So much hate in the world. I get it. There is alot of evil out there. But some days it feels overwhelming…what we read, hear, see, comment on and chat about inevitably includes hateful thoughts. (And I am NOT talking about politics:).
It’s on social media. It’s in the schools. It’s in the workplace. It’s in our local town and social connections. At times it seems our culture and society have become so full of hate and judgment of one another that it’s hard to ignore. It’s all around us.
Do hateful thoughts come into your own brain? Do you get really upset about people, situations or things that happen to you on a daily basis? And do your private thoughts turn to hate in those circumstances? Do you react in anger? And how do you react to people that are cruel, mean and unkind to you?
And even if you aren’t someone who has hate in them, do you judge others cruelly? Are you quick with a negative opinion about someone? Are you easily annoyed or frustrated or critical of others?
I used to have hate and negative thoughts about others in my life. No more.
One of the biggest influences Buddhism has had on me is the concept of “No Disparage”.
This is conveyed in the story of Bodhisattva Never Disparaging (an actual historical person)…
“Never Disparaging is described as having lived in the remote past. It was his practice to bow in reverence to everyone he met and praise that person’s inherent Buddha nature. This, however, only provoked violence and abuse in return.
Never Disparaging was for many years cursed and humiliated, beaten with sticks and staves, and pelted with tiles and stones by countless monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen because he venerated them by uttering the twenty-four characters that read: ‘I have profound reverence for you, I would never dare treat you with disparagement or arrogance. Why? Because you are all practicing the bodhisattva way and are certain to attain Buddhahood.’
Over time, as a result of these actions, Never Disparaging’s humanity comes to shine to the extent that those who had despised him are moved to become his disciples and thus enter the path of attaining Buddhahood themselves. The effort required, however, is precisely that fundamental energy that can bring about the positive transformation of society. As the renowned buddhist leader and teacher Daisaku Ikeda writes, ‘The key to the flowering of humanity of which Buddhism speaks is steadfast belief in people’s goodness and dedication to cultivating this goodness in oneself and others.'”
So the concept is simply to see people you encounter who are consumed with hate as being capable of goodness themselves. See their struggles. See their suffering. Have compassion for them. Have love in your heart for them.
Now, when I see someone acting cruel or unkind, I think to myself, “What pain must they be suffering from?” “I wonder who must have hurt them so badly that they act out like this.””They must have so much hurt in their lives that they need to act unkindly and bring attention to their own suffering.”
I know this sounds so hard to do. So utopian. So passive. But one of the things I have learned in my own journey towards living a more spiritual and healthy life is that if you carry anger and hate, you are no better than the people who you are so quick to judge. And that anger is truly poison and it causes more harm to the person giving it than the one receiving it…
In my life, I now see people that are mean and abusive as suffering. I think thoughts of compassion about them. I don’t therefore give their actions any power to hurt me, because they are only hurting themselves. Their words and actions have no power or meaning to me. I try to teach my young kids the same as they encounter this daily.
It’s incredibly liberating to think this way and the weight of carrying these resentments and negative thoughts in the past has lifted a huge burden for me. It’s as if I was carrying luggage around all the time and, all of sudden, this practice of “No Disparage” has enabled me to walk through life without any baggage. Only love and compassion for everyone I encounter, regardless of their own actions.
Imagine if more people didn’t react to other people’s anger with anger. If hate wasn’t met with hate. If judgment wasn’t met with judgment. Perhaps those with the anger and hate would eventually come to emulate those that carry the love and compassion.
Try it. Even if you can’t change the other person, you will undoubtedly change yourself.