They say that the greatest spiritual teachers one has in their lifetime are (1) Spiritual leaders and (2) Enemies. When I first read this quote, it made me laugh because I saw the spiritual lesson in #2 as developing patience. Little did I know that as I grew along my path how much that would evolve. Eventually I peeled another layer off and saw this lesson from another perspective; tolerance. But it wasn’t over. There was so much more. A lot more.
Spiritual teachers can be many things, depending on who you are. A spiritual teacher can be an inspiring ambassadors for a special cause, a humanitarian, a religious leader, or historical figures like Jesus or Buddha or Dr. Martin Luther King etc. They can be someone who has impacted your life personally such as a parent, family member, therapist, coach or author. Spiritual teachers inspire us and move us by exciting a passion that leads us toward inner reflection and directs us on a path of personal growth and expansion.
Enemies, on the other hand, can also be many things and as I’ve learned they are not just the people who are out to get you or stand against you. In fact, they aren’t always people. Enemies can be those who represent challenges in your life, people or events that trigger negative feelings and emotions or anything which antagonizes your values and beliefs and stimulates negative stress in the form of thoughts, feelings and emotions. The enemy can be your boss, your partner each time you get in an argument, it can be a driver on the road or someone on social media or the news. The enemy can be YOU.
Let me put it to you this way; in the form of a question:
Have you ever observed someone (or many someones) that attend a church, have read and quote the Bible often, and have read every single Brene Brown book and maybe share numerous inspiring quotes from great spiritual teachers & movement leaders such as Buddha, Dalai Lama, Tony Robbins and Eckhart Tolle with their own captions agreeing to “how profound and true” it all is – but yet, they are still suffering from chronic health issues or weight problems, always seemed overworked and stressed, complaining about their relationship or marriage or that they hate their job… or maybe, along with all of their inspirational spiritual and religious masks, they also are unable to hide their outrage for certain topics or current events and won’t shut up about it? Insulting, name-calling, gossiping, trolling etc? This would be the example of a person who listens to only 1 out of the 2 greatest spiritual teachers available in our lives. Maybe that person is you. That person was, and is certainly me.
See, we are really good at noticing how bad others are at living their lives. We are really good at knowing how others are wrong… or have wronged us. So wouldn’t it be fair to say that anyone else would be pretty good at pointing out what we, ourselves, are doing wrong? Or how we may have wronged them or others?
Therein lies the answer. YOU. The “enemy” only points back to you something that, maybe unconsciously, you see or feel in yourself. It may not be the obvious thing but it’s there.
For example; if you are absolutely anti-vaccine and any person who argues that vaccines are scientifically proven safe excites some emotion in you; stirs a little motivation to start arguing and next thing you know you’re in a non-stop battle of the egos to see who can outwit the other with big words and links to studies from google – think about this… what can this spiritual teacher show you about yourself?
What truly annoys you about this person or situation?
- They think they’re smarter than me
- They’re unwilling to see the other side
- They refuse to look further into why i feel the way i do
- They don’t care that people have been hurt or gotten sick
- They ignore the facts
Well guess what, Einstein? They are thinking the exact same thing about you! And who is to say they are wrong? Let’s put aside which person is right or wrong about vaccines, and simply unveil the deeper, emotional baggage of what the spiritual lesson is because it doesn’t matter “who is right”. There is a lesson for spiritual growth in situations like these that people continue their whole lives ignoring, which is why they do not grow. Which is why they continue to be angry, depressed, sick, unhealthy, stuck in victimhood and spinning their wheels through life – all the while quoting Brene Brown and judging anyone who doesn’t believe what they believe, even though- paradoxically- they feel they have to defend their right to believe what they believe.
So the point is, it doesn’t matter whether vaccines are safe or not (unless it is literally your job to market pharmaceuticals or campaign for grassroots foundations helping individuals who have been injured by them? For example?). But anytime you find yourself in an emotional outrage, or stirred up in an ego vs ego war with another person – you have been confronted by a Spiritual Teacher.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you seem to experience the same argument with your partner repeatedly?
- spiritual teacher asks: what triggers you about your partner and how does this reflect itself in you? How can you improve yourself on that level?
- Are you offended by the same topics over and over? Does this cause conflicts with others?
- spiritual teacher asks: is it fair to require everyone around you to believe, think and feel as you do? Is it time to start letting your attachments go?
- Do you seem to get the same injuries or repeated physical injuries that set you back from your goals?
- spiritual teacher asks: have you lost connection with your physical body that you control movement only with the mind? Is it time to rest and honor the messages that the Spirit of your body is delivering?
- Do you feel like the finish line seems to constantly keep pushing just further out of your reach in finishing certain projects?
- spiritual teacher asks: what is distracting you from getting what you want? Is it intentional? Are you afraid of success?
- Are you holding a grudge? Is someone holding a grudge with you?
- spiritual teacher asks: can you love yourself enough to stop carrying the emotional baggage of another? Can you love yourself enough to seek forgiveness?
- Do you stay in relationships that are toxic or unhealthy and make excuses for it?
- spiritual teacher asks: when did you start believing you weren’t good enough and what do you need to do for yourself in order to believe it so you can fall in love with yourself?
- Do you behave in unhealthy ways knowing it causes you to feel bad but continue doing them anyway? (poor food choices, alcohol, drugs etc)
- spiritual teacher asks: how can I identify the unhealed childhood wounds and seal the fractures of self love I never learned to give myself so that I can honor my body and escape from the archetype of being my own saboteur?
- Do you judge or criticize certain people or groups? Why?
- spiritual teacher asks: how do I judge myself so I can stop judging others?
- Are you overly critical of yourself, or a perfectionist?
- spiritual teacher asks: how can I love myself more?
- Do you talk yourself out of doing things?
- spiritual teacher asks: how can I find motivation in my life?
Those are just some “starter” questions to help you get to know your “Enemy”… the spiritual teacher that most of us ignore, but probably the most profound spiritual teacher any of us can have – if we truly pay attention and really do the work.
Upon real inner reflection you will learn and understand, and intimately come to know… that the greatest spiritual teacher you will ever have in your life is you.