The Gift of an Enemy

A teaching of His Holiness the Dalai Lama

In one way, having an enemy is very bad. It disturbs our mental peace and destroys some of our good things. But if we look at it from another angle, only an enemy gives us an opportunity to practice patience. No one else provides us with the opportunity for tolerance. Since we do not know the majority of the five billion human beings on this earth, therefore the majority of people do not give us an opportunity to show tolerance or patience either. Only those people whom we know and who create problems for us really provide us with a good opportunity to practice tolerance and patience.

Shantideva says that it is the very intention of harming us which makes the enemy very special. If the enemy had no intention of harming us, then we would not classify that person as an enemy, therefore our attitude would be completely different. It is his or her very intention of harming us which makes that person an enemy and because of that the enemy provides us with an opportunity to practice tolerance and patience. Therefore, an enemy is indeed a precious teacher. By thinking along these lines, you can eventually reduce the negative mental emotions, particular hatred.

I consider hatred to be the ultimate enemy.

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