(OMTimes | Debbie Peluso) Is there an inner enemy in our memory? “Here comes the rain again…Falling on my head like a memory…. Falling on my head like a new emotion,” …words we all relate to in this ever-changing, moving flow of energy called life. Yet, it is also difficult to accept as we experience it.
There is a story in the Talmud (Hebrew scripture) about how an angel is assigned to each of us when in the comfort of our mother’s womb who whispers to us the wisdom we need for living in this world. As we are born, she touches our upper lip in a gesture of silencing us to this knowledge. It is said the indentation above our lip (philtrum) is there to remind us that the answer to anything we may ever question is within us, not outside of us.
We could say yes, that’s a beautiful story, but why would an angel give us this knowledge to only silence us when we arrive to the destination where we need it most? Maybe because we are meant to cultivate and retain that wisdom through our own self-exploration and direct experience for evolvement. So where do we get lost? What blocks us from accessing this information when needed most?
Resistance is the inner enemy we know best
Within us all lies an enemy. We call it resistance! We convince ourselves we are open and expressing loving kindness and evolving through our many physical activities such as engaging in yoga, chanting, attending church, serving the community, but do we have complete acceptance and loving kindness towards ourselves in all matters arising from the depths of our core? Are the actions the mask we wear out of fear of allowing ourselves the freedom to expose what we feel?
One of the four Noble Truths in Buddhism speaks to suffering. There is discomfort in life. There is no avoiding it! People also live in poverty, are hungry, live in war zones knowing loss and deprivation. It is part of duality. We turn our eyes from it avoiding “feelings” of suffering and discomfort.
This is what we do in our own lives, as well. We put on an armor of protection from emotions we may feel such as anger, depression, pain, judgment, cynicism. Our ego resists showing the world our vulnerabilities out of shame for being judged as unacceptable or “bad.”
Acceptance and making friends with our inner enemy
But it is through acceptance of our own sufferings and making friends with this inner enemy that allows us to cultivate authentic emotion and loving kindness towards ourselves which in turn develops towards all sentient beings. It is being in the flow of oneness with the energy of life rather than resisting it. This is how we can be of “true” value and help to others’ sufferings. Courage to have acceptance, make friends with our emotions and forgive the enemy within known as resistance.
“Today is cynical with a touch of self-pity. Check your attitude and prepare your Kleenex!” Does that maybe sound like one of your daily forecasts? Just as the weather changes from rain to sunshine to wind, our emotions are just as changeable. One day we could feel excessive anger wanting to tear apart the whole house. On another day, we feel such emotional pain we can’t get out of bed. We should not feel shame for these emotions, but rather have acceptance knowing that just as the weather, they shall pass.
Turn the inner enemy into internal wisdom
This doesn’t mean you get a “get out of jail free” card! If your neighbor complains about your dog barking, you don’t lash out at them calling them whatever expletive you can think of. Rather, becoming friends with that anger, acknowledging it as a changeable emotion allows you to be less reactionary. If it rains, we run seeking cover because we don’t want to get “wet.”
Embracing the rain allows us to recognize its nourishment as it cleanses the earth cultivating food and vegetation. It is the same with our emotions. We seek refuge to avoid judgment of ourselves or from others. If we experience anger, embodying and grounding it we can awaken to its wisdom using the energy towards beneficial and fruitful actions.
How to best befriend your inner enemy
Take off the armor. Use courage to face the weather. Detach yourself from it. Same with any emotion arising. Embody, redirect, embrace. Wait for it to blow over just as when the weather changes. Have acceptance, not attachment.
Sit in silence, recall the wisdom of the angel whispered to you so beautifully and awaken it. Let go of the enemy of resistance. “Our everyday practice is simply to develop a complete acceptance and openness to all situations and emotions and people, experiencing everything totally without reservations or blockages so that one never withdraws or centralizes into oneself.” (Trungpa Rinpoche)
This is the wisdom imparted to us, teaching us to cultivate loving kindness, compassion first for ourselves and then others resulting in peace even with our physical enemies: One life; one love!
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