» True Love: Real or Fantasy? Mas-india.com Blog

April 22, 2010 on 10:00 am

From the Desk of the Spiritual Explorer


True LoveThich Nhat Hanh

“While I give to you would you give to me true love, true love So on and on it will always be

true love, true love”

– Song by Cole Porter

Today this Spiritual Explorer was looking at the reviews of a movie about a young man who finally finds true love with a young woman who inspires him to be the best that he is, renders his life meaningful, brings passion and joy to everyday life and becomes a goddess of sorts in his own mind. What, of course, the movie does not show is that some years later or maybe even months for those who embrace the cynical mind, suddenly this woman whom this young man has worshipped and considered his true love, has become his adversary, albatross or any other number of projections that he tosses on his love screen.

So the question remains, what happened to what he considered true love?   Does true love exist?  Are there real soul mates out there just waiting to be embraced or do they eventually become, as one of my friends remarks, cellmates? These cellmates are relegated to be bound no longer by love, but by necessity, attachment or some other unfortunate constriction within the relationship.

Is true love but a myth dating back to the 13th century when romantic love supposedly was invented?  We can recall the wonderful true story of Ruth and Boaz in the Old Testament, where Ruth purportedly spoke to Boaz, “Whither thou goes, I shall go; thy family shall be my family; thy God my God, etc.” I remember that one very well and believed at some time in my life that this was the scenario I was waiting for.  Let us not also forget those mythically enhanced lovers such as Tristan and Iseult or Anthony and Cleopatra. Whatever the mythical or fantastical hyperbole surrounding any one of these love stories, we never really got to how it was all played out in the Second Act of their lives.

Enter Thich Nhat Hanh for an exposition of true love in his book True Love, A Practice for Awakening the Heart, where we are treated to some very down to earth, concrete components of true love.  Similar to the style of Four Agreements, that wonderful book by Don Miguel Ruiz, Thich Nhat Hanh tells us that in Buddhism, there are four elements of true love:  “maitri,” loving kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity or freedom.  All of these are the necessary ingredients for true love.  Thich Nhat Hanh tells us that these elements are not easy to achieve.  One must be willing to undergo a training for true love which among other things, consist of meditation, mindfulness and a wonderful mantra, “Dear one, I am here for you.” This mantra displays the sincerity and utmost regard for your loved one.  According to Thich Nhat Hanh, this, together with true presence of spirit, is also the greatest gift you can give to your loved one. Thich Nhat Hanh also tells us that in order to learn how to love in a “real” way, we must first learn how to be fully present in our lives, and he offers simple techniques from the Buddhist tradition that anyone can use to establish the conditions of true love.

What I truly love about Thich Nhat Hanh’s book on True Love is that it is written in such a simple and direct way and is not just some so-called convoluted, complex spiritual tome that feels like an steep mountain that one could never climb.  It is easy to read, lovingly written and stylistically complete, true ingredients of a recipe for true love.

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