“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you.” Jesus said.

Easily said, but how do you do that. Dr. Martin Luther King obviously succeeded and in one of the sermons from his book, A Knock at Midnight, Dr. King provides a formula.

“In order to love your enemies, you must first analyze yourself. . . .it was something that aroused the hate response within the individual.

“A second thing an individual must do . . . is to discover the element of good in his enemy, and every time you begin to hate that person and think of hating that person, realize that there is some good there and look at those good points that will overbalance bad points. . . .this simply means this that in the best of us, there is some evil, and in the worst of us, there is some good.

“Discover the element of good in your enemy. And as you seek to hate him, find the center of goodness and place your attention there and you will take a new attitude

“Another way that you love your enemy is this; When the opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy, that is the time that you must not do it. . . . Love is creative, understanding goodwill for all men. It is the refusal to defeat any individual. When you rise to the level of love, with its great beauty and power, you seek only to defeat an evil system. Individuals who happen to be caught up in that system, you love, but you seek to defeat the system.

“The Greek language comes out with another word for love. It is the word, Agape. . . . Agape is something of the understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill for all men. It is a love that seeks nothing in return. It is an overflowing love. . . . And when you rise to love on this level, you begin to love men, not because they are likeable, but because God loves them. You look at every man and you love him because you know that God loves him. And he might be the worst person that you have ever seen.”

These words of Dr. King are powerful and directed at Christians; but what has loving your enemies to do with non-Christians? The virtues of loving or having compassion for your enemies are actually beneficial for all mankind and recognized by the philosophers of antiquity and Buddhist philosophy of today. Loving your enemies is the only way to true happiness in Buddhist philosophy and is the primary subject of the Dali Lama and psychiatrist Howard E. Cutler’s book, The Art of Happiness.

Love, or compassion, is the opposite of hatred; for Buddhists, love is the elimination of hate.

According to the Dali Lama:

“The destructive effects of hatred are very visible, very obvious, and immediate. For example when a very forceful thought of hatred arises within you, it totally overwhelms you and totally destroys your peace of mind; your presence of mind disappears completely. When such intense anger and hatred arises, it obliterates the best part of your brain, which is the ability to choose between right and wrong and the long term and short term consequences of your actions. Your power of judgment becomes totally inoperable; you can no longer function. It is almost like you have become insane. . . .

“For reasons such as these, anger is compared to an enemy. This internal enemy, this inner enemy, has no other function than causing us harm. It is our true enemy, our ultimate enemy. It has no other function than completely destroying us, both in the immediate and in the long term.”

These wise words of the Dali Lama are not the words of a religious prophet; they are the teachings of the philosopher and spiritual faith is not a necessity to profit from these words. All that is needed to benefit from the Buddhist philosophy is the intellect to comprehend and the incentive to respond.

There is an abundance of hatred being expressed in America today and every day it seems. Hatred is almost constantly being expressed on national TV, in newspapers and in the books found in the bookstore; hatred seem to be in vogue. It appears fashionable to hate terrorists, Muslims, corporations, labor unions, Congress, and the President of the United States of America; that doesn’t leave much of anything else to love. In this day and age, it seems that hatred is a sensational necessity for success in the media.

From a nationalistic point of view, looking at America’s most beloved allies and previous enemies today, like the United Kingdom, Germany, and Japan, you get the impression that loving your enemies just might have been an American value in the past; one can only wonder at the cause for all the hatred in American culture today.

Certainly, love and compassion for one’s enemies are not one of America’s values in the year 2010. Pity.

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