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Friday, February 4, 2011

How to Love Your Enemy: Part I – CREDO CXXXV

Now, there’s a tough commandment! Especially when the news of the day is so full of opposite factions striving against each other, to say nothing of killing them. After years of listening to clients and patients griping and growling about their antagonists, it seems a hopeless and unreasonable task.

It starts with blaming, which, of course is a form of projection, and this brings up the lines of wisdom in the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others who trespass against us.

But there is the problem of seemingly real evil and hateful behavior that makes the commandment perhaps seem too idealistic. Here is another way of looking at it:

This is based on the concept of karma, which is simple action and reaction. No “sin” is involved, and it takes reincarnation as a given. If you can allow these two to be a reality, you will know that when your “enemy” does something unspeakably cruel or evil, you should develop compassion for them because they will have to learn the hard way the next time around! That compassion amounts to loving your enemy, but it is not easy.

Yet, here are a few instances that come to mind. One was a young man with an angelic disposition who suffered all kinds of physical ailments and had a history of cruel mental and physical abuse as a child. Let Mark be a poster child for many, many similar cases in our world. It seems so totally unjustified. Consider the possibility that this is a “redemptive” life, and that by maintaining his good nature and kindness, he was erasing the past. In such a redemptive life, one may discover that one’s true nature is essentially to be kind. Here is an extreme example:

One of my uncles graduated with the Edward Sheldon from Harvard. Ned went on to become a famous American playwright and became wealthy in the 1920s. I corresponded with him at the age of 11, when I sent him, at the suggestion of my mother, a play that I had seriously written! I received a telegram critiquing it, and so when we went to New York, my mother decided we should meet. We went to the address on the Upper East Side, and took the elevator up to the penthouse. The small elevator door opened, and I was in for a shock! A narrow bier was in the middle of a beautifully furnished room, complete with a piano. The bier had four tall candles burning at the corners, and on it was the body of Ned. I felt scared until a hearty voice said, “Welcome, Penelope and Alice!” He was alive, handsome, and tan and looked twenty years younger than my Uncle George. He did not encounter the stress of everyday life and he was rolled out onto the rooftop to get some sun whenever possible.

What had happened to him was that when he was about 30, he had been suddenly overcome by a mysterious medical condition which left his body totally paralyzed for life and also blind!! To shorten the story, he continued to maintain his friendships with the literary and theatrical elite, without a trace of self pity, and took the time from that day on to befriend me, to encourage, and to guide me in times of adolescent crises. He became my spiritual confessor. I was to surface as an example of his kindness and wisdom in the biography written about him after his death, The Man who Lived Twice by Eric W. Barnes. Perhaps in the next CREDO I can tell the story, as it is an example of the unreasonable social mores of the 1930s. Ned always communicated by telegram, which in those days, consisted of a tickertape message pasted on a folded yellow Western Union envelope.

There is a saying, “Every saint was once a sinner.” One of the most controversial ideas that Jung came up with was that “Christ” might sometimes wear the mask of the “Devil” in order to teach us.

I suggest to anyone reading this, to look back over your own life and, in the privacy of your conscience, look at your own past and see where you might have made a mistake, a definition of which came to me years ago: A mistake is a loop in consciousness made to expose a greater surface to experience. My youthful error was that when I became conscious of a psychological or behavioral mistake, I thought I was free of it. Not so! I had to apply the new insight. I then had the idea of Christ’s seamless garment, presumably his aura; by contrast, most of us have holes in ours, but when we learn the lesson, we fill that hole and it’s on to the next one. This must be the distinction between being holey and wholly holy! (Forgive me!)

More in my next CREDO!



Deborah said...

Thank you Alice!
I have a friend in my life who is often a 'devil' until I realize the gift of understanding I have received from the 'unenlightened action' he 'committed'.
That moment of realization, of turning the crystal to see a different facet, creates such a softening of what was previously a hard spot within me, and I am filled with gratitude.
Also, I love your humor! No apologies for that!

Deborah said...

Hi Alice, Deborah again.

Are you still doing readings? It has been many years since I have had a reading from you, though I would love to have a reading from you now, if you are willing.
Much Love

Nancy said...

Hello Alice

Thank you for this wisdom,and I love how you shared it. The real (only) way to shift the dynamics of the conflicts among us is if we develop a larger (and longer) vision of what's going on. It's so tough to remember that when oneself or a loved one is directly affected. I have a hard time getting over a situation at work sometimes, how can I imagine what it's like to lose a child to violence?
I think that the practice of unconditional compassion at any level, personal or global, has an additive effect. Practice is something we choose to do. If we have enough humans practice enough unconditional compassion (starting with me), maybe we'll generate the "100th Monkey Effect" and slip smoothly into the Aquarian Age! We can hope.
Neptune's entrance into Pisces this year will begin to give humanity the call to practice compassion, let's also hope lots can hear what the waves speak.
Alice, there are interesting synchronicities I've experienced surrounding you and your writings in my life. Would it be possible for me to email you directly?
Blessings and warm regards,

Anonymous said...

Nancy, I don't know how to answer u.
Contact me at

No last name, etc.??


ruth hollis said...

... there but for the grace of God go I ...

circumstance is all that separates one of us from becoming the other

i try to let my inner spirit lead ... i can do what i am led to do ... help where i can ... whether that help be actively engaging or consciously removing myself.
if i am quiet ... i know the way

thank you for your writings.

Yummy Mummy said...

Alice I am struggling with this issue. I have been doing activism regarding human rights for Palestinians and working directly with children in Gaza. A dear soul I have known for ten years and she has been my friend and my daughter's teacher at Waldorf school is fundamentally on the exact opposite side of this issue. She says she is Zionist and is supportive of Netenyahoo and the creation of Jewish only state. Making a long story short. I practise tonglen but I am still really sad and broken up about this friend disregarding the information out there and regarding the suffering of one people as greater that the other. She says she can not speak about this due to the memory of her mother yet. I have met holocaust survivors who speak out against the human rights violations and land theft. I can love this friend from afar but when she comes love her from afar. Yet when she comes to my home I have clouds in my heart. I fear it is judgement. Do you have experience with such a thing?