Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Love Your Enemies



As a kindergarten teacher it took me a few years to figure out (the hard way) that the quickest path to having a great year is to help the kids with the most difficulties. The happier the least happy kid is, the happier we’ll all be—including me. Especially me, I'll admit it.

Sunday School lessons I was given about Jesus teaching "Love your enemies" had something to do with it. I am so grateful for that teacher.


“If all your enemies are well, happy and peaceful, they would not be your enemies. If they are free from problems, pain, suffering, affliction, neurosis, psychosis, paranoia, fear, tension, anxiety, etc., they would not be your enemies. Your practical solution toward your enemies is to help them to overcome their problems, so you can live in peace and happiness. In fact, if you can, you should fill the minds of all your enemies with loving kindness and make all of them realize the true meaning of peace so you can live in peace and happiness. The more they are in neurosis, psychosis, fear, tension anxiety, etc, the more trouble, pain and suffering they can bring to the world. If you could convert a vicious and wicked person into a holy and saintly individual, you would perform a miracle. Let us cultivate adequate wisdom and loving kindness within ourselves to convert evil minds into saintly minds.”

—Henepola Gunaratana Mindfulness in Plain English


What if this idea were applied to the enormous kindergarten of world politics?

What if nation states decided to invest as much money in health care, environmental restoration, and the arts as they now spend on the Armies, Navies, and Air Forces?

What if my country, the US, shrank its military spending so as not to exceed the budget it now has for the Peace Corps?

Would we find ourselves living in a far safer and happier world for everyone, even the bugs?

18 comments:

steven said...

sage advice dan that every wanna be or practicing teacher would do well to consider! on the world stage - i think that politicians need enemies not the least of whom are their own electorate! it's one way in which they can know themselves. steven

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, steven. I'll have to think about that... I know a lot of politicians up to the state level. (My wife, a City Councilmember, and I are very involved in city and regional politics.)

The politicians I know are regular people, not so very different from me. Some are amazing and very skillful and smart people. I think the enemy that does us the most harm is the enemy within our own selves.

Jo said...

Brilliant and sensitive post, Dan. It heartens me so to know that teachers like you and Steven, men with intellect and sensitivity, are stepping up to guide our youth. "Thank you" can't begin to express my gratitude.

This post has made me breathe just a little easier today. It rings with the advice of my mother to me years ago as I bemoaned my teen son's bad behavior. "Children need hugs the most who deserve them the least."

I think I'll go hug some politicians today. ♥ (she said, teasingly)

Tess Kincaid said...

"If all your enemies are well, happy and peaceful, they would not be your enemies." What a powerful and thought provoking statement. Excellent post.

Margaret Pangert said...

Just great, Dan. What came to my mind first was not world-class politics but just one issue-ridden actor, Charlie Sheen. He's being criticized by everyone, but I couldn't help thinking that he not only needs help, he needs to be convinced he needs help.
As for classrooms, what can be done for that eight-year-old boy who is a trouble-maker at school and has had to be arrested five times? A certain teacher, parent, Cub Scout leader, etc. could make all the difference.

Ruth said...

I smiled big when I got to that line about the kindergarten of world politics. It's awfully frustrating. How to apply your truth to that? I've been thinking how difficult it is to see what seems to be unchangeable, and just stay positive. The whole structure of our country's interference in the rest of the world is self serving. Now what to do? Pray? I do. What else? It's great that you and your wife are involved in politics. I'm not there and probably never will be.

So, I love the post. But I don't have answers for how or what to do besides what's in my heart, which is loving, but frustrated.

Dan Gurney said...

Jo, it makes me so glad to know that my blogging efforts help people breathe more easily. That's one thing I hope to accomplish by blogging, along with getting my thoughts clearer and sharing them.

Dan Gurney said...

Thank you, Tess. I appreciate your comment very much. It's clear to me that at the international level we have way too much yang energy going on and a deficit of yin energy.

Abraham Lincoln said something to the effect "the surest way to eliminate my enemy is to make him my friend."

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Margaret, I don't know anything about Mr. Sheen. That an eight year old can get arrested once let alone five? times is as much a statement about the cultural toxicity of our society as about the boy. Wow. I wonder what he was like when he was in kindergarten....

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Ruth. I do all I can. I meditate, I pray and worship (at least in the Mary Oliver sense of those words), and I get involved in face-to-face politics. For me it's about thinking locally and acting neighborly. I'm particularly interested in becoming more friendly with those whose politics probably differ widely from my own. Our world needs healing far more than it needs more "victories" for either side. Compromise and consensus are truer victories.

Paul C said...

I am reminded of the passage "Everything I learned I learned in kindergarten." There are some basic truths which apply to everyone, and key concepts which could extend throughout our lives including our love for enemies.

Sabio Lantz said...

@ Dan

Wow, there is a Buddha !!
I had not heard of H. Gunratana until yesterday when mentioned by another blogger I respect. Then this morning I read your post a few hours ago and there he was again. Finally about 30 minutes ago, a long-lost buddy popped into "my" coffee shop and wanted to share with me his new ventures into Buddhist meditation. He proudly showed me Gunaratana's book on his new Kindle. I was amazed at the coincidence. I looked over the book and decided I had to listen to the mystical voice of the universal Buddha guiding my life and buy the book.

OK, much of that is tongue-in-cheek but I will get the book for the real reasons mentioned -- the coincidence resonated. Thank you for your fine post.

And though I don't like the government spending money on much of anything (not being a Democrat), I would agree to cutting military spending by 3/4 and using half of that saving to spend on social safety nets. But since that won't happen too soon, in the meanwhile I will try to harness your inspiration today (via Gunaratana's fine description) and love my enemies a little more actively -- both external and internal.

BTW, to compound the deep workings of the all-loving guidance of Krisha, I was also heavily debating getting a Kindle -- and today's encounter tipped that decision too. All praise to Brahama!

:-) (Playfully, but seriously yours -- Sabio)
Oh yeah, if you get a chance, look at my post on Poetry today. Thanx.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi Paul! I am not surprised that you saw some resonance between this post and Robert Fulghum's famous "Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten." I love that little piece and have it hanging on the wall in my kindergarten room.

Loving Your Enemies, (especially the internal ones) is very challenging work.

Kathryn Magendie said...

Smiling . . .

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Sabio. I would imagine you'll like Mr. Gunarantara's book. It's a down-to-earth, meat-and-potatoes sort of presentation of Buddhism. Buddhism without much reference to Buddha. And it's written in everyday English. He uses the word, "gumption" for example. That's a wonderful underused English word.

I saw your post of poetry and left a comment there.

LauraX said...

Deep wisdom...lovingkindness is the honey glue that really can repair this broken world

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Laura. I know folks who think lovingkindness is the glue that holds the universe together, sort of like gravity, only warmer.

jeanne leigh said...

It just makes so much sense. So true.