So it seems that I have been looking for love in all the wrong places and with the wrong people for over four decades, without knowing that all along, the answers come from within. I have always been a lover of knowledge, philosophical wisdom, and mystical phenomena, always searching for that one spiritual teacher to guide me through love in addition to God. I have devoured numerous enlightening literature from all over the world – great thinkers, artists, outcasts, religious leaders, and spiritual gurus, and have definitely developed a beautiful, enriching and peaceful frame of reference. But there has always been something missing in my life, no matter how many times I thought that past loves were the one for me, that I had finally found true friends, that I could get true love from my family, something was still off.
In my search to discover the secret ingredients to true love, I finally have found him, my modern day spiritual teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, a renowned Zen master, poet, and peace activist who travels the world and shares his teachings, wise words, and love with people internationally through talks and retreats. His beautifully packaged books and his loving practical, poetic writings really resonated with me in mind, body, and spirit. When I read his words, I get chills of excitement because I have finally found someone in real life that I can call my life teacher because I am forever thirsty for learning, growth, and enriching experiences. I not only love parts or some of his books, I do indeed love them all!
Here is a little taste of his wisdom from True Love: A Practice for Awakening the Heart, that has shaken my core and thrilled me with such an understanding of what true love really is, and this will forever be the guide to all my relationships in business and personal moving forward, including the relationship with myself. Slowly, we have added a nice collection of Thich Nhat Hanh’s books in my Goddess sanctuary and soon I will have every one of them here for you to read. Enjoy his deep words and brilliant emotional intelligence below…
According to Buddhism, there are four elements of true love.
The first is maitri, which can be translated as loving-kindness or benevolence. Loving-kindness is not only the desire to make someone happy, to bring joy to a beloved person; it is the ability to bring joy and happiness to the person you love, because even if your intention is to love this person, your love might make him or her suffer. Training is needed in order to love properly; and to be able to give happiness and joy, you must practice deep looking directed toward the person you love. Because if you do not understand this person, you cannot love properly. Understanding is the essence of love. If you cannot understand, you cannot love. That is the message of the Buddha. If a husband, for example, does not understand his wife’s deepest troubles, her deepest aspirations, if he does not understand her suffering, he will not be able to love her the right way. Without understanding, love is an impossible thing.
What must we do in order to understand a person? We must have time; we must practice looking deeply into this person. We must be there, attentive; we must observe, we must look deeply. And the fruit of this looking deeply is called understanding. Love is a true thing if it is made up of a substance called understanding.
The second element of true love is compassion, karuna. This is not only the desire to ease the pain of another person, but the ability to do so. You must practice deep looking in order to gain a good understanding of the nature of the suffering of this person, in order to be able to help him or her to change. Knowledge and understanding are always at the root of the practice. The practice of understanding is the practice of meditation. To meditate is to look deeply into the heart of things.
The third element of true love is joy, mudita. If there is no joy in love, it is not true love. If you are suffering all the time, if you cry all the time, and if you make the person you love cry, this is not really love – it is even the opposite. If there is no oy in your love, you can be sure that it is not true love.
The fourth element is upeksha, equanimity or freedom. In true love, you attain freedom. When you love, you bring freedom to the person you love. If the opposite is true, it is not true love. You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free, not only outside but also inside. “Dear one, do you have enough space in your heart and all around you?” This is an intelligent question for testing out whether your love is something real.
Well, what do you think? Are these four elements already in your relationships? If so, I congratulate you for being ahead of me. Please share your thoughts with me if it pleasures you so.