There is someone in the world that I hate, and I hate myself for it. I have difficulty living with myself for feeling this way. Sometimes, my thoughts wander to daydreaming about getting a call that she was killed in a horrible car accident and fantasize that I wouldn’t feel bad. I see myself attending the memorial and not feeling one ounce of sadness or remorse. How can I call myself Buddhist and have these thoughts?
Yes, I am in spiritual crisis, which just compounds the self hatred. For the last 27 years, the one place I could go to find peace feels as if it was ripped from under me. When I am sitting in front of my Gohonzon (the Buddhist scroll I chant to) and chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo I have felt ashamed of the thoughts that trample through my mind. A desperation I have never experienced rips through my chest. Don’t think these things, Heather. Master your mind and stop thinking them right now!
I know these thoughts aren’t me. They are my ego. My bruised ego that thought I was better than this. My ego thinks this woman pulled the rug from under me and threw me into a pit of darkness.
The truth is, though, I owe her a debt of gratitude. For some reason, I believed there was some pain I would never experience. No. I knew I was vulnerable to abandonment and the cruelty and insensitivity of others. Like every human in the world, I have experienced it at one time or many times in my life.
The pain I am talking about is the pain of realizing I too have a darkness in me that has the potential to harm, or at least want to harm another soul on this planet. Until now, I couldn’t fathom war and the atrocities inflicted on other flesh and bone. Somehow, I thought I was above it all. But, now I know fundamental darkness exists in every human. If we deny it, we cannot combat it. We will live unconscious and believe when we do or say something evil – that somehow we aren’t “really” doing it or it isn’t our fault. We detach. Sometimes, we make excuses for our behavior – further exasperating the situation.
This morning, I discovered something miraculous. While doing my morning prayers, chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo over and over again, the “bad” thoughts appeared again. This time, as suggested by my therapist and the guidance of my mentor, President Daisaku Ikeda, I didn’t resist or fight the thoughts. I allowed my fantastical, horrible thoughts to course through my brain and accepted them as natural. (I mean, this person DID do things that were hurtful.) In fact, I allowed myself the freedom to think them as long as I wanted, all along continuing to chant. I accepted myself, my thoughts and reminded myself I am still a good person.
An amazing thing happened. Suddenly, the “bad” thoughts dissipated. I even tried to get them back, but only the words I was chanting were there. Also, a smile appeared on my lips and I felt happy and free – for a few moments. Then, my husband rang the bell, prayers were over, and it was done.
RESISTANCE IS FUTILE
I know what would have happened if I had resisted the “bad” thoughts. (Because I have been resisting them for months.) Go away. Don’t think these things. You’re a horrible person. Buddhists aren’t supposed to think these things. Find the good in what happened. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. The more I try to banish them and judge myself, the more power the thoughts and this person had over me and then I hate her even more! My mother even said, “You’re letting her have rent of your mind.” So, true.
I recently read this passage in Eckhart Tolle’s book A NEW EARTH: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose:
To be in alignment with what is means to be in a relationship of inner nonresistance with what happens. It means not to label it mentally as good or bad, but to let it be. Does this mean you can no longer take action to bring about change in your life? On the contrary. When the basis for your actions is inner alignment with the present moment, your actions become empowered by the intelligence of Life itself.
Mr. Tolle, I understand. I get it. I won’t be perfect in my execution of non-resistance, but I am well on my way.
I’m going to forgive myself right now for my future thoughts. I’m not done with this hating business. I will have more hateful fantasies. It’s difficult to stop a deep ingrained habit. Slowly the thoughts will be less and less. I know I am a good person and don’t really want anything negative to happen to her, or anyone for that matter. I’m a Buddha. That’s who I really am. But, even a Buddha needs to understand the plight of human kind. Only then can we create true change in the world.
My best to you,
© Heather McBride-Anders, 2016