When I was young, my favourite TV programme was on a Thursday night at 6pm. To most people it was just an action series set in Asia, with a few fighting scenes and some strange, mystical teachings that nobody ever really understood. But to me, it was one of the biggest influences on my life. The programme was called “Monkey”.
It was adapted from a very old Chinese Text written around the 14th Century and told the story of 3 demi-gods, Monkey, Pigsy and Sandy escorting a Buddhist Monk called Tripitaka to India to collect some Holy Scriptures. Each week, the characters would come across and overcome demons trying to stop them from completing their journey. But the demons were actually reflections of their own selfish personalities that they came face to face with and the journey they were travelling was symbolic of their journey to true happiness, or as they say in the East “enlightenment”.
These “demons” are something that we also face every day, the false beliefs we have about life that make us unhappy. We can see them most clearly in the people around us, the things that annoy us about them. Why? Because they reveal characteristics of ourselves that we also dislike. By observing them closely, we can learn to refine our own personalities.
I remember the first time I really noticed the truth in these teachings some years ago whilst in Thailand. Every morning I would get a 30km lift to work with a friend of mine who was without any doubt, the scariest driver I had ever come across. He drove stupidly fast, too close to the cars in front, was impatient, cursed every other driver in his way, cut people up and constantly beeped his horn angrily at anyone who did not give way to him. He would spend almost the entire car journey moaning to me about how dangerous the other drivers were and he genuinely thought that he was the only safe driver on the road. None of the other drivers were anywhere near as dangerous as he was, but they reflected his personality and his driving.
I believe all of us carry the same misconceived beliefs inside of us and we only ever see them when we feel that we have been cheated, deceived or mistreated by someone or something in some way. If we argue with a friend or loved one or are angered by them, just take a look at yourself before you start to criticize, because what you are seeing in that person is a part of your own character that you dislike. The unpleasant characteristics are merely reflecting your own undesirable characteristics, thoughts and feelings. If you are the sort of person who has been cheated in some way, look closely at your life and see if there are any areas in your life that you feel you are maybe being dishonest or misleading others. If someone is being unreasonable or not listening to you, look into your own life and see where these characteristics are lying on the inside of your personality.
If you are completely honest with yourself, which can be very hard for most people, you will see them. It is us who are creating these negative thought patterns and other people just act as a mirror to reflect this back to us. That is not a bad thing. In fact it is very positive as then we are able to see our own faults and change. When we are thankful to our enemies for revealing our negative thought patterns to us, it will allow us to be more forgiving and let us see that we have faults no different from those of our enemies.