Learning from Our Enemies

This short piece from Pema Chodron fits into the them of a dayong retreat I’m teaching at Spirit Rock Saturday, so I’m sharing it here.

Ego clinging is our means of denial. Once we have the fixed idea “this is me,” then we see everything as a threat or a promise—or something we couldn’t care less about. Whatever we encounter, we’re either attracted to it or averse to it or indifferent to it, depending on how much of a threat to our self-image it represents. The fixed identity is our false security. We maintain it by filtering all of our experience through this perspective. When we like someone, it’s generally because they make us feel good. They don’t blow our trip, don’t disturb our fixed identity, so we’re buddies. When we don’t like someone—they’re not on our wavelength, so we don’t want to hang out with them—it’s generally because they challenge our fixed identity. We’re uncomfortable in their presence because they don’t confirm us in the ways we want to be confirmed, so we can’t function in the ways we want to function. Often we think of the people we don’t like as our enemies, but in fact, they’re all-important to us. They’re our greatest teachers: special messengers who show up just when we need them, to point out our fixed identity. – Pema Chodron

Advertisements

Use What You’ve Been Given to Wake Up

A good reminder for anyone who feels disadvantaged in some way:

“Our life’s work is to use what we have been given to wake up. If there were two people exactly the same-same body, same speech, same mind, same mother, same father, same house, same food, everything the same- one of them could use what he has to wake up and the other could use it to become more resentful, bitter, and sour. It doesn’t matter what you are given, whether it’s a physical deformity or enormous wealth or poverty, beauty or ugliness, mental stability or mental instability, life in the middle of a mad house or life in the middle of a peaceful silent desert. Whatever you’re given can wake you up or put you to sleep. That’s the challenge of now: what are you going to do with what you have already-your body, your speech, your mind?”

From Pema Chodron’s book, Awakening Lovingkindness