Love Your Enemies
One day a stranger approached Mr. Mohan on the streets of Varanasi, India. The stranger handed him a magazine. He glanced at it, and the title surprised him: “Love your Enemies.” What kind of idea is this? he wondered. As a Brahmin, he felt confident in his understanding of Bhagwan (God) and of life, and he didn’t expect surprises. He scanned the text and began to reflect
Never have I heard that the Almighty Creator God requires people to resolve problems with their enemies. If this is true, would I need to forgive others for wrong deeds they have done to me before I seek the Creator God of the universe? What does this mean?
Reap What You Sow
He read more closely and soon was lost in thought. The holy books teach that what people sow is what they will reap. This new teaching is also saying that all people, regardless of their religious background, race, caste, class, or gender, will reap what they sow. This makes sense. But, if people have sown evil, especially toward me, how does it make sense for me to love them?
He tried to understand. He reasoned, If someone steals from me, that person should repay me. What would be the point of loving a thief? Is that even possible? Really, what IS love anyway?
Love Overcomes Evil
He thought about love in families and reasoned, Love is demonstrated by a person’s actions and thoughts. A father shows love by providing for his family. A mother will go hungry so her children can have food. This is good. But loving our enemies—how could that even be possible? What would that look like? Could it be that loving my enemies means forgiving them even if they are wrong and I am right? Surely this kind of love would be much greater, even than that of a father sacrificing for his family. But wait . . . does forgiving my enemies mean that they are free of the consequences? No, this teaching does not suggest that . . . .
He turned his thoughts in another direction. What if there were some benefit to the one who forgives? Perhaps forgiving makes the victim stronger. Perhaps somehow, forgiving could help free the victim from the emotional pain inflicted by enemies.
His thoughts went back to those enemies, to the impact that love and forgiveness might have on those who had caused all the pain. What if forgiving them might lead them to a better path? What if being forgiven might help my enemies see that God loves them and wants them to stop doing evil? What if love could somehow change them? Perhaps this kind of love could even be the cure for the problem of evil in the world . . . that is, if it weren’t so impossible!
Hate and Love
Mr. Mohan returned to his reading and was challenged again. So, if I have hatred in my heart, I cannot be blessed by the Creator God until I reconcile the hatred I have toward my fellow human beings. What an unusual teaching! Where would I start? How could I resolve problems with my enemies when I wasn’t the one who created those problems?
The whole idea seemed impossible, but he kept reading and thinking. This says God will help me with my hatred and other problems too. It says He requires me first to seek Him in prayer and to bring my burdens to Him, and He will take them from me. But how do I talk to God?
He then read about how God answered the silent prayer of a woman named Shanti. She had become sick six months before her retirement. Her doctors had been unable to find the cause of the illness. She lay helpless in the hospital. Then one of her doctors recommended prayer. He told her that she must believe that God could heal her. Shanti wanted to be healed and to live for her family, so she prayed—just in her heart, asking the Creator God to heal her. The next day, the doctors saw a drastic change in her health. They were all shocked at her recovery. She told them that the Muktinath, Shristi karta—the Creator God—had healed her.
Mr. Mohan was intrigued. Could this be so? He wondered, Would God answer a prayer for me too? Would he help me love my enemies?
Who Owns Love?
He read further. It was all so thought provoking. He read that God gives us love like the air we breathe—free to all. At that moment, it occurred to him, If we can receive love like this—if love is not controlled by my caste, class, or religious background, I should be able to love people of any caste, class, or religion. Is this possible?
In that moment, he wasn’t sure whether to be thrilled or displeased. He shook himself, thinking of what he had always known. Doing this, I could become impure or defiled. What about that?
The magazine continued with another story. It described a man of low caste who was traveling on a lonely road. This traveler encountered a forward-caste man lying on the road, having been robbed, beaten, and left for dead. Shortly before the low-caste man had found him, a priest had passed by but hadn’t stopped. Just after that, a devotee, also of the forward caste, passed by without stopping to help. The priest and devotee were afraid and didn’t want to become defiled. The low-caste man, by contrast, chose to save the life of this forward-caste man. He even paid for his hospital treatment and gave him some of his own clothes.
The story spoke to Mr. Mohan, and he was struck with the thought, This kind of love does not come from a human heart. I cannot love my enemies—unless God helps.
Love Your Enemies