Hi. Sensei here. I want to tell you something that has been troubling me lately. Shall we begin?
I don’t know about you, but living in this world is not easy. We thank God for friends, but there are people on this planet who it seems were created for one purpose and one purpose only; to make life harder for you than it already is. Sometimes it feels like some human beings wake up in the morning and make a solemn pledge to themselves, to find you and cause you pain. I speak of our enemies. Do you know who your enemy is?
Your Enemy Number One is YOU. But I have not come to tell you about him. Not because it is not important, but because recent events have made me realise how urgently we need to understand the mental operation and behavioural disposition of Enemy Number Two. I have always expected or hoped that you know and understand him, but these days, I really wonder if you do.
Where do I begin? Why on earth has this one person decided to be your enemy? Well, it is simple. Concerning some matter, he believes he is right and you are wrong and that you deserve the worst kind of hell for being wrong. Did I say believe? Scratch that. He KNOWS. He knows he is right about this issue at hand and he knows that there is just no way he can be wrong about it. You pause, intrigued by his certainty, especially since you can see the error of his ways. You ask him if he is omniscient and he says no. You ask if he is incapable of error, he says no. Now you really become perplexed.
You ask again why he is willing to draw blood because of his convictions and he assures you that he is right and goes on to give you reason after reason to prove his stand. Apparently, he has absolute trust in his instrument of mentation (I mean his brain). Not that it has never failed him, not that he cannot remember circumstances in the past when he took a rash decision based on a conviction, only to regret later when he realised the error of his ways.
You see, his perspective is not whole because a vital piece of information is missing from his world view. Specifically it is not whole because in his certainty, he fails to acknowledge how error prone our human nature is. Even if his truth were God’s own words, it is always transmitted by imperfect human beings. Consumed by his feeling of rightness, he explodes in a conflagration of righteous anger. Oh, this does not mean he is not allowed to feel certain about anything. It is just that history has provided ample evidence, showing us how dangerous men who hold on to absolutes can be. Think about the racists and the Hitlers of this world.
Human beings who are real and factual have an understanding which they hold perpetually at the back of their minds. They know that even that perspective which they hold so tightly and justify so confidently could be wrong. Such is the grace, the depth of insight that characterises people who have a panoramic world view. It is the ability to zoom into an issue and not forget the lesson you learnt when you zoomed out and viewed the planet from outer space. So you see, since his perspective is whole, it tends to be wholesome. He understand that’s since his idea still has a possibility of error no matter how tiny, he remains flexible and decides no conviction is worth killing for.
But it is not so with your enemy.
The fact that your enemy has concluded that he is right and you are wrong is not the problem per se. Because at least inside our own heads, we all have a right to believe whatever sense or nonsense we choose to. His problem is that he is convinced he is infallible. His problem is that he believes only in his own experience of the world. His problem is that as far as perspectives are concerned, he is a tyrant who believes too much in the accuracy of his own thoughts, to the extent that he never truly listens to another opinion, to the extent that he never truly opens his heart to hear another version of the story. His thought is his god and he believes that the world should bow down and worship it, even as fervently as he does.
To him, you are nothing if you do not live as he thinks you should live. He sits on the throne every day and passes down judgement upon you, not realising that there are seven billion ways to look at a thing because there are seven billion pairs of eyes in this world. There are also seven billion ways to experience a thing. He forgets that his own story is just a negligible fraction of the seven billion that exist. The wise would set out to ask questions from as many as he can, understanding that he is wisest who can see a thing from many perspectives. This is not the approach of your enemy, who is narrow-minded, close-minded, and sometimes no-minded. Remember the story of the blind men who could only touch one part of the elephant? Oh we should add that neither does the conviction of seven billion people turn a lie into the truth. The wise know this. It failed to make the world flat, didn’t it?
There is still more to say about this enemy. Okay, let’s pretend for a minute that he is indeed right and you are wrong, as he believes. This would mean he has a superior knowledge, superior insight. It would mean he is a superior being. This should make him feel so complete in himself that he would not be bothered by what others so. Should he not be skipping happily around, always whistling a happy tune, enraptured by a sense of his own wholeness and perfection of knowledge? He should not lose his cool when others live and behave stupidly. After all, is it his stupid? Not so, your enemy. He has an urge, a strong need that everyone else must be and live as he wants them to be. He therefore is unable to allow other people be stupid in peace. Neither is he imaginative enough to ask himself the question, “What if I’m the stupid one?” Even when your own stupidity does not affect him and should not bother him, he promises to be bothered.
There is yet another quality that he lacks. The wise understand that in this world, there will never be a time when everyone will agree on everything. Just because there are seven billion eyes and seven billion perspectives, merging all of this into one is an impossible task. We do not have to wait for the day when we all will share a brain to live in peace. Disagreement and discord are not Siamese twins. It is possible to disagree with a person and live peacefully with them. It is possible to downplay what you disagree upon, just so that you can work together on what is generally agreeable. You see, it’s really a matter of priority. What’s more important to you? Peace? Or the need to have everyone think as you do? Your enemy has obviously made a choice. Fuck peace!
Great insight is required to come to the understanding that just as you are entitled to your own opinion, entitled to live life on your own terms, every human being has this entitlement. This enemy has not come to the realization of a fundamental human right; the right to live your own life as you have chosen it, as long as you don’t bring harm to others. We also have the right to make mistakes and learn from them (that is if one is really making a mistake). Not understanding that learning is a fundamental part of what it means to be human and that learning happens daily, he does not respect your life process. He refuses to allow you make your mistakes and learn in your own good time. This, by the way, is a privilege he reserves for himself. He will not stand by and allow you unravel piece by piece, this incredible gift of yours called life. The truth is that he has zero respect for your uniqueness and your life experience. Because you being true to yourself does not align with what he believes, he rejects you. He never really thinks about you, only ever thinks about himself and his opinion.
But your enemy may claim he really is out to help you. He may argue that he really cares about your well-being and that is why he insists you must do what he thinks is right. But we know the truth. He does not care about you because if he did, he would really listen with an open heart to hear your perspective. If he did, he would weigh his words carefully, because in his bid to communicate, he would care enough to ensure he does not leave you hurt in the process. The very method of communication he employs goes to show that he truly does not care about you or your feelings. And he wonders why we shut down when he speaks?
We all know those persons whom we run to when we need to be heard and understood. We look for those who really listen with an open heart (we can always tell, you know). We look for someone who will understand us and love us as we are. Who will correct us if need be with a kind tone, and love us nonetheless even if we reject the advice given. This enemy of ours is not like this. He does not know the most basic rule of effective communication; beyond what you have to say, how you say it is equally important. So his tone is harsh, his words are tipped with venom and shot out carelessly; his love is conditional. Love without condition exists; therefore what he offers is inferior. We are all aware of the flaw in his being and the limitation of his philosophy.
Oh sometimes he appears to be humane and kind. He is not necessarily the devil incarnate. But the truth is that beneath his cloak, there is always a dagger. He will love you, only as long as you are what he wants you to be and only as long as you live by his principles. Sometimes, he calls himself your friend but we all know he isn’t. Because a true friend will love you no matter what, will love you first and love you completely before and after disagreeing with you. Your friend is someone who is able to see your flaws, see beyond them and love you all the same. Being incapable of this, he is not your friend. It’s just a matter of time before he shows to you what he really is – an enemy.
I have taken time to write about the nature of your enemy, not to make you hate him, for by doing so, you would have allowed him to transmit his philosophy of hate to you. I tell you about him so that you would really understand his nature and then transcend it. Since he does all this in ignorance while genuinely, maybe innocently, believing he is right, the strongest among us may transcend him so much that they pity and even forgive him.
But dear friends, do not be like the enemy, because he epitomizes and enthrones a destructive principle that lies at the heart of every man-made evil that ever existed in this world – Selfishness.
Written by Sensei