The Eastern way of life attracts many because of its simplicity, and this is especially true of love.
The Western system of love is such that we like someone, we long for him, maybe we win him, then disappointments start and soon we leave the wounded ego to find the “new real” love.
We don’t really know how to love. So at least Zen teacher Tich Nhat Hanh says. “When we love and don’t know how to do it properly, we hurt the one we love,” Hanh says.
And Zen also offers four aspects of true love that we so often overlook.
The word “Maitri” comes to us from Sanskrit and means friend.
Everyone we love must first and foremost be our friends, including lovers.
If there is only passion and a desire to win in a relationship, there is no friendship.
You will never be able to be a friend to someone until you are your best friend first.
Thus, the path to true love leads through self-love.
Only when you know who you are and where you are going can you join someone in his path.
The word karuna means compassion, that is, the will to share the burden with others.
When we don’t have it in us, we see someone else’s suffering as a burden we don’t want to carry, and without it, there is no love.
This does not mean that we should allow others to do with us what they want, but it does mean that if we want someone to share our burden with us, we must want us to carry someone else’s as well.
Understanding someone’s suffering is the best gift we can give to another. Understanding is another name for love. If you don’t understand, you can’t even love – says Hanh.
Mudita is an upgrade of karuna and literally means compassionate happiness.
It is the ability to truly rejoice in something beautiful happening to another.
One door to compassionate happiness leads through compassion.
Life is so unpredictable and changes from pain to happiness happen in seconds. We all have ups and downs, and all people share the vulnerability that this shift brings.
When we remember that the people we envy also suffer, we can be much closer to them – Hanh advises.
Upeksha is a balanced and calm approach that we must have towards all things in life, even love.
While it seems to us that every love, and romantic, and friendly, and parental, is full of ups and downs, true love is actually balanced.
Without upeksha we become possessive and strenuous. Such people rob people who love so much freedom that eventually their objects of love cease to be what they loved. It is not love, but destruction.
Upeksha means “wisdom of equality”, ie the ability to understand that we are all the same and that we have the same freedom, as well as that we do not have the right to take away freedom from others.
Only when we realize this do we realize that we have no right to hold the objects of our love so tightly that they begin to wither instead of bloom.