The Four Aspects of True Love

It’s daunting to consider that most people know very little about true love, yet it is very thing that we desire most. In the western world it is common to have learned about love from Hollywood, romantic novels or poor examples of relationships. It’s incredible to realize that an ascetic, the Buddha conceived these undeniable teachings on ‘romantic’ love.  Zen Master Thích Nhât Hanh shares with us the teachings of the Buddha on “Being Love”. It seems we have to be love in order to give and receive True Love. In this post I cover “The Four Aspects of True Love”. It is profound philosophy and practice.  This is an excerpt of Thich Nhat Hanh’s lecture on BEING LOVE ~The Four Aspects of Love.

“The teachings of love presented by the Buddha are very clear. True love can only make yourself and others happy.”

Maitri ~ The first aspect of love Maitri means LOVING-KINDNESS. Maitri is defined as the intention of making a person happy; to offer happiness, that is Miatri. But intentions alone are not enough. Maitri is both the intention and the capacity of making one person happy. There are five types of people to offer Maitri 1.ourself 2. the person with whom we have sympathy 3. the person we are very fond of 4. the so-called neutral person 5. the person we dislike, that we believe is responsible for our suffering

And according to the tradition, we have we use ourselves first, as the object of our love; because our capacity to love another person, depends on our capacity of loving our self. If we do not have peace, joy within ourselves, we have nothing to share. We cannot make another person peaceful, happy if we are not peaceful, happy ourselves. And if there is no Maitri your love cannot be called true love. Instead, it will be the kind of love that can only bring sorrow and anger, and that is not true love.

Karuna ~ The second aspect of true love is Karuna, which means compassion, the capacity and willingness of remove, to transform the pain in the person you love, the object of your love. And the object of your love could be yourself. If Karuna is not there, then it’s not love. When we look deeply into the nature of our love, we find out whether there is the element of true love, of compassion there. If compassion does not exist, then it’s not true love. Then it’s the kind of love that can only bring suffering, attachment, slavery, and despair.

Mudita ~ The third element of true love is Mudita, JOY. True love always brings joy to you and the person you love. If your love is not bringing joy to you and the person you love, then it’s not true love. And you’ll have to work to transform it. If you only cry, if the other person also cries, then it’s not true love.

Upeksha ~ The fourth element of love Upkesha means equanimity, it means FREEDOM. Equanimity means no discrimination. When we love someone that person should be able to  retain his or her freedom, to be himself, to be herself should not ever feel that they are in prison, the prison called love. They have space around them to move, they have space within their heart, and this is Upeksha. If your love deprives yourself and or deprives the other person of freedom or space, that’s not true love. So love in such a way you can preserve your freedom and the freedom of the person you love, that is true love, that is Upeksha.

Stopping and Looking Deeply ~ You have to practice looking deeply into love everyday, so that these four elements grow. The more these four elements grow, the happier you will become, the happier the person you love becomes. And if we practice looking deeply we see that one aspect of love, contains the other three aspects. If one of the aspects develops truly, the other three will develop. It is the nature of inter-being. If one of the aspects is missing they will all be missing. If freedom is not there, then loving-kindness is not there, joy is not there, compassion is not there.

~Thích Nhât Hanh ~“The greatest gift you can offer your beloved, is your true presence. To offer your true presence is the first act of love.”

Hear the entire lecture “BEING LOVE