Oct 25, 2009

Love

By Stephen L. Klick 

If we know what true love is then it is our greatest blessing, our highest joy. If we are mired in attachment then what we call love is really a kind of madness. This imitation of love can quickly become hatred if the expectations of one of the partners are not met. We see examples of this every day around the country in divorce court. Love with improper attachment is one of the principal causes of human misery.

This attachment causes you to experience a great many emotions but none of them are love. Jealousy, for example, is not love and has no connection to it. Jealousy has no place in a heart that is filled with love. If you are in a relationship and jealousy is present in your mind then you are not ‘in love’ with that person in any real sense.



To love someone, you should have warm feelings for them but more importantly you should emotionally support that person and want what is best for them even if that entails some kind of sacrifice on your part. If you are in a relationship with someone and believe that your life would fall apart or not be worth living without him or her then what you have is a case of attachment. It is not love. Love is never about grasping or controlling. Love is truly self-less, it is the noblest emotion we are capable of, and it is incredibly rare.

Love is positive energy that supports life. People who have pets that they care for live longer lives then those who don’t because it is actually good for your health to express love. We all need love and when we don’t have it we sorely feel the lack of it. The Buddha taught love from the very first teaching he gave. From the moment of his enlightenment up until the day of his death he lived a life dedicated to service to others.

The Buddha reveals why he came to this world in Chapter sixteen of "The Lotus Sutra." This is one of the most important chapters in the most essential teaching ever given by Shakyamuni. The final words of the Buddha in this chapter are ‘how can I cause others to speedily enter the way and quickly become enlightened?’ This is a practical example of love, and we should all follow this same pattern if we want live the life of a bodhisattva. A Bodhisattva works day and night for the benefit of all the beings he can reach. He does this without pay and without any expectation of gratitude. Bodhisattvas behave this way because this is the path that leads to enlightenment. It’s also a lot of fun.

It’s important to have fun because it means that we are enjoying the work that we do. What kind of a job do you do when you hate your work? It’s seldom your best, is it? How can you feel good about yourself if you’re not doing the best that you can? You will never be happy if you hate what you do all day long. If you do hate your job then you have a very strange idea of success. No matter what kind of money you are paid it does not make up for the unhappiness you experience daily. There isn’t enough money in the world to make that kind of suffering worthwhile, if you are in a situation like this then be aware that you are seriously undervaluing your worth as a human being.

To be a success in life you must become happy and fulfilled. If you replace that standard with the amount of money you make in a year you are making a serious error because the extra money cannot possibly make up for all the hours of daily misery you must endure. If you are in an unhappy job environment ask yourself, ‘what is the amount of wretchedness I am willing to endure for extra money? Why am I selling myself out so cheaply?’ No matter what material objects you acquire with this money how will you be happy when at least one third of your day is dedicated to something you loathe doing.

Before you are fit to love others you must be able to love yourself. You can begin to do that by treating yourself like a valuable human being because, no matter who you are, this is the case. To love yourself you must be able to respect yourself, you can fool a lot of people, but people who succeed in actually fooling themselves end up insane. You always know what your motivation is and you are your own harshest critic. If you don’t at least come close to living up to the moral code your subconscious mind believes to be correct in your daily behavior then your mind will punish itself by developing an illness in the body. This is an old teaching but medical people are just now realizing it as truth in the West.

Many of the diseases we suffer from come from our mind. The idea of treating a symptom, instead of the entire patient was a mistake. How do you separate a patient from his symptom? The pain cannot be removed and examined; it’s part of the system of the patient, considering part of the person while ignoring the rest of him only leads to error and tragic mistakes.

In the past the goal was to cover up the symptom of illness with drugs but that ignores the problem, and makes the trouble show up some other way. The problem is being caused by the human mind and the person can cure himself by dedicating himself to virtue and vowing to help all beings everywhere. ‘Miracle cures’ often work if the person honestly decides to change his life for the better.

Take some time to be alone and think about the way you live your life. Are you a moral human being? Do you live up to your own ethical expectations? If the answer is no then you will never be happy, you will never be able to respect yourself or love yourself and you will never really love anyone else either. Don’t be too hard on yourself once you do decide to change, as long as you are sincere you will continue to make effort and that leads inevitably to growth. You are bound to make mistakes because we all do. It doesn’t matter how big or small the error was, learn from it so you don’t repeat the mistake and then forget about it. It does not help you to continually replay this scenario in your mind. It only brings unnecessary suffering to you.

Once you develop self-respect you are ready to apply this same standard to others.
Never judge other people no matter what you think you know about them. All human beings are precious and any of them can choose, from this minute on, to follow the path that leads to enlightenment. It is the way we judge others that keeps us from realizing Buddhahood in lifetime after lifetime.

 

Slander of others is one of the very worst causes you can make, especially if that person is trying to straighten up his life by practicing the teachings of the Buddhas. Our job is to help others raise their life conditions, so we should always support other Dharma practitioners in any way we can. Slander is the very opposite of what we are supposed to do for others. In the Buddhist faith slander is any negative thing that is said about a person for any reason. It does not matter if the story is true or not. Truth is no excuse for injuring other people; if you learn things or think you have learned things about someone you should never communicate this information to others.

You should make the resolve to become a storehouse of other people’s confidences. Make certain that this storehouse only takes in knowledge and never gives it out. You must become someone that people can trust so from this moment on make the additional resolution to never gossip about others. Gossip is harsh speech no matter how cleverly it is worded. This kind of behavior is not good for you and it is not good for others. If you want to create value around you and in your society then you must become a positive asset to your community.

Begin by deciding to become someone who is patient with everyone. When you meet someone for the first time and they are rude to you, first remind yourself that you created this energy, and are now seeing the consequences. Do not respond to anger with anger because this is an endless cycle that could haunt you for all eternity. Instead, realize that you have already injured this person in the past, which is why he is here and now wants to hurt you in the present. Not only have you hurt this person in the past, you have caused him to hurt himself further by making negative causes directed at you now. Surely we have hurt this person enough with our past behavior, it’s not necessary for us to add to the pain and suffering he will continue to experience because of his present activities.

Some people are exceptionally difficult to like. At the time you are with a person like this we should remind ourselves of the debt we owe to all sentient beings. We owe all beings a great debt because life is eternal and every person has been your mother or father at some time in the past. Every one of these people has nurtured and cherished you at some point in time and they deserve great respect for that reason. You might as well realize now that it is far easier to love all of mankind abstractly, as a group then it is as individuals because many people do not know how to live skillfully.

If all else fails you can keep your mouth closed. Keeping silent is always an option and sometimes it is the best one. It is a higher form of practice to transform these feelings of anger or hate into love and gratitude but it is occasionally necessary to merely remain silent. Whatever happens do not add to the cycle of violence, if you do not break it, this cycle will continue until one of you relent. If you are both hard and arrogant then this violence has the potential to continue for eternity.


To break this cycle we must begin to clean up our own mess. To ‘clean up’ your mess stop making negative causes, replace them with carefully chosen good causes and practice the purification techniques taught by all three historical Buddhas.

Take time to think about what your next life will be like. If you are practicing Dharma you don’t have to experience random rebirths because you now have some level of understanding about cause and effect. This literally allows you to custom design your future. Even if you don’t believe you will be reborn the good causes you choose to make will brighten up your daily existence and make this life far happier. Rid yourself of the negative energy that comes from hostile speech. Again and again think about what you’re going to say and decide if it is harmful before you speak. If there is hostile intent in your mind then remain silent and think about the training you’re doing to become more then a mere animal, who will defend himself or his territory when attacked.

It takes time to turn negative thinking and speech around completely so please decide now to become very patient with your self, if you fail, admit it cheerfully, and then renew the struggle, determined to more skillful in the future.


Wonder Woman
 

We want to spend time every day generating a feeling of love for all beings everywhere because this is the mind-set we need to become a bodhisattva. The world of Bodhisattva is about compassion for all others without exception. You cannot leave any one out of your intention to benefit all beings. If you saw things correctly you would realize that the people you think of as enemies are really your best friends because they are burning off negative karma for you by their actions, which is really very kind. Their behavior further gives you the opportunity to practice patience and tolerance, which you have to do to improve spiritually. How can you view these people as enemies?

What they experience in sleep is not real but neither is what most people think they experience when they are awake. When you understand this intellectually it becomes easier to remind yourself that what you are experiencing is not real because you are distorting reality by the way you view the world. The world is a very kind place, it is already a "Pure Land," but you do not have the skill to see it. As you practice and begin to elevate your life condition you will also be purifying yourself with daily water offerings and by performance of the Gongyo ceremony. In a few months your life will begin to change in very dramatic ways and everything will start to look different to you.
 

A Buddha is someone with a pure life condition who is wide-awake. He or she sees things exactly the way they are because he is always dwelling in the present moment.

It is important to train yourself to be alert at all times. We call this mindfulness and what we mean is to always keep your mind in the present moment. If you keep your mind in the present moment all the suffering that comes from dwelling on the past and all the unnecessary worrying we do about things that haven’t happened are eliminated. You will also find that everything you do will be improved by your new focus and attention to detail. Buddhist training will dramatically improve your concentration and you will be shocked at what you miss when you’re not totally focused on ‘now’.

Life happens in ‘now,’ the past and future are abstract concepts; you can’t make any kind of decision or choice that matters except in the present. This is where your concentration and focus should be if you really want to live skillfully without suffering. When you stay in the present moment you are also far less likely to slip up and injure somebody with your mouth because you weren’t paying attention.


We focus on the future because we can imagine so many good things that could happen. This kind of thinking isn’t real, we don’t need more daydreams in our life, and almost everything we think and do is already the result of the fantasies we store in our mind. If we spend our time in the present moment we are much closer to reality.

What we are trying to achieve is a controlled mind. Uncontrolled mind is the cause of all the problems and suffering in your life and in the world. You have followed your uncontrolled mind for many lifetimes until you have finally arrived at this moment. From this moment, if you choose, your mind can move and begin to grow in a different direction.



3 comments:

Sara said...

This site is inspiring! Thank you so much for providing it for us!

Lotus Flower said...

Your so welcome Sara!

Husnain Ali said...

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