She was just out of college; to know her was like a breath of fresh air. She was full of life, intelligent and pleasant, with a youthful inquiring mind. She was becoming a spiritual friend.
She told me about a person she had hated since college days. This troubled her so much that even in her dreams he was bothering her. That was why she wanted to know about love and hate.
S: Can you explain to me about love and hate?
Thynn: Well, you see, love and hate are not so different. They are two aspects of our discriminating mind, like two sides of the same coin.
S: But they feel so different.
Thynn: Yes, initially they are different, but they both arise out of our habit of discrimination, and they both lead to suffering. Whether we love or hate someone is based on our own likes and dislikes. We automatically categorize people according to our own preconceptions. When they meet our ideals and appear to be to our liking, immediately our mind starts to cling to them; and if they should fall into the category of dislike, our minds start to reject them. In this way we end up loving or hating.
S: But how can we stop loving and hating? I find both situations equally frustrating.
Thynn: Let's think about a situation where you love a person at one time and come to hate him at another. He is the same person, so why do your feelings about him change?
S: Probably because that person and I have changed.
Thynn: True. That means our love changes with each changing situation, and that means our feelings are not permanent, but relative to time and place.
S: Our feelings are not permanent?
Thynn: Exactly. This is what the Buddha called maya, the illusion of the mind. Our feelings are an illusion born of our conceptual mind; they arise from the ego- self. According to Buddhism, since ego is an illusion, anything that is born of the conceptual mind is also an illusion. It has no substance, permanence or peace. That is why mundane love is fickle. That is why it can change to hate.
About a week later she came to see me again, and this time, in great excitement, she said to me:
S: I fully understand now what you said about love and hate! I met that person the other day and, to my great surprise, I found myself going up to him and even greeting him without hesitation. I don't know why, but I don't feel any animosity toward him anymore. Before, I used to hate even the sight of him. It is really such a great relief to me. I feel free now!
Thynn: Let me ask you one thing: before you met this person did you have this feeling of hate in you?
S: Why, come to think of it, I didn't.
Thynn: And what about now; do you still have it?
Thynn: Then, what is the difference, before and after?
[Then she burst into laughter, saying:]
S: Very true!
Thynn: Well, you were free of this hate or love before you met him, weren't you?
S: Yes, that's right.
Thynn: What did you have to do to be free like that?
S: Well, I didn't have to do anything. I was free by myself.
Thynn: That's right. By ourselves we are free of either loving or hating. Only when we start to like or dislike do we become entangled in our own emotions. As soon as we come to realize that they are illusions of our own making, we become free. We are brought back to our original situation where there is neither love nor hate. Only when the mind starts to work on liking and disliking is the burden of love and hate built up and we lose that freedom temporarily.
This is a real-life example of how the cloud of moha (delusion), once lifted, leads to freedom and self-realization in the moment.
(This dhamma article was reproduced from the book of "Living Meditation, Living Insight" By Dr. Daw Thynn Thynn.)