What is love? The greatest mysteries of them all. The greatest and the deepest feeling we experience towards another person. The feeling that makes us expose ourselves completely, show our naked soul and make another person the guardian of our heart.
Thich Nhat Nanh, the legendary Buddhist said, “To love without knowing how to love wounds the person we love. To know how to love someone, we have to understand them. To understand, we need to listen”.
“When you love someone, you should have the capacity to bring relief and help him to suffer less. This is an art. If you don’t understand the roots of his suffering, you can’t help, just as a doctor can’t help heal your illness if she doesn’t know the cause. You need to understand the cause of your loved one’s suffering in order to help bring relief”.
“The more you understand, the more you love; the more you love, the more you understand. They are two sides of one reality. The mind of love and the mind of understanding are the same”.
What is it exactly that awakens in us when we experience love and how do we sense it? Does love at first sight exist? I believe it does. Whether it is possible or not, life is a journey of learning. A journey in which we may sometimes run into the fire, overwhelmed with feelings, following our intuition, we are capable of hurting ourselves doing that, as well as cause confusion and scare the other person. Life is a journey in which we search for ourselves, for our significant other, and our home.
Thich Nhat Nahn describes in his teachings the relation between a home and our significant other. “Every one of us is trying to find our true home. Some of us are still searching. Our home is inside, but it’s also in our loved ones around us. When you are in a loving relationship, you and the other person can be a true home for each other. In Vietnamese, the nickname for a person’s life partner is “my home”. If a guest said to the woman, “That meal is delicious, who cooked it?” she might answer, “My home prepared the meal”, meaning, “My husband cooked the dinner”.
Thich Nhat Nanh also teaches us about recognizing true love. “True love gives us beauty, freshness, solidity, freedom, and peace. True love includes a feeling of deep joy that we are alive. If we don’t feel this way when we feel love, then it’s not true love”.
Sometimes we fall into emotions so deeply, that we lose ourselves, we stop considering our own selves, we don’t see anything beyond the emotional barrier we are trapped in and feel that the world can’t exist for a single minute without that person close to us. We stop being ourselves, our own true inner person stops to exist because of our emotions. This kind of experience can teach us a lot about ourselves and about love. The importance to keep being ourselves and not forget to give our partner his own freedom is highly crucial.
Thich Nhat Nanh talks about sharing the same aspiration: “In a relationship, when you and your partner share the same kind of aspiration, you become one, and you become an instrument of love and peace in the world. You begin as a community of two people, and then you can grow your community. We share everything, but we still have our freedom intact. Love is not a kind of prison. True love gives us a lot of space”.
Nhat Nanh teaches about the difference of a true love and deep infatuation. Which is a strong reminder of how important it is to learn to love ourselves first before we love another person.
“Often, we get crushes on others not because we truly love and understand them, but to distract ourselves from our suffering. When we learn to love and understand ourselves and have true compassion for ourselves, then we can truly love and understand another person”.
On this note, I wish us all to find true love and keep enjoying this beautiful journey of life.
You can read more of Nhat Nanh’s teachings in his book “How to love”.