What is Love?

The beauty of religion is the placing on pedestal, human ideals. With reference to Christianity, in Corinthians, the bible expounds on love:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 

Certainly, most of us will fail at least one of the above ethos and that is why God’s love is so coveted; it is absolute and perfect. It is what humans cannot achieve and by this notion, God retains supremacy over our most innate need: love.

Compare the biblical definition of love to the song, “Love”, by late John Lennon:

Love is real, real is love
Love is feeling, feeling love
Love is wanting to be loved

Love is touch, touch is love
Love is reaching, reaching love
Love is asking to be loved

Love is you
You and me
Love is knowing
We can be

Love is free, free is love
Love is living, living love
Love is needing to be loved

This description of love is real as it is human. It is simple, yet it describes our common experience fully. For me, this is enough for human love.

For me, love is an active consideration for another. It is putting yourself in his shoes and understanding how he wants to be loved. As the Zen Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh teaches, “understanding is love’s other name”; so one cannot give love without understanding the recipient’s wants and needs. Furthermore, one’s wants and needs change with time, over stages in life. Love is not a feeling suspended in clouds; it is supported in the form of a relationship. It is important to continually work on strengthening the structure of the relationship, so that love may be sustained; and in the process, friendship between two may flourish. 

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Cultivate self-awareness

Words of wisdom from the meditation teachings of Ajahn Sumedho:

The sensory world has a powerfully strong influence. Having a body like this with the society we live in, the pressures on all of us are fantastic. Everything moves so quickly – television and the technology of the age, the cars – everything tends to move at a very fast pace. It is all very attractive, exciting and interesting, and it all pulls your sense out.

[…]

There is always something better, something newer, something more delicious than what was the most delicious yesterday…it goes on and on and on, pulling you out into objects of the senses like that.

But when we come into the shrine room, we are not here to look at each other or to be attracted or pulled into any of the objects in the room, but to use them for reminding ourselves. We are reminded to either concentrate our minds on a peaceful object, or open the mind, investigate and reflect on the way things are. We have to experience this, each one for ourselves. No one’s enlightenment is going to enlighten any of the rest of us. So this is a movement inwards: not looking outwards for somebody who is enlightened to make you enlightened.

[…]

As a human being, we have a mind that can reflect and observe. You can observe whether you are happy or miserable. You can observe the anger or jealousy or confusion in your mind. You might blindly react to it, but if you are more patient you can observe that this is a temporary changing condition.

This is using wisdom by watching that impulse, and understanding it. That which observes greed is not greed: greed cannot observe itself, but that which is not greed can observe it. This observing is what we call awareness of the way things are.