Once upon a time a wealthy young man travelled to the Himalayas in search of enlightenment. After many months enquiring where he could meet an enlightened master, he was told the master lived simply in a cave, far up one of the nearby peaks.
So the young man, being fit and healthy, climbed the mountain and found the cave exactly where he had been told it would be. Inside the cave he saw the wise old master, sitting by the fire.
"Do you speak English?" He enquired. When the master nodded his head, the young man took a seat.
The young man was really excited to see a genuine enlightened master and wasted no time before asking him the question which had brought him all this way.
"How can I achieve enlightenment in the shortest possible time?"
The master turned his deeply compassionate eyes upward from the flames and looked directly at the young man. He saw his fine clothes, his impeccable bearing and his expensive jewellery. He replied...
"Return home from where you came. Go out into the slums of your city. Find a drunk and homeless old woman who reeks of alcohol and when she shouts abuse at you as you approach, sit down beside her, just as you have sat down beside me, and ask her to marry you!"
The young man was shocked to the core of his being. He rose from the master's fireside and walked back down the mountain in a state of disbelief.
Most of us would not have the courage or inclination to follow this master's advice. But why did he give it?
He gave it because in life our worst enemy is our best friend!
How can this possibly be?
Here "friends" can be in the form of difficult people or challenging circumstances. Their unique characteristic is that our relationship with them creates a fundamental and ongoing annoyance that we seem unable to avoid.
We may not consciously seek out difficult and challenging people or circumstances to have as companions. But whether or not we seek them, such people and circumstances, especially in the early stages of our journey of personal development, will be part of our life experience.
So why are these people or circumstances in our life?
They are in our life because we have attracted them in order to learn something valuable.
For example, in my own life I attracted two mental conditions, depression and schizophrenia. For 5 years these two conditions were like an unbearable weight upon me. At first I fought them. In my mind I wished they would just go away. Every day when I awoke these conditions were in my mind and I wanted to escape from them immediately.
They were my biggest enemy, preventing me from having success, peace of mind and a normal life. However gradually I began to create a different relationship with these two mental conditions. Instead of fighting with them, I began to befriend them. I sought to learn from them - to see how I could understand them and live with them.
Then after another 5 years of this new approach my deep depression, which had been with me throughout my 30's, began to leave. Gradually I began to enjoy life once more.
Then in my early 50's another amazing thing occurred - the worst effects of my schizophrenia left me as well. This meant that for the first time in 25 years I could work again.
This is the incredible thing about having the right relationship with our worst enemies - it accelerates our personal development. When we do this and we have learned the lessons that particular person or circumstance was sent to teach us, one of two things will happen. Either that person or circumstance will leave our life, or because we have learned to befriend it, we will be able to live with it without difficulty. This happens because we have grown hugely as a person.
That is why in life our worst enemy is our best friend.
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