The Meaning of True Love (from a Buddhist’s Perspective).

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Have you ever wondered what “true love” really means? Here’s how Buddhism describes it, and how really falling in love can change your life.

Did you ever fall in love with someone? I did.

Love and longing can drive anyone to perpetually clinging to an object of desire, with no end in sight—a need that can never quite be satisfied, a thirst that can never be quenched.

Can the love of falling in love outweigh the fear of “falling”…? 

I guess the moment you fall in love with someone, you’re in the moment, and it’s only afterwards that you’re able to make the analysis, and even realize you were in love. Falling implies surrendering—being out of the mind, or out of your mind! Falling means you’re going somewhere. What happens when you “land“?

Where do you find yourself? Floating on air, on land or in hot water?

What does it mean to fall in love or be in love, or even stay in love?

What Buddhism Says About Fulfillment Based in Attachment

In Buddhism, striving for that which is outside of our true nature, is seen as wasteful. Arbitrarily seeking fulfillment in another is an attachment based on a craving which will always ultimately end in suffering. Perhaps in this searching we can take one step closer to finding our true nature, one’s true vocation, our true purpose.

Time is so short—the memories are fading away. Truth is a cascade of moments. Enjoy the breath, flowing in and out ceaselessly like the waves on the shore in timeless perfection. This is the only true reality.

Even if you die for your lover, is that not sacrificing something that is not yours to give?

In loving you, I love myself, but in loving myself selfishly I neglect you.

In living for you, I forget my own needs.

Ken Wilber said:

“Real love will take you far beyond yourself; and therefore real love will devastate you.”

Is this true? When you sink your hand into another’s spirit and meet emptiness, how can you not feel the wound of love? When the love of your life leaves you, how can you not be left empty? But can love leave a wound and why should emptiness leave you bereft? How can real love devastate you when real love is the absence of superficial egoic needs, the absence of falsehood, and all real love is the presence, and the present? With love, there can be emptiness, but no feeling of emptiness.

Can you actually remove love…can it ever be extinguished or forgotten?

What is Love? From a Buddhist Perspective

If love is the presence, the sacred consciousness, the Divine expansiveness, is it possible to subtract from it, remove from it, and delete it from your consciousness? Is it possible to forget it?

Love is an experience of being whole. When we link it to another, we become dependent on that other for the fulfillment or satisfaction of our love fantasy. True love does not require a vehicle for its fulfillment or expression.

Osho said that “love demands nothing. It simply shares.”

The Buddhist Concept of Dukkha and How it Pertains to True Love

Another way to look at it is within the context of the first of Buddha’s noble truths—“life is dukkha.”

Dukkha is divided into suffering, change and conditioned states.

1. Suffering: part 1 of Dukkha.

Consciousness as the created form, or the potentiation of thoughts, fills the universal ether. This immediately creates an existential loneliness, which can never be entirely filled until it (the creation) is no longer separate from the formlessness of Divine consciousness. This separation is loneliness. This is the suffering part of dukkha—the separation from God.

2. Change: part 2 of Dukkha.

This world of created forms, and as yet uncreated potential is always changing. As we enter it, we change, and eventually pass through it, to the beyond. One thing is certain—the fluid of life is a changing stream.

3. Conditioned states: part 3 of Dukkha

We are affected by everything around us. Energy created can never be destroyed; it is merely transferred/transformed to evolve into a new form. Thus everything that “is” affects everything else that “is.” The spider weaves its web, creating a living matrix of awareness.

We experience romantic love within the context of these three aspects of creation. We suffer most when we are in fear. Sometimes the pain can seem insurmountable…we can seem alone in the vast expansive universe. Yet, at its core, suffering is an illusion.

Our fear of suffering is often far worse than the suffering itself.

To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering, one must not love. But then, one suffers from not loving. Therefore, to love is to suffer; not to love is to suffer; to suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love. To be happy, then, is to suffer, but suffering makes one unhappy. Therefore, to be happy, one must love or love to suffer or suffer from too much happiness.

~ Woody Allen

To be identified with something outside of yourself is to invite suffering.

Suffering is derived from perceiving a loss.

How True Love Extends Beyond Suffering

Authentic love is whole, complete and, in essence, beyond suffering. The absence of love is suffering. The illusion of loss leads to suffering. When something dies, you don’t lose it, because you never owned it. We suffer most when we are attached to the illusion. True love does not leave a wound when it is lost, because true love can never be lost. Once created, “it” exists forever within the unity of the Divine sphere. The divine conversation of love is something beyond a mere notion or discussion—it is alive, filled with the budding possibility of a butterfly about to open its wings for the first time.

Love is just a word until someone comes along and gives it meaning.

~ Anonymous

Rumi asks,

“Oh lovers, where are you going? Who are you looking for? Your beloved is right here.”

Love: Ceaselessly searching for the ultimate feeling of completion. That which is searched for, exists already within. Today, don’t wish it was another day—wish it was today. Then you will realize yourself already blessed. Enjoy the paradoxes. And most importantly, keep falling in love!~

Bonus: How to know if He or She is The One:

Relephant Reads:

Your Soulmate Isn’t Who You Think It Is.
How to Find the One.

Like elephant love on facebook.

Ed: Lynn Hasselberger

Photo: flickr/Brian Holland

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David Starlyte

David is a spiritual coach, writer and teacher. A health-science degree graduate, David’s background includes over 16 years in the wellness industry with the last 12 of those being based in Australia. He has trained with Qi Gong masters in China and Buddhist monks in Thailand. He has even studied with kabbalists as a monastic in the Middle-East.

As a channel for Divine wisdom, his intuitive coaching, speaking and healing sessions invoke purposeful shifts into deeper connection, inner peace and awakening. He is working on meditation transmissions – ascension codes for healing – called STARLYTE MEDITATION.

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71 Responses to “The Meaning of True Love (from a Buddhist’s Perspective).”

  1. Christine says:

    Very well written, I enjoyed every moment that I read this piece.

  2. Kyoko says:

    Good article, though i do not agree on the way you introduce the concept and word “God” in the Dukkha concept, i find it confusing. And from what i have heard “god” is not included in the buddhist teachings i’ve received so far. Perhaps i am wrong.

    • Queen Yanni says:

      Maybe the concept of "God"has a new meaning in the year of 2013 than 2000 BC. People used to believe the earth was flat…

    • Dharma says:

      Very true. The word God is loaded with theistic concepts totally unsuitable to be ensconced within an article that is titled The Meaning of True Love (from a Buddhist’s Perspective). God is anathema within Buddhism as this concept cannot be divested from it's historical and theistic theological colourings no matter how much New Agers try to reinterpret it . Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines God with a Capital thus:- capitalized : the supreme or ultimate reality: as
      a : the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe
      b Christian Science : the incorporeal divine Principle ruling over all as eternal Spirit : infinite Mind .All these concepts go against the basic principle of interdependent origination which one of the major cornerstone of Buddhism.The Tathagatagarbha or Buddha Nature is not just a Buddhist substitute for God.The rest of the article was very beautiful, however

  3. Queen Yanni says:

    The meaning of true love to me: Love is not suffering since life is not suffering. The word of suffering put negativity in life. Life is life, either good or bad (the paradox of life)
    Love is the flow of energy from one entity to another. When you feel the energy flow you feel life and you feel love. When that energy flow ceases that is the end of it.
    However, the energy has not dissipated or evaporated into thin air…the energy has transformed into a different form in a different dimension…that is the nature of energy and the nature of love…One must learn to adopt and embrace change: good or bad…Love always and live freely

    • Craig says:

      Hi Queen Yani.

      Rightly so that life is not just ‘suffering’, at least in the sense that we understand ‘suffering’ in the West.

      Dukkha actually comes from a Sanskrit word that refers to a wheel out of kilter. This is the best way to understand Dukkha, rather than how the author wrote it when saying ‘life is sufferring’. Firstly it is misleading as it infers that suffering is an integral part of existance, which it’s not, and I don’t believe the Buddha taught this. The Buddha was very much alive, yet he was free from suffering, which shows that the statement ‘life is suffering’ is quite incorrect. However what IS suffering is the small ego-mind. This is the mind that sees Reality as this and that, subject and object, and tries to arrange Reality into little bubbles, attaching to what it sees as good and averting what it seems as bad. This mInd is suffering, because it fails to acknowledge the nature of Reality – that being, complete and thoroughgoing change.

      This is the teaching of Dukkha. It’s not saying that all life is suffering, but like the wheel out of kilter, all happiness (smooth part of the wheel) will inevitably lead to moments of unhappiness or suffering (the kink in the wheel). The wheel is not really the problem though, just that fact that we don’t accept thoroughgoing change, and therefore suffer when that change happens. So suffering is mind. Task is to see Reality, right here and now. Then you understand the wheel.

    • Ramin says:

      wow…very insightful…enlightened statement..

  4. elephantjournal says:

    Great article. Gotta point out that with the exception of Wilber, who is at most "33% Buddhist," none of the quotes are Buddhist. That said, they're not less valid for not being Buddhist, just saying that the title or thesis may not quite fit.

    Buddhist view of love, as I have been taught, has a lot to do with being willing to be open, lonely but cheerful, to care deeply enough about the other to give up attachment to being right, but at the same time being willing to invest critical, caring feedback in that person…to refuse to lean on or cling to them, and yet to walk the path, facing the same direction, together, and to help one another. Basically friendship, but incredibly deeply rooted and with some spark of humor and attraction, hopefully.

  5. Carolina says:

    And on that note, much love to you! Beautiful article.

  6. Mr.Science says:

    Blogging about Buddhism, kind of like putting Bible verses on cereal boxes.

    One could get equally profound wisdom from a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s soap.

    • Classic Mr Science. I do get a lot of wisdom from Dr Bronner's soap, and it smells so clean and fresh, it's divinity in a bottle! Surely blogging is sharing ideas about everything and anything? Who decided to exclude X, Y, Z? Whatever your personal choices, thanks for reading.

  7. […] crave sugar, we are really craving the sweetness of a lover, the sweetness of the divine—that deepest state of surrender, playfulness and overflowing […]

  8. […] The Meaning of True Love (from a Buddhist’s Perspective). ( […]

  9. […] The Meaning of True Love (from a Buddhist’s Perspective). ( […]

  10. Freigang Sturman says:

    Blogging about Buddhism is like writing about life, you can write or you can live it! I like to read authors who do both. Personally I read and I live!

    I just read the follow-up here – It's brilliant! David is my new favorite author, that's for sure.

    "So I'm told God isn't a Buddhist" –

  11. Thanks for the comments – to clarify my thoughts, I have written a follow-up:

  12. Ed Duncan says:

    Much enjoyed insights. Buddhism is constantly changing, despite what the so-called traditionalists would like. Surely a religion should be organic, change with the times, whilst keeping its traditional roots? Isn't that what the Buddha taught = that life is change….

    • Craig says:

      Hi Ed,

      Buddhism has an does adopt many different practices based on the country it’s home to – I.e Tibetan Vajrayana is influenced by the native Bon shamanism, whilst Chinese Buddhist are often quite superstitious, which is also part of that culture. Likewise the Zen tradition is distinctively Japanese.

      However, once you remove the cultural trappings, the core Buddhist teachings remain the same. There is only one Four Noble Truths, 8 fold path, dependant origination, and teaching of Anatman/shunyata. These teachings form the basis of Buddhism and can not be changed with time or culture. They simply point to the true nature of Reality – helping you to realise your Buddha nature. Anything else you add ontop (this is Buddhism, that is Buddhism, Buddhism should change with times etc), this is all just mind, living in the duslistic world of this and that. If you understand the Buddhas teaching the you realise that everything is really nothing in particular, including the thing you like to conceptualise as ‘Buddhism’.

  13. Charles Tyrret says:

    Loved it!

  14. […] is my theory, developed during this conscious lifetime of mine. I am love itself, so there is nothing I have to do about love but be […]

  15. […] The Meaning of True Love (from a Buddhist’s Perspective). ( […]

  16. lisab says:

    Really wonderful and I have just recently been thinking about all of this, so some synchronicity in there for me. Thank you for sharing this.

  17. MoonshineHigh says:

    Wonderful, thank you.

  18. omni says:

    "love makes even the gods crazy"

  19. Martha says:

    I enjoyed this essay..sooo so much…ever word…like chocolate. Like falling in love!

  20. Sebastian says:

    Incredibly well put and worth the read! Thanks for this.
    It is not for advertisement but because I am very keen to show my art related to truly infinite Love.

  21. raja says:

    beautiful. thank you. going through a breakup made reading this article like soul-food for me right now.

  22. Lyns says:

    As a widow I found this so helpful. My husband never belonged to me, I just walked alongside him for a while. The love we shared is still present because it's everywhere.
    Thank you

  23. James says:

    To understand romantic love the right questions must be asked. Why and how does the brain conjure it – to what logical purpose?

  24. Jay says:

    I appreciate the advice given in many of the articles posted on Elephant Journal, but this one is problematic. It's not particularly good Buddhist advice, and it's not particularly good advice about love in general.

    The worse lines are near the end: "Yet, at its core, suffering is an illusion." Tell that to someone who's been in an abusive relationship and has been a victim of domestic abuse.

    There's also this one: "The illusion of loss leads to suffering. When something dies, you don't lose it, because you never owned it." Again, the author may mean well, but it comes across an uncompassionate. Would you ever say that to someone who's lost a loved one?

    I wish David G. Arenson my very best, but he needs to choose his words more carefully or better articulate his ideas.

    • Hi Jay. In the end, everything is an illusion. It doesn't mean it doesn't feel crap….and hopefully sometimes glorious too. That is the Buddha's message. NON-PERMANENCE. I hope my writing stimulates thought and that's my intention. Loss and grief are challenging topics. My Buddhist teacher said he felt no grief or pain at his father's death, he simply accepted it. Whether this is viable or easy to digest for everyone is another story. He is a monk! Yet, his lessons are helpful, in that there is actually no loss, just a transformation from one form to the next. Is there a need for a great suffering? Well I don't mean to negate anyone's suffering, or to try to reduce their loss. We all suffer. I just hope I can provide some comfort to folks, and some guidance too. Life is transient for us all.

  25. Mark says:

    Thank you for exploring these ideas. We humans live in ultimate reality all the while trying to codify it and understand it. No one's got it right, not even the Buddha. Third dimensional beings just have limited resources to do that. Love is extremely complex and filled with concepts. I like the word Agape. But, it too is limited. At some point all that we can do is just let go and be. There I find love, agape. Everything else is ego clinging, grasping for that which it has already defined as what it thinks is reality. Love is an idea that needs to be examined, mainly as an introspective practice, then let it go and be.

  26. McKenna says:

    Wondering why you would reference Woody Allen– a known pedophile– when it comes to love?

    • Known pedophile? Well not according to the law. The police found no evidence to pursue the investigation against him. A claim by a bitter estranged wife does not create guilt (nor innocence)….it just points out that we don't really know. Should we assume he is guilty. No!!!!

  27. Marianne says:

    Love is always true, it sweeps away all concepts, the whole box of body of thought and leaves you speechless ….in good and bad times…..that to me is the most enjoyable face of Love

  28. "You have to be THERE for him or her, if you truly love him or her. And in order to be THERE, you need the practice of mindfulness.How can you love, if you are not THERE. To love is to be THERE for him or for her. And to be THERE is a practice. " – Thich Nhat Hahn

  29. tiedyedowl says:

    As a Buddhist, and a human being, I've suffered with this question, and had at one point decided not to ever look for love or accept it. Now, I'm realizing I'm meant to love-and it's my job to learn attachment principals, and yes, I will suffer, but not only will it be worth it, but it's what the world needs. More love.

  30. Debra Faith says:

    really needed to read this today as i sit here struggling with the release of an attachment i have to someone i love. awesome and much needed perspective today. thank you david.
    sat nam

  31. Why people still use to read news papers when in this technological world all is existing on web?

  32. Choying says:

    Divine consciousness and God in an article on Buddhism. Stopped reading there.

  33. rene bosman says:

    It surprises me that the : Metta sutra wasn't mentioned in your post. I think If you to talk about Buddhism and Love one can't surpass the Buddhist Sutra about Love or Metta.

  34. Edmarie says:

    What is the name of the picture/ painting you selected to post for this article?

  35. Michelle says:

    Love should not devastate or hurt. In Buddha's Psychology, love is a positive state of mind, it is virtuous, it can never be a negative emotion. The pain is from the attachment which are all voices of ego.

  36. lamasuryadivorce says:

    Love demands nothing. It simply shares. "Learning how to love is the goal and the purpose of spiritual life — not learning how to develop psychic powers, not learning how to bow, chant, do yoga, or even meditate, but learning to love. Love is the truth. Love is the light." by Lama Surya Das

  37. Shanon says:

    Wow, great read, so "love" might just be worth the "pain" it may cause.

  38. Amy says:

    Love is an evolutionary byproduct of procreating… I LOVE love, I need love, I want love… I got to have it… Oh my gosh am I singing a James Brown song??? awesome… It feels so much better to love myself i’ve learned… Everything falls into place when youdirect it inward instead of outward hoping and expecting a grand return… That’s true love… Everything else is your genes doing the evolutionary dance 🙂

  39. Debbie says:

    Buddhism is not a religion, but a teaching, and way of life…Buddha never claimed to to be God, or a god…
    His teaching is a deep Spiritual way of life in the most personal sense in order to live in self peace. His teachings are for all people no matter their origin, faith, etc….
    His teaching are for the purpose to bring one to a much higher mindful reality, one that does not exist in things, other people, circumstances etc…Peace and happiness are in self alone…

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