Word in Language (13): Hate

Hate is the opposite of love, it is the dark side of love. All the shoots we have put out in order to communicate with our neighbour, in order to interlink our life to theirs, we begin to withdraw, to take away, to withdraw our favours. And at the same time, our sight, which was focused on those we love, begins to wander, we begin to entertain temptations, even though we know that they will destroy us, so hate engenders self-destruction.

 

If hate engenders self-destruction, it is a form of death. We are slowly but surely heading towards death, but not death as a portal of life, not DIE so that I can BE, as we saw in a previous article. This is death with no continuation. This is THE END of the film (these two words are beautifully connected: phonetic pair d-t, physical pair – pairs of letters that are an extension or a reversal of one another – h-n). This is the death of the popular imagination, where there is no continuation or, if there is, we don’t want to know about it.

 

So hate is a negation of God, because if we deny the existence of heaven, we deny the existence of God; if we deny the possibility of good (in ourselves quite apart from anyone else), we again deny the existence of the GOD who is GOOD. Do you see how language, the Word, wishes to teach us? GOD is GOOD, but the DEVIL is EVIL. If you look up these pairs of words in a dictionary and search for the etymology, you will find that their roots – horizontal, over time – are different. Not so in a vertical understanding of language. They are very close for a reason.

 

So hate makes us first withdraw into ourselves, reject contact with those who are close to us, and then seek to scatter ourselves further afield, to disintegrate, in what may be a call for attention or a means of revenge or a wish for self-annihilation.

 

But there is always the call of God, the call of our conscience, if we can only overcome the barrier of our ego, of our pride. PRIDE is in DESPAIR, and it is despair that robs us of our willingness and strength, as Saint Porphyrios points out in the book of his life and sayings Wounded by Love (p. 98).

 

Hate leads us to despair, while love gives us hope, hope of a better future. This is why HOPE is connected to OPEN (that same physical pair I talked about earlier, h-n). Hope keeps us open to the other, to their love, which is calling us, just as a dog hears the call of its owner. Hope keeps us open, but of course this means we can be wounded – the Wounded by Love of the book title.

 

Dark thoughts explore our mind. They can be a little frightening, these thoughts, even overwhelming. Where do they come from? Are they really ours? Well, given that the whole theme of my writing is that we are translators, not authors, and things pass through us, I am inclined to believe that thoughts also do not start with us. What belongs to us is our reaction, the choices we make, whether we choose to ignore these thoughts, to exercise self-control, to seek the good, or to enact the thoughts, to give free rein to our baser instincts. Does this really mean that no thoughts belong to us, only our reaction does? I am inclined to believe so, and thoughts are like language, roots travelling underground, in the subsoil of our minds.

 

In which case, we should be able to take a dark thought and simply make it good, turn it around, do the opposite, embrace the one we want to hate. This will hurt, though. It will hurt in that place we have opened up in order to embrace the other, in order to apologize, in order to see it from the other’s point of view, in order really to lessen our own importance in the grand scheme of things. Will anything really happen if I let go of my hatred? Will the world collapse if I forget to maintain my resentment? No, the world will carry on as normal, and I might even feel a little relieved – also a little sore perhaps – the hatred like a mole popping up its head from time to time, breaking the soil, trying to remind me of its existence, trying to draw me down again into the dirt of non-existence.

 

These thoughts, I let them go. They are nothing. Thoughts are insubstantial, a monk once told me. They have no substance. If they have no substance, they have no reality beyond the reality I choose to give them, even if it doesn’t feel that way when they assault me and seem to control me, not the other way around.

 

Perhaps I just stop thinking. THINK, after all, is connected to NIGHT by the phonetic pair g-k. It may be over-rated. It may be better just to WAIT. What word connections can I find for WAIT? Well, DAY is in there (phonetic pair d-t, addition of w). So is FAITH (f-v/w, addition of h). Isn’t the meaning of FAITH to WAIT? Maybe God doesn’t expect me to achieve something every day, to justify my existence all the time. After all, he has the bigger picture. He envelops time. Time is an envelope, and he sticks it down, says when it is finished. Perhaps he will put it in the post, send it to the outer reaches, open it later on, while we are all busy or asleep, and see what it is that everybody did with the time allotted to them. Take out the letter of our actions, intentions, good deeds. The desert fathers say that God always sees the intentions behind our actions, our motivations. What is it we are trying to achieve? Are we just trying to get his attention? To call him down, to force him to intersect with our lives because the horizontality of living got too much, too boring, too monotonous, the street, the cars, the coffee, the cake, get up, work, eat, sleep. So much going in and out of ourselves. Things passing by. Ourselves sometimes ineffectual, unprepared, unable to influence events. WAIT, whispered FAITH. Look at me. I am here.

 

Christ, I am in the night of hatred. Will you love me even down here? Will you see a speck of goodness in me that is worth saving? Is my breath anything to you? Of course, it is. You gave it to me. You are the Word. My breath is yours and the Holy Spirit’s. I beg of you, hold me. Deliver me. See how DELIVER contains DEVIL. Our Father, which art in the heavens…

 

DEVIL in reverse reads LIVED. Past tense.

 

DEATH with the letters rearranged spells HATED. Past tense.

 

There is no future in either of these. If we apply the phonetic pair d-t, we will see that HATE is connected to HEAD. DEATH contains both of them. Perhaps thinking, calculation, is not the way. But where does that leave us?

 

It leaves us in the moment. In the moment, there is no time. It is the only place where we can escape time. The moment is, in effect, the nullification of time. We are not controlled by past memories or future fears. We simply place ourselves in the O of repentance, the star in the night sky, the pinprick of existence.

 

A star is not light coming from a long way away. A star is a window, an invitation, a ladder of ascent. It is where the threads of our garments do not meet, where the air passes through, it is the interstice, it is the light, it is the way we slip through the net. It is a hole in the fabric.

 

Even the flame of a match banishes the night. ‘Flame’ contains ‘I am’, the name of God in Exodus 3:14. It enables us to make a hole in the line of time. We use the flame as a nib, a bubble, a leaf, and begin to write.

 

Jonathan Dunne, http://www.stonesofithaca.com

5 Comments

    1. I certainly find it curious that DEVIL and DEATH both contain past tenses – LIVED and HATED. Nikitas Stithatos writes that the soul has a noetic and a passible aspect. The noetic aspect, being in the image of God, is not conditioned by the senses, is invisible to them and is not limited by them. The passible aspect, on the other hand, is split up among the senses and is subject to passions and prone to self-indulgence (The Philokalia, vol. IV, pp. 141-2). It seems to me we just need to rise above the passible aspect, or as St Gregory Palamas says, to transform (not deny) our passions so that we return to the source of life. This should be a joyful experience. I hope you are well. All best wishes, Jonathan

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      1. Yes, I agree. A lot to say on all this. I had not heard of The Philokalia, it looks interesting. I will have to have a look. All is well, and I want to reciprocate your kind words.

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      2. The Philokalia is an eighteenth-century Greek anthology prepared by St Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain and St Macarius of Corinth of writings by Church Fathers from between the fourth and fifteenth centuries. Four volumes have been published by Faber and Faber; a fifth volume has yet to be completed. It is not the sort of book I would read from cover to cover, rather I would select a particular Church Father such as St Maximus the Confessor or Nikitas Stithatos and read one or two texts by them, for example the ‘Four Hundred Texts on Love’ by St Maximus or ‘On Spiritual Knowledge, Love and the Perfection of Living’ by Nikitas Stithatos. Another great source for Church Fathers is the Christian Classics Ethereal Library, https://www.ccel.org/, in particular the ten volumes of Ante-Nicene Fathers (writing before the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD) and the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (St Augustine, St John Chrysostom, and a further fourteen volumes), https://www.ccel.org/fathers. I try to take these one at a time, they are highly spiritual. Two other great works for me are ‘The Ladder of Divine Ascent’ by St John Climacus (containing my favourite quote, ‘Love is the progress of eternity’, which I used at the beginning of my book ‘Stones Of Ithaca’) and ‘The Ascetical Homilies of St Isaac the Syrian’, both produced in stunning volumes by the Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Brookline, Massachusetts. For the desert fathers of fourth to sixth century Egypt, Syria and Palestine, there is a wonderful book, ‘The Sayings of the Desert Fathers’, translated by Benedicta Ward and published by Cistercian Publications in 1975. These provide great insight. All best wishes, Jonathan

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