Love does not project.

There is no “enemy” out there who needs to be slain, fixed, or corrected. You are not my problem. The world is not my problem. The weather, the government… the church are not my problem.  I’m my problem… and even I’m not a problem.

Mature spirituality understands that the enemy lies within. I must be willing to confront my own shadow, my own unwillingness to be whole.

Jung asks:

3. But what if I should discover that the least among them all, the poorest of all the beggars, the most impudent of all the offenders, the very enemy himself — that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness — that I myself am the enemy who must be loved — what then?

To “love my enemy” begins with the willingness to acknowledge the “enemy” that lies within. Being able to love my external “enemy” begins with me loving every part of myself, even those parts I find most difficult to accept.

I am not other than those who cause me discomfort. I am not different from the one I choose to condemn. If I look honestly at myself, I will find some version of everything I label as “evil” lurking in the dark corners of my own inner life. There is no benefit in denial. I can only love and accept that which I am willing to see.

I am doomed to spend my life in fear of all I feel unable to love. I am the only one who can extend “kindness” to that which I would rather not admit. Love travels the path of self-awareness and honesty. Love is willing to look in the mirror and take responsibility for the reality that mirror reflects.

I have wasted too much of my life seeking this love in other places, hoping that you would help relieve me of the burden of my own demons. Somehow, I have believed that if you would only love me better, my dark side would no longer frighten me. I have sought in your embrace escape from the judgment and condemnation I have always been too ready to pour upon myself. When I look to you for that which can only be found within myself, I place an intolerable demand upon our relationship which will always end in frustration, disillusionment, and an endless litany of pain, unhappiness, and resentment when you fail to provide what I feel I need. You are not the author of my well-being.

I approach spiritual maturity to the degree that I take responsibility for my own inner life.

When I give myself “the alms of my own kindness… what then?” “What then?” indeed. Then I begin to see that I am not defined by the dark parts of my personality. I will always be, to a greater or lesser degree, this duplicitous, dishonest, conflicted being I know at times I am. But, simultaneously, I will know that this dark picture never totally defines me. In the midst of the dark, there is always light. Beneath the surface turmoil there is always a small spot of stillness that is stronger and more real than those “enemies” against which I have wasted so much time wrestling.

I do not need to do away with my demons.

In his “Letters To A Young Poet,” Rainer Maria Rilke proposed,

Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.

The embrace and acceptance that are the practices of love enable me to see my “dragons” as “princesses.”

To “love my enemies” is to know that I have no enemies. All those bumps in the road of my life are gifts. All those “dragons” are simply the means by which my heart breaks open and I touch my “deepest essence,” which is always the presence of love. We are united in the reality of our dragons. I seek to come to terms with my own inner demons, and leave you free to deal with yours.