March 9 : All People Can Be My Friend

How do you get rid of the attachment, aversion and apathy that we have for all sentient beings? The usual method they prescribe is by seeing that, if you take a very broad perspective of many lifetimes, everybody has been our friend before, everybody has been our enemy before, and everybody has been a stranger before. Here is an example: if the person on your left gives you a thousand dollars today, she is a friend; and if a person on the right steals money from you, she is your enemy. That is today. Then tomorrow if the person on the right changes her mind and gives you a thousand dollars, and the person on the left steals your money, then the one on the right has become your friend, and the one on the left has become an enemy. It really does not make any sense to have friends and enemies because these categories change all the time. 

Even with people, we may feel, “These are my long-term friends,” there are always days when they become enemies. You may love them dearly, but there are some days when they are in the enemy box. 

Things are so transient and flexible that these categories just do not make sense, let alone have attachment for the people in the friend category; aversion, anger or hostility in the enemy category, and apathy towards strangers. 

Here when we say enemy it does not mean we are fighting a war. It just means somebody you do not get along with. Somebody that you feel threatened by, that you just do not get along with very well. You do not have to have war declared against the person or anything like that. 

Now some people say that even if you have developed equanimity, you may still have enemies, but you are not partial against them. Having enemies in the sense that there may be people who try to harm you or get in your way or things like that. In one way, people say, “Well, you still have enemies, but you have a totally different emotional reaction to them.” On the other hand, people say, “You cease to have enemies because when you are looking at the fact that everybody wants happiness, and that everybody has been kind to you before, and that everybody has been everything to you before, then putting them in a category of a temporary enemy in this life makes no sense.” 

If you listen to His Holiness, when he talks about going worldwide and meeting so many people, he always says, “I have friends everywhere.” He does not say, “I have friends everywhere and I have enemies, but I have compassion for them.” 

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