On the Notion of Mind as Enemy

I have often thought that ‘my mind can be my own enemy,’ but now I wonder how constructive it is to apply the metaphor of ‘enemy’ to the mind. Our mental problems are often caused by certain ways of thinking rooted in fears, clinging to impermanent conditions, pushing things away, and ignorant opinions.  These thought patterns cause suffering.

However, these are not inherent problems with the mind; they are habits and acquired ways of thinking.  These can be changed and their pull over us can be weakened gradually through detached witnessing and identifying them to ourselves as they arise.

As we do this, we simultaneously replace them with more realistic habits that are less likely to make us suffer, such as recognizing that conditions are impermanent, ceasing to cling to and push away the things that we encounter in our lives, and trying to clear our false opinions in the light of better knowledge and insight.   This is an on-going process, a lifelong one.  But it is a path out of suffering and into a happier, healthier, wiser life.


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