Loving Your Enemy

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Week Two - - - Day Two

What about “other people” who bother/ hurt/ annoy/ “betray” us?

How to “LOVE YOUR ENEMY”

The “Work of Byron Katie”

PATHWAY NINE: DON’T BELIEVE YOUR OWN THINKING


This is almost sacrilege, if you pay attention to yourself and to almost everyone around you.

We believe our own thinking.

We have various opinions/ beliefs/ conjectures/ stories about reality and somehow, we believe them.

This is crazy, except that so many do this, we see it as “normal.”


So, for two thousand years the commandment of Jesus to “LOVE YOUR ENEMIES” has been a bit of a washout.

Brief aside: and it’s the closest I’ve found to a “joke” in the New Testament, as Jesus says, essentially: Anyone can love someone who’s kissing your ass; but let them give you a little grief, and then love goes out the window.


People give us grief.

We can feel bad about it.

Most people do.

Most people grumble inside and out, and spend considerable effort to get others to agree that they are “right” in their feelings of grievance. Isn’t my husband/ wife/ son/ daughter/ mother/ father an awful person, they whine. And many so-called friends, who want equal time to be consoled as the victim, agree.

Gad.

Where does that leave us?

Victimized and weak and feeling sorry for ourselves or angry or withdrawn or ….

You name it.


Here’s the deal.

If we aren’t being shot at, or bombed and aren’t starving or in some war zone, almost all of our suffering is an inside job.

And this isn’t to be believed.

It’s to be experienced.


The way?

Notice the difference when

  1. We believe our own thinking

  2. We don’t believe our own thinking


This was how Byron Katie discovered her method.

She had “woken” up. She had had her “moment of clarity.” By in large she was in bliss, ease and laughter.

And then she’d have a thought: “My mother treated me such and such, and that was really terrible. She shouldn’t have.”

And she’d plummet.


She came up with a system we’ve given the first sketch of:

Judge your neighbor (lover, mother/ father/ friend/ sibling, co-worker, etc)

Write it down (She doesn’t say it, but I recommend : a simple should/ shouldn’t statement)

Ask four questions

Turn it around


Judge your neighbor

Write it down

Ask four questions

Turn it around


1 Judge your neighbor. 

Don’t pretend you aren’t carrying around a big fat should or shouldn’t. Let it out. It’s how most of humanity spends most of its thinking/ feeling about others.


2. Write it down.

This slows the obsessive going over and over and over. You get it down once and you can see what your war with reality is about.

Let’s take one I suffered over for years:

“My father shouldn’t have been so critical of me.”


3. Ask four questions.


4. Turn it around.


We’ve seen the turn around.

Which always seems more stringent than it really is.

“I shouldn’t have been so critical of my father.”

But he started it, he was mean, etc, etc, and yet, for years, this was my main spiel in talking to others about my father.

I was big on his should clean up his critical act, and yet, welcome normal human hypocrisy, I couldn’t clean up mine.


But before the turn around, what are these four questions?

Just four?

That can do the work of most therapy?

And even most deeply spiritual work?


Here they are.


  1. Is it true?

Huh? That’s all. Of course it’s true that “my father shouldn’t have been so critical.”

And who says.

Let’s say some seventy percent of fathers are critical.

Who commanded that I get one of the thirty percent who aren’t?


And if it’s the other way around, and only 30% are critical, who commanded that I “should” have one of the nice ones?


Strange but true: my father had his own issues, his own abuse, his own torture, his own rough experiences.

All this happened outside of my control.

He was what he was.

He had some wonderful moments. And some not so wonderful moments, especially when he’d had a little too much to drink.

He wasn’t perfect.

And is it true he shouldn’t have been critical?

No.

Would I have liked it better?

Sure.

And is/ was the world fashioned to be what I like?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. In the father I was dealt game, no.


In case that question doesn’t help pry us loose from our confusion of “truth” and opinion, here’s the next one.


2. Is that thought/ belief/ story absolutely true?


Is it absolutely true that my father should have been less critical?

This is like the God question: should the universe have been set up differently so my Dad would have different behavior from a different psychology from a different past?

Sorry, but the world was what it was as he was developing and even if he himself wished he’d been different, which I suspect he did at times, that doesn’t change what he was able to do.

And… who knows how much worse it could have been if he hadn’t made small and mainly failing efforts to be better at fathering?


And now we move to the HEART OF BUDDHISM/ FREEDOM QUESTIONS.


3. How do I feel and react and live when I believe that thought?


We’ve already seen that the thought isn’t true?

What are the consequences of believing something that isn’t true?

This is NOT A THEORETICAL QUESTION.

When I look at how I felt when I believe this, I get a laundry list of misery:

Sad

Cheated

Angry

Victim

Avoid certain men

Mean to my father

Unhappy


And more.


The trick is to do this 4 question process over and over witlh all sorts of bummer thoughts.

And sooner or later you/ me/ anyone will come to realize: it’s not my father making my feel bad, it’s my story/ thought/ belief about how he should have been different/ better/ perfect that is ripping me apart.


And it’s not even my story: it’s my BELIEVING MY STORY. Because we are usually fairly wired to have these thoughts about just how bad/ mean/ unfair/ awful others have been to us.


And the fun ( I should say “fun”) part of this, is that in question 3 I can start to feel just how by inserting these thoughts into my believing I can make myself sad, angry, victim, miserable.


And now, the learning part.

Remember learning: LEARNING IS NOTICING A DIFFERENCE THAT MAKES A DIFFERENCE.


This is one of the biggest differences in the world: do I/ you believe our thoughts about how other “should” have been different.


Question 4: Who or What would I be if I didn’t have that thought?


Same Dad. Same past. Same history of various times of criticism. I now, who am I if I don’t have the thought, “he shouldn’t have been so critical?”

Just someone noticing a critical father.

I don’t have to change him.

He can criticize away in my imagination (he’s dead. But that doesn’t stop huge numbers of people from feeling bad about the past behavior of a parent, or an ex-spouse, ex-boss and so on).

That’s him.

He’s saying the words, but if I don’t have the thought “he shouldn’t,” I can just listen.

Actually, I feel sorry for him, in a way. He wants to love his son, and the best he can do is going into this critical thing.


What would I be if I didn’t have the thought?

Freedom.

Compassion.

Even curiosity: what is making him go off like this.


And so, now my Dad is free, to have been what he was.

I am free, to no longer agonize myself by wanting him to be different.



And what, you might ask: if he weren’t dead and we had one of these fairly normal Thanksgiving dinners were someone rips into someone else.

He comes to Thanksgiving.

He starts to criticize.


I don’t have to feel bad.

I don’t have to tell him to shut up.

I don’t have to argue with him.


I can say, okay, that’s your opinion.

Or, I can say, what I figured about fifteen years after he died to do with my at the time alive Mom when she started to criticize me.

I could listen.

And say: I hear you believe this and this and this.

And: what you are really trying to say is that “I love you.”

“I love you, too.”


This confuses a critical person. And they may even, as my Mom did after four days or so, realize, “Hey, I really do love them.” And start saying, “I love you,” instead of criticizing.

This isn’t guaranteed, but it’s worth a try.

And even if it takes a year to change, or they die before they change, you’ve spent all that time not letting someone “get to you,” and you’ve spent all that time saying, “What you are really trying to say is that ‘I love you.’ “

This makes a difference to them, whether they outwardly change or not.

And makes a difference to you, a huge difference, because you aren’t torturing yourself with the notion they should change.


Now, loving your enemy may mean only inviting them to dinner a couple of times a year, because that’s the way you want your dinners to be.

And you never have again, to be afraid of someone’s mean or critical words.


They are coming out of them.

It’s their business.

Too bad, but you can love them no matter what.


(Hitting is another story: call the cops.)


And guess what, pathway nine could better be said like this


PATHWAY NINE: 

TRY BELIEVING AND NOT BELIEVING YOUR THINKING

NOTICE THE DIFFERENCE

SEE WHO YOU REALLY WANT TO BE

SEE WHAT YOU REALLY ARE