1 Corinthians 13:4-7
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Another thing Corinthians forgot to include is that love does not cling. Love is not fear.
I’m not a deep thinker. I process deeply, but that doesn’t mean that theoretical topics or philosophy is easy for me to grasp. I prefer things simply put. I want to read more about Mahayana (Tibetan) Buddhism, there is a resounding truth to what I hear, but I get lost in the discussion. I’ve tried reading the Life and Teachings of Milarepa like 5 times and I can’t get past the prologue. For the time being, I usually listen to loads of mp3’s, which are a lot easier for me to digest and I can do it when I walk.
A friend recently recommended a book aptly titled Who Ordered this Truckload of Dung? Its not in the tradition of Mahayana Buddhism, but its a compilation of stories from a Buddhist monk. I love stories; I can relate to stories. There’s a whole section on love. Seeing as learning how to give and receive love is a very important theme in my life presently this story really caused me to reflect.
Love is often misunderstood. The story was about the confusion people have between romantic, clinging love and true, selfless love. Examples used to understand love are often of intimate relationships. True love means being happy for another person, even if they choose to be with your best friend. In the case of love, we should be happy that they’re with someone who’s better than ourselves. That doesn’t mean we love ourselves any less, rather I think it means that perhaps that path will bring them more happiness and as well ourselves. Now, I know people might think that happiness is fleeting, but I never understand why happiness cannot be found in the darkest of circumstances. Of course, happiness doesn’t mean constantly smiling or laughing, I think its more about being at peace with things.
Indeed, the topic of happiness can be challenging and I’d like to dive into that some other time, but for now, lets just discuss love.
Let’s be honest. When I read that story, I started imagining my boyfriend being with my best friend and that idea stirred up so much fear it hurt. I could seriously feel it happening. My throat started to close, it hurt to swallow, my eyes were ready to water up. A moment passed, Waaaait a second. Hello?! Wake up! A few deep contemplative breaths later, I realized how freeing that would be to be able to be truly at peace and happy if he were to chose that. I was creating suffering before it even existed. I know we tend to tie in all these ideas of friendship, loyalty and right and wrong in this situation, but sometimes connections happen where we least expect. Are we to commit to a life of pain from the stories we will continue to tell ourselves? If that’s the case, certainly that story will only reappear again in the future, closing the opportunity for another love to enter.
From the Buddhist perspective, non-attachment is a very important part of the teachings. However, this should not be confused with detachment. This doesn’t mean that Buddhism is anti-relationships though, it merely speaks on taking love to an unconditional level. Unconditional love is without greed or craving. Its without this idea of ownership, eliminating the “me and mine.” It is all about being mindful.
<<<<While this is a sweet thing to say to a loving one (when feelings are mutual), this idea of possession (you belong to me) can create unnecessary suffering.
This gets a whole lot more difficult to digest or discuss once you throw in an affair or abuse, but I’m just going to keep it simple for now. Love also isn’t allowing yourself to be a doormat for someone else’s problems. Love is wisdom too.
As I’m working on being more mindful towards sharing and understanding how to give and receive love, non-grasping is important for me to learn. I’m grateful for my relationships and the amazing people that I’ve encountered as I’ve taught the past few years. Someone recently asked me if it was sad developing relationships and then saying goodbye to so many friends and students. While it is sad, I’m so thankful for those relationships. I admit that I’ve gotten disappointed that those connections didn’t maintain their same depth or vitality and that sour feeling developed negativity and disappointment on the person, then causing me suffering. But, these are not lost friendships. Those friendships still hold that same value regardless of time or space. Being mindful about this topic, I recognize that I consciously can feel the same tenderness for my family and my boyfriend no matter the distance.