A concept many religions have taken. Christianity and Buddhism are the most adamant about it though.

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you,
do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully
use you, and persecute you.

- Matthew 5:44

Jesus is famous for teaching this concept. It is a reflection of what true love is. Unconditional love. Agape love. It's a hard concept to grasp in a world which can be self-absorbed and narcissistic.

The love your neighbor concept is a little easier to swallow, because most of the time when one thinks neighbor, one thinks of a friend. But loving your enemy entails sacrifice, a true test of love.

SEF gave me this story about loving your enemies. Enjoy.
One evening as Zen master Shichiri Kojun was reciting sutras, a thief with a sharp sword entered, demanding his money or his life. Shichiri said, "The money is in that drawer. Leave a little so I can pay my taxes tomorrow." The thief went to leave with most of the money, and Shichiri said, "Thank a person when you receive a gift." The thief said, "thank you" and left. A few days later he was caught, and confessed, among other crimes, the theft from Shirchiri. But when Shichiri was called as witness, he said, "This man is no thief so far as I am concerned. I gave him money and he thanked me for it." When he got out of prison, the man became a disciple of Shichiri. (101 Zen Stories).

No one can deny that there is a certain amount of evil in the world and many times evil likes to attack that which is good. It is because of the "love your enemies" belief that people being tortured and martyrs can look in the eyes of their torturers and say, "I love you." "Loving your enemies" doesn't mean we shouldn't defend ourselves when we know others are in danger too, but it does mean that we should look past the hatred of our tormentors.

In many ways this concept runs deeper than just a view, it is a lifestyle. As humans we try to see beyond ourselves, but it becomes hard thus making us long for something greater. A greater love. Some people turn the other way and choose the path of destroying themselves as much as they can. It is through loving those that hurt you the world can change for the better, because many times the way someone reacts to hurt is to hurt others.

A Buddhist scripture says this:
"He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me!" In those who harbor such thoughts hatred is not appeased.

"He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me!" In those who do not harbor such thoughts hatred is appeased.

Hatreds never cease through hatred in this world; through love alone they cease. This is an eternal law.

-Dhammapada 3-5

What many people fail to realize is that love is more then something you say, it's something you do. If you notice the pattern of some of the great religious leaders of the world you will notice that they never elevated themselves to a position of greatness. They never tried to force their way to the top. They served the people they wanted to reach.

This is a plea for peace. It may be too late for us to stop a war in Iraq, but it's not too late to stop a war among ourselves. There is much verbal mudslinging and arguing going on, even on E2. The thing about peace is people think it involves compromise, but that's not entirely true. Sometimes peace involves action and there are two types of action. Forceful action and love action. Forceful action provides peace by forcing the other party to do away with that which compromises peace, through brutal tactics. Love action is providing peace by serving and caring for those you want to be at peace with.

Here's a challenge I give to everyone who reads this and even people I know in my real life: Do or give something for someone, not expecting anything in return. Mow the lawn for the old lady across the street who says she hates your guts, without expecting payment. Give money to someone whom you know needs it. Take a bum off the street out to lunch.

In times such as these we must remember to keep hatred from our own minds and love those who hate us. You might be saying to yourself right now, "But Mr. Monk are you saying we should love those terrorists who bomb innocent people, burn the American flag, spit on it and hate us with a passion?" The answer is, "Yes". An example of this would be our troops taking in Iraqi POW's and sending them to get patched up and sutured so they won't die. Hate responded by hate only leads to more pain and anguish. A love like this is what makes the mother of the victim of a cold-hearted rapist or serial killer say "I forgive you" right to the killer's face.

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