I’m trying to find references to the near enemies concept rather than the separate aspects of it.
You probably have to explain more what you’re looking for, but the ‘near enemy’ concept reminds me more of the Visuddhimagga.
This is the item that got me to searching:
Near enemies are things that look like or seem like other positive qualities, but are actually not useful.
A near enemy of compassion is pity. Where compassion is “feeling with,” pity doesn’t have the “with,” but keeps us separated from the one who is struggling.
the near enemy of sympathetic joy, co-dependence.
The near enemy to equanimity is apathy or numbness.
Griffin, Kevin. Living Kindness: Buddhist Teachings for a Troubled World (p. 87). One Breath Books. Kindle Edition.
Hi Tom, as has been noted, you probably won’t find much discussion of the near and far enemies in the suttas. The detailed source is the Visuddhamagga, which is a collection of Commentries, assembled hundreds of years after the Buddha.
There is a whole chapter:
Chapter IX The Divine Abidings
- And here each one has two enemies, one near and one far.
The divine abiding of loving-kindness has greed as its near enemy, since both share in seeing virtues. [Commentary to the Visuddhimagga: “Greed is the near enemy of loving-kindness since it is able to corrupt owing to its similarity, like an enemy masquerading as a friend”] Greed behaves like a foe who keeps close by a man, and it easily finds an opportunity. So loving-kindness should be well protected from it. And ill will, which is dissimilar to the similar greed, is its far enemy like a foe ensconced in a rock wilderness. So loving-kindness must be practiced free from fear of that; for it is not possible to practice loving-kindness and feel anger simultaneously (see D III 247–48).
The reference is to DN33, starting here: SuttaCentral
However, that only seems to cover the far enemies:
Six elements of escape. Take a mendicant who says: ‘I’ve developed the heart’s release by love. I’ve cultivated it, made it my vehicle and my basis, kept it up, consolidated it, and properly implemented it. Yet somehow ill will still occupies my mind.’ They should be told, ‘Not so, venerable! Don’t say that. Don’t misrepresent the Buddha, for misrepresentation of the Buddha is not good. And the Buddha would not say that. It’s impossible, reverend, it cannot happen that the heart’s release by love has been developed and properly implemented, yet somehow ill will still occupies the mind. For it is the heart’s release by love that is the escape from ill will.’
Take another mendicant who says: ‘I’ve developed the heart’s release by compassion. I’ve cultivated it, made it my vehicle and my basis, kept it up, consolidated it, and properly implemented it. Yet somehow the thought of harming still occupies my mind.’ They should be told, ‘Not so, venerable! … For it is the heart’s release by compassion that is the escape from thoughts of harming.’
Take another mendicant who says: ‘I’ve developed the heart’s release by rejoicing. … Yet somehow negativity still occupies my mind.’ They should be told, ‘Not so, venerable! … For it is the heart’s release by rejoicing that is the escape from negativity.’
Take another mendicant who says: ‘I’ve developed the heart’s release by equanimity. … Yet somehow desire still occupies my mind.’ They should be told, ‘Not so, venerable! … For it is the heart’s release by equanimity that is the escape from desire.’
Yes, I believe that the near enemy/far enemy is purely a commentarial concept. You won’t find those terms as such in the suttas.
The far enemies can be found in e.g. AN 6.13 for whatever that is worth…
“Mendicants, there are these three inner stains, inner foes, inner enemies, inner killers, and inner adversaries.
“Tayome, bhikkhave, antarāmalā antarāamittā antarāsapattā antarāvadhakā antarāpaccatthikā.
This isn’t really what the near enemy concept is. The near enemy is something that seems close to a good quality but actually isn’t. Or that a good quality could easily become. I think.
Since these are relative things, the Q&A part in DN21 Sakka’s Questions and the AN 2.64-76 Happiness may be useful references, Their scope is broad, as it includes even kinds of equanimity and happiness that are not to be cultivated, dependent on the situation.
Why did I say that there are two kinds of equanimity?
Well, should you know of an equanimity:
‘When I cultivate this kind of equanimity, unskillful qualities grow, and skillful qualities decline.’ You should not cultivate that kind of equanimity.
Whereas, should you know of an equanimity:
‘When I cultivate this kind of equanimity, unskillful qualities decline, and skillful qualities grow.’ You should cultivate that kind of equanimity.