Book Reviews

Love Your Enemies

Sharon Salzberg, Robert Thurman

Self Improvement, Empowerment, Inspirational, Spirituality


Life has a way of thwarting our plans, leaving even the most sainted of us frustrated and fearful at times. But losing our cool causes more problems than it solves. So when people and circumstances co... More

Jan 13, 2014 PattiFoy
Recommended … for Some

I was going through a period where I was working through some anger toward someone who’s repeatedly frustrated me with her power games.

I was eager to read this book to see how effectively I could apply its lessons.

Well … In the end, I was a little disappointed but I still think this book has a lot to offer.

>>> Anger

First, I didn’t expect it to be quite so focused on blatant anger, but it is.

If you have issues with “anger management” and letting it fly when you’d rather not, then this would be a great book for you.

It touches on some of the more complex and subtle forms of anger such as feeling victimized, jealous, frustrated, resentful, etc. but its focus is on anger as an emotional outburst.

I have to admit, this may have been my own misunderstanding about what it was about. The subtitle is “How to Break the Anger Habit & Be a Whole Lot Happier”, after all! Still, the description led me to believe it would have a more broad application.

I already knew that in my case, I needed relief more from my own thoughts and emotions than from the person with whom I’d been interacting!

>>> Outer vs. Inner

The book begins by addressing outer conditions and our surface experience of them, and works its way more and more inward to those parts of our being that we’re not as aware of.

For the first half, I thought I didn’t like it because so much of the outer that I/we are aware of was not so new or revealing.

But the second half gets much deeper and is more what I was after.

Rather than looking at another person as the “enemy”, it helps you examine your own patterns of thought that result in your suffering through these types of experiences.

>>> Thoughts vs. Exercises

Throughout the book there are many insightful statements that will be great for review. They offer new ways of looking at the situation(s) that can help you see from a new perspective.

But to get at the deeper more ingrained patterns, it takes more of an ongoing practice. Fortunately, this book offers many exercises and suggested practices; some presented as you go but most in the appendix.

And even though one exercise may take up just one page, if really practiced it can be very powerful! I know this from experience since one of Sharon’s exercises is a meditation similar to those she offers (along with co-author Joseph Goldstein) in her Insight Meditation Kit. The kit is not only potentially life-changing, but it’s so classy and beautiful that I’ve purchased it not only for myself but also as gifts. It includes a 240 page book plus 2 guided meditation CDs and a set of cards.

>>> Two Voices

Love Your Enemies is written as an interesting collaboration in that each of the two writers maintains their own voice. On any given topic, first you hear from one, then the other. I actually liked this as they both approach things quite differently and this gives more ideas and options to consider.

>>> Recommended … for Some

Just like most books, this one can be great for some and not so useful for others.

If you struggle with anger issues, AND are willing to apply some focused energy, then I think this could be a very valuable book.

If you want pointers as to how to love your enemy in general (or even to counteract different or more subtle issues than anger per se), OR if you don’t want to take the time to apply their suggestions, then this book is probably not for you.

Note: I received this book for free from Hay House Publishing for review purposes and this review reflects my honest evaluation.
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Jan 10, 2014 LucyLoong
Written from a Buddhist point of view, “Love Your Enemies -How To Break The Anger Habit & Be A Whole Lot Happier” revolves around the belief that when we express anger towards another we are only hurting ourselves. It can be a difficult concept to wrap your mind around especially when you are feeling wronged or victimized by someone or simply reacting to the anger that another is showing to you.

There was one example of how to deal with conflict that I really resonated with it tells you that you should remember to equate anger with suffering. That simple. When someone is expressing anger they are really suffering inside. You may choose to engage in angry exchange or simply refuse to participate. It is your choice whether you want to accept that suffering and make it your own.

We all know the damage that anger can do mentally, physically and spiritually but most of us are called to it more than we would like to admit. This book has many jewels of wisdom to share on dealing with the anger we feel from perceived enemies internal and external. Learning to let go and love our enemies is conquering the first major roadblock on the path to spiritual growth.

FTC disclosure: I received my copy from Hay House for review purposes and was not financially compensated for this review. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.
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Jan 04, 2014 blessedelements

Often I’ve heard the saying of “You are your own worst enemy” I have found that to be true in situations of being self critical and expecting more from myself that I can give. I find fault with myself easily which leads to guilt. This idea has also been reaffirmed to myself after reading the book of Love Your Enemies by Sharon Salzberg, Robert Thurman.

This is a really great thought provoking book that is based on the Buddhist philosophy. It states basically that we often label people as enemies but need to look past that and dismantle the label and look at the circumstances and our reactions to them.

This book introduces four types of situations that we easily fall into the labeling. We encounter the outer enemy which are composed of people, organizations, and incidents that may cause us harm; the inner enemy, our reaction to situations such as anger, fear, ect., the secret enemy, the walls we establish through isolation to reduce our pain by guarding our hearts; and the super-secret enemy, deep rooted self loathing, guilt and forgiveness of our selves which prevent us from finding true happiness. In truth all of these labeled ‘enemies’ cause us to react in anger and self defense from our perceptions.

I think what I learned most from this book is that if we take a hard look at those that aggravate us or highly dislike we can find a portion of ourselves and our own habits that really bother us. I could see I was really reacting to traits I did not want to have in my own life. It also helped me with questioning my dislike for a person or frustrated by an organization and see if I was reacting from fact or my own perceptions of what I thought was going on with the perceived motive.

Both authors build confidence in the reader by their background and experience.
Sharon Salzberg has been a student of Buddhism since 1971, and leading meditation retreats worldwide since 1974.

Tenzin Robert Thurman is the Jey Tsong Khapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University, holding the first endowed chair of Buddhist Studies in the United States. He serves as co-founder and president of Tibet House US, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the endangered culture of Tibet.

This book is a practical approach to identify who we feel are ‘our enemies’ and transform that belief into a relationship.

Included with this book is a meditation and exercises that help to work with our enemies.
Both authors have really different writing styles which I enjoyed because I felt it gave me twice the opportunity to grasp ideas presented in different ways.

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Jan 03, 2014 awakenandbegin
"You can become conscious of what you were formerly unconscious of." - Love Your Enemies, by Sharon Salzberg and Tenzin Robert Thurman

Love Your Enemies: How to Break the Anger Habit & Be a Whole Lot Happier by Sharon Salzberg and Tenzin Robert Thurman reaffirms that we hold within us the power to create our own happiness. Loving our enemies is about more than finding a way to feel love for bullies. It is about wishing love and happiness for everyone, including ourselves.

"How can I love a bully?", you might ask. The authors explain that the only way to be free of the torment of an enemy is to wish for them true happiness. Enemies also serve us by continually teaching us how to be patient, tolerant, and forgiving. Not to say that any of these are easily realized, but the authors do an excellent job of describing how we might view our enemies through a different lens that allows us to work to become more loving.

When we come to the realization that our enemies are a gift, we can awaken to the real work that must be done: addressing our inner enemies. This book not only reminded me of the destructive effects of anger, it also awakened me to view my own insecurities and anxieties for the destructive habits that they are. Beyond the outer enemies, it could be argued that our inner enemies are more important (and more difficult) to extinguish.

Love is the opposite of anger. Love and compassion wish others to be happy and joyful, while anger and hatred wish pain and suffering on their victims. The authors explain that patience is wedged in between love and anger, as the waiting place for developing tolerance and forgiveness, and eventually allows us to move on from anger to love.

Buried beneath the layers of anger are our insecurities and anxieties that result from being overly concerned with ourselves, things, and status. After personally suffering with feelings of not being good enough for far too long, it was pleasantly eye-opening for me to discover that this path is not only unnecessary but destructive. Instead, focusing on alleviating the suffering of others and improving their well-being is what really matters.

The book concludes with a brief practical introduction to metta meditation ("lovingkindness" meditation), which focuses on the recognition that caring for others is essential and synonymous with caring for ourselves.

Beautifully written, Love Your Enemies was a joy to read, and an important reminder of the positive effects of making choices towards love and peace. While the messages are deeply rooted in Buddhist teachings and at times difficult to comprehend without re-reading, the overall message of love transcends differing religious beliefs.

I found this book to be somewhat challenging to comprehend at times as I am less familiar with Buddhist teachings. I wouldn't have missed reading it though. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to read such an enlightening view on relating to the world. Namaste!

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Hay House Publishing for this review. The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.
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Dec 10, 2013 BookLover
Love Your Enemies: How to Break the Anger Habit & Be A Whole Lot Happier by Sharon Salzberg and Robert Thurman is a book that shows us how to deal with situations and people that can be hard to deal with. We are shown the real source of our distresses and how to overcome our self-hatred.

This book goes over our four types of enemies. The first enemy is the Outer enemy, those who bully us or we find are our competition. The second enemy that is covered is the Inner Enemy, which are our destructive impulses. The third enemy is known as the secret enemy which is self-obsession and self-preoccupation. Finally, the last enemy is the super-secret enemy which is our deep-seated self-loathing that keeps us from happiness.

In each part of this book there are stories of people overcoming their “enemies”. At the end of the book there is a meditation which helps us be here now. There are also exercises in the book to help us work with our enemies, both inner and outer. I really enjoyed this book and found it to be very helpful in understanding the different types of enemies and also how to be at peace no matter what others do or say.

I received a copy of this book free of charge from Hay House in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion of the book.
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Dec 06, 2013 rschechter

Anger is often a misunderstood emotion. Not only is it a secondary emotion—typically covering up a deeper emotion that its host is not allowing him/herself to feel—but is also an emotion that becomes a habit for many people. Instead of learning ways to feel and release the emotion, or learning new life skills/habits that are helpful in overcoming whatever primary emotion is being felt, many people respond to situations out of anger, not because it is useful or helpful, but because it is the only way they know to manage feelings or feel powerful in a situation.

Love Your Enemies by Sharon Salzberg and Robert Thurman is a book that can teach you about anger, about its useful purposes and about how to manage it. Anger, in and of itself, is not bad. It can be very helpful in propelling a person towards a great job, a great relationship or ironically, more peace. But when it becomes a chronic habit it can become destructive and harmful to one’s health. Readers of this book will learn how to use anger to their benefit and to release it appropriately and timely. Whether you are looking to break your anger habit or understand a loved one who is stuck in this emotion, this book will be extremely helpful to you.

*FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Hay House Publishing for this review. The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.

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Dec 02, 2013 tinietao

“Love Your Enemies” by Sharon Salzberg and Robert Thurman explores the concept of unconditional love and practical ways to try it in our lives. It also goes into reasons why we should consider trying it. Depending on your perspective, you might think that it sounds sweet or foolish.

Either way, the authors take us through four chapters explaining why and how we can use unconditional love if we want to.

This book really made me think about the barriers that I put up and made me more aware of my judging, negative and harsh thoughts while I have them. I’ve learned some different ways of processing what I go through. Instead of feeling even more down when we catch ourselves being negative, the book encourages us to realize that it’s perfectly okay.

Life is about ups and downs, pleasant and unpleasant feelings/situations/experiences, good days and bad days, times when we’re proud of ourselves and other times when we’re frustrated or overwhelmed. All of it is part of life, and these are natural. It’s the human experience and EVERYONE goes through the whole slew of emotions (disappointed, furious, grief-stricken, relaxed, lighthearted, delighted).

The authors say that wherever we are is the perfect place to start and that finding meaning in what we go through can help us feel more at peace.

I recommend this book if you wonder what to do about the “not so pretty” side of yourself – the habits, biases, etc. that put up walls between you and other people. All those things you do that contribute to your isolation/alienation/disenchantment and diminish your ability to have real connections with other people.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Hay House for review purposes. The following are my personal and honest opinions.

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Nov 05, 2013 timlarison
Think of a person who really bugs you. Yes that one. Feel all the negative emotions as you imagine that person in the room with you right now. Did you know this supposed enemy could be one of your greatest teachers? That’s the premise put forth by Sharon Salzberg and Robert Thurman in their new book “Love Your Enemies: How to Break the Anger Habit & be a Whole Lot Happier”

“If there weren’t people trying to harm us or keep us from getting what we want, how would we learn patience and tolerance and forgiveness?” writes Thurman in the book’s introduction. People who anger us are just one type of enemy discussed by Thurman and Salzberg. There are three more:

The inner enemy: anger, hatred, fear, and other destructive impulses
The secret enemy: self-obsession and self-preoccupation, which isolate us from other people, leaving us frustrated and alone
The super-secret enemy: deep-seated self-loathing that keeps us from finding inner freedom and true happiness

The focus of “Love Your Enemies” is on what is happening inside of you, and not on other people. “The teachings and meditations in this book help us to draw on our own innate wisdom and compassion in order to transform our relationship with our enemies, both inner and outer,” writes Salzberg. Can I really be at peace no matter what others may say or do? A tall order, but “Loving Your Enemies” will move you towards that perspective.

I was confused with the mix of writing styles in the book. Robert Thurman is brilliant in his grasp of the human condition, but I find him difficult to understand at times. Salzberg is more down to earth. When reading Love Your Enemies some of the concepts went over my head (“those must be Thurman’s words,” I thought) while other examples were easier to relate to. I think the book would have flowed better if each author wrote individual chapters, clearly marked with a by line, rather than mixing the two styles throughout.

Nevertheless, “Love Your Enemies” is a valuable book. “We should be grateful for our enemies, the Dalai Lama has said, for they teach us patience, courage, and determination, and help us develop a tranquil mind,” state Thurman and Salzberg. While I’m not at that point yet, the book did cause me to evaluate what areas I still need to work on. If you want to approach your feelings towards enemies as an inside job, you will like this book.
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Oct 08, 2013 ClorisKylie
“Love Your Enemies,” Sharon Salzberg and Robert Thurman say.

When I read the title of this book, my first question was, “How can I love people who’ve hurt me if I’m labeling them ‘enemies’?” I’ve learned that as soon as I see someone as separate from me and label him or her, I’m acting out of my ego, which means I cannot really love a person I call enemy.

Early into the reading, however, Thurman answered my question. He clarifies that “ultimately, we have no enemies. We think of an enemy as someone—or something—that blocks our happiness. But no other being can block our happiness; true happiness comes from within. Therefore, ultimately, we have no enemies.”

Salzberg and Thurman use the term “enemy” so we can clearly understand the message of love and acceptance they share with us. The book offers tools we can put in practice any time to come to terms with our so-called enemies. I especially enjoyed the basic and specialized meditations in the Appendix.

Also, the authors explain how “love” means to “wish for the happiness of someone,” so if we send thoughts of happiness to our enemies, we might not only bring happiness to these human beings (who are probably tormented as a result of their own actions,) but also achieve inner peace.

The most thought-provoking aspect of this book is the idea that we all have four kinds of enemies:
1. The outer enemy (people or institutions who’ve hurt us and situations that frustrate us.)
2. The inner enemy (negative emotions such as anger, hatred, and fear.)
3. The secret enemy (sense of disconnection from other people, which the authors call self-obsession and self-preoccupation.)
4. The super-secret enemy (lack of self-love—even at a subconscious level.)

The four kinds of enemies match the spiritual teachings that guide us to overcome expressions of the ego: a sense of separation from others, attachment to ideas and to the way things “should be,” and disconnection with our True Selves (love.)

Love Your Enemies helps us develop conscious awareness that if we don’t let go of our grudges, we won’t be hurting our enemies, but we’ll be hurting ourselves.

Sending thoughts of happiness to those who’ve harmed us isn’t something to be achieved in a day. Loving everyone is a practice, and as we grow into this practice, we’ll stop being offended easily, align with people who share our values, and let go of our personal history. I believe we need to focus on the latter. Embracing the emotions brought about by our past traumas and releasing these emotions are the healthiest steps we can take to achieve authentic happiness.

Love Your Enemies is a book written with love for the sake of love.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Hay House Publishing for this review. The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.
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Oct 04, 2013 hhreviewer2

Love Your Enemies by Sharon Salzberg and Robert Thurman is guide for tackling your "enemies" using tools made popular by Buddhist tradition such as lovingkindess, but also simple acts like forgiveness and patience. "Enemies" may be outer enemies such as environmental stimuli or a person doing something either directly or indirectly. Or "enemies" can be inner enemies - three to be exact: inner enemies such as emotions, secret enemies such as self-centeredness, or super secret enemies such as deep, unconscious thoughts and emotions we may not even be aware of.

Tenzin Robert Thurman is one of the first Western Buddhist Monks and a co-author of Love Your Enemies. There are many Buddhist principles presented to help deal with any and all "enemies" but even individuals unfamiliar with Buddhism would be comfortable with the simple principles as mentioned above - kindness, patience, and forgiveness for oneself and for others. In his introduction to the book, Thurman points out that we are and can often be the cause of a problem as well as its solution.

Love Your Enemies is brimming with uplifting stories and examples of how people have overcome each one of these "enemies". Near the end of the book is a very basic meditation to help the reader how to focus on their breath and bring their awareness into the here and now. Also are exercises for working with outer and inner "enemies" that expand upon the concepts from all earlier chapters. The book itself is full of information that anyone new to mindfulness based work would easily benefit from.

This is my review of Love Your Enemies by Sharon Salzberg and Robert Thurman. I acknowledge that I received this book free from Hay House Publishing to review. The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment.

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Sep 30, 2013 Yvonnemg74
At first glance at this title you might think that this book is going to help you learn to deal with other people. And, while it may help with that too, it will shock you. In fact, it is about dealing with your inner and outer demons, yourself. The tag line is "How to Break the Anger Habit & Be a Whole Lot Happier." Think about the things that make you angry on a daily basis? The bank messes up a deposit, the dog gets sick, your lunch is spoiled, you ran out of butter and don't have money to get to the grocery store. We get angry at these little things that we can't do anything about. We let them ruin our day. We swear, throw and break things, and our blood pressure rises. But why do we get so angry over such small things? Hey, I do it to... ask anyone that knows me. That is why I decided I wanted to read this book. I am willing to accept when I have a problem, and I am even more willing to find ways to better my life.

Love You Enemies begins by going over the types of outer enemies we may run into in life. These include bullies, co-works, bosses and other outside influences that make us hate ourselves and them. Then we get into the inner enemies/demons. You will learn how to forgive, to move on and how to accept the things that happen in life. You will learn how to push back your instant anger and how to see enemies, both inside and out, as stepping stones on the path to the real you.

This is an amazing book that truly will have you looking at things differently. I love that it doesn't just tell you what to do, it walks you through it. This book also include a fabulous Basic Meditation. I really believe that meditation is an important thing for day to day life, just like prayer. It helps us relax, let go, learn and live.

I plan to keep this book close to me. Beyond the inner and outer enemy, there lies the Secret and Super-Secret enemy. These are the nasty ones I need to continue working on. According to the book, the secret enemy is that "which isolates us from other people, leaving us frustrated and alone." I think this is the little demon to blame for my struggles with social anxiety. The super-secret enemy is that "deep-seated self-loathing that keeps us from finding inner freedom and true happiness." I have this one down for the most part, but we all have our bad days!

If you are interested in this book (and you should be) you can purchase it from Amazon, B&N, Hay House, and Indigo.

*In an effort towards full disclosure, I must let you know that I received this book free from Hay House for review purposes.
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