It is easy enough to be friendly to one's friends. But to befriend the one who regards himself as your enemy is the quintessence of true religion. The other is mere business.
It's certainly true for me. I find it hard to instinctively feel any kind of empathy for those who I dislike. I find the views of people who are racist to be abhorrent for example. Or those who are violent, rude, obnoxious . . . Yep its hard to feel anything warm for people like that.
But here are some more thoughts on that . . .
- Is that person causing or encouraging me to have similar traits? Umm . . . no.
- Is the way I am feeling about that person causing me pleasure or pain? Well it's not the former.
- Why is this person exhibiting this behaviour? What has happened in their life? What troubles and anguish have they gone through and how are they feeling? Hmmm . . .
- If I was in that other person's shoes, what would I be feeling, saying, thinking, doing . . . ? Good question . . .
Cultivating compassion for those we don't like is maybe one of the hardest things, but also the most liberating. Putting yourself into someone else's shoes. Understanding things from their perspective. Becoming aware that people who exhibit qualities we don't like may in fact be crying out for help. And above all, being thankful for the teachings that person has given us.
Go on . . . try it . . . starting with just one "enemy" . . . right now.