BLESS YOUR ENEMIES
“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (NAB- Luke 6:27-28)
For the longest time I struggled to put Jesus words into perspective and could not for the life of me understand why anyone would allow other people to ‘walk all over them.’ I had this smack-me-in-the-face-and-see-what-happens-mentality I refused to let go of. In fact, at my core, I considered compassionate people to be weaker than those of us versed in violence. In a dog eat dog world an eye for an eye mindstate makes more sense right? So why do spiritual leaders advocate non-violence? How were Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. so successful at their causes while staying within the confines of their Faith?
ENEMIES TEACH COMPASSION
I’ve come to rely on difficult circumstances and consider them assets to my spiritual development. When I go through a particularly difficult time in my life I tend to turn inward and search for the root problem. Usually I read some religious material and reflect on teachings that fly in the face of how I want to react. Today has been one of those days. The book I reached for was How To Practice- The Way To A Meaningful Life by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In chapter 7 he provides some insight on how to develop compassion . He explains that true compassion- not just for friends, and family- comes from exercising patience, especially for our enemies or those we dislike.. He goes on to quote Shantideva:
“For a practitioner of love and compassion, an enemy is one of the most important teachers. Without an enemy you cannot practice tolerance, and without tolerance you cannot build a sound basis of compassion…
“When face your enemy who is going to hurt you, that is the real time to practice tolerance. Therefore, an enemy is the cause of the practice of tolerance; tolerance is the effect or result of an enemy… Once something has the relationship of arising from that thing, once cannot consider that thing from which it arises as a harmer; rather it assists the production of the effect.”
I’m a huge fan of pointing out how much of our inner turmoil can be quelled by simply changing the way we view things. Often times it is our ignorance that is causing us suffering, not the thing we are blaming. After all, aren’t those very people who disagree with us or dislike us just as entitled to their own opinions and in search of the same happiness we are? So maybe we can learn to evolve past our own preconceived notions and loosen our sense of ‘right’ a little. Or maybe we can learn to understand that our self righteous anger won’t ever reach the person we perceive to be an enemy and work on genuinely being a living example of our Faith. Obviously, great men like the Dalai Lama, Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. were widely successful in their aims by following this exact line of thinking. So the next time you want to give yourself over to your anger consider practicing tolerance as an alternative. Please feel free to share this message of compassion with others. Pass the peace.