Friday, July 12, 2013

I have met the enemy

I recently started a new meditation practice that includes working with enemies. Enemy is a strong word -- often, we  might describe them differently: annoying, irritating, or difficult people, those who don't have our best interests at heart, someone who creates obstacles or causes harm. In my mundane, middle-class, New England life, I don't have anyone directly in my life who I see as an enemy. As a friend says, there's no tigers chasing me, no men with guns, no fire. No person or event deserving of the word "enemy."

The trick, then, is simply to invite the enemies and see who shows up. And guess who that is?


Which is not to say that it's like looking in a mirror. I see other people's faces, but the only reason they are enemies is because I think they are. Specifically, the people who annoy me, the people who irritate me are people who I feel judged by. Not people who are openly critical. I can work with open criticism and consider whether it is indeed something I should own, is a projection by the other person that maybe I have provoked, or is part of a dance, the result of ephemeral causes and conditions that will arise and melt.

No, these are people whose judgments are intuited, not stated. I don't even know, for the most part, if those people are making the judgments I think they are. But I take no chances -- I make them the enemy, put up my defenses, and prepare to fend them off.

But ...

The only real enemy here is in my mind and my projections, not those people. Seeing that is a key that unlocks things.

If I fear your judgments, I won't open myself up to interactions. I'll judge you first and find a reason why you don't get to judge me. It's a hall of mirrors of suspicious people concerned mainly with self-preservation. But if I look closely enough, if I am truly present, maybe there is just us, looking at each other. There may be an endless series of mirrors with ever-so slight differences in distortion between them, but with one-pointed concentration, maybe they don't have to be such a distraction.

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