The Buddhist Notion of Love.
The Buddhist Notion of What Love Really Is (Hint: It’s Not Selfish)
“When I fall in love, truly, our love will help one another to face outward, not merely inward.”
Read Waylon Lewis’ thoughts on what love means from a Buddhist perspective.
“But let there be spaces in your togetherness
and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but
make not a bond of love:
let it rather be a moving sea
the shores of your souls.”
~ Kahlil Gibran
I’m in love with a woman I’ve never met.
But we do know each other. And one thing she said that I love is that
“being in love is of secondary importance”
…she said it in response to my concerns about our future hypothetical love, marriage and baby carriage.
See also: The Four Noble Truths of Love
“I don’t need to go on a lifelong romantic picnic—I have things to do”
I loved her for saying that. I’ve always thought fun was fun…for an hour or so. Then, fun is boring. You know what’s always fun? Serving the greater good by doing something you’re good at. Whether that’s dance or teaching or politicking or working the counter at a corner store or being a nurse or what.
The kind of love I’ve been brought up to look for isn’t a lifelong picnic. It’s a partnership, with loneliness built in.
In the Buddhist tradition, there’s no “tying the knot.” There’s no two candles, two souls “becoming one.” Instead of facing one another, completing one another (Jerry Maguire) and living happily ever after (which only happens in fiction and even then they never show, they just tell), the Buddhist visualization of a successful marriage is this:
Two friends (who want to make out constantly) facing the same direction together, symbolically east—the direction of the rising sun—as in our awakening, fundamentally a-ok human nature. Walking the path together. Helping one another to be of benefit.
Society’s notion of matrimonial love is what’s selfish. I know a lot of folks who do good for the world…until they have a wife, husband, children…and suddenly they have an unarguable excuse to forget this whole holy fucked up wonderful world that is crying, dying, begging, pleading and needing our help.
So I say this: I don’t just want to love a woman who loves me. That’s a good start: half the battle.
But the whole battle—love is war—is if she looks at me and says, “go free, do your thing, and in return I want to be able to go free, and do my thing, and your thing and my thing may be totally different, you might travel, I might travel, you might want to work instead of having dinner and I might want to work instead of having dinner…”
When I find a girl who loves what the whole point of life is…
“And while I’m here I’ll do the work. And what’s the work? To ease the pain of living — everything else, drunken dumbshow” – Allen Ginsberg
…more than our marriage, well I’m ready to get married.
Until then, spare me your expectations. You don’t have rights to me. I have one short life to live and I’ve been given a ton—and I enjoy nothing more than working night and day to create something that can give back.
As Eleanor Roosevelt said,
“the only joy in this hard life is serving others.”
When I fall in love, truly, our love will help one another to face outward, not merely inward.
My book, Things I would like to do with You, was partially inspired by this article, and the response to it. Get it here.
This is an edited, shortened, tightened version of “Love is Selfish.” It appeared in Origin Magazine, Fall, 2012.
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