Anger is energy
Published by: Hay House
Price: Kindle edition: INR 733.67, Hardcover edition: INR 1260.00
When situations and people upset us, anger is a natural emotional response because we feel victimised, hurt and defensive. The whole world looks like an enemy, especially when our expectations are not met. But as the anger builds up, we become our own enemies. Could we transcend this anger and pain? Sharon Salzberg and Robert Thurman say we can.
Love your enemies is a practical guide that teaches us to identify these enemies, set ourselves free from the “Us vs. Them” thinking. Drawing heavily on the Buddhist way of thinking, and written in a conversational style, this book explains the four kinds of enemies we meet as we go through life.
The enemies are categorised as: the outer influences, our own destructive emotions, self-obsession, and self-hate.
Each type of enemy is presented in this order, taking us from the outer enemies to the enemy within, based on the premise that the process of finding freedom and overcoming our anger, fear and self-preoccupation must ideally follow this sequence.
Life, however, is less than ideal and so – after I read the book, I realised that one can start at any of the stages described in the book. For instance, if you would like to start by experiencing inner freedom, Chapter 4 is a great start. If you are in a place where you are unable to let go of your anger, Chapter 2 will help identify and overcome the inner enemy.
No matter what type of enemy you face, the process of overcoming is the same: identification, understanding, developing tolerance and compassion and then, simply rooting it out to free ourselves.
Love your enemies seeks to teach the reader to change her relationship with her enemies and live a life guided by wisdom, tolerance, compassion and love. The concepts are easy to experiment with.
The alternating commentary by the authors and their easy writing style flows smoothly, complementing each other through their stories and teachings. Sharon share stories and examples from her own experience and that of her students’ while Bob’s teachings are drawn from his personal experiences and the Buddhist canon.
We are introduced to the concept of our enemies being our best teachers, because, unless there were people trying to harm us how could we learn patience, tolerance and forgiveness? Why waste energy on hating those who wrong us, why not practice tolerance instead? A nice analogy is that of martial arts, where we must transcend anger to gain the power to defeat our opponents. Anger throws you off balance and depletes your energy, making you weak. Fear does the same thing.
Love your enemies explains why anger is the ultimate inner enemy and offers gentle strategies anyone can practice and make into a habit. Naturally, all this does not happen overnight. It is a step by step process that requires us to embrace the concepts of ‘give and take’, kindness and altruism. By practising self-compassion, we learn that when we make mistakes, we have a choice on how to treat ourselves afterward.
Finally, the authors offer a series of meditations, tools and exercises in the last 50 pages of the book.
Love your enemies helps us find peace within ourselves and with the world—a worthy quest!
This was first published in the April 2014 issue of Complete Wellbeing.