The Scariest Enemy: The Afflictions in Our Hearts
The fourth article of Santideva's Engaging in the Bodhisattva Deeds is the conscientious article. The article states: [Should even all the gods and non-gods, rise up against me as my enemies, they cannot lead me to nor place me in the fires of Relentless Torment. But this foe, the powerful afflictions, in an instant can cast me there, which when met will cause not even the ashes of Mount Meru to remain.]
This sentence means that regardless of beings in the heavenly realms or all beings in the non-heavenly realms (i.e. many, many beings), even if they all harm me, insult me or do anything to me just like what they will do to an enemy, it is not possible for them to throw me into the unrelenting hell in an instant.
The incident whereby someone hurts you might not lead you to fall into miserable realms or even into hell. However, there is an enemy who would immediate lead us to fall into the miserable realms. What is the name of that enemy? It is the strong afflictions. The afflictions that we have are very strong. When we have anger/hatred etc towards an eminent object, these afflictions will instantly propel me to the fire of hell, as if tossing me into the raging inferno of hell. These are the afflictions in our hearts. The ruinous effects of these afflictions will even burn down Mount Meru to the extent that no ashes are left.
The next sentence that he said was: [All other enemies are incapable of such a length of time. As can my afflictions, the long-time enemy with neither beginning nor end.]
The enemy that has remained in our hearts for the longest time is our afflictions and it has been there for eons of years. The enemies in the mundane world have not lived on for as long as the afflictions have. Therefore, this enemy in our hearts, the afflictions, the strength of these afflictions is the scariest.
Then, this sentence reminds us: We should not allow intense anger or vengeance, all these negative thoughts to arise and even affect us till the extent that we carry out vengeful actions, when others harm us physically, emotionally or damage our reputation etc. This is because we will create negative karma when we have these negative thoughts. And, due to these negative karma, we will fall into miserable realms and might even instantly create causes which lead us to hell. It is a very long period of great suffering in hell.
Once again, this sentence reminds us that what really harms us are the afflictions that we have and not the external enemies. These afflictions are our ignorance, greed and hostility. Are the people who appear to be harming us really harming us or giving us a present of tolerance? It is entirely dependent on how we want to train our minds and how we want to perceive the matter.