Teaching Spotlight: No More Enemies with Lindsay Crouse

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

How can someone who wants to be kind, someone who doesn’t want to waste their life giving in to anger, end up with enemies?  Even worse, why are many of these “enemies” members of our own families?  It seems illogical, even improbable, to the student of compassion.  Yet, as Lindsay Crouse explained in the course she developed entitled “No More Enemies At All”, it is quite common to feel that family life is a battle ground.  However, this is not a cause for concern for the Buddhist student, since a look at this phenomenon through the eyes of wisdom show family relationships can be a source of tremendous personal and spiritual growth.  Most importantly, this class addressed the ways in which one can eliminate the enemies altogether and become a source of help and comfort within the family.

The January 14th teaching began with a breakdown of the many meanings associated with the word “family”.  Lama Lindsay continued with a funny yet accurate portrayal of the roles we cast our family members into.  Moms bake muffins, dads take charge, and older brothers lend a shoulder to cry on for emotional little sisters.  Or so we think.  The first major point of the teaching underscored how the source of much of our unhappiness stems from these stories we’ve created.   We project these stories onto our family members and expect them to conform like puppets!  When they don’t, when they can’t, we feel angry and let down.  But those roles are coming from us, not our family members.  We must drop the stories so can we find peace.  Indeed, Lama Lindsay warned that this type of behavior does not allow our loved ones to be their true, authentic selves.

After the source of the problem had been identified, Lama Lindsay presented the solution in terms of wisdom and compassion.  Through an understanding of karma and emptiness, she explained, one can begin to see how they created enemies and unpleasant relations in the first place.  She reminded the audience that karma is like a seed. Bad seeds will have bad results.  Change the seeds, change the results.  And like any seed, sometimes it takes awhile to see how and where they will flourish.

With an understanding of emptiness, the contemplative student can begin to see the results of karma differently.  After all, things are not coming at us, they are coming from us.  Lama Lindsay urged us to see our family members as a mirror.  Within their actions and words we can see a reflection of the things we need to overcome in our own hearts. If someone appears jealous, look inside and find how we’ve been jealous in the past.  With that understanding, we can overcome the jealously and replace with it joy for the other person.  Something that was a problem can actually become a glorious event.  An enemy has been transformed into an angel sent to help us reach our full potential.

That full potential is to be of help to others.  That is our real job here in this life, to meet others and handle difficult situations and help heal.  Lama Lindsay warmly reminded everyone to be flexible.  Karma from the past is going to come in and rearrange the best laid plans.  If you want to have some certainty, keep a journal.  She concluded her teaching by providing a meditation to help overcome negative emotions.  She recommends picturing yourself in front of the person who is causing you grief.  Imagine yourself screaming, crying, even thrashing about.  And then picture black smoke in that you out there, and as you sit and mediate, picture the black smoke out there entering your body as you sit on the cushion.  As you continue to inhale the black smoke and the hurt it represents, you bring it to a point over your heart, and then let it go.  Imagine it bursting into beautiful light, and that light emanates from your entire being.  Though it is a mental visualization, if done whole heartedly, one feels a physical transformation taking place almost immediately!

Lift yourself out of the story and find out that you can laugh.  Let the stories go and enjoy the person that is there and ask, “What can I do for you?”  With wisdom and compassion, there are no more enemies.

If you would like to watch the full teaching, you can view it on uStream at http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/12020600.

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