Loving My ‘Enemy’

It was some 20 years ago when I heard Jack Kornfield describe this practice, and it has stuck with me all this time. Every once in a while, he said, he spends a day imagining that everyone else on earth is a fully enlightened Buddha, and each has been sent here to teach him something. I’ve tried it, but never for a full day.

It’s not easy to accept that everyone has something to teach us, and that everyone deserves our gratitude for that. But it’s true. Sometimes a lesson may be negative, as in: I’ll never embarrass my child the way that parent is doing. But nevertheless it is a valuable teaching.

Donald TrumpWhat brings that practice to mind is that the word “enemy” kept coming up yesterday. I don’t have any enemies, or if I do I am not aware of them. In order to be an enemy, I believe, someone must want to do personal harm to me. I can’t think of anyone who fits that description.

Maybe famous politicians can have enemies. One time I heard the word yesterday was when Vice President Joe Biden used it. He seemed to caution presidential candidate Hilary Clinton not to see Republicans as the enemy, but as the opposition — people she needs to work with.

In a different context, two Buddhist blogs I read yesterday each dealt with the enemy. One talked of loving kindness toward your enemy and the other about meditating “with” your enemy (in a sort of imagined union). In both of those cases, the enemy was personified as Donald Trump. It happens that I mentioned Trump recently in American Capitalism Ain’t All Bad. I stayed away from being snotty toward him, but I did intend to poke a little fun his way in that post. So let’s talk about Donald Trump today, and — if you don’t already — begin loving him.

First, I don’t think the blogs really meant “enemy” here. Maybe it was shorthand for “person who brings out my anger.” I can think of stronger ways to say that, but let’s leave it there.

How can we learn to love Donald Trump. Let us count the ways:

  1. We can see him as a teacher. I’ve learned important lessons from him about the mindset in the United States and about leadership. Yes, about leadership. There are times when people really do want to be led, not encouraged to think through complex problems. Those are dangerous times if the wrong leader come along, but they’re real. Since my blog is about religion and not politics, I’ll leave it at that. (Look for lessons about hair in a grooming blog.)
  2. I don’t believe Trump wants to harm us. I don’t believe he is evil. I see him as a product of his genes and his environment as the rest of us are, and in his case with as heavy dose of pathological narcissism. He needs some loving kindness for his recovery.
  3. He is another clump of ever-shifting cosmic dust like everything else in the world. He is living out his karma as I am and you are.

In Buddhist loving-kindness meditations, we often start with ourselves. (May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful and at ease.) Then we turn the same phrases to a loved one, then maybe our family, followed by our community, our nation, the world, and finally people we believe want to do us harm. As I said, I can’t think of anyone who wants to do me harm, but I’d substitute something like “people I actively dislike.” Maybe that’s a better way to say it. It’s not about them; it’s about me.

Copyright 2015 © Mel Harkrader Pine

9 Comments Add yours

  1. amiezor says:

    Mel – you and I are in some sort of cosmic sync! I spent much of this past Sunday discussing with friends the meaning of the word “enemy” and whether or not it serves us any purpose. I tend to lean in the direction that the word itself implies evil, and in using it you are associating the name with that other person/cause and therefore building walls between yourself and the other. That using it implies the other person/cause is bad, and you are good.

    My friends thought that banishing the word or calling it an illusion was impossible, and that in using it, it serves as a good indicator of where you still need to spread your love. I definitely see that benefit… but I am still in the camp that the word is best described as an illusion. 🙂 I love this post… Trump is indeed a hard person to love in this day and age of fear mongering…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. melhpine says:

      Sounds like you’ve got good friends to talk with. I’m planning to write today about cosmic entanglement. I’m pleased to be in a dance of entanglement with you.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. amiezor says:

    Reblogged this on we are starlings and commented:
    The word “enemy” has been surfacing a lot for me lately, especially in our political climate and upcoming election. Does the word serve us any good, or does it place walls between us and other people/concepts that we apply it to? Not sure, but Mel’s entry puts it into perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This post is very wise, but I need to apply it to someone other than Trump. I don’t hate Trump, I just don’t care about him enough to hate him. I don’t think he’ll be President, and even if he were, I don’t think he’d be as bad as most of the other Republican candidates. He’s a blowhard, a clown, a jackass. I don’t think he means or believes half of what he says. He’s not thoughtful or introspective.

    The people I have trouble loving and applying your message to are the right-wing religious political extremists. I do feel as if they want to harm me and people I love. And they are sincere, thoughtful, and introspective. They mean it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. melhpine says:

      I chose Trump because I thought it was funny that people take him so seriously, and it made choosing a graphic easy, so basically I agree with you. Thinking about what you’ve said, I think I’d single out not the sincere religious extremists themselves but the politicians who have formed an unholy alliance with them. If I had to choose a group of people to hate, it would be Republicans who think they’re strengthening their party by giving the religious fanatics a platform.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s not that I hate sincere religious extremists exactly; I’m afraid of them. I think fear and hate go close in hand though.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Phyllis says:

    Good column, Mel. You, Ricky and I must be on the same page. I’m planning service on this topic soon, and may well draw on your thoughts from this column if you are not yourself speaking of them in a sermon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. melhpine says:

      Feel free. I’m going in a different direction in my next sermon.

      Like

  5. I have the “Make America Kittens Again” extension in my browser, and your blog is giving me some adorable kitten pictures!

    Like

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