Turning Hate into Love

Shocked by the strength and raw brutality of my reaction, I thought to myself, Wait a minute, am I the source of these thoughts or is he?

The secrets of the universe are hidden in the details of our experience. – Pete

It happened around ten in the evening sometime in 2001. I was alone, sitting sideways on the driver’s seat, reading a newspaper at our main bus stop at 4th and C streets in Petaluma. Although my head was tilted down to read, my peripheral vision picked up the shadowy figure of a man slowly walking toward the bus through the dark bank parking lot outside. Stopping at a point a foot or so behind the front door, he slowly leaned sideways to peek in at me. Even before I looked up at him, my mind began to fill with irritated thoughts and feelings. When I finally did look up at him, my mind screamed in recognition: Oh no, not you again, you must be the most disgusting, despicable, and repulsive person in the world!

Shocked by the strength and raw brutality of my reaction, I thought to myself, Wait a minute, am I the source of these thoughts or is he? Before I could finish my question, I knew the answer. I was picking up his thoughts and feelings and reflecting them back to him like a mirror. This was how he felt about himself! With this realization, my heart went out to him. As my thoughts and feelings of love and understanding filtered out to him, he transformed into another person before my eyes. He straightened up, paid his fare, and sat down across the isle from me as if he wanted to talk, which he did. In fact, we had a great conversation!

The few times this man rode my bus previously, he would slink to the rear of the bus in silence and slouch down in the seat so I couldn’t see him. On several occasions he stopped long enough to complain to me (whine) about some driver or the bus company before heading to the rear of the bus. Tonight, he was a changed man and so was I because I refused to let myself hate him by mindlessly reacting to his habitual thoughts of self-contempt and worthlessness.

Whether the revulsion I felt for him was in response to his body language, the telepathic projection of his thoughts and feelings about himself, or a combination of both doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that I refused to let his perception of himself become my perception of him. I took responsibility for my own thoughts and feelings! By responding to him with love and understanding, instead of rejection and revulsion, conditions for a profound change in his behavior were set in motion. Strangely, I haven’t seen him since.

© Copyright 2007, Roger A. “Pete” Peterson


We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

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