Some people will tell you that hatred is not the opposite of love. They try to
explain that indifference is the opposite of love.
They are wrong.
This discussion will endeavor to explain exactly why the opposite of love is indeed hatred. Indifference is more or less an acceptance of either.
In the greater spectrum of definitions, Buddha was the first to express the answer correctly. Courage, for example, is somewhere between the two extremes of the fool and the coward. Likewise, for every trait, there is a spectrum.
Love itself is a spectrum, where one extreme would be infatuation, an almost insane kind of love that costs you a great deal. The other extreme in this definition would be a very casual friendship, some sort of identification of a neighbor or some local authority. The perfect definition of love, like courage, is somewhere in the middle of those two extremes.
"Where then is hatred?" you ask.
Hatred, like love, is a spectrum in itself, where one extreme would be a complete and total irrational hatred, someone like a suicide bomber, who is much like a fool. The other extreme would be a casual disrespect for evil, like someone not wanting to associate with someone else. The healthy state of what could be called hatred would be a healthy disrespect for evil, somewhere in the middle of the two extremes.
Now, these two spectrums are opposites of each other, and we can build the letter "H" with them.
The left vertical upright would be the spectrum of love, with irrational love at the top. The true love would be slightly above the exact center of the upright, for true love is closer to the fool.
The right vertical upright would be the spectrum of hate, with the suicide bomber at the top. The healthy hatred would be slightly lower than the exact center of the upright, closer to the casual disrespect.
Therefore, the horizontal bar from true love to healthy hatred goes from left vertical upright (slightly above the exact middle) to the right vertical upright (slightly below the exact middle).
Love is the opposite of hatred, and each is a spectrum of its own definition.
In other words, to be healthy one should have some sort of disrespect for evil. In religious terms, it would be a disrespect for the devil. If you do not have a healthy disrespect for evil, then perhaps you have not understood the main point.
How do you feel about vandalism? Do you respect vandalism, or do you hate it?
We should all hate vandalism.
You do not need to be religious to understand this, and you do not have to believe in any deity. It is a simple fact that vandalism is not good, that it is an act with a degree of evil. All of these evil acts should be disrespected by all.
To Buddha, indifference was a form of acceptance.
Whether someone hates you or loves is out of your control. In those terms, since you have no control over whether or not someone wants to be a friend, the actions would weigh the same on a philosophical scale. You accept either when there is no control.
This does not mean you accept tyranny. No.
It means you accept the fact that a person is a tyrant.
This acceptance, or indifference, overflows into nature as well. You could, as a matter of fact, be the victim of nature, where nature itself has become something which holds you in bondage, like a freak snowstorm and freezing weather. Yet, you have no control over this weather, do you?
In overcoming the tyranny of nature, you accept what cannot be controlled, without bending to the tyranny itself. Likewise, in overcoming something like slavery, a bit of acceptance is necessary to your understanding of the evil.
Therefore, indifference itself is a spectrum, like the definitions of love and hatred.
"But," you ask, "What are the extremes not abided?"
To walk away from a helpless man dying is a the low point of indifference which no Buddhist would tolerate. The other extreme would be someone who is so charitable that he puts himself in debt for his services. The healthy indifference is somewhere between those two points of extreme nature.
You could also see it the way of a Christian, for Jesus chided the Pharisees for doing so many things in public, only to do it for show. You could go back to the Old Testament to read that Moses required a certain amount of fruit to be left on the trees and the vines for those who could not afford it themselves.
Buddha, of course, gives a lengthy discourse on how to see the middle road, for this was his first revelation to his family and friends. He was the first to really put it in perspective as a formal definition that the middle of two extremes is the place to be, that there should be to all things a moderation to a degree.
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Mr. J.V. Presogna is a writer, composer and artist with a background in science and mathematics. He is a Christian-Buddhist.