Word Hate

Word Hate

A very learned saintly man lived in semi-isolation near a village. His dwelling was small but it was placed amidst a large grove of fruit and flower trees. Outside the hut there was a small patch of vegetables that thrived on water and organic waste from the kitchen. The saint’s needs were so few he could live mostly on what came from the trees and the vegetable plot. There were hardly any visitors except rare wanderers.

In the hut there was not much. Only the scant bedding, a mat and a small shelf in a corner made the house look lived in. On the shelf were 5 books that looked clean but were hardly ever opened, for the saint mostly read the vast existence and the goings on outside the hut. The books were relics from his earlier life.

Once a visitor came to spend a night. He liked the place and the man so much that he stayed for a week. He watched the man’s doings, wandered outside, and occasionally opened and read the books on the shelf.

One day while reading one of the books the guest noticed a line blacked out with a brush or broad felt pen. He tried to peer to see what words were hidden underneath, but the ink was thick, old, and strong. He felt bothered. The smudge on the book troubled him more than what was hidden. Being a mannerist he thought a disfigured book was not worth keeping in the house for it reflected on the character of the inhabitants. But he did not want to ask for it would appear inappropriate probing into the saint’s privacy.

Two days passed and the curiosity grew unbearable. It was impossible to resist asking. Finally he asked the saint, “Sir, I notice a long smudge in this book of yours.”

“Nothing to worry,” said the saint. “The book is still readable. I just covered up words that did not belong in this house.”

The man was more curious than before. “What were those words?”

The saint replied; “Hate the devil.” I do not agree. For me there is no hating, not even the devil.