Posted on May 31, 2011 | 0 comments

I had the honor to hear His Holiness the Dalai Lama speak in person several weeks ago, and I have been pondering his message ever since.  So I apologize for the long delay in posting, I hope it is worth waiting for.

One of his key lessons is that it is only through facing an “enemy” that we build strength.  I found this teaching to be so profound that I have decided I needed the space of several blog posts to explore it properly.   So this is the first in a series of posts that will explore how we can apply this philosophy to our every day lives.

I first want to say that I am not a big fan of the word “enemy”.  In our culture the connotation is of a living person who is seeking to harm us.  There very well may be people who are seeking to physically harm us, but I will not be writing about that type of “enemy”.  These are not the situations where we learn yogic discipline, this is where self defense is useful.  And that is a different teacher.

When we are surrounded by people that think like we think and act like we act it is so easy!!  We are never challenged to consider a different view or defend our beliefs.  When life is easy we float along in a wonderful bubble of contentment that doesn’t shape us or change us.  But when we come into contact with people who challenge or beliefs, thoughts and feelings we are forced to really put these aspects of ourselves under scrutiny and be prepared to defend them.  The same is true when life gets difficult.  It is only through these challenges that we strengthen our spiritual muscle.

So I will not be using the term enemy, for my purposes I prefer to use the the term “opponent” or “opposition”.  These are simply people or situations that challenge our perception of how the world works or how we think it should work.  I will be talking about the people and situations in our lives that are like sand to the oyster.  Irritating, but in the end forms a beautiful pearl.

It has also occurred to me that opponents come in several different forms.  First there is a real live person who just gets under our skin or challenges us on some level.  Second there is a situation that challenges us to think about how we choose to act or react.  And third is ourselves.  We are often our own worst “enemy”.

For the next three weeks I will be exploring how each of these “opponents” manifest in our lives and how we might seek to turn the sand into a pearl of wisdom.

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