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Saturday, July 25, 2020


In meditation certain insights come, both over the long haul and in certain flashes. In zen we call things "delusions," so it has to do with delusions that disappear and leave room for more skillful thoughts. For example, I used to have enemies, but I don't need them anymore. In other words, the concept of an enemy isn't particular useful, and not thinking of enemies leaves more space in the mind for more useful ideas. 

Now, there are people I like and people I like less, there are people whom I agree with more, or less, but there is nobody right now for whom I feel enmity beyond that. If someone were to wish me harm, then I would be an enemy for that person, but I am not obliged to wish harm on that person. I would try to protect myself, but that is it. 

 I'm sure I could feel enmity under extreme circumstances, but it would take something very serious to do it. If someone gets angry at me, I don't have to reciprocate; nothing obliges me to. Looking back, having enemies never actually benefited me in any way, even if my feelings seemed justified at the time. 

(I do feel some anger against that poet who passes off his own work as that of others in a kind of reverse plagiarism. People like anger because it gets them excited and hence not bored. I'm no different in that, but often in retrospect it seems stupid. I spent a lot of energy dissing Luis GarcĂ­a Montero and defending myself when others didn't like it. It is fairly exhausting!)  

Of course, you could say now that I am powerful, so that few people are in the position to do me harm anyway, so in that sense my letting go of the idea an enemy seems logical and not particularly virtuous. That's a fair criticism. So do vulnerable people need enemies? Does the concept help them. It could. In my experience, when I had enemies it was when I felt vulnerable myself (before tenure), but I think I would have been better off enemyless even then. 


What about Trump, then? Surely negative feelings come up. I should do things to counter his influence and work against the things he promotes. The negative feelings themselves are justified, but they have zero effect on Trump himself or his power. In fact, the seething anger against him just seem to bolster him. 

1 comment:

Leslie B. said...

Hm - to me, identifying the enemy is helpful. I tend not to think in terms of enemies but it is useful to recognize them when you have them because their job is to do you harm. I could either wonder why someone behaves in a hostile manner and goes out of the way to do me harm, or just realize they are my enemy and get on with the day.

Trump is definitely the enemy of much and many.

I don't associate anger with emnity. Manipulative behavior and invasion of personal boundaries make me angry. Enemies are those who are out to destroy you, or your objectives, as I think of it, and must be defended against, unfortunately.