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The Near Enemies of Fierce Compassion

A near enemy is a Buddhist term that refers to a state of mind that appears similar to the desired state but actually undermines it. When we are aware of the near enemies of fierce compassion, we can act compassionately and affirmatively in the world without adding to the suffering that is already there.

We would like to offer 6 simple questions as a test of fierce compassion:

1. “Am I in the grip of anger or hatred?” (mindfulness versus emotional reactivity)
2. “Do I feel morally superior?” (acknowledging our common humanity versus self-righteousness)
3. “Do I want my adversary to suffer or be humiliated?” (kindness versus hostility)
4. “Am I self/other-ing?” (solidifying self, rather than sitting lightly to our identities)
5. “Am I polarising into them and us?” (acknowledging our common humanity versus discord and division)
6. “Is there an attachment to outcome, rather than a focus on process?” (grasping versus trusting the process)

When the answer to these questions is “no,” and we add a measure of wisdom, we can surely change the world for the better.

Adapted from The Near Enemies of Fierce Compassion
November 29, 2018
By Drs Chris Germer and Kristin Neff
Co-founders, Center for Mindful Self-Compassion