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

Via David Zenon Starlyte
on Jan 11, 2013
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fall lovers

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?

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?

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.”

Photo: Show Biz Superstar

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!
Elihu Vedder (1836-1923) - The Cup of Love (in full color) - Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Sep 2012

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


About David Zenon Starlyte

David is an international SOUL-COACH who travels the world as a spiritual healer, coach and mindful speaker. David's vision is to create journey retreats to guide people to places of mystery and power to rediscover, balance and ground themselves. Growing up in apartheid South Africa, David had an early initiation into a dysfunctional society. It influenced his thinking and search for peaceful and spiritual solutions. A passion for healing followed a severe childhood illness and a medical approach he found lacking gentleness and compassion. David later studied theology in war-torn Jerusalem for 3 years, before graduating as a Naturopathic physician in Australia. David has studied personal transformation for over 20 years with some of the leaders of human evolution including Grand Master Mantak Chia, Master Chen and Ajahn Brahm. He has worked as Naturopath, Wellness Expert and Healer at the best luxury resort as well as number one destination spa in the world. His spiritual education in mindfulness, prayer and wisdom has included immersion into Qi Gong (China), Buddhism (Thailand & Australia), Taoism (Thailand and China), Tantra, Qabbalah (Jerusalem). For more information, he can be found at: Website:, , Email: [email protected] , Facebook:


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.

  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

  4. 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…

  5. 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.

  6. Carolina says:

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

  7. 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

  8. Queen Yanni says:

    God is Within

    Love is Within

    Never a separation or absent of God if you truly know who God really is

  9. 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.

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

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

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

  13. 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" –

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

  15. 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….

  16. Charles Tyrret says:

    Loved it!

  17. […] 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 […]

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

  19. […] As you watch this, I would love to hear what true love means to you. […]

  20. ashok daryanani says:

    neither god a christian hindu jew,or a muslim

  21. 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.

  22. MoonshineHigh says:

    Wonderful, thank you.

  23. omni says:

    "love makes even the gods crazy"

  24. Martha says:

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

  25. 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.

  26. 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’.

  27. 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.

  28. raja says:

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

  29. 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

  30. James says:

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

  31. THANKS FOR SHARING LYN! May you find comfort in your bereavement. Lots of blessings.

  32. life is transient, it's all transient, when one door closes, a new one will open. just breathe and it will get better. Lots of blessings.

  33. hmmm chocolate…delicious

  34. thanks for sharing that, that's beautiful Sebastian. I will actually be in Ubud (bali) next week. All the best to you

  35. thank you. we are mirrors for each other

  36. does everything need to be logical? or understood by the left brain analysis? what about the right hemisphere, the domain of love, art, music, dance and play?

  37. Great points, thanks Craig for adding so much to the dialogue. You have understood much about Buddhism. May you Be blessed….

  38. 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.

  39. On that note, much love to you, Carolina.

  40. 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.

  41. 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.

  42. McKenna says:

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

  43. 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

  44. "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