The Sages teach that the Temple was destroyed because of “Sinas Chinam,” causeless hatred. What is causeless hatred? Are there not reasons for our resentments and grudges? Was I not wronged by this one, and didn’t that one cheat me or treat me first with disrespect?
The Chassidic Masters teach that causeless hatred does not mean that we don’t have valid complaints about one another – we are all imperfect, and whether it is intentional or unintentional, we all are guilty of slighting or insulting each other now and again. What renders our antipathy “causeless” is that we forget that we are all one being!
Each of us is purely and simply a vessel for One unique and unified reality. We are the same stuff, expressed through various forms. We are one soul that has been temporarily divided into “pieces” and dressed in different clothes, so to speak. In our deepest essence, there is no distinction between us – we are “echad/One.” Imagine how different life would be if we lived with this awareness; if we could transcend our limited perspective of me and you and understand that you are only another manifestation of what has manifested in me as me.
This has been described as water that has been poured into different containers, or light that shines through different shades of glass. Though it is the same water or the same light, it appears and exhibits differently depending on that which contains or conveys it. If we can understand each other this way, then would it not be foolish to resent one another, or envy one another, or harm one another? We would only be hating or hurting ourself. It would be as if one accidentally smashes his finger while hammering a nail, and then grabs the hammer with the injured hand and smashes the hand which held the hammer first.
Each of us often does things that are imperfect. Sometimes we berate or hate ourselves for doing so, but we generally forgive ourselves or at least make excuses for our errors. When we understand that the other is our same self expressed in a different vessel, then we will similarly grant that other the benefit of finding reasons for her/his actions.
Think of the person that you like least in the world, someone with whom you have had an ongoing feud or who is currently making your life difficult. Now put yourself in her/his shoes, literally. Imagine that it is you in that body, the very same you that is in your body, but with a completely different set of traits and experiences. How did you become you and s/he become her/him? Is there a different soul in each of you, or is there simply a different framework for precisely the same soul?
Is it possible that the identical essence, placed in a vastly different context and environment, could produce such distinct and conflicting individuals? It is not only possible, it is precisely what has happened! If we trace us both back to our beginning, prior to our lifetime of experiences and challenges, there is no difference. If we peel back the surface, all the way down to the life force that vivifies and animates us, we will find absolutely no distinction. It is the same spark of Godliness within each of us.
When I see the me in you and the you in me, I cannot hate you. I can only love. As the superficial and temporal exterior falls away, all of my anger melts away, and I see only what unites us rather than all of the surface elements that divide us. This is what the mystics see, and this is what each of us will see when we hone our vision. Everything opens, all of the veils fall away, and our world is suddenly filled with great light.
When we come to the awareness that we are all limbs of a single being, our feelings of resentment, competition, and antagonism fade away. What remains is a remarkable sense of consonance, harmony, and love that will radiate from us and ignite all of those with whom we come in contact. With this feeling of “Ahavas chinam/causeless love,” we will rebuild the Temple and bring an end to all of the conflict that we have experienced for far too long already.