Anger and Hatred
Spoken by Supreme Master Ching Hai
Lecture at Harvard University, Boston, U.S.A.
October 27, 1989 (Originally in English)
Q: I often find myself feeling anger and hatred. I think that's preventing me from knowing this Wisdom. I see people who have a great spiritual practice, and they tend to be very loving and very calm. I wonder how and why that is so. Can You give me some wisdom as to why there are anger and hatred, and how one goes about stopping them?
M: First we have to know the nature of anger and hatred in order to root them out. Anger and hatred are just ways of protection. Sometimes you feel threatened by other people's opinions, their way of life, or behavior. They may harm your ego, your pride, your body, or your mind, so you become angry and resentful.
Hatred is a very strong word. I wouldn't like to use it every day because actually what we do is resent, not really hate. Hatred is deeper than that. Mostly we resent others when we feel threats to our security. Therefore, do not blame yourself too much when you become angry. Just analyze where that anger has come from and whether you are in the right or in the wrong. Sometimes you have the right to show a little outward anger in order to protect yourself. The question is not to stop anger, but to know when you should show a little anger and when you should not; and to control it and to use it to your advantage, not to stop it altogether.
I have a little story about a snake for you. There was a very big and vicious snake. He lived in a tree hole, and he always ate the chickens and scared and bit the people, so everyone in the village was scared of him. One day a great yogi came to that place, sat there, and meditated. The snake felt very peaceful and transformed. He asked the yogi how to suppress his vicious, bad nature - how to become a good snake. The yogi taught him the Five Precepts: you shall not harm people; you have to eat vegetarian; you do not tell lies; you do not do such and such; you do not gamble - which the snake didn't know about anyway. So, the foremost thing for him was not to harm people. The snake said, "From today, I will practice meditation, eat vegetarian, I won't eat chickens any more, and I also won't bite people."
One day the yogi had to go away for some days. He told the snake to stay home, practice meditation, and wait for him. The children passed by and saw the snake now sitting very quietly in meditation and in samadhi, so they were not afraid of him any more. They wanted to avenge because before they had been afraid of him, so they took a stone and threw it at him. The snake didn't do anything. The Master didn't say you should not be angry, but you shouldn't harm people. He meant that you should not show any violence at all. Ahimsa means nonviolence. The snake kept quiet and tried to meditate again, but the children kicked him, pulled his tail, and whirled him in a circle. The snake got very dizzy. Then they threw him, beat him on the tree trunks, and did all kinds of things.
All of his body was bruised, black and blue, and he lay there half dead. The Master came home and said, "What happened to you?" The snake said, "It was because of the Five Precepts - nonviolence." The yogi was very surprised, "What nonviolence?" "You taught me not to be violent, so yesterday the children came, pulled my tail, and threw stones at me. I didn't react, so they carried on with their play until now; I nearly died." The Master said, "You are stupid. I didn't tell you not to hiss. You can hiss to scare people away."
That is the difference between having wisdom and not having it. When we have no wisdom and are not enlightened, we are carried away by our own emotions. When we have wisdom and enlightenment, we use emotions to suit our occasion and advantage. It doesn't mean we should altogether eliminate emotions; we just know how to use them. It is just like a gun in the hand of a good man. He can just shoot where he wants; he doesn't shoot all over the place and kill many people. Now if you want to have this control-power, and wisdom, you have to have enlightenment, and the way to get enlightenment is through an experienced Teacher. Just like if you want to learn English, you have to find an experienced English teacher, that's all. I can offer you this.