The Enemy is the Necessary Condition for Practicing Patience

These words from His Holiness the Dalai Lama are quite powerful:

“In fact, the enemy is the necessary condition for practicing patience. Without an enemy’s action, there is no possibility for patience or tolerance to arise. Our friends do not ordinarily test us and provide the opportunity to cultivate patience; only our enemies do this. So, from this standpoint we can consider our enemy as a great teacher, and revere them for giving us this precious opportunity to practice patience.

“Now, there are many, many people in the world, but relatively few with whom we interact, and even fewer who cause us problems. So when you come across such a chance for practicing patience and tolerance, you should treat it with gratitude. It is rare. Just as having unexpectedly found a treasure in your own house, you should be happy and grateful towards your enemy for providing that precious opportunity. Because if you are ever to be successful in your practice of patience and tolerance, which are critical factors in counteracting negative emotions, it is due to the combination of your own efforts and also the opportunity provided by your enemy.

“Of course, one might still feel, ‘Why should I venerate my enemy, or acknowledge his or her contributions, because the enemy had no intention to give me this precious opportunity for practicing patience, no intention of helping me? And not only do they have no wish or intention to help me, but they have a deliberate malicious intention to harm me! Therefore, it’s appropriate to hate them – they are definitely not worthy of respect.’ Actually, it is in fact the presence of this hateful state of mind in the enemy, the intention to hurt us, that makes the enemy’s action unique. Otherwise, if it is just the actual act of hurting us, then we would hate doctors and consider them as enemies because sometimes they adopt methods that can be painful, such as surgery. But still, we do not consider these acts as harmful or the acts of an enemy because the intention on the part of the doctor was to help us. So, therefore, it is exactly this willful intention to harm us that makes the enemy unique and gives us this precious opportunity to practice patience.”

-HH the Dalai Lama, The Art of Happiness

Training the MindPonder these words for a minute… Our enemy is necessary. It’s preferable to have enemies than to go through life without them.

But why?

For the purpose of learning patience or tolerance.

That’s quite powerful. The next time we’re inclined to hate our enemy, meditate on these words.

Also good for meditating on are the Eight Verses for Training the Mind:

  1. With a determination to achieve the highest aim
    For the benefit of all sentient beings
    Which surpasses even the wish-fulfilling gem,
    May I hold them dear at all times.
  2. Whenever I interact with someone,
    May I view myself as the lowest amongst all,
    And, from the very depths of my heart,
    Respectfully hold others as superior.
  3. In all my deeds may I probe into my mind,
    And as soon as mental and emotional afflictions arise-
    As they endanger myself and others-
    May I strongly confront them and avert them.
  4. When I see beings of unpleasant character
    Oppressed by strong negativity and suffering,
    May I hold them dear-for they are rare to find-
    As if I have discovered a jewel treasure!
  5. When others, out of jealousy
    Treat me wrongly with abuse, slander, and scorn,
    May I take upon myself the defeat
    And offer to others the victory.
  6. When someone whom I have helped,
    Or in whom I have placed great hopes,
    Mistreats me in extremely hurtful ways,
    May I regard him still as my precious teacher.
  7. In brief, may I offer benefit and joy
    To all my mothers, both directly and indirectly,
    May I quietly take upon myself
    All hurts and pains of my mothers.
  8. May all this remain undefiled
    By the stains of the eight mundane concerns;
    And may I, recognizing all things as illusion,
    Devoid of clinging, be released from bondage.

You may read more about these verses at http://www.dalailama.com/teachings/training-the-mind

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