Dream Work 5: Making Your Enemies into Friends
“Let them at all times concern themselves with doing a kindly thing for one of their fellows, offering to someone love, consideration, thoughtful help. Let them see no one as their enemy, or as wishing them ill, but think of all humankind as their friends; regarding the alien as an intimate, the stranger as a companion, staying free of prejudice, drawing no lines.” Abdu’l Baha
Most of us have faced our fair share of enemies in the dream world from dinosaurs to witches to ghosts to former real-life enemies. A few years ago we were on a bus in Vietnam touring around the area of Ho Chi Minh City. On the seats in front of us were 3 Japanese girls and next to us were two Russian girls. The Japanese were the enemies of my father’s generation, Russians, our Cold War enemies, and the bus was in the country of my enemy as a youth, Vietnam. It struck me, at that moment, that our past enemies as a country were now our friends and so it was on the bus. How does that happen?
War and conflict, internally and externally, is caused by an ego state often trying to gain dominance and being out of control. The problem that the ego has in trying to be in control over the higher states of peace and unity is that it cannot maintain its negative energy for extended periods of time. Sooner or later it gives way to a more lasting energy like friendship and cooperation. The ego tries really hard to be on top, but you can see with your own eyes that America and Japan prefer peace between each other. Vietnam is similar. With each passing year the ties of cooperation and friendship grow stronger between the two countries. War is not a state that people can sustain because it is just too costly to the development of the people. Nonetheless, we as world try to dominate.
Just as nations have to eventually submit to being cooperative with each other so too do we need to get out of conflict with our own selves. If you watch sports like tennis or golf, you can see just how pronounced the internal conflict can be. You can be yelling and swearing at yourself as if someone inside of you is a big enemy. It strikes me as kind of funny to think of being the person inside someone famous who yells a great deal at themselves. It must be like you are under major attack. I think most of us do it, so it is worth going inside and being the person under attack from the inside perspective when the person outside is the one making all the mistakes.
When you think of yourself in these terms, the person on the outside yelling represents the ego because its goal is one thing, domination of others and its fear is that of losing. Who is being yelled at on the inside is the positive true self who has all of the capacities and good character traits. It is like we are yelling at our greatest friend and resource. I do this just like you when I play tennis. It is really a ridiculous way to play, but my ego wants to dominate my opponent and then gets really angry when it is not happening.
Every single bit of research in this area says that speaking to yourself as if you are at war is detrimental to growth and improvement. It is clear that what works is not to be at war with yourself but to honor and acknowledge the positive abilities that you have. When you are getting beaten, the best strategy, according to the science, is to remember your positive abilities, acknowledge them, and then, lo and behold, they come to the forefront and perform. Here is another way to say it. When we are performing poorly, like we all do periodically, we are forgetting to remember.
The problem with the era of the Cold War was that communism, the ideology of “equity” was at war with capitalism, the ideology of initiative. When they were at war they forgot to remember the positive aspects of the ideologies because the goal was domination instead of cooperation. Equity allows people to have a fair playing ground and ensures that the people with lesser abilities are not discarded or excluded by the more capable. Initiative allows people to try new ideas and expand where opportunities lie. When they cooperate together you have amazing development, but when they fight with their egos, you have the potential for massive destruction. When the U.S. Congress cannot agree with itself, the international economy suffers. It forgets to remember.
So it is internally. The ego cannot be the force that rules the human being. Otherwise, it gets out of control and creates destructive elements. To get out of the conflict each side, the true self and the ego, need to be appreciated and worked with in the proper way. It is very helpful, when dealing with your ego, such as in the case of the tennis player who is fearful of losing to think of the fear as your friend, rather than the enemy.
When you approach the ego in a friendly manner, then it changes your relationship with it completely. When you approach it as an enemy, then you normally want to stay away from it, speak badly to it, and run from it. But being friendly to something like the fear of losing can produce such amazing insights and changes. For instance, you might ask something like this. I wonder how I ever developed the fear of losing? I wonder what my life would be like if winning were not so all consuming? I wonder how I can go after high performance, but not be fearful? The tone of being friendly with the ego is usually that of being curious. The relationship with the ego when it is the enemy is war-like as if you are drawing a line in the sand.
Just as being friendly with your ego causes you to be more curious and understanding and compassionate, so too being friendly with people’s egos whom you regard as enemies opens up new doors in your relationship with them. Instead of fighting them or avoiding, you can approach them and then begin to discover who they truly are and have a relationship to them. I am often a miserable failure in this regard in real life because like you, I have had my share of being hurt by meanness.
But today I am making a vow to be friendly with egos, not to treat them as enemies. I wonder what my life will be life tomorrow? I wonder what challenges I will have in doing this goal?