4 Essential Elements Of Love According To The Buddha
There are so many definitions of love. Just look for quotes over the internet or even Facebook. You’ll find at least a thousand definitions on a daily basis. But do we know what ‘true love’ really is? Is there one universal way of defining ‘love’? Quite honestly, there isn’t. Most of these quotes are really based on experience – sometimes fearful, sometimes cautious and cynical. It’s anything but what is known as a ‘higher love’. For the most part, our understanding of love is derived from reality TV shows, the movies, or even the fairytales that we grew up reading or listening to.
No matter which of these it is, one thing is for sure: there’s a tendency to attach conditions to what our understanding of love really is. As a result, we have a set of criteria that defines what our ‘perfect match’ would really be. Simply put, we would like our ideal partner to do certain things, have certain things, and even share certain activities with us. That’s perfectly normal. Yet true love has nothing to do with what we’re exposed to in popular culture. It’s much more simple than that. A famous Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, puts things in perspective in explaining what true love really is.
The Four Elements of Love
It all comes down to four qualities, really: Loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and inclusiveness (equanimity).
That’s it! Based on Buddhist teachings, if you have these qualities, you are experiencing ‘true love’. It’s as simple as that, really. Applied on a daily basis, these principles cause romance to blossom.
First, let’s deal with what true love is and isn’t: If you’re making the other person cry every other day, that isn’t love at all. This is because true love should generate joy- not pain. And that starts with making serious efforts to understand how to meet your significant other’s needs…whether or not it’s easy.
Secondly, compassion is an important element of love and he emphasizes that in order for love to grow, one must practice compassion, which in turn, will also grow. One compassionate word, action, or thought can reduce another person’s suffering and bring them joy.
Thirdly, true love has the ability to make someone suffer less. There is an art to suffering and once you grasp it, you’ll suffer less and less. Being in the moment is truly joyous! Better still, if you help your partner suffer less, then that’s half the battle won.
The fourth element of true love is upeksha, which means equanimity, nonattachment, nondiscrimination, even-mindedness, or letting go. Upa means “over,” and iksha means “to look.” You climb the mountain to be able to look over the whole situation, not bound by one side or the other.
If your love has attachment, discrimination, prejudice, or clinging, it’s not true love. As long as we see ourselves as the one who loves and the other as the one who is loved, as long as we value ourselves more than others or see ourselves as different from others, we do not have true equanimity. We have to put ourselves “into the other person’s skin” and become one with him if we want to understand and truly love him. When that happens, there is no “self’ and no “other.”
Simple yet so practical, isn’t it?
Osho himself said that we must rise in love. It seems that these elements can truly show us a new way forward in stark comparison to our fantasy-land ideas about love. So, is there anything that you would like to add about these “four elements of love”? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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