Near enemies

The Buddhist magazine Tricycle has a daily dharma post you can subsribe to. In this one, Jack Kornfield discusses near enemies. I find this a very useful concept for thinking about media, because they deliver nerve stimulation that we often mistake for pleasure. Yes, it’s fun to be entertained– I do it all the time. But we also must be mindful of the fact that what ever enters our brains stays there.

The Daily Dharma
November 19, 2007

Near Enemies

The near enemies are qualities that arise in the mind and masquerade
as genuine spiritual realization, when in fact they are only an
imitation, serving to separate us from true feeling rather than
connecting us to it . . .

The near enemy of loving-kindness is attachment…. At first, attachment
may feel like love, but as it grows it becomes more clearly the
opposite, characterized by clinging, controlling and fear.

The near enemy of compassion is pity, and this also separates us. Pity
feels sorry for “that poor person over here,” as if he were somehow
different from us . . .

The near enemy of sympathetic joy (the joy in the happiness of others)
is comparison, which looks to see if we have more of, the same as, or
less than another . . .

The near enemy of equanimity is indifference. True equanimity is
balance in the midst of experience, whereas indifference is withdrawal
and not caring, based on fear….

If we do not recognize and understand the near enemies, they will
deaden our spiritual practice. The compartments they make cannot
shield us for long from the pain and unpredictability of life, but
they will surely stifle the joy and open connectedness of true

–Jack Kornfield, in A Path with Heart
from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith

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