Hatred ends

Hatred never ends through hatred.
By non-hate alone does it end.
This is an ancient truth.

Many do not realize that
We here must die.
For those who realize this,
Quarrels end.

– Dhammapada verses 5, 6, translated by Gil Fronsdal

Hatred, anger, ill-will – these emotions give our life a certain shape, by their presence or absence. When we are angry, it consumes our mind and energy; it colors the world. We feel larger than life, powerful, REAL. When anger subsides, the sense of ME, and only ME, subsides with it.

This is an essential inquiry for anyone who wants to move towards wholesome actions and away from unwholesome ones. Wholesome actions are pretty well impossible when the mind is carrying hatred. It’s up to us to find a way to interrupt the flow of anger when it comes up. Rather than feeding the fire with the fuel of angry thoughts, we can turn our attention elsewhere. Or, as the verse suggests, we can remember that whatever we’re fighting about becomes less urgent when seen in the context of our death. We are all vulnerable, mortal (possibly fearful) beings, temporarily here together. How can a usurped parking space matter?

The Pali word vera is here translated as “hatred”. It could also be rendered as “enmity” or “hostility”. Its opposite, avera, is problematic in English. Non-hate and love are not exactly the same thing. We all know what it feels like to hate someone and then for the hate to stop. It’s more of a clearing out, a peaceful, even-keeled feeling than most of the ones we classify as “love”. “Love” in English has a huge bucketful of meanings, and none of them quite fits the feeling of calm and peace that non-hate describes, though something very like unconditional love is present every time hatred ceases.

This is a very famous verse. If you were thinking of choosing a few verses to memorize, these would be a good choice. They might come in handy at various points in your day.

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