“[The human being] experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of our consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affections for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
As we mull Einstein’s words we easily see the wisdom of widening our circle of compassion and allowing love to flow freely from our hearts….until we come to think of our enemies. Is it really possible to be compassionate towards our enemies, the very people who torment us? This is what the Dalai Lama has to say about this:
“For a practitioner of love and compassion, an enemy is one of the most important teachers.”
The Dalai Lama illustrates this with a story:
A monk was arrested and imprisoned in Chinese occupied Tibet. He spent 18 years in prison. Upon his release he soon escaped to India and went to Dharamshala where the Dalai Lama resides.
During his meeting with the Dalai Lama he was asked about his stay in prison and prison life.
“I was in danger about three times,” replied the monk.
Not sure what this meant, the Dalai Lama asked him to elaborate, concerned that he was referring to physical danger to his life.
The monk immediately clarified, “Oh no, I was in danger of losing my compassion for my Chinese tormentors on these occasions!”
The practice of such level of compassion towards our enemies sounds daunting at the outset. But this is not something that is done artificially, rather it is a natural result of the unfolding process as we move away from our ego-center. Such movement away from the ego can happen spontaneously, or due to spiritual devotion, or arise from selfless work, or due to yoga. The joy and bliss of a love-soaked heart that is the result of an ever widening circle of compassion makes the petty pleasures arising from the ego look trivial. Finally a quote from Gary Oliver to end this post:
God doesn’t want us merely to ‘get through’ our problems. He wants us to ‘grow through them.’
Related: The Scorpion And The Saint