“If there is no enemy within the enemy outside can do us no harm.” to me this quote means that if we can overcome our ego then obstacles in life no longer harm us but help to build us and shape us into better people.
The ego is the enemy of our true unlimited nature. It needs to portray a consistent and bracketed image of perfection so that we won’t be subject to criticism. This very fragile fear of criticism and judgment keeps us locked in the bracket of our comfort zone and impedes our growth. To grow, we must risk attempting things that may fail. Pain and struggle are the crucibles that shape us in this life. Do not avoid them; welcome them.
Ego is illusory, and this is evident by the very rationally misguided and incomplete games that it plays. For example, the very need for approval is what keeps you from gaining any long-term approval. Because you will stay in the confines of your comfort zone and not stretch, grow, or overcome. The hero’s journey that we as humans are naturally drawn to is one of “rags to riches” or “started from the bottom now we are here.” It is a humble journey into an arena where we risk failure. It is overcoming struggle; it is toil and pain and time, then at long last triumph. These are the stories that gain approval, not the ones of complacency and fear. So, therefore, if the ego is relaying a message that will not result in its desired outcome, we can conclude that our ego is unreliable as a guide in this life. We must be guided by our true nature, which is not to crave attention and approval but to seek opportunities to grow and change. Our true nature does not send us on a carousel of delusion, that is the ego’s game. The game of our “enemy within.”
The goal must be to overcome the ego and listen to our most authentic nature (God, Allah, source, grace, the universe, spirit, Jehovah, Jesus, whatever form you experience it as). We are all capable of miraculous things; it merely lies just on the other side of our ego. The only way to transcend the ego is to have faith that ego is not you; you are much larger than that. We all are the expression of light in this world, and we are intimately connected with the source. This connection is one of the truths of life that, once embraced, will unlock all manner of gifts, blessings, and strength. There’s a great quote by the poet Rumi that I think sums up our inner connectedness as humans: “Our bodies may be separate, but there’s a clear path between our hearts. Two Lamps may not be attached at the base, but the light they project is as one.”
The most eye-opening part of this poem is the analogy of us being luminous. We all share this same light as we travel through this world. Your enemies are indeed just you reflected back at yourself. What you see in this reflection is simply the aspects of self that you are not fond of. No one should take ownership of traits, because each of us contains all traits and all things. Each of us represents infinite possibilities, and each of us contains the ability and courage to do anything that our hearts desire.
We can begin to open up this concept of us containing infinite possibilities, by looking at the other end of the spectrum of our capability. “Post-traumatic stress disorder in new soldiers often occurs because of something they watched themselves doing, rather than because of something that has happened to them. They react like the monsters they can truly be in extreme battlefield conditions, and the revelation of that capacity undoes their world. And no wonder. Perhaps they assumed that all of the histories terrible perpetrators were people totally unlike themselves.” Jordan Peterson sums up our infinite nature in this quote by revealing the darker side of our nature. He shows us that upstanding, kind, and honorable soldiers can bring themselves to unspeakable acts that they previously did not think they contained within them. The battlefield reveals the truth of our existence: we are capable of all things. If we are capable of such acts of evil, then logic would tell us that we also contain the other end of the spectrum. We are capable of the most beautiful and sacrosanct of actions as well.
The weight of this burden is considerable and creates a tremendous amount of responsibility. That is why we have invented an ego. To bracket our experience into a manageable boundary that we can transverse. However, this is not the truth, and to fully experience life we must embrace the truth. Embracing our infinite nature gives us the ability to shape our lives and live as we’ve always dreamed of. It allows us to transcend our limits and live life the way we thought we would when we were children. To my knowledge, we only get to experience this life once. So, one would surmise that you better give it your best shot and not shy away from the truth of this reality. It is your RESPONSIBILITY to achieve the dreams you have in your mind, and not only that, it is within your very nature to achieve them. Settling for less than your dreams is to deny the truth of our lives and to shy away from responsibility. It is to bracket this unlimitedly beautiful existence into one of limits and restriction.
Are you willing to remove the “enemy within” and forge ahead with faith that your life can be anything you want it to be?