Do you love and hate? If you do, then you are very normal. If you just hated, or only loved, there would be consistency, but when you do both, the mind finds itself in conflict all the time, and this produces stress. So if you want to find the underlying cause of your stress, look no further than those things that you hate. And what you love, too.

When we love something, what happens? What happens is that we want to possess it. We want to hold it close, attach to it, and protect it. We want it to be a part of us. When we hate, we want to get as far away from the hated as we can, or even destroy it. These two feelings are quite different, but actually, they come from the identical root, they are two sides of the same coin. Because when we hold something close, when we love something, we become afraid of losing it, and this brings up jealousy, and jealousy, of course, is based on hatred as we become guarded and secretive.

Before we love or hate, however, we have to identify what it is that we hate or love. When we see a person approaching, we identify and classify the person through memory. If we classify the person as attractive and friendly, we might want get close to them. But if we identify the person as possibly dangerous, we will want get as far away as we can. This is what we do immediately after we see and identify anything; we decide whether we are attracted or repelled, or, many times, we are simply neutral.

We do this because we see ourselves as separate from what we observe. There is the subject; us, and the object; them. This is separation, conflict, and dualism (as it is called in Zen), and this separation, this delusion, leads to hating and loving.

Neutrality requires little thought and emotion, and thought and emotion are the next steps in the process. After we have identified something, and either feel attracted or repelled, our minds begin to think, to emote and plot how to either get closer to the object (if we love it), perhaps even own it; or, get away from the object if we hate it, and maybe even destroy it.

The process of deciding whether we are attracted or repelled by something, and then trying to own it, or kill it, puts us in conflict, which means that we feel stress. Then, coming to the rescue to relieve that stress is thought. That means that we can never be thinking and not in stress! If we find ourselves thinking nonstop, that means that we are constantly in stress.

This is why indecision about whether to love or hate causes stress for both the lover and the hater. If that person could simply love everyone and everything without having to make a decision about it, the stress would be relieved. The inference here is that we can love unconditionally, but how would we ever be able to do that? This means dissolving the barrier of subject and object. This is dissolving the self.

If we insist on conflict and dualism, then this is where the judgmental mind comes in. In Zen, they say that the judgmental mind is a diseased mind. They say this because, although we think that we can cure our problems and conflicts by satisfying our wants, the diseased mind is never be satisfied. Thinking that when we get what we want we will be satisfied, never materializes because that type of mind will find fault regardless of how flawless a person or thing might be, simply because the mind itself is diseased.

So how do we cure our disease? Zen also says, "All acceptance is the key to the gateless gate." In other words, there is no gate; only the illusory gates of our mind that discriminate.

All we have to do is see through the illusions. Then we can begin seeing anew. Meditation, the simple practice of watching one's breath, is a good beginning.

Author's Bio: 

E. Raymond Rock of Fort Myers, Florida is cofounder and principal teacher at the Southwest Florida Insight Center, His twenty-nine years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents, including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Theravada Buddhist monk. His book, A Year to Enlightenment (Career Press/New Page Books) is now available at major bookstores and online retailers. Visit