By Dada Vaswani
It is not enough to remove hatred from your heart for those who have hurt you, you need to replace it with love, says Dada Vaswani The Bhagavad Gita, that universal scripture, the Bible of humanity, tells us about the ideal man – the stitha prajna – the man who is calm in wisdom, the man of utter peace of spirit, who lives and moves in peace, and has his being rooted in God. The Gita tells us that such a man is without raga (attraction) and dvesha (hatred). He is free from the dominion of the passions. He is a stranger to hatred, fear and anger. How different is such a man from the unstable individual, who is feeble-minded, prone to violent likes and dislikes! The latter is easily perturbed, constantly in a state of fear, worry, excitement or anger. He is prone to irritation and vexation, and is perpetually restless. Hatred corrodes. It does not merely poison your relationship with the people you choose to hate; it corrodes you from within. This hatred is like an unseen virus that infects the whole environment around us. I have come to the conclusion that hatred is not merely destructive: hatred is self-punishment. Very often, our ill-will and resentment cannot touch the other person – but we have our life poisoned by our negative feelings. We lose our inner peace which leads to anguish and misery all around. Sincere introspection made Dada Vaswani realise the value of replacing hatred with love I recall an incident from my youth which brought home this lesson to me in a most striking manner. In my youthful days, I felt continuously drawn to the company of holy men, especially the fakirs and wandering ascetics and pirs who frequented the sacred land of Sind where I was born. It is said that the soul always finds what it seeks most. In those early days, when my heart was increasingly drawn towards mysticism and yearning for the Divine, these holy men who crossed my path played a great role in shaping my life and leading me towards my ultimate goal – service of my Master and spreading of his message. It has been my good fortune and grace that many such men of God, dervishes and pirs have met me and shared with me valuable truths that I cherish till today! They were not teachers of the conventional type, who delivered homilies or spelt out morals and values. They taught through precepts as well as practice. I recall one such dervish, in whose company I spent quite some time. He always greeted me with love and freely shared his insights and wisdom with me. It seemed to me that he had special affection for me. If perchance I was unable to meet him for a few days, he would send for me and ask me whether all was well. I cherish the happy and unforgettable moments I spent with him. I was being shaped and moulded for my spiritual goal. One day, when I turned up for my usual meeting, I felt he greeted me rather coldly. When I attempted to talk to him, he seemed to turn away from me. When I persisted in seeking his attention, he ordered me to leave his company at once and come some other time. I was very young then; so I felt both hurt and humiliated. Though his abrupt and rude behaviour troubled me, I obeyed him implicitly. I got up from the front row where I was seated at his feet, and left his company at once. But my heart was deeply troubled. Instinctively, I knew that the dervish was not a volatile man of moods, given to kindness and love one day, and pouring out hatred and indifference the next day. Why had he hurt me so badly, and that too, in public? How could someone who had treated me with such love and affection all these days suddenly turn hostile towards me? I thank the Lord that even at that early stage of my life, I did not dwell very long on why he was doing this. Rather, I instinctively asked myself: what had I done, knowingly or unknowingly, to deserve such behaviour from my mentor? Friends, I had to think hard; I had to think for long. The moment I began to analyse my own feelings, I had the answer. The poison of hatred and animosity had entered my heart. I had been nursing strong feelings of bitterness and resentment against a brother who had behaved very badly towards me. I was in the grip of wrath and I had gone to see the dervish, deliberately suppressing my anger, so that it did not show in my face or eyes. But that negative force was in my heart, and he, a sensitive soul, must have felt it! This realisation did not come to me in a flash. I had to work on my own feelings before I realised what had happened. I must have been sending out very strong negative vibrations, caused by the hatred and bitterness I was carrying in my heart. It was all this negative energy that had caused the holy man to behave the way he did to me. It was not easy for me to arrive at this realisation or indeed to accept it calmly. It took me a few hours to calm my raging mind and to admit that whether or not the brother had deserved that strong negative current of emotions, it had done me a lot of harm. For the first time in my adult life, I had allowed strong animosity and hatred to take hold of my heart. It was the first experience of hatred, and it was a bitter experience for me. I had to struggle to quell the turmoil raging in my mind, first and foremost. An injured ego is not easy to handle. I had to make a valiant effort to understand myself and remove all traces of bitterness against the brother who had angered me so much. At long last, I was able to still the raging mind, and in the reflection and introspection that ensued, I was able to perceive clearly what I had to do. I say this to you effortlessly now; but it was not that easy to accomplish then! The following day, I approached the brother who had caused me so much anguish, and exchanged loving greetings with him. Perhaps he had also realised that he had offended me in some way, for he offered an explanation as to why he had done what he did. As for me, I was truly able at that point, to brush it all aside and reiterate my friendship for him. I truly buried the unpleasantness of the recent past and we parted amicably. The following day, I went to meet the dervish as usual. He greeted me with great warmth and affection, and asked me why I had not come to see him earlier. He beckoned me to come and sit at his feet and spoke to me as he had always done earlier. Nobody commented or made any remarks on what had happened the previous day. On that unforgettable day, he spoke to us of empathy – fellow-feeling. “The path of the aspirant,” he said, “is the path of detachment. When one walks this path, there should be no room for enmity or hatred in one’s heart. For, if we are God’s children, how can we entertain negative feelings against each other? If we practice hatred and envy and malice, how can we claim that we love God? The genuine aspirant understands and empathises with the pain of another. Your brother’s suffering is your suffering; your sister’s joy is your joy.” “All we need to do,” he said, “is open the door of our hearts, and feel the pain and joy of others as if it were our own.” I have learnt this lesson very well, thanks to the wisdom and sharp insights of the dervish. We can never ever be at peace until we banish hatred and bitterness and grudges and enmity and anger from our hearts. And, believe me, the hatred that we nourish for another, will sooner or later turn into hatred against ourselves! It was a wise man who said, “When we don’t know whom to hate, we begin to hate ourselves.” The Buddha’s words still ring clear in my heart: “Hatred ceaseth not by hatred; hatred ceaseth by love. This is the immutable law.” But let me warn you friends, It is not enough to wipe out hatred from your hearts and stop thinking about the people whom you hate. It is necessary for us to sow the seeds of love in our hearts and in our lives!
“Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace,” runs my favourite prayer, the one that St. Francis used again and again. “Where there is hatred, let me sow love…” This, I believe is the ultimate test; to love those who hate us; to sow the seeds of love where hatred is sprouting. To love even our worst enemies. About the author Dada J P Vaswani heads the Sadhu Vaswani Mission and is the author of over 50 books in English and many more in Sindhi with practical tips for happy, successful, spiritual and non-violent living. Website: www.sadhuvaswani.org
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