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!
Posted by IonaDove