Pearls of Wisdom: Your Five Worst Enemies


By Upendra Mishra

I have often wondered about enemies and friends. I must acknowledge, however, that I never had any personal enemy—I mean an individual who tried to harm me just for the sake of harming me. With the age, nonetheless, my definition of enemy has also changed.

Upendra Mishra

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines an enemy as “a person who hates another: a person who attacks or tries to harm another.” I don’t agree with this definition. On the contrary, I believe that a wise enemy can be a better guide.

In real life, we become our own worst enemies. Buddha summarized this concept beautifully in once sentence: “More than those who hate you, more than all your enemies, an undisciplined mind does greater harm.”

Here are a few things I have learned about enemies in the school of hard knocks and experienced them firsthand.


  1. EGO

Ego is truly the Enemy #1. If whatever you do is driven by your ego, it is doomed to fail. It might bring a temporary success, glory or fame, but it will be short lived. Ego will keep weakening your courage and inner strength bit by bit. Why? Your ego will eventually transform you into a person that you are really not at your core. To protect your ego, you will start living a false or “fake” life, depriving yourself of true, joyful and real experiences of life.


Jealousy is the mother of all the disturbances in one’s mind. When your mind is not peaceful, you cannot think right, you cannot make right decisions, you cannot enjoy life, you cannot love anyone—not ever yourself. What a waste of life without truly loving yourself and someone you want to. “Envy and jealousy are incurable diseases.”—Robert Kraft


If you are not well-organized at work, home, business or anything you do, you will be wasting a lot of precious time by always looking for things you cannot find. And on the top of that, think about the extra stress caused by not finding things, missing deadlines and getting late all the time.

Many of us loose years of our life time by being disorganized. A discipline to keep things always in the right place gives us additional time that can be used for fun, socializing, charity, spending times with loved ones or to do whatever we want to do, but we never have time to do that.


Most of us spend our entire life being dishonest with ourselves, denying our weaknesses and mistakes and projecting our so-called strengths and good qualities to the outside world.

The bottom line is that strength comes from weakness and success from mistakes. Truth and honesty are the corner stones of any loving and caring relationship. When we are not honest and truthful with ourselves, how can we be honest and truthful with others.


It may sound like an oxymoron that how a friend can become your worst enemy. But if your friend is stupid and does not know what is right and wrong, then you are in a big trouble.

Despite his/her good intentions, an imprudent friend will keep hurting you unintentionally. And in addition to being unwise, if your friend also has the other four qualities (ego, jealousy, disorganization and dishonesty), all the bets are off and you must run way from such friends as soon as you can.

Sometimes, your enemy can also disguise as your best friend. You might have heard the Indian proverb: Asteen ka saanp.

Talking about snake, I remember a sufi story that illustrates how a combination of stupidity and ego can destroy everything, even if you are best of friends. The author of this story is unknown.

“In a certain place there was a snake. One day the snake’s tail said to the snake’s head, “I should be the one to lead the way.”

The snake’s head replied, “I’ve always been the one to decide on the direction. Why do you suddenly want to do it?”

After speaking, the snake’s head continued going forward, and completely ignored the tail.

Seeing how things stood, the snake’s tail deliberately wound itself round a tree and refused to wriggle another inch. The snake’s head pulled with all its might to no avail, and they both became exhausted.

Finally, the snake’s head gave in and allowed the tail to set the course. Intensely excited, the snake’s tail thought, “At last I am the leader!”

At this moment of utter exhilaration, the snake’s tail forgot that it did not have any eyes with which to see the road ahead, and with not an inkling of what lay ahead, slid into a roadside fire-pit, and was burned alive.”

(Mr. Mishra is managing partner of the Waltham, MA-based integrated inbound marketing and PR firm The Mishra Group. He writes about his three passions: marketing, scriptures and gardening.)


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