Everyday love is the most basic and common form of affinity. This includes love between a man and a woman (or same-sex couples), between a parent and a child, among family members, and between friends. While everyday love can be blissful, there are times when love can hurt. While most of us know or long for the joys of love, we may not understand why love can cause us so much pain.
Find out from this Buddhist master what are the three main causes of problems in love.
1. When the object of our love is inappropriate. It is human nature to love someone with whom we feel a special bond. However, when the object of our love is inappropriate, our love can keep us in a constant state of disappointment and turmoil. When we love someone who is spoken for or married to another person, our love is destined for trouble. It takes two to love; when we love someone who has no feeling for us, it is like banging our head against the wall. Depending on the object of our love, we should also moderate our intensity accordingly. If not, problems will ensue and, instead of helping, we will harm ourselves and others.
2. When our perspective of love is inappropriate. One of the most common, though faulty, perspectives of love is to view love as some kind of acquisition. Some people believe that, because of their personal wealth, they can buy love. Others dare not love others who are more affluent than they are because they do not feel worthy to do so. Other people would not consider falling in love with someone without first considering this person’s looks, education, profession, social status, or how wealthy his or her family is. In these instances, love is looked on as a kind of trade one in which a person’s main motivation in loving another is to gain something. Love is a quest for status, reputation, money, or other temporary forms of security. This is an erroneous perspective on love and a devastating mockery of its potential. True love does not speak of requirements and prerequisites; true love is about giving.
3. When the manner in which we love is inappropriate. Some people only love themselves and have little regard for others; their love is egocentric in nature. They are in continual pursuit of personal enjoyment, not caring if they hurt others in the process. Others let their emotions cloud their judgment; they become partial to people they love and overly critical of those whom they dislike. Sometimes, love is like a pair of colored glasses, preventing us from seeing the true face of those we love and keeping us in an unhealthy and perpetual state of denial. No wonder we say that love is blind. There is a common Chinese saying that we can use as our guide, “Know the ills of those we love and the goodness of those we dislike.” When we love properly ,love brings out the best in each one of us.
When we love improperly, our affection for others can be obsessive. When we love someone, we feel we have a special claim on him or her. True love, however, is not about possession, but about giving. Subduing the urge to possess and increasing the motivation to give strengthens a relationships. Only where there is open willingness to give does love have a chance to flourish. When a rift develops between a couple, if just one party is willing to give a little extra, there is hope. Giving is contagious. In a relationship, the desire to control the other party will only serve to snuff out the life of a relationship. Giving is the best nutrient that helps love to grow. Relationships based on mutual giving are always trusting and happy ones.
Adapted from Living Affinity, by Hsing Yun (Lantern Books, 2004). Copyright (c) 2004 by Hsing Yun. Reprinted by permission of Lantern Books.
Adapted from Living Affinity, by Hsing Yun (Lantern Books, 2004).