It is interesting that the second part of this aphorism is similar to the Jesus precept quoted from Matthew: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”Matthew 5:43-48.
But, the first part of this aphorism contains the necessary premise, and it’s the most difficult to digest, because it needs a Real, non-subjective, sincerity towards ourselves. Indeed, we might ask ourselves: why did I want to begin this path towards consciousness? Was it a real need to push me to the point where I am right now, or were there other motivations involved? What force attracted me towards this specific kind of teaching, and what conditions stimulated me to accept and do this?
It’s clear that the answer to such questions in an exhaustive way entails a sort of sincerity towards oneself that is fairly unusual, and the questioner must be very determined in order to achieve the degree of sincerity required. Because, as far as a man has strived, he’ll have to recognize that within himself, the impulse that drove him to seek has been, and probably still is, a sort of egoism. Even if he did not desire a power over other persons, to possess more money or other material things, he will have to recognize that all his efforts towards a possible self-improvement has an egoistic reason. Indeed, we do this for ourselves, for personal need. But such a way can’t bring the specific “knowing” that would be worthy of this name. Even if we think to “struggle” against ourselves, in reality, all that we do is to empower our egoism, unless we really recognize such a “struggle”, a “war against ourselves”, as necessary. Indeed, one thing is the “wish” to struggle, another is to understand and realize the real necessity for this struggle. And this is a capital difference.
If I don’t understand or realize this necessity, then, my struggle will only be able to empower all that has driven me, as an unconscious being, towards every kind of seeking.
But, to realize the necessity means to know the kind of struggle I would have to perform, and against who or what I’ll have to struggle with. In order to “fight”, I have to know who my enemy is. Of course, I will have to struggle against myself, but I can’t take this “myself” as my integral presence, otherwise that will be a real absurdity; an “I” (a perception of an “I”) that has to struggle against the “I” it represents. It’s the same thing as trying to strangle ourselves with our own hands.
So, we really must understand who is that with which we necessarily have to fight.
The image of St. George that wounds the dragon is an allegory of this struggle. The “me” with whom I have to struggle in this image is the dragon. But in a “spiritual” field, the dragon is an integral part of myself, which will force me to struggle if I don’t wish to recognize myself in it. I must become aware that, in order to become really “me”, I have to struggle against that being who represents me in my everyday life, and who takes my place in every action, thought or feeling. This is not an allegory. This aphorism is not a psychological trick, but a matter of fact, nevermind if I realize it or not: there’s something that is not me, but who acts, speaks, feels, and thinks through me.
It’s something extraneous to my real identity, to my essence, that lives as a parasite at the expense of my own life.
I must separate myself in order to dominate it, and just this possibility of separation means that this parasite is not me. It’s something else that resides in me and makes me forget or avoid myself to recognize every experience for what it is, as it is.
Call it false personality, the enemy, Satan, the rival – call it as you wish. What remains is that this is the opposing force that puts every kind of obstacle between me and what I wish to realize.
In order to accomplish its task, this “something” has a very efficient weapon: making me believe that I am working, struggling, against him. It’s the best ally of the ascetic, of the moralist, of the believer of every faith. It’s him that pretends to struggle in favor of my soul and sets up a drama of which I am constrained to witness as spectator.
But, at the moment I “wake up”, before I realize this swindle, he makes something happen. He makes me angry, sad, filled with thousands of thoughts and emotions. In this way, I forget the meaning or the need for this struggle. And, when I think I have succeeded, that I had gained control of myself, it is he who makes me feel this.
So, what can I do? How do I overcome this insurmountable obstacle?
The only thing I have is myself – my only strength – nevermind if weak or strong: I can count only on myself. Me, alone, in front of the enemy that poses as me, on the “battlefield” that is me. This is the reason why it is stated that we have to struggle against ourselves.
If I understand the vital necessity of this struggle, only then will I be able to realize the second part of this aphorism.
What does this mean: “Love your enemy”?
In some way, when someone external to me opposes me or disturbs me, it attacks my self- image, which is false. For the reason that this enemy is my false self, in this way, this external person attacks this “enemy”; so, in an intentional or unintentional way, he helps me to realize that the enemy is inside of me. He compels me to recognize it, if I wish.
This doesn’t mean that I must love everyone that makes my life a sort of hell, who makes me angry, sad, suffer, etc. It’s substantially a fact of “good sense”, of recognizing its function in this field.
It’s not a fact of emotional love, nor of forgiveness. It’s a fact of “will”, and this will is focused towards my real enemy, not towards the external “tool” that provokes me to react in a determined way.
I have to remain indifferent to the offender, because I understand that his action allows me to understand who and where is my real enemy. Only then will I realize that the enemy is what in us pretends to be… ourselves, and that my task is not to destroy it, but to wish to transform it.
Only in this way – replacing the wish to destroy it with that of transforming it, will I be able to love even my most intimate enemy: my false self.