I retranslated the classic gospel of Luke passage where Jesus is teaching about loving your enemies. I took this on recently after a spiritual teacher I greatly admire suggested the practice of transcribing sacred or profound writings as meditation. The daily exercise over the course of a week’s time, verse by verse, one or two a day, proved very revealing. Because really, this love your enemies talk isn’t as much to do with how we treat others, as it is to do with how we treat ourselves, and how we respond to the parts of ourselves that we find unlovable.
Seems Jesus knew the extremes to which we are willing to go to protect ourselves against the emergence of our true selves, and how easy it is to keep hidden from ourselves the parts we’d rather not admit. Our True Self – our whole integrated selves – demand that we take account for all parts of our selves. Otherwise we are fragmented, not whole, incomplete in our understanding of ourselves, and subsequently our understanding of others. Self-examination is the hardest part of spiritual work. But in order to connect with one another and love despite the flaws we find in them, we must be willing and able to connect with our own flaws.
It’s not a new question, (many a philosopher, theologian, analyst have explored this) but it felt new to my soul to ask, What if all this time, my “enemy” has been myself? So the following is transcribed accordingly….
Love My Enemy
(a retranslation of the Gospel of Luke 6:27-36)
27 “But I say to you who listen, love yourself, do good to yourself (don’t hate yourself), 28 bless yourself (don’t curse yourself), pray for yourself (don’t abuse yourself) 29 If you strike yourself on the cheek, offer the other also, and if you take off your coat, take off your shirt as well (expose yourself, be vulnerable, do not hide or withhold from yourself for fear that you will be in lack), give it all 30 Give to yourself when your soul demands it, and if doing so sheds a layer, and you find yourself stripped of familiar goods (treasures, habits, attachments) do not ask for them back 31 Do to yourself as you would do to others.
32 “If you love only the things you love about yourself, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love themselves, and only see and embrace the good parts of themselves 33 If you treat well only the parts of yourself that are good, what credit is that to you? For this is your ego, your false self at work – embracing only the positive, ignoring the negative shadow self for fear it will be dethroned if light is shed on it 34 If you lend (regard, give time and attention) to only the parts of yourself from which you hope will gain praise, what credit is that to you? The ego loves to be admired, to glory in itself 35 But love every part of yourself (the good, the bad, and the ugly), do good to yourself (don’t hate yourself because of what you discover about yourself), and examine yourself truthfully, expecting nothing in return (for there is little praise in this world for those willing to shed light on things). But your spiritual reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for God is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish, even you. 36 Be merciful towards yourself, just as a Mother or Father is merciful towards their child.