Accepting the Enemy Within
We have to go into the dark part of ourselves and love that dark part. For loving it is the key to the kingdom. And we have to stand up and acknowledge that it is part of us.
As Spiritual Warriors we must not become victims, no matter what is happening. That does not mean that we can’t say “stop.” But we shouldn’t say it as victims. Alternately, as we move through life and try to accomplish things, we often bump into other people–a spouse, a boss, a child, a relative, a neighbor–and discover that even though we have been trying to conduct ourselves honorably, others perceive themselves as the victims of our actions. The Spiritual Warrior banishes all traces of victimhood.
Victimhood means letting your emotions dictate your consciousness. How does that happen? There is a dark side within us, and we must learn to confront it. That dark side is an enemy to all our highest intentions. It is like the little devil in the cartoon that sits on our shoulder and whispers to us. It tells us all the negative things about the world, about other people. It tells us how bad they really are. It tells us the terrible things they do.
According to classic psychology, when you tell others about the terrible things that they do, you are projecting. I see evidence of it every day. For example, I receive letters from people around the world telling me what terrible things have been done to them by others, things which have wounded them and hampered them in their spiritual growth. But, often enough, when I investigate the situation on my own, I find that their claims of being victims have little or no validity.
So where did these vivid impressions of mistreatment and cruelty come from? They came from inside the person who complained. He or she was full of repressed feelings of resentment and injury which had become totally centered on another person. To victims it always seems that the emotions they have projected on their enemy are radiating from the enemy. Projection is demonizing, dehumanizing. If we declare another person to be essentially wrong, bad, evil, then we feel that whatever we do them, they deserve.
If we are going to do anything on the planet worthwhile for ourselves or anyone else, we have to watch out primarily for these insidious mindsets that sabotage all our good works: the victim and the enemy within. You are the one who makes yourself the victim. And who is the enemy? It’s you. You are the enemy and the victim at one and the same time!
One of the finest stories I know is that of the Prodigal Son. In this parable, the younger of two sons asks his father for his inheritance. Having received it, he goes off to a distant country where he squanders the whole of his fortune in drunkenness and carousing. Finding himself at length utterly destitute, he resolves to return home and throw himself on the mercy of his father.
His father receives him with open arms. But the older brother, who has been working hard all these years, loving and serving his father, is not particularly happy about his brother’s return. He sulks and considers the honor lavished on his prodigal brother as a tacit affront to himself.
By putting this story into a psychological framework, we can gain greater understanding of this process of projection. There’s a part of you that goes out and has fun and dances and carouses and loses all your money. And there’s another part of you that is righteous, steadfast, does all the work, obeys all the rules. These are two parts of the same personality. The righteous part, the older brother, says, “I don’t want this renegade back in our house.” But the Soul, the mediator of our personality says, “Wait a minute, that part belongs here, just as you do. This is his home just as it is yours.”
No, you cannot reject your dark side: you must embrace it as your brother, as the other part of your personality. In the Christian Bible it says, “Let God make perfect in you what was started.” What does that “perfect” mean? Is it some sort of utopian ideal? Does it mean that your feet don’t get dirty, that you walk on water, you float through the air? The word “perfect” from the Aramaic means “brought to completion.” The perfected state is not an elevated state, but a completed one.
The first of the five characteristics of the Spiritual Warrior is acceptance. If you look into some part of you and say, “That part has inappropriate thoughts. That part desires to do inappropriate things. That part tells me lies. If people knew what I thought and what I desired, they’d never talk to me again. I’m terrible!”–what does that say about your levels of acceptance? Spiritual Warriors don’t chafe against the limitations of human nature. They no longer struggle to be free of their darker side, and when acceptance occurs, the shackles that bound us to it seem to vanish.
Our Own Worst Enemy
Good men and women live on this planet. Yet we look strangely at someone who says, “I’m a good person.” We would be much more comfortable hearing, “I’m a sinful, bad person.” I have difficulty understanding this thinking. Why can’t a person own up to his or her goodness? Why is it unusual to own up to how good you are, how spiritual you are, and how beautiful you are? Why would you readily confess to being a creep, to wasting your life, to being full of guilt and anxiety?
The Spiritual Warrior has no time for false modesty and low self esteem. Understand right now that you may not be worthy of God, but you are worthwhile to God. Without knowing you, I can assure you you are worthwhile! No matter how sinful or ignorant people are, they are worthwhile.
If you refuse to accept your own worth, your own goodness, and your own abilities, the way of the Spiritual Warrior is not for you. It is so important to have a good (a God) point of view about yourself or you can never arrive at higher consciousness. You will only arrive at feelings of unworthiness and worthlessness. And when you declare yourself to be worthless, you are denying God’s love for you; you aren’t even giving Him a chance to love you.
Your destiny, what you are here to learn and what you are here to do, is sitting inside of you. So is the dark side; so is the enemy. How hard it is to accept this, that the light and the dark can and must co-exist within us!
In the Christian Bible it is written, “Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven and all the rest will be added unto you.” What does that mean to people? That you must have the Kingdom of Heaven first and then all the rest will be given to you. But read the passage again. It does not say that at all. It says seek, not have.
Tapping Our Creativity
As we seek, what do we discover in this “kingdom of heaven”? Few people know it, but it is creativity. And where does the energy for it come from? Out of the great cesspool of the unconscious.
When we tap the unconscious–and this can be triggered any number of ways, through smell, movement, color–energy is released. Our ego tries to suppress this energy, fearing the newness, the freedom it offers. But if we don’t open up the unconscious and let its contents out, at some point it comes bursting out on its own, at its worst in the form of a psychological deviation or physical illness.
But properly tapped, the unconscious is a repository of wealth. We have to go into the dark part of ourselves and love that dark part. For loving it is the key to the kingdom. And we have to stand up and acknowledge that it is part of us.
I have often heard people say, “Once I confessed my ignorance and accepted the unknowable darkness in myself, I felt wonderfully freed.” Of course they do, because they are no longer suppressing that great energy, and shutting off the Spirit; instead they are thriving on it. They are no longer saying, “I reject that; it is not, cannot, be a part of me.” Instead they say, “This is truly what I am, where I am at this moment.”
Children are for me like windows into the immense energy of the unconscious. There is a little girl in my life, Claire. Guess what Claire does with me? Anything she wants. She is so totally at ease, so free with me, it can be astonishing. If I resisted her, treating her like an adult or an opponent, wanting to change her, to improve her, not only would I be absurd, I would lose all her brightness, her beauty and wonder. To deny her would be tantamount to denying God.
Children can teach us so much if we have the wit to understand that they are teachers. Inside Claire is the great unconscious. She has tapped into it automatically; she knows it, draws her energy from it, and has her independence in it. She is at once a little angel and a little tyrant and she gets what she wants. I could easily play the victim when she interrupts me, but that would be denying all the goodness and beauty she brings.
And why not receive everyone as I receive her? Why play the victim with anyone, young or old? It’s not that you have to participate with every one you meet. You choose to what degree you want to become involved. But if we do not acknowledge our irritation or joy, and so master it, it will drive us crazy. We will get nervous, irritable, anxious, upset. We will have attacks of terror, anxiety, or depression. All these feelings are nothing but signs that we are not acknowledging parts of ourselves.
You may be thinking, “But you don’t know what I’ve been through, what a struggle, what a battle my life has been!” I understand that, but remember that everyone has struggled. It’s not the trouble and pain you’ve been through that makes you special. In every situation, we have only one option: To embrace it anyway. Sit down when things are going badly, even when all hell is breaking loose, and say, “I love me anyway.”
Saying it one time is not enough. You may still be as vulnerable as you were before. So once you start, just keep moving forward without looking back. If you look back, you will only see that you are in unfamiliar territory, and your fear will say, “You don’t know what’s going on, you don’t know where you’re going, you don’t know how you got here.”
A last word on victims and enemies.
What I present outwardly is not my true self. You see me by reflected light. But I am Light, not reflected light. So are you. So I never take you at face value, but I accept you both in your essence and in the way you present yourself to me.
Loving Your Enemy Inside
Can you face an enemy and say, “I love you?” Especially a stubborn enemy inside you? Yes, you can, and I will tell you what happens when you do. Once you truly embrace the dark side, it turns to help you. Then you don’t have stubbornness, you have determination. The darkness transformed the moment you accepted it, and all the power that was blocking you before now becomes the power of ascension, of upliftment.
When you feel really negative and you talk about it–not as a victim but as a way of facing the enemy and loving it–you are saying, “Out of God come all things.” All things. That includes the negative things, too. Negative doesn’t mean bad; we make things bad by judging them.