Love & Hate, Any Difference?

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Love & Hate, Any Difference?

Post  Khephra on Wed Aug 20, 2008 6:16 pm

For the full article, see The Treasure-House of Pearls:

Recently a friend of mine quoted one of Crowley’s comments from Liber CLXV – The Master of the Temple. Crowley writes, “You should drop all ‘Meditations on Love.’ What’s the matter with Hate, anyway? From beyond the Abyss, they look as like each other as two new pennies.” He then goes on to name of number of things he hates, many of which I agree with. However, the quote also made me think about how love and hate are both considered problematic in Buddhism and should be avoided, they are two of the three kilesas. This is what so many people misunderstand about Buddhism, especially when they think Thelema and Buddhism are so similar.

The three kilesas (mula kle?a) are ignorance (moha), love (lobha) and hate (dosa). Ignorance is the root cause, but the other two are similarly responsible for affliction according to basic Buddhist tenants. Now some will object to me translating lobha as love. It is usually translated as lust or attachment. But really, love is very much a part of the definition. When you love something, you crave it, you want it, you lust for it, and you might even need it. There is no difference between loving chocolate and loving someone else, both create desire and attachment. Bhikkhu Ajahn Dhammadharo describes this kilesa as follows
:

There are three forms of craving, but they boil down to two sorts. We translate craving as “desire,” and desire has two types. One is desire mixed with lust, in the ordinary way of the world. The second has no lust. It’s simply a sense of inclination, affection, a liking for objects.

Thus someone in love with something creates attachments. This is why monks are not allowed to own pets. If a person loves a pet, they create strong attachments and this is a hindrance to the Buddhist monk. So many people think Buddhism is about love and it is not. Love is just as detrimental as hate, according to the Buddha. Anyone saying otherwise really does not know what they are talking about. Not some will conflate love and compassion. This too is wrong, but is too tangential for this post.

Moreover, there is an even more subtle problem that arises from love and this is part of the root kilesa, ignorance. When someone says they are in love with something, they imagine there is a self that can be in love. One could argue that people are just using the term “I” conventionally, but I doubt that is true for most people. The reality is most people think they have some kind of self, soul, or aspect that is permanent, immortal, etc. Thinking this, according to Buddhist doctrine, is wrong and people are ignorant when they say they love—there is no person to love, and there is no-thing to be loved. All is convention and illusion and thinking otherwise is the root klesia, ignorance.

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Re: Love & Hate, Any Difference?

Post  iacchus on Wed Aug 20, 2008 9:48 pm

there is no person to love, and there is no-thing to be loved. All is convention and illusion and thinking otherwise is the root klesia, ignorance.

It is surprising to me how people can misconstrue Buddhism so easily.
While there is some support for what is being said here, that support comes from centuries old debates between Buddhists and Vedantins in India. To use phrasing like this in modern explanations just muddies the waters even further. The author is not helping his case much.
Within Buddhism (with the exception of Cittamatra, which has its own problems), there is a person that can love and a thing to be loved. Buddhists are not nihilists, and taught that Nihilism is a dangerous and untrue doctrine.
The very core tenet of any Buddhist school is the doctrine of pratītyasamutpāda, or dependent origination. Very simply, it states that all things arise in dependence upon other things.
It is not that there is no self, but that there is no self that exists independently of all other things. It is not that there is no thing to love, but that there is no thing to love that is not intimately connected with all other things. This web of causality is sometimes referred to as Indra's Net.
It is the understanding of this that lets one loosen themselves from the bonds of Karma. The point is not that things are not real, are imaginary or illusions, but that things are not self-originated and separate/independent.
Many of the confusing Buddhist quotes come from the aforementioned debates, but the phrasings used therein were accepted as being defined in Vedantic terms. When Sriharsa said, "there is no self", it was understood as,"there is no self (as you use the term self, a separate and self-originated self)" This has been taken out of context repeatedly.
Not saying there were no Buddhists who felt that self was an illusion. The Cittamatra school (or mind-only school) believed that all was an illusion and only mind existed. Eastern Idealists you could say. This caused quite a problem for them within the Buddhist circles though, since they never really explained how their understanding of "Mind" did not break the most basic tenet of any school that can be called Buddhist, namely pratītyasamutpāda. For them, it seemed that mind had no originator and was independent of all other things. As far as I know, they never solved this problem.

And to touch on the topic of the post just a bit before closing, I'd just like to dust off a fine quote from ol' uncle Al
"A thing is only true to the extent that it holds its opposite inherent in itself"
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Re: Love & Hate, Any Difference?

Post  Khephra on Thu Aug 21, 2008 8:27 am

Nicely put. It seems like many Westerners really have a difficult time grokking the Buddhist concept of 'no self'. All that rampant individualism might have something to do with that...

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Re: Love & Hate, Any Difference?

Post  iacchus on Thu Aug 21, 2008 8:46 am

Yeah, rampant individualism can't help. I think that the language hobbles our ability to see the ideas clearly as well.
You are a fan of E-prime. I have always felt that all of the little existential quandaries dissolved by that language hack are very similar to those dissolved by a meditative understanding of dependent origination. It is hard to hold the idea that nothing has a separate/independent existence while using variations on the phrasing, "this is that".
The language itself is a barrier to understanding, a basket for our ignorance.
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