Category Archives: Enemies

Dharma Digest, Vol. 1, No. 3

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Some items recently posted to the Dharma Beginner page on Facebook, www.facebook.com/dharmabegin.

Love Thine Enemy

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

I’d like to pass along one of the most valuable pieces of advice I’ve ever received: If you are angry at someone, if you think of them as your enemy, pray for them. You cannot remain angry at someone you pray for; someone you pray for… cannot long be considered your enemy. my own experience has borne this out.

Somewhere along the line I learned to practice putting myself in the shoes of those who would hurt me or make me their enemy. I usually need to let the hurt subside first, but when it has I can ask, “Why would they do this thing to me? What suffering must they be enduring that leads them to act in this manner?” Then I remember that everyone wishes to be free of suffering, friends and foes alike, and I pray that they will be free of suffering.

Sometimes I can manage to say those prayers with the sincerity of someone praying for a loved one or dear friend. Other times it takes a little more time, a little more distance from the pain. But once I pray sincerely for them, the hurt and anger melt away, and all that’s left is compassion.

How Do People Perceive Me?

“I don’t really care how I am remembered as long as I bring happiness and joy to people.” ~ Eddie Albert

I can be really hung up on how people view me now, as well what kind of mark on will leave on the world when I inevitably pass from this life. It amazes me that I still sometimes hesitate to do what is right because of thoughts about what “people” will think. Family, friends, coworkers, people… I wouldn’t know if I tripped over them – dear lord, what will they think? [insert dramatic shudder here]

In retrospect, it makes me laugh. There really should be some LOLs here. It seems so silly. Why should I care what it says on my tombstone? I’ll be dead. But in that moment, it still brings me up short. I think it’s right to take seriously what kind of world I leave behind, but not because of how I’ll be remembered for it. Because I believe it is my responsibility to leave behind as much love as I found when I entered it, and hopefully more.

Some Things I Hope We Can Agree On

“It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God.” – Thomas Jefferson

God, deity, higher power, energy, universal interconnectedness, angels, protectors, anti-gremlins (okay, I made that one up) – it doesn’t matter to me what you call it. Or if you don’t call it anything. Or if you don’t even believe in “it.” I don’t care, because I believe we don’t need any particular religion to connect and to agree on a few things:

1. We respect and care for others and ourselves
2. We show love and compassion to all
3. We seek to be happy, free from suffering
4. We are committed to growing ethically, spiritually, emotionally, etc.

I’m certain the list could be longer. But if you and I can agree on just one of those, that’s a great place to start building a friendship. I’d like to think that I could build such a friendship with each and every one of you.

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Dharma Digest, Vol. 1, No. 2

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Recent posts on the Dharma Beginner page at www.facebook.com/dharmabegin

Anger

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” – The Buddha

Most of the time, when you succumb to feelings of anger, it eats you up inside and makes you sick emotionally and physically, but has little or no impact on the person with whom you are angry. I think that speaks volumes about the value (or lack thereof) of anger.

As many Dharma Beginner members pointed out, there is some value to anger as a motivator, something to prompt you to act to right wrongs. My former boss used to refer to that as “righteous indignation.” I can see what they’re saying, and I know from my own experience that anger can be useful. Personally, I prefer now to find my motivation in compassion, in generating bodhicitta.

Mindfulness of anger, as with awareness of any emotion, is paramount. To be aware of feelings of anger and be able to ask why are the keys to turning anger into something beneficial.

Enemies

“We cannot learn real patience and tolerance from a guru or a friend. They can be practiced only when we come in contact with someone who creates unpleasant experiences. According to Shantideva, enemies are really good for us as we can learn a lot from them and build our inner strength.” – The Dalai Lama

In the heat of the moment, and even for some time afterwards, it is so hard to recognize the lesson, let alone learn from it. So one of the ways in which I can measure my own progress is by observing how long it takes me to “emerge” from the unpleasantness and remember that unpleasant situations are learning experiences. Every once in a while I will remember as the unpleasant situation or experience is still occurring, and that brings joy and helps the unpleasantness to melt away.

On a side note, I find that people who act unpleasantly do not appreciate being thanked for the lessons that their unpleasantness provides, nor being told that they are a cross that you gladly bear. A word to the wise. 😉