By Lori Lines
If we ever lose sight of the moral ambiguity that pervades our society, we run great risks. Without insight into our own propensity to act in corrupt ways we become blind to our own faults. Without insight into the goodness of others, it becomes all-too-easy to hate them. Especially when we feel our hatred is justified by their wrongdoings. But these actions distort the reality of what we are and lead us to behave in unfit ways that cause suffering to ourselves and to others. They incline us to forget how much the personalities of all of us have been shaped by circumstances beyond our control.
The dangers inherent in forgetting that we are all capable of wholesome and unwholesome actions have led Spiritual Teachers throughout history to urge us to love our enemies as well as ourselves and our neighbors. I consider this admonition to be one of humanity's truly great moral developments. Although loving our enemies may be one of the most difficult things that we can possibly do, rivaled, perhaps, to loving ourselves, it is clearly one of the most beneficial practices we can perform.
It is easy to see how hatred lies at the root of much human misery but what we seem to find difficult is accepting that we cannot end hatred by hating. Hating those who hate may feel cathartic...and even righteous, but it brings us no closer to a solution to what is a very deep problem.
Only love and compassion for others can end hostility and hatred. We can never transform an enemy into a friend with hate.
Let us not forget what hating does to us as individuals. Hatred is a manifestation of our false self. It is not what we truly are. To allow ourselves to be consumed by hatred distorts us, wounds us, and scars us. It causes us to misperceive the world, confusing the beautiful and the ugly, the true and the false, the skillful and the unskillful. Hatred is sure to cause us to suffer and is, itself, a manifestation of suffering.
May we endeavor to erase lifetimes of conditioning in which we've been encouraged to detest others. May we release the habits that are not so simple to break. We don't always realize what a tremendous encumbrance animosity can be until we finally relinquish it.
Perhaps if our enemies were truly happy and free from suffering then they wouldn't be our enemies. After all, what makes them such difficult people may be their own struggle with suffering...the very thing that makes US difficult for them.
Author Lori Lines
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