Love. . .

“If one’s thoughts towards spirituality were of the same intensity as those towards love,one would become a Buddhain this very body, in this very life.” from the Love Poems of the Sixth Dalai Lama

Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite American holidays. The fact that this heart-centered if over-commercialized day falls around the same time as Tibetan New Year reminds me to make new year’s resolutions relating to those I love and renew my commitment to cultivating goodness of heart. These resolutions usually involve opening my heart and mind; listening better; learning to forgive and to love even those that may present difficulties; and coming to accept and bless the world, rather than fighting with it or trying to escape from it.

How would Buddha love? By seeing every single being, human and otherwise, as fundamentally like himself, and thus able to treat them and love them in the way he would be treated. We call this infinitely benevolent, selfless love, Bodhicitta or the Awakened Heart, the very spirit of enlightenment. Each relationship and every single encounter can be a vehicle for meaningful spiritual connection, through the transformative magic of Bodhicitta. Buddha taught that this Bodhicitta or spiritual love has four active arms, known as the Four Boundless Heartitudes, and four expressive faces known as the Four Forms of Compassion in action. This is how we love, Buddha-style: impartial to all, free from excessive attachment or false hope and expectation; accepting, tolerant, and forgiving. Buddhist non-attachment doesn’t imply complacence or indifference, or not having committed relationships or being passionately engaged with society, but rather has to do with our effort to defy change and resist the fact of impermanence and our mortality. 

To truly love people I have learned that I need to let them be, and to love and accept and appreciate them as they are (free of my projections and illusions) and not as how I would like them to be. This is equally true for loving and accepting oneself.Whatever attitudes we habitually use toward ourselves, we will use on others, and whatever attitudes we habitually use toward others, we will use on ourselves. The situation is comparable to our serving food to ourselves and to other people from the same bowl. Everyone ends up eating the same thing – we must examine carefully what we are dishing out.

Children let go of anger and would rather be happy than right, unlike so many of us adults. Staying present in this very moment, through mindful awareness and paying attention to what is rather than dwelling on the past or the future, or on who we think we are and who we imagine others are helps free us from excess baggage, anxiety and neurosis – and opens us all to love.

Peace and Love, Jim


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