Friday, February 17, 2012

How to experience true love?

The previous parts of this article are here: PrefacePart 1, Part 2, & Part 3.

In the last couple of posts, I talked about the idea that love is essentially being there. I also used this Buddhist definition of love as the basis to differentiate true love from the unreal varieties. It may be tempting to use this criterion to judge other people's love, but when we do that, we will most likely end up losing our peace. In cases of romantic love, we may feel bitter and resentful that our efforts to be there for our partner was not reciprocated. Thus, it is imperative that we stay non-judgmental about other people's love. But how can you stay non-judgmental in a situation where your partner failed to be present for you during the times of your need?

The point is that when we become judgmental, we fail to be there ourselves. We become so caught up in the whirlpool of our maddening thoughts and emotions that we fail to be fully present in the moment ourselves. We all know people who have lost their presents by ruminating over the past. I confess to have lost a lot of valuable moments of my life this way. The biggest tragedy of such rumination is that it prevents us from experiencing true love again.

There is a quote that has been attributed to Mahatma Gandhi that I absolutely love: Be the change you want to see in the world. If we want to experience true love, we have to practice true love ourselves. You may ask, "But I was always present for my beloved. Why am I suffering so much, whereas my neighbor seems to be enjoying true love despite being a jerk?" The fact of life is that there are several forces that influence our experiences. Some are directly influenced by us: our intentions, efforts, actions, etc. Some are influenced by  factors that are not directly within our immediate control: prarabdha karma (as per Hindu and Buddhist philosophy) or random events (according to some scientific views). So, bad things can and will continue to happen to good people. Just because you are good, does not mean that you will be automatically immune to bad things happening to you. Even Gods and Goddesses faced a lot of hardships and unfair deals, but they are worshiped as Gods primarily because they succeeded in not letting their equanimity to be disturbed by the events of their life. In other words, our subjective experience of good and bad events is always influenced by us alone. Those who are wise and highly evolved spiritually, succeed in maintaining their loving kindness towards others. They do this by continuously practicing mindfulness and love. And it is their practice that helps them be there fully. In summary, I think the best that we can do to experience true love is to practice being there ourselves.

To be continued ...