Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Loving Our Internal Enemies


(Frozen Lake Erie's edge...still and silent waves.)


As I have mentioned just recently, I am reading some Anthony DeMello at bedtime. I'm reading it in tiny little chunks to soothe my mind and heart before I lay down.

A few nights ago, I came across a section about freedom.

DeMello clarifies that it is human to have emotional responses like anger and frustration and fear, and that if you didn't feel those things, he would doubt you were a human at all. This clarification always seems necessary to me. For example, in studying Buddhism, I have heard so many people mistakenly identify a lot of Buddhist concepts with having no feelings at all -- you know, the sighing, won't-speak-above-a-whisper types. Being around them, brings out all my loud and grumpy parts.

From there, DeMello makes his real point. He asks what would happen to our lives if we were to let go of negative thought/feeling patterns like regret, bitterness, shame.

This felt like a powerful question to me.

What sort of freedom would this lead to?

On a post the other day, in response to some comments, all of this gelled and I suddenly heard Christ's "Love your enemy" in a whole new way.

Sure, he is most definitely talking about other humans, but it hit me that he is talking about all our internal enemies -- or at least, those parts of ourselves that we see as "bad" or "wrong" or "not good enough."

I am now trying to pay attention to the most persistent, the worst internal enemies that I have in my head. They often have to do with shame.

What would happen to me if I just loved them and thus let them go? What would happen to you?


7 comments:

Amber said...

I appreciate this and can relate.

The only way I finally got over feeling constant shame was to remember how I was born - innocent and true. No baby is born knowing it's a "shame" - it takes others to put that on them. This helps me forgive others while I'm still learning to love and respect myself.

It's still a work in progress but my heart is warmer now - my life more fulfilled.

Lovely post. Thank you.

Lisa said...

I love this. I have participated in a lot of Buddhist communities over the years, and I do think this whole idea of 'detachment' can cause a lot of problems. Namely - repression!! I have met people with perfectly peaceful exteriors that just felt to me like they were so bottled up inside. Like their spirituality had become another form of constant self-judgment. Although in fairness, I think that happens a lot in all forms of spirituality - we end up using it to create new 'projections' for ourselves to live up to, instead of for loving ourselves.

I like the idea of 'owning our shadows'. That is how I think of it. Owning and loving the parts of ourselves we thought were 'troublesome'. Because I think then they become a kind of power for us, actually. Maybe that is 'loving our enemies' as you said.

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claire said...

Ah Christine, loving my internal enemies is part of my Lenten journey this year. So I do relate with what you are writing about.

I find the older woman I am now has the power, generosity, and open heart to welcome the shame of younger 'mes'.

As I am learning centering prayer, I discover a space deep within that is wide enough for all my scattered parts.
It is an exciting journey...

Thank you for sharing yours with us.

Blessings.

belladawn said...

Today, I was able to let go of one of my internal enemies. I did something regrettable many, many years ago. It left me with feelings of shame and haunted my self concept. I saw the person I offended today after 12 years and offered my apology. She was more than happy to accept my apology and even more she said, "life would be better to remember when we were friends." I cried.

Loving our internal enemies is much like forgiving ourselves. We are human. We make bad judgments and live to regret them for periods that are often to long. This woman had forgiven me a long time ago. Moved on with her life. I remained stuck because of my internal enemy and shame.

LOVE YOUR ENEMIES! FORGIVE!

Thank-you as always!

tinkerbell the bipolar faerie said...

All that stuff about forgiveness ... they were talking about us, too. You know, forgiveness starts with oneself, doesn't it? How often we forget, huh? I like the metaphor of owning our own shadows. For, the shadow embodies all that stands between us, and the light.

Jenn said...

this is so timely! I still struggle with personal value and I think that comes from shame and 'not feeling good enough' as you shared. I never thought of that as 'Love your enemies' either but it certainly resonates! Thanks for this insight!
Also I wanted to say that I was recently thinking of your site and wanted to visit but could not remember the title, etc.. and then tonight I stumbled on it again when I saw your photo on Jan's post! yay! So neat! I have enjoyed your posts before and still do!
~Jenn