Who’s the enemy?

Fools with no sense
Go about as their own enemies,
Doing evil deeds that
Bear bitter fruit.

Dhammapada v. 66, translated by Gil Fronsdal

A terribly important point is raised by this verse – whom do you consider to be your enemy?

Other people can appear as obstructions to us, but who can cause us more harm than anyone else? Why, ourselves, of course.

If you find someone else annoying, that person may or may not be aware of the reaction they are engendering in you. The reaction is yours, and under your control. Think for a minute – how is this person violating your idea of how things “should be”? It would be nice if everyone were respectful, self-aware, kind, truthful, had nice personalities, etc.; but is it a reasonable expectation, based on experience? (My answer: no way.)

Rather, we take our desires to be reasonable expectations, and the problems begin right there; these expectations are our real enemies. I’m not suggesting that we have no expectations of others, only that we don’t have unrealistic ones. The most important attitudes we have concern ourselves and our place in the world. If we (subconsciously or not) think that the world revolves around us, we are guaranteed to be disappointed. But if we can step back enough to see that we are moving through a fabric of energies that is constantly in motion from all directions, we have a better chance of relaxing into the moment and seeing things more clearly.

As the verse suggests, being aware enough to refrain from doing evil deeds is a very good start for us mortals.

About lynnjkelly

Australian/American. Practicing Buddhist.
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