HATE :: The Virus That Kills Us

There is a lot of rough energy swirling around in the world. I’d first like to speak to that.

We have many fears about the contagion of the Coronavirus, but I would like to talk about the real killers, the viruses that infect our hearts with HATE, and kills what makes us human.

As a member of THE HUMAN SPECIES, as a member of the HUMAN RACE it is appalling, heartbreaking, frightening, enraging to see the intensifying violence—the FLAGRANT DISREGARD for human life, AND utter lack of empathy that we continue to enact upon one another—in the name of power, dominance, and control.

In this country, we carry the disease of racism. The racial violence that is being incited and perpetuated, shows, with each act, just how close we still are to the animal kingdom, how we have not tamed the beast within us. The neuroscientist R. Douglas Fields (2016) wrote: 

“Our violence operates far outside the bounds of any other species. Human beings kill anything….. We kill all other creatures, and we kill our own. Read today’s paper. Read yesterday’s, or read tomorrow’s. The enormous industry of print and broadcast journalism serves predominantly to document our killing…. We kill people who are different from us, in appearance, beliefs, race, and social status. We kill ourselves in suicide. We kill for advantage and for revenge, we kill for entertainment… bullfights, hunting and fishing…”

— R. Douglas Fields, Why We Snap, p. 286, 2016.

I am not proud of this behavior. I am embarrassed, ashamed, appropriately so. Frankly it scares me, but not --even close-- to those who live in fear every day at the hands and mercy of an-other human or groups of humans, collectives, that operate as or within a system. 

As members of the HUMAN RACE, we, knowingly and unknowingly, carry and perpetuate the legacy of our ancestors—their attributes and actions that were life-affirming, and those that caused harm. 

It is horrifying and humbling and absolutely necessary to consider these inheritances and wisely tend to them if our hearts are to grow enough -to begin- to heal- the wound- we- have made.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar:

… African Americans have been living in a burning building for many years, choking on the smoke as the flames burn closer and closer. Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you're choking on it — until you let the sun in ..."

It is time for all of us privileged simply by the color of our skin to STAND our ground

arm and arm with ALL of the other humans who wish to be a voice of peace in this world.

And people are standing up all over the world. We are in good company.

We are all humans, sentient.

Each life is of value—equal value!

Each life, a treasure!!!!

But we do not see the world this way.

Instead we have been educated to divide the world

into this and that,

into Us and Them

into divisiveness that

infects and corrodes our hearts

spreads like a contagion

through the body of society. 

This is the virus that will surely kill us!!!

It will eat us alive, inside out.

The Corona virus attacks the physical body.

Hatred—murder, violence, torture, and terror

Attack the heart of humanity.

The great spiritual traditions know human nature, know that we haven’t tamed the beast, AND also know the beauty of the heart. Which one is present? Which one do we consciously or unconsciously feed? How do we respond to heinous acts of violence we enact on each other?

The Buddha famously said, "... Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule ..."
St John the Apostle said, “... But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes...”
"... Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love ..." Martin Luther King, Jr. (1958)

Emotions and behaviors--of racism & bigotry, and violence & suicide--can spread like viruses through social contagion, by copying others’ behaviors.

But it’s not only negative behaviors that are contagious, positive ones can also spread like wildfire.

But we have to be intentional.

Lets learn how to STAND our ground and not let hate pollute our hearts and minds and bodies.

Lets learn how to stand tall with ALL of the other humans who wish to be a voice of peace in this world.

It is for our collective welfare.


Today I’d like to offer a particular practice called Tonglen. Tonglen is a compassion practice from Tibetan Buddhism.  It translates as 'giving and taking'. It is a warrior practice as all compassion practices are. Tonglen that can help us attend to our own fears around pain, suffering, dying, violence and loss and connect us to everyone else through compassion and equanimity.  This entrains natural mercy.

As a practice tonglen exchanges self with other, allowing us to sense into another’s suffering on the inhale, breathing it in, and on the exhale, offering comfort and healing. This is one way to grow compassion and stability in the face of suffering.

Isn’t this what a caring other, elder, friend, caretaker, would doIsn’t that what we’d want them to do? To sit and receive our pain and offer, in kind, their caring presence. Lets entrain this posture. It’s for our welfare.  


Now let’s take the next few minutes and begin to tune in with care to how the organism is doing this a.m.

  • What might benefit from a little extra attention…

  • Where is tension living this morning?

  • Let’s gently, slowly, deliberately move our limbs and joints and open up, let go of, and create more room inside. 

  • Meet yourself where you are and Optimize the conditions there!

Take some bigger breaths and 

let's move and Open up the torso, the spine, neck, head; 

Open shoulders, jaw, eyes, hands….


Takeaway:  Breathe in the suffering before you, breathe in for all who suffer as you do right now, and breathe out kindness and compassion for you and othes as a balm. 


The practice of mindfulness offers guidance for training our hearts and minds, training them to feel and see and care.

We are instructed to NOTICE the contagions of fear and hate

when they are present--- in us  and in others----- & NAME them

and through practice and trial and error, do what can be done to

restrain, contain, refrain, abandon, let go of them as quickly as possible.

…feel the burn inside us …. Sense the danger enough to know to STOP! Interrupt the habit. Just interrupt it. That is a safety for you, me, for all of us.

They are dangerous! Treat them carefully! They will eat you alive!


We are ALSO instructed to NOTICE the opposite, the contagions of kindness and compassion

when they are present--- in us and in others----- & NAME them

and through practice and trial and error, do what can be done to

kindle, bring forth, propagate, maintain and develop them as much as possible.

Sow seeds of kindness where none have been found! Grow TALL and spread those seeds widely!

And find others who will support you in STANDING TALL, who are also standing tall. 

Find others who share the view of NON-HARM, who will support you,

like a beneficial presence to be watchful and encouraging of our well being.  

Be careful.  Be thoughtful.  Associate with people who bring forth the HEART in you!  This is what the great spiritual traditions advise….Associate with the wise.

Our solidarity and commitment as meditation practitioners is a resource for our hearts.

Our solidarity and commitment to being a caring human being is a resource for our hearts.

This is how social contagion can work in our favor, for everyone’s welfare!!!!!


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