Wednesday, February 14, 2007

reflections on love

"The first aspect of true love is...the intention and capacity to offer joy and happiness. To develop that capacity, we have to practice looking and listening deeply so that we know what to do and what not to do to make others happy. If you offer your beloved something she does not need, that is not [love]. You have to see her real situation or what you offer might bring her unhappiness."

"Without understanding, your love is not true love. You must look deeply in order to see and understand the needs, aspirations, and suffering of the one you love."

Thich Nhat Hanh, "Teachings On Love"

In my view, our idea of love has been cheapened, made into some sort of Disney picture notion of romance. We tend to think of love as something that is easy, a feeling that simply comes up when the right person or situation brings it forth.

The notion of love that Thich Nhat Hanh discusses is far more complex, but far deeper I think. This notion of love says that we cannot truly love unless we have done the deep work of truly understanding our beloved, of putting our own perspective aside and thinking through what would make them happy.

I don't mean to say that love should always be difficult. But neither do I think that it is right for us to assume that love should come to us without any effort on our part. We must nurture our capacity for love, just as we must nurture our beloved.

Peace and love to all of you.


Alex said...

I *love* this post, especially the last paragraph. Good stuff.

steve said...

Thank you, Alex. Your words honor me.

more cows than people said...

yesterday i was in that post therapy teary space around the time i had to take our guests to the train station an hour away. i had previously told k he was welcome to stay home and get some alone time, rest as this introvert had no space all weekend. but when i was crying in the bathroom just before leaving he offered to go. i knew though, how much my dear one needs alone time, and that if I really needed someone to talk to on the ride back I had oodles of friends I could call. but i also knew that he would readily come if i gave even the slightest nod of desire for him to do so. i thought of this exchange as i reread this post today. i did not have him come, but knowing he would was a gift for my happiness, letting him stay home was a gift for his. the real stuff of love- eh? conversations with husband standing in doorway, wife crying on toilet, guests in the other room? thanks, steve.

steve said...

more cows,

How we deal with each other in our moments of pain and brokenness is a powerful example love in its deepest sense. Thank you for sharing this.