Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer
– Michael Corleone in ‘The Godfather: Part II’ by Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo.
Spoken by Michael Corleone, the quote above sounds like a fist in a velvet glove.”Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer”. In other words, by knowing your enemy better than a friend, you will not be surprised by their actions and by knowing how they work you will know how to break them.
This week I have had some difficulties with a person. They aren’t really my enemy but they managed to get in my head and irritated me. They took residence in my head and side-tracked my thoughts. But in-terms of the quote, they became my enemy.
The mind training texts describe how it is not enough to simply sit and meditate on patience, generosity, other-cherishing, compassion, and other good qualities. The Buddhist student needs to go out into the world and apply them with joyous effort. The best way of doing this is with an enemy, whether that enemy is an irritating person, a confrontational person, or whatever form that takes.
‘Mind Training Like the Rays of the Sun’ by Nam-Kha Pel
ISBN 13: 9788185102719
‘Seven Steps to Train Your Mind’ by Gomo Tulku
ISBN 13: 9781614292265
When faced with an enemy like the one I am faced with this week, then I have found somebody who is going to teach me patience, generosity, other-cherishing, compassion, and other good qualities. But only if I approach this enemy and this situation as an opportunity to learn and grow, with the mind training teachings in mind. If I become defensive or attack back, then I will not learn good qualities. I will miss the opportunity altogether and simply reinforce negative habits in my mind, such as being short-temper, greedy, self-centered, apathy, and other negative qualities.
When faced with the irritating person, I am trying to approach them with the mind training texts and good qualities in mind. They won’t just be a person that irritates me, and be my enemy; instead they will teach me good qualities, and be my kind guru.
Adept practitioners of mind training welcome difficult people and situations, knowing them to be great lessons and great teachers. The practitioner sees the opportunity for their spiritual development. Through practice, you can be the compassionate and kind center of your world, spreading those good qualities to others through the example of your actions. This is why they are worth keeping closer as Michael Corleone said, but to learn from them as you might learn from a kind guru.