s something we feel shouldn’t be the way it is. Examples: my mother shouldn’t be so interested in the details of my life, my mother should be more interested in me, my friend/boss/partner should understand me without my spelling things out, other drivers should signal before changing lanes, airlines should not hold up passengers, public spaces should be heated/air conditioned to a temperature comfortable for me, etc. You could even think things like: there shouldn’t be any wars, people should all respect each other, no one should use drugs or be mentally ill. All of these expectations are guaranteed to provide us with plenty of frustration.

My least favorite situation is feeling physically or financially trapped, like being in an airplane that’s stuck waiting on the runway, or taking a cab in a strange city where I don’t know what the fare should be. I make an effort to arrange things so these situations are avoided or minimized, but obviously, it’s sometimes impossible. When I find myself trapped, I’m often shocked by the intensity of my own reactions and I have to apply all the wisdom I’ve got to keep my temper under control. Sometimes it doesn’t work and I just quietly (or not so quietly) freak out.

Does that sound like a practice opportunity to you?

1 Comment

Filed under Anger, General

One response to “The three roots 5 – hatred

  1. Keri

    I very rarely use the ‘hate’ word but yesterday, out of nowhere I found myself expressing a phenomena that I hate. It shocked me that I used the word and with the way it blurted out, I knew I wasnt just kidding. No doubt I felt that the person I was speaking to would totally agree with me but no, it was quite the opposit and she skillfuly and kindly asked me to ask myself a few questions. I’m now doing my best not to beat myself up about it too much and ‘trying’ to be grateful to the ‘phenomena’ for reminding me that I’m not a buddha yet.

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