Maybe you got a Valentine’s card on Feb 14th, maybe you didn’t, but either way you could see this as a flower from the oasis of your own heart – inviting you to consider the meaning of love.
Romantic love is one kind of love, one which can often be blind and is inevitably partial, but there are different kinds of love. The love evoked by the the wish for all beings to know happiness and to be free from suffering is infinite and profound…and you might find yourself to be an aspect of this bigger kind of love.
This happiness this kind of love is different from that which arises from the transient pleasures of money, status, power, feelings of worth and so on, but is instead a feeling of being at home and at ease that keeps time with every heartbeat of life…and this wish is made immeasurable by wishing complete happiness and freedom from suffering for all beings – for all time!
It follows that the true causes of happiness need to be examined and understood – how does happiness come about? and what are the causes of suffering? and how can we be free of them? These are things the Buddha examined nearly six hundred years before the birth of Christ and the teachings arising from his conclusions developed in methods and practice through time.
He taught that all actions have consequences, both for ourselves and others. Although these consequences are experienced in the moment of the action their repercussions continue into the future as patterns of behaviour are established.
We can see this occurring on a global scale as well as the individual. In Four Thought, The Shadow of the Cold war, Professor Sachs, a renowned economist, explains how the USA was happy to assist Poland in their financial crisis however when Russia under Gorbachev requested assistance under similar conditions, help was refused. His suggestions… that this decision was instrumental in creating the kind of ‘Russia’ that we see today, and that victors rarely learn the lessons of history… did not meet with much applause in the New York bookstore where he was speaking yet had a ring of truth about them.
In the same way, how much tolerance of Western-style democracy is likely from the Hong Kong government official who, when he was a young man, experienced brutal repression of political dissent and the imprisonment of his sister under the ruling colonial British government. At this timeHong Kong was acting as a sweatshop for our country and dissent and disruption was crushed partly because of politics and partly for financial reasons. This particular official, who had been intending to join the colonial government, left the country to study finance and politics in Beijing and has now returned to take up a leading role in the current Hong Kong government. (i’ll add the radio 4 link for this program if i find it)
Just as you cannot extinguish an electrical fire with water so the right methods are needed to put out the fires which rage in our own and others’ hearts. The Buddha taught that to live in love amongst those who hate is the way; that hatred never conquered hatred. True love simply cannot flow from actions inspired by our assumptions, our hatred, or our greed.
In our ignorance we tend to project our hatred onto other people and act as though the environment is there for our consumption; alternatively we may repress these tendencies. Either way we suffer from a dis-ease where the lack of integration between ourselves and the environment has a detrimental effect on our physical or mental health.
The buddha taught that our tendencies to jealousy, pride, greed or desire, hatred or aversion, envy and wrong views… of ourselves and others and situations (our assumptions)… can be examined, seen in their true nature for what they are, and let go.
We are not powerless, we can do much that is good and kind and tender both for ourselves and others. We can take steps to grow in wisdom and compassion and, as we change ourselves and our views, we see the world differently… and love is there…no matter what.
If you are met with love today you can imagine sharing that with everyone who is in need of it. Even a drop of water is more than some people will receive today so if you hold those who are thirsty in mind then, as you drink, people who seem other, yet are part of our world, are held in your mind with love…. and your heart is growing in size to accommodate more and more. That’s one method, there are many others which bring about a greater sense of connection.
The bodhisattvas vow connects us with all beings with compassion… and the practice and accomplishment of the perfection of wisdom/dzogchen leads to a compassion grounded in truth.
If this way of looking at things appeals to you do have a look at the website and get in touch, or check the wealth of information on simplybeing.co.uk
And here is a valentine’s present for you… it’s Yasmina Khadra, an Algerian writer now living in France reflecting on personal identity in the light of the challenges currently facing Europe. For me it was poignant and beautifully expressed. The programme on radio four on Wednesday morning lasts for just fifteen minutes yet expresses so much truth…with love, Wendy