Most of you have probably heard of the adage “Love thy enemy”. I believe it originated from a Bible passage, Matthew 5:44, which reads “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”
How would this passage be different for you if I were to suggest that the enemy is you? More specifically, the enemy consists of all those parts of yourself that you disown, the shadow side of your Self that you find unacceptable and even unlovable. It doesn’t mean that this shadow is malicious or evil. Yet you have relegated pieces of yourself to the shadow and now call them unwanted. For some reason, you would prefer this enemy not look back at you when you stare into your mirror. Maybe that face staring back looks like someone you remember from the past, a younger version of you that held different beliefs and values. And now you have replaced those beliefs with more acceptable beliefs, with what may now really be “shoulds’ not values. Only your reflection calls this out in you because if you were to accept this, somehow you could no longer rationalize your life as it is.
What persecutes you about yourself or about others? If you can’t stand a hateful, bigoted person, where is that person inside you? If you can’t bear needy people, where in you lies your neediness? If you fear the murderer, can you accept that somewhere inside yourself you could take a life? If you call your children irresponsible for their frivolity, where are you denying the child in yourself?
Thich Nhat Hanh in his poem, Call Me By My True Names, writes:
Please call me by my true names, so I can hear all my cries and my laughter at once, so I can see that my joy and pain are one.
Please call me by my true names, so I can wake up, and so the door of my heart can be left open, the door of compassion.
Your most powerful enemy is inside you. It is that enemy that calls out to be loved, accepted, and acknowledged. The enemy that critiques you and curses you when somehow you fail to measure up to your Ego self. The image that looks back at you when you want to hide, mercilessly pointing out your human condition, is the enemy in you that you want to love. And it will require a level of compassion for yourself, an opening of your heart, to embrace the humanity within yourself so you can begin to find the only thing that will save you – Love.