According to Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, there are four elements of true love.
Maitri (Loving Kindness, 慈)
Maitri is the first element of love, maitri has connection to mitra (mitta, friend, 友), love is friendship, friendship should bring happiness, otherwise what is the use of having friendship. To be a friend that is means to offer happiness, if love doesn’t offer happiness, love make the other person cries all the times, that is not love! That is not maitri! Maitri is translated as loving kindness, loving kindness should be able to offer happiness, so true love must have this element. You don’t just love another person, you have to love yourself, because the ‘self love’ is the foundation of love for another person, if you don’t know how to love yourself or offer yourself happiness how can you be able to love and offer other person happiness? You don’t know anything about happiness, how can you offer happiness? Live in such a way that bring you joy and happiness, then you will be able to offer other person joy and happiness, we learned that happiness is something to do with suffering, if you don’t know suffering you don’t know what is happiness, so understanding suffering is the very foundation of happiness. Good practitioner know how to deal the suffering inside, recognize painful feeling, how to embrace it tenderly, how to transform to bring relief, not to fight them but to accept them, that is love! If you don’t know how to handle a painful emotion, strong feeling in you, how can you help other person to do that?
Karuna (Compassion, 悲)
Second element of love is Karuna, Karuna is compassion, capacity of removing, relieving, transforming suffering. When you love someone, you are motivated to do something to stop suffering. If you don’t know how to handle suffering in you, how you can help the other person to handle their suffering? A good practitioner always learn how to handle the suffering in him or her first. Buddha’s teaching is very clear, whenever there is a strong emotion arising such as anger, fear, despair; you should be able to be there for it, to recognize it as existing, not to fight it, learn how to embrace it, accept, you use mindfulness and insight in order to understand its nature and get a relief, then you will liberated yourself from your pain and sorrow. This is what we had to learn as a practitioner. Buddha doesn’t just said, “You have to love and transform”, he even show the way how to love and the step how to transform ourselves, concrete step of removing suffering. Devote time to deal and transform our strong emotion, if you know how to do that then you will know how to help others, so to love oneself is very crucial as to love other person. Buddha in the Satthipathana Sutta (Sutra on Four Establishment of Mindfulness) teach us how to bring the feeling of joy and happiness to us, using mindfulness and concentration you can always bring the feeling of joy and happiness, no need to use money or go to the shopping center, if you know the art of releasing, the art of mindfulness, concentration, and insight, you can bring joy and happiness anytime. Continue reading