In the Buddhist teachings
each of the brahma viharas has its “far enemy”, its “near enemy” and
its “proximate cause”.
The far enemy is
the state that’s completely
different - clearly opposite. This quality is
antithetical to the brahma-vihara.
The near enemy tends to be a
state that really is different, but it’s
close enough that the actual brahma-vihara
and its near
enemy might easily get confused.
The near enemy can masquerade as the state
The proximate cause is the nearest arising condition,
or the likeliest springboard for this state
to arise. It’s not the only cause or condition,
but it tends to be a very likely one.
Anger and fear —metta's far enemies
The far of lovingkindness
(metta) is anger or fear.
How is anger and hatred
an enemy of lovingkindness? The answer
may seem pretty straightforward! Now
reflect how in your life anger and
fear, hatred and aversion, are the
enemies of your love.
can never cease by hatred. Hatred can only
cease by love. This is an eternal law. Buddha
These states of aversion, by contrast, tear us apart;
we burn when we are caught in them. The Buddha described
the states of aversion as being of great consequence
but easily overcome. They are of great consequence
because they easily provoke strong action, leading
us to perform unskillful deeds that hurt both ourselves
and others. The force of aversion manifests through
outflowing such as anger or rage. Such states have
a lot of energy; they are powerful and expressive.
We also experience aversion in a held-in way, as in
grief, fear, disappointment, and despair. Here aversion's
energy is frozen and paralyzing.
Reflect on how these
emotions keep you from experiencing
and acting from love.
Whether we are directing
aversion toward ourselves or others, whether we are
containing the aversion
within our minds or expressing it toward others,
the same mind states appearing in different forms.
even though such states are dangerous, nonetheless
the pain of them is obvious, tangible, and easily
felt. From beginning to end they bring great
pain, so we
are naturally moved to let them go.
So why should we bother
to look at these?
Because, although we are moved to let them go,
we find it difficult!
we react out of fear and hatred, we
do not yet have a deep understanding
of the situation Thich
By learning to see and understand all of
these painful mind states of anger, fear, grief,
disappointment, and guilt as states of aversion,
we can learn to be free of them. Being free
does not mean that aversion will never come up
your experience. Being free means that you can
purify it. You can see it clearly, understand
it, and learn not to be ruled by it. And having
seen it clearly, which is the function of wisdom,
you can also hold it in the vast, transforming
field of acceptance.
we react out of fear and hatred, we do not yet
have a deep understanding of the situation Thich Nhat
What thoughts, what reaction
arise when you begin to read about
the suggestion that you forgive? Where
does your aversion arise, where is
forgiveness releases you from deeply held aversion
for yourself and for others. Forgiveness has the power
to ripen forces of purity such as love, and affirms
the qualities of patience and compassion. It creates
the space for renewal, and a life free from bondage
to the past
When you are held prisoner by your own
past actions, or the actions of others, your present
life cannot be fully lived. The resentment, the partially
experienced pain, the unwelcome inheritance you carry
from the past, all function to close your heart and
thereby narrow your world.
Forgiveness meditation is not intended
to force anything, or to pretend to anything, or to
forget about ourselves in utter deference to the needs
of others. It is, in fact, out of the greatest compassion
for ourselves that we create the conditions for an
unobstructed love, which can dissolve separation and
relieve us of the twin burdens of lacerating guilt
and perpetually unresolved outrage.
It is much more difficult to forgive
than not to forgive. It is not so easy to access that
place inside of us which can forgive, which can love.
Remember, to be able to forgive is so deep a letting
go that it is a type of dying. We must be able to say, "I
am not that person anymore, and you are not that person
Do you think that to
forgive is to excuse? Do you resist
condoning actions you consider harmful
or inappropriate? Do you resist "letting
them off the hook"?
have lost the realization of the importance
and a sense of forgiveness.
But forgiveness does not mean to
forget about what happened. Dalai
Forgiveness does not mean condoning a
harmful action, or denying injustice or suffering.
Do not confuse forgiveness with being passive toward
violation or abuse. Forgiveness is an inner relinquishment
of guilt or resentment, both of which are devastating
to you in the end. As forgiveness grows within,
it may take any outward form: you may seek to make
amends, demand justice, resolve to be treated better,
leave a situation behind us.
friends show us what we can do; our enemies show
us what we must do.
you to the edge of what you can accept, the practice
brings a sense of psychological and spiritual well-being.
Being on the edge is challenging, wrenching, and transforming.
demands courage and a continual remembering of where
our deepest happiness lies.
As you do these reflections, many
shame, anger, a sense of betrayal, confusion, or
This is a process. Try to allow such states to arise without judging them.
Recognize them as natural occurrences, and then gently
attention to the forgiveness reflection.
You do this reflection in
three stages: asking forgiveness
have harmed; offering forgiveness
who have harmed you; and offering
forgiveness to yourself.
comfortably, close your eyes,
and let your breath be
Begin with the recitation (silent
or not, as you prefer):"If
I have hurt or harmed anyone,
knowingly or unknowingly,
I ask their forgiveness." If
different people, images, or
scenarios come up,
release the burden of guilt
and ask for forgiveness: "I
ask your forgiveness."
some time, offer forgiveness
to those who have
harmed you. Don't
worry if there is not a great
rush of loving
feeling; this is not meant
to be an artificial exercise,
the powerful force of intention
in our minds. You are paying
respects to our
ultimate ability to let go
again. You are asserting the
human heart's capacity to change
grow and love. "If
anyone has hurt or harmed me,
knowingly or unknowingly, I
forgive them." And,
as different thoughts or images
come to mind, continue the
In the end,
you turn your attention to
If there are ways you have
loved yourself, or not lived
to your own expectations, this
let go of unkindness toward
yourself because of what you
You can include any inability
that you may have discovered
on your part in the reflection
is not a reason to be unkind
to yourself. "For
all of the ways I have hurt
or harmed myself, knowingly
or unknowingly, I offer
this practice as a part of
your daily meditation,
of intention to work in its
own way, in its own time.