To Know Thy Enemy

To Know Thy Enemy

Pentecost 129

In every myth there is a protagonist and an antagonist.  That is to say there is a hero or heroine and a villain.  The relationship between these two characters creates the conflict that results in the action of the story.  After all, every story must have a plot and if that story is a mythological story, there is usually a moral or lesson to be learned.

Cicero once said “Man is his own worst enemy.”  While many stories pf both ancient and modern man bear witness to this, it is the collection of stories told about the goddess Durga that best illustrate this.  We’ve discussed previously that all Hindu gods are considered to be aspects of one ultimate truth known as Brahman.  In the same manner, all goddesses are considered to be facets of the Great Goddess Devi.  AS a warrior, Devi was known as Durga, the names translating as “the unapproachable”.  Although usually quite calm, Durga possessed all the power of the universe and had the ability to change her shape, the knowledge of how to use any weapon and could present herself as a large and powerful army when combatting demons.

Interestingly enough, Durga’s biggest enemy was a demon king also named Durga.  The demon Durga had conquered the universe and cosmos, throwing all the gods and goddesses out of their palaces.  The disposed deities sought assistance from the warrior Durga.  She defeated his many armies of all types of soldiers and animals and finally, in a one-to-one battle with the demon Durga, grew many arms and conquered him, stabbing him to death.

We are indeed our own worst enemy at times.  It begins with our internal voice, that constant dialogue with have with ourselves.  You know what I mean.  “I look fat in this.”  “I completed that project the boss asked for but I bet he doesn’t like it.”  We might blame others but really, we often put ourselves down more times in a day than anyone else might do in a month.

Communication is a vital tool.  It is how we talk to the world but it is also how we talk to ourselves.  Learning to gain control over how we talk to others takes time and talent but we seldom devote the same amount of time and talent to learning to talk to ourselves.

The first step in any dialogue is to listen.  Otherwise, it becomes a monologue and the problem with that is that very few people listen.  So next time you start talking to yourself, listen.  Is it courteous chatter or are you too busy condemning yourself?  If the answer is the latter, then revise what you are saying.  Never have any negative self-talk?  Bah humbug.  I don’t mean to call you a liar but seriously…go back to step one and listen.  Then maybe you need to write down your self-talk.  I really doubt your internal voice is all sunshine, roses, and compliments.  Once you have recorded on paper your thoughts, you might discover they are not all positive.  If they are, then stop reading right now and treat yourself to a latte or ice cream cone.

If you are one of the rest of the million, billion people in the world who do have negative self-talk, think about how you might say what you are thinking to someone else.  We quickly look at our own reflection and think “You look ugly!”  We seldom would be so blunt with a friend.  Instead, we might offer “I am not certain that color highlights your gorgeous skin tones; try this color.”  Practice makes perfect so practice your positive self-talk.  Don’t go overboard on it.  Being arrogant can be an enemy as well.

We may not be able to convert our bodies into an army like Durga but we do have the ability to create positive change in our personality.  No one needs to be negative nor blaming others all the time.  Certainly there are things beyond our control.  What is in our control is how we respond.  We need to make sure that we act and not only react.  When it comes to our own lives, we need to be our own warriors.  Then we become the protagonist of our own story and that will be a myth with a happy ending.

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