I was eager to read Love Your Enemies by Sharon Salzberg & Tenzin Robert Thurman to see how effectively I could apply its lessons.
Well … In the end, I was a little disappointed but I still think this book has a lot to offer.
First, I didn’t expect it to be quite so focused on blatant anger, but it is.
If you have issues with “anger management” and letting it fly when you’d rather not, then this would be a great book for you.
It touches on some of the more complex and subtle forms of anger such as feeling victimized, jealous, frustrated, resentful, etc. but its focus is on anger as an emotional outburst.
I have to admit, this may have been my own misunderstanding about what it was about. The subtitle is “How to Break the Anger Habit & Be a Whole Lot Happier”, after all! Still, the description led me to believe it would have a more broad application.
I already knew that in my case, I needed relief more from my own thoughts and emotions than from the person with whom I’d been interacting!
Outer vs. Inner
The book begins by addressing outer conditions and our surface experience of them, and works its way more and more inward to those parts of our being that we’re not as aware of.
For the first half, I thought I didn’t like it because so much of the outer that I/we are aware of was not so new or revealing.
But the second half gets much deeper and is more what I was after.
Rather than looking at another person as the “enemy”, it helps you examine your own patterns of thought that result in your suffering through these types of experiences.
Thoughts vs. Exercises
Throughout the book there are many insightful statements that will be great for review. They offer new ways of looking at the situation(s) that can help you see from a new perspective.
But to get at the deeper more ingrained patterns, it takes more of an ongoing practice. Fortunately, this book offers many exercises and suggested practices; some presented as you go but most in the appendix.
And even though one exercise may take up just one page, if really practiced it can be very powerful! I know this from experience since one of Sharon’s exercises is a meditation similar to those she offers (along with co-author Joseph Goldstein) in her Insight Meditation Kit. The kit is not only potentially life-changing, but it’s so classy and beautiful that I’ve purchased it not only for myself but also as gifts. It includes a 240 page book plus 2 guided meditation CDs and a set of cards.
Love Your Enemies is written as an interesting collaboration in that each of the two writers maintains their own voice. On any given topic, first you hear from one, then the other. I actually liked this as they both approach things quite differently and this gives more ideas and options to consider.
Recommended … for Some
Just like most books, this one can be great for some and not so useful for others.
If you struggle with anger issues, AND are willing to apply some focused energy, then I think this could be a very valuable book.
If you want pointers as to how to love your enemy in general (or even to counteract different or more subtle issues than anger per se), OR if you don’t want to take the time to apply their suggestions, then this book is probably not for you.
Note: I received this book for free from Hay House Publishing for review purposes and this review reflects my honest evaluation.
‘Til next time: Happy reading, and happy life!