“If you can cultivate the right attitude, your enemies are your best spiritual teachers because their presence provides you with the opportunity to enhance and develop tolerance, patience and understanding.” — Dalai Lama XIV
Well, that sort of turns the whole thing around doesn’t it? You mean I’m supposed to be grateful for people who irritate me, are greedy, self-centered, mean, childish? You can add your own list.
I don’t think the Dalai Lama is saying to excuse them or approve of them. I think what he is saying is to see that their presence in your life has the potential to bring you great teaching.
OK, so let’s say you are my enemy. Sort of always in my face, never have anything good to say to me, always doing your own thing and generally don’t seem to care about me. If I can see you as my spiritual teacher, rather than a pain in the neck, you present me with the opportunity to walk my spiritual talk. Can I stay centered in who I am, in inner peace? Can I look at you with compassion and understanding? Can I look beyond your words and actions to the human being you are inside? A tall order.
Now, I don’t believe this means I stay in your presence, or that I seek you out. It simply means when you are in my life, I don’t allow my energy to entrain with yours. I stay centered, know who I am and consciously practice compassion for you.
Isn’t it wild. We often become that which we don’t like. You are angry, so I become angry in an effort to protect myself. I wonder why you don’t become peaceful in an effort to regain your ground of being? I wonder how the world would change if we each held who we are in the face of adversity – strong, steady, centered, at peace inside. Who knows maybe your anger would lessen – maybe if I show compassion, you will soften?