I came across a book that seemed interesting, and was pleasantly surprised to discover that this book could not be more fitting for a Meditation Monday!
“You can become conscious of what you were formerly unconscious of.” – Love Your Enemies, by Sharon Salzberg and Tenzin Robert Thurman
Love Your Enemies: How to Break the Anger Habit & Be a Whole Lot Happier by Sharon Salzberg and Tenzin Robert Thurman reaffirms that we hold within us the power to create our own happiness. Loving our enemies is about more than finding a way to feel love for bullies. It is about wishing love and happiness for everyone, including ourselves.
“How can I love a bully?”, you might ask. The authors explain that the only way to be free of the torment of an enemy is to wish for them true happiness. Enemies also serve us by continually teaching us how to be patient, tolerant, and forgiving. Not to say that any of these are easily realized, but the authors do an excellent job of describing how we might view our enemies through a different lens that allows us to work to become more loving.
When we come to the realization that our enemies are a gift, we can awaken to the real work that must be done: addressing our inner enemies. This book not only reminded me of the destructive effects of anger, it also awakened me to view my own insecurities and anxieties for the destructive habits that they are. Beyond the outer enemies, it could be argued that our inner enemies are more important (and more difficult) to extinguish.
Love is the opposite of anger. Love and compassion wish others to be happy and joyful, while anger and hatred wish pain and suffering on their victims. The authors explain that patience is wedged in between love and anger, as the waiting place for developing tolerance and forgiveness, and eventually allows us to move on from anger to love.
Buried beneath the layers of anger are our insecurities and anxieties that result from being overly concerned with ourselves, things, and status. After personally suffering with feelings of not being good enough for far too long, it was pleasantly eye-opening for me to discover that this path is not only unnecessary but destructive. Instead, focusing on alleviating the suffering of others and improving their well-being is what really matters.
The book concludes with a brief practical introduction to metta meditation (“lovingkindness” meditation), which focuses on the recognition that caring for others is essential and synonymous with caring for ourselves.
Beautifully written, Love Your Enemies was a joy to read, and an important reminder of the positive effects of making choices towards love and peace. While the messages are deeply rooted in Buddhist teachings and at times difficult to comprehend without re-reading, the overall message of love transcends differing religious beliefs.
I found this book to be somewhat challenging to comprehend at times as I am less familiar with Buddhist teachings. I wouldn’t have missed reading it though. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to read such an enlightening view on relating to the world. Namaste!
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Hay House Publishing for this review. The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.