by Hal Robinson
Native teachers have taught me through stories how to live in this world in a peaceful way. This is my personal story and maybe a “teaching story” about learning from someone I call “enemy.”
I called a friend who is a carpenter to do some repair on our office building, setting an early morning time to accommodate his schedule. He did not show up or call to cancel the appointment, behaviors I consider rude and disrespectful. As a result, my thoughts about him were judgmental and critical: “He is a jerk. He is rude, disrespectful and full of himself.”
When I returned home, I continued these critical thoughts and felt self-pity. “I wasted my morning waiting on him.” My thoughts were critical and judgmental, my emotions were anger and self-pity, and my body was tight and tense.
I finally had an awakening thought: This must be a spiritual experience, as all the components of living in a body are trying to get my attention right here, right now. I was blaming and seeing someone as an “enemy” whom I would normally call a “friend.” I spent a lot of energy blaming my emotions on someone else and feeling like a victim of someone else’s behavior.
I know that self-pity weakens me; it is based in the thought form of victimhood, perceiving of myself as a victim of events or people or circumstances. The visual picture of victimhood is being a leaf at the mercy of the wind. This limiting belief creates a reality of hell for me.
For a long time (maybe 40 years) my intent has been to expand and polish my awareness, and my operating belief is that Spirit will assist me. One truth seems to be the fact that thoughts create emotions. My judgmental thoughts about my carpenter friend created my anger (in the moment I wanted to believe his behavior created my anger).
Judgment creates distance; a friend became an enemy through my thoughts.
The next part of this awakening lesson was seeing the carpenter as a mirror of my own behaviors. I looked down onto my desk and saw some insurance papers that had been given to me in August, and it was now November. I had agreed to fill them out by the end of August. These papers had been on my desk for four months and somehow I did not “see” them. To me this is called being asleep.
All the things I had said about the carpenter were really true about me. Irresponsible, disrespectful, full of himself – that was all me. Each time I make someone an “enemy,” I am looking in the mirror. Each time I judge and criticize someone, I am behaving in the same way and am “asleep” to my own behavior.
By looking in the mirror my enemy became my teacher. If I can “wake up,” I can receive the gift of awareness and become more responsible.
I am reminded that when I react to people with judgment, criticism and blame, I am looking in the mirror at someone who is a spiritual teacher. I am also reminded of how reactive I am, how quick I am to judge. I remember the consequences of judgment; making someone an enemy creates physical, mental and emotional suffering. I remember that I create my suffering.
This way of self-awareness was once called stalking before stalking had such negative connotations. Stalking the self was considered an honorable way to behave, to become more aware and responsible. By becoming more aware and responsible I can treat everyone with more respect and kindness.
This writing and sharing is dedicated to my Older Sister and Teacher, Germaine Sitting Crow, who crossed one year ago. Sister was a holy woman for the Wasa Wapka Community in South Dakota, my guide and mentor, one who taught me about unconditional love, as have my grandchildren.
Hal Robinson, MRC, is a partner in the Healing Arts Center, a holistic medical facility in Kerrville, Texas. He oversees the Dancing Bear Teaching Lodge, the educational and training component of the Healing Arts Center. For information about the lodge visit www.dancingbearteachinglodge.com.