“Hatred does not cease through hatred at any time. Hatred ceases through love. This is an unalterable law.”

This quote is commonly seen on social media, and it’s a genuine scriptural quotation. It’s from verse 5 of the Dhammapada.

In Buddharakkhita’s translation this is:

Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal.

In Thanissaro’s version this is:

Hostilities aren’t stilled through hostility, regardless.
Hostilities are stilled through non-hostility: this, an unending truth.

Narada Thera has:

Hatreds never cease through hatred in this world; through love alone they cease. This is an eternal law.

You can see that they’re all basically very similar.

In Pali this is:

Na hi verena verāni sammantīdha kudācanaṃ
Averena ca sammanti esa dhammo sanantano.

Very literally this is:

Not (na) indeed (hi) by means of hatred (verena) hatreds (verāni) at any time (kudācanaṃ — negated by the opening “na”).

By means of non-hatred (averena) and (ca — acts to connect this sentence with the one before) are [“they” — implied] are they stilled (sammanti). This (esa) [“is” — implied] truth/law (dhammo) eternal (sanantano).

Our quotation uses the more conceptually positive word “love” rather than the strictly correct but conceptually negative “non-hatred,” but sometimes translators feel (quite justifiably in my opinion) to make such changes for the sake of accessibility. “Non-hatred” is of course a much broader term than “love,” and can encompass not just love and compassion, but even calm, mindfulness, and patience, which are all “non-hateful” qualities that promote inner peace.

The original translator was Eknath Easwaran, who rendered this verse as:

For hatred does not cease by hatred at any time: hatred ceases by love. This is an unalterable law.

Eknath’s initial “for” has been dropped, and “by” has twice been changed to “through” by some unknown transmitter of the quotation.

9 thoughts on ““Hatred does not cease through hatred at any time. Hatred ceases through love. This is an unalterable law.””

  1. I think this verse is so profound, and ought to be a focus of contemplative reflections (not that I have any to offer). Nations like to think that coming out ‘victorious’ through hostile actions is what leads to peace… But what do we see time and again? … that it just leads to more and more hostile forces crowding in on us. Attack the enemy in front, and more enemies pop up on the sides or from the rear. We have to learn from experience and stop going about things the wrong way. (I didn’t want to specifically target the U.S. Middle East policies in recent decades, since there are so many examples out there to choose from.)

    1. Our first instinct may be to think of applying these verses to others, but the main thing is to use them as a reminder to scrutinize our own actions…

      1. Use them to scrutinize our own actions, use them to scrutinize the world’s actions. Either starting point is a useful beginning. Ideally we can do both simultaneously, testing them with our own experiencing and the world’s experiencing.

        1. Yes, that’s why I said “the main thing is to use them as a reminder to scrutinize our own actions” rather than saying that’s the only thing we should do.

  2. I find it so true… However, I’m happy to know that the exact meaning is “non-hatred”. It sound more right to me. I had a former employer who is a professional deceiver and liar. He acted badly toward me and other employees (one of them is becoming a true friend). When I think about him, I cannot say that I love him, but I pity him. He has such a sad vision of the world. Never being able to trust anyone must be so terrible… In fact, I think I would have loved the man he could become, should he take another path… Such a waste… I was happy to realize I was able to meditate for him.
    However non-hatred does’nt mean to me to accept passively any misdemeanour without fighting (I used to act like that before). A good honest fight does’nt need to be violent. It’s the principle of Tai Chi Chuan… But it can give a good lesson to people who don’t behave properly. And they need it, for their own good.

    1. There is more about this topic in Buddhist discussions of lovingkindness (metta), which is somewhat similar to the Christian concept of brotherly love. It is recognized that lovingkindness is different from approval. I can love someone, yet strongly disapprove of their behavior. It’s easy to see how this can apply to people like children, family or friends. However, it more broadly applies to everyone, including people who I might contend with. Being consumed with hatred interferes with my ability to fight both verbally and physically. Hatred is like a poison.

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