If I do not subdue the enemy, my own hatred,
The more I conquer the outer enemies, the more they proliferate.
Therefore, with the army of loving-kindness and compassion,
To tame one’s own stream of being, is the way of a bodhisattva.
– Bodhisattva Thogme Zangpo (Thirty-seven practices of the Bodhisattvas)
In his profound and beautiful guidebook, named ‘Gyalse Laglen’ (The Thirty-Seven Verses on the Practice of a Bodhisattva), Gyalse Ngulchu Thogme Zangpo, a Buddhist master from the 14th Century AD Tibet, summarizes the entire practices of a Bodhisattva in 37 stanzas. The quoted lines constitute the 20th of the 37 practices. It is on how to deal with hatred.
The most powerful enemy is one’s own hatred. As far as there is hatred in you, no matter how many outer enemies you subdue, more will arise and they will proliferate quickly. Therefore, the inner enemy of hatred needs to be subdued first. (See ‘The Power of Non-hatred’ for more on the harm of hatred.) Anger management, more precisely eliminating anger and hatred is important not only for a Bodhisattva, but even for the success in worldly life.
This powerful inner enemy has a weak point. The outer enemies can hide in another hostile territory upon being defeated. So, they can regain their power and strike back at an appropriate time. Unlike that, the inner enemy of our own hatred can only abide in our own minds. It can only be powered by our own minds. So, if we succeed in uprooting hatred from our minds, it can no more harm us by hiding elsewhere.
In fact, winning a war against one’s hatred has a simple trick. You just need to cut its supplies. It will naturally vanish.
It is a mistake to fight your hatred with aggression. The army of aggression fails miserably in war against your own hatred. In that way, subconsciously you end up supplying fuel to your hatred. Aggression and agitation only make the soil of mind more suitable for the poisonous bush of hatred to grow thicker and cover up the whole mind. So, Cultivation of patience is the first step. (See ‘The Austerity of Patience’ to learn the power of patience as an antidote to hatred.)
The army of aggression fails miserably in the war against your own hatred. In that way, subconsciously you end up supplying fuel to your hatred.
Then, soak your own mind with the thoughts of loving kindness (pali: मेत्ता, sanskrit: मैत्री ) and compassion ( करुणा ). (See ‘The Boundless Heart of Loving Kindness’ to learn more about it.) In fact, not only to other beings, you extend loving kindness and compassion to your own mind of hatred. The fire of hatred is doused with the cool shower of loving kindness and compassion. When mind is tamed through loving kindness and compassion, hatred does not find its fuel.
Winning a war against one’s hatred has a simple trick. You just need to cut its supplies. It will naturally vanish. When mind is tamed through loving kindness and compassion, hatred does not find its fuel.
In this way, you attain a new power. The cultivation of loving kindness and compassion help you discover your own innate goodness. You are no more perturbed by the agitations and irritations of others. Instead, you would be able to see deeper beneath the surface – the throbbing of their hearts for happiness. You see that at a deeper level all of us are same in that everyone wishes for happiness and wants to get rid of suffering. As you work from that deeper insight, there are no real outer enemies. Whatever negative acts that beings do from their delusion do not perturb you deeply. Instead, your compassion will blaze higher. Then, you can be even-minded in the face of difficulties and think clearly without agitation.
When you discover an ocean of compassion within you, its cool breeze can also tame outer enemies. Even if that does not happen, from your power of clarity and empathy wonderful solutions emerge to settle numerous conflicts in a mutually satisfying way.
May all beings tame their hatred and anger with the army of loving kindness and compassion!