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"L" is for the way you Look at me...

SillyPuttySillyPutty Veteran
edited May 2013 in Buddhism Basics


Okay, so, I read something interesting today about love. It went something like (paraphrasing, of course): "Love is an emotion we find in samsara, therefore we cannot trust it." I suppose the author was trying to imply that even love is something false and delusional. But... I had to get everyone's insights on this, because I'm not sure I quite understand. Maybe because I'm equating love with compassion?

For me, when I say the word "love," I don't think of the song I posted above. I take the word "love" quite seriously and feel there is only one true form of the word: unconditional love. Everything else, to me, is "puppy love" or "a crush" or "romantic love" or just plain ol' "lust." I would like to think that unconditional love and compassion, however, are one in the same. Are they?

And on that note, do you believe that we as human beings are capable of unconditional love? Truly? How about those who are enlightened? Are only enlightened human beings capable of unconditional love then? Are other sentient beings not capable of unconditional love? If anything, I would venture to guess that many other animals/sentient beings are capable of unconditional love, but then again, that's just perhaps me assigning supposed "human" traits to the animals I love (there's that word again!) so much.

So many questions... sorry about that! I just love talkin' 'bout love!
riverflowkashiVastmindJeffreyInvincible_summer

Comments

  • English is such an impoverished language, especially in regard to the word "love."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_words_for_love

    The author you paraphrase above is speaking of "eros" (erotic love). Unconditional love, or compassion, is "agape" -- or, in Pali, "karuna."

    The conditions we DO place on others (and ourselves!) in order for love to be given is what must be realised as delusion: the idea that we are separate beings existing independently. This is why cultivating equanimity is important in Buddhist practice-- something I wrote in my journal:

    "When all conditions are accepted with equanimity, they are no longer conditions."

    The boundaries and conditions we place on others is in actuality obstacles we place around ourselves, not around others--which would be funny except that it leads to so much pain and strife for everyone.

    "Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it." ~ Rumi
    SillyPuttyInvincible_summer
  • I think there is a difference based on whether we are giving or receiving.
    Vastmind
  • SillyPuttySillyPutty Veteran
    edited May 2013
    riverflow said:

    English is such an impoverished language, especially in regard to the word "love."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_words_for_love

    The author you paraphrase above is speaking of "eros" (erotic love). Unconditional love, or compassion, is "agape" -- or, in Pali, "karuna."

    Thanks, @riverflow. I suppose that was my problem with the quote. To me, the actual quote (which had a little more to it but I decided to omit it), seemed as if it was using a blanket over the term love in all respects. But I think that may have been my problem; while I saw the author as referring to all types of love, they may have been speaking only of eros (or perhaps even the other 2 forms as well, not including agape). I suppose that is the problem with social media sites-- you only have so many characters and lines to get your point across, which leaves everything open up to different interpretations. I just thought they were trying to illustrate that even something like unconditional love is samsaric in nature and keeps us tied down to suffering.
  • Enlightend or not, human beings are capable of unconditional love. Enlightend beings would have no use to be in a relationship because they are free from all attachments.

    un-enlightened beings, rather we like it or not, have attachments to the person we are in a relationship with.

    But both can have unconditional love.

    The un-enlightened person can still love you even though there are boundaries that at first may seem like conditions, such as, if you cheat on me, the relationship is over..but I still love you as a person without conditions. These boundaries are there so as not to cause suffering to the other person.

    The enlightened person however, Like a buddha, has no need for relationships because he can see the danger in the attachments... attachments leads one away from the path. The Buddha said
    "monks, I do not see even one other form that so obsesses the mind of a man as the form of a woman." -Anguttara Nikaya 1

    he went on about the other senses and said the same about men obsesses the mind of a woman and so on...

    but out of unconditional love and compassion he taught the dharma. He also did give advice to married couples as well but I dont think that has anything to do with this post.
    SillyPutty
  • SillyPuttySillyPutty Veteran
    edited May 2013
    kashi said:


    But both can have unconditional love.

    I guess that's why I just don't get it when I see some philosophers/psychologist/what have you talk so much about love, and whether or not someone is truly capable of love in its purest form or not. To me, love is love. You just do it, you know? When I start to over-think these things and doubt what I'm feeling and whether or not it samsaric in nature, it tends to make me doubt if what I'm feeling is a form of attachment, or if it is real. I guess it's good to question such things, but on the other hand, I don't see how something so pure can be considered bad... unless possessing that feeling for others is what keeps us tied down to this life and preventing us from enlightenment... but you'd think something like this would be the impetus behind reaching enlightenment. To love another sentient being (and hopefully eventually all sentient beings) unconditionally is a wonderful thing. But maybe that's where the old argument of putting your own enlightenment on pause so others can become enlightened comes into play. Maybe it is unconditional love that keeps us here, allowing us to help others to reach enlightenment first, and that's why it is not good to focus so much on love if you are trying to reach a state of enlightenment yourself (of course, you shouldn't be craving that state anyway... but that's a post for a different day). Maybe that is the real difference between the Buddhist definition of compassion versus the meaning of unconditional love.

    Don't ask me what I just wrote above. I have no idea what I'm talking about and am babbling at this point. :lol: But in my own little way, I think I may have answered my own question. Thanks. :D

  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran
    Maybe it would be better to stop daydreaming about what is "unconditioned" and just cope effectively with what we've got.
    kashiSillyPuttylobster
  • swaydamswaydam Veteran
    edited May 2013
    SillyPutty
  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran
    edited May 2013



    Okay, so, I read something interesting today about love. It went something like (paraphrasing, of course): "Love is an emotion we find in samsara, therefore we cannot trust it." I suppose the author was trying to imply that even love is something false and delusional. But... I had to get everyone's insights on this, because I'm not sure I quite understand. Maybe because I'm equating love with compassion?

    For me, when I say the word "love," I don't think of the song I posted above. I take the word "love" quite seriously and feel there is only one true form of the word: unconditional love. Everything else, to me, is "puppy love" or "a crush" or "romantic love" or just plain ol' "lust." I would like to think that unconditional love and compassion, however, are one in the same. Are they?

    Unconditional love and compassion would seem to me to be the same but at the same time, there is a greater good. Obviously that's subjective but I feel the effort towards the growth of the whole is the most ethical choice. This is what allows me to see that even if it means hurting a person, I will do what I can to stop them from mugging an old lady without loving them any less.
    And on that note, do you believe that we as human beings are capable of unconditional love? Truly? How about those who are enlightened? Are only enlightened human beings capable of unconditional love then? Are other sentient beings not capable of unconditional love? If anything, I would venture to guess that many other animals/sentient beings are capable of unconditional love, but then again, that's just perhaps me assigning supposed "human" traits to the animals I love (there's that word again!) so much.

    So many questions... sorry about that! I just love talkin' 'bout love!
    I don't know what it means to be enlightened or how it feels to be anything other than my reactions but I know what it is to love all beings unconditionally.

    Compassion can be looked at as completely logical and rational instead of idealistic and likened to feeling sorry for someone. We don't bandage our finger because we feel sorry for it, we try to heal it because it is a part of us. There is also cancer which is also a part of us but it will do the whole harm ultimately and so we wish to get rid of it.

    As for romantic love, I've just fallen in it with a beautiful woman and I don't think my path will be hindered or my universal love made any less by swearing to protect, love and honour her.

    SillyPuttyVastmindlobster
  • SillyPuttySillyPutty Veteran
    edited May 2013
    ourself said:

    As for romantic love, I've just fallen in it with a beautiful woman and I don't think my path will be hindered or my universal love made any less by swearing to protect, love and honour her.

    First of all, that's wonderful, @ourself. I'm always tickled pink when people find each other and fall in love and share love with one another. :) Congratulations.

    Okay, so now that I've said that, please don't read any further because I'm going to go all emo on everyone and totally contradict everything I just stated above (not intentionally, but this is just how my mind works).

    While on the topic of being in a romantic/loving relationship, I don't know if it's the cynic in me, the dysfunctional childhood and young adulthood I had, or the fact that some Buddhist traditions say that having a mate keeps you off your path due to issues of desire/attachment, but... right now in life? I could really care less about having a romantic partner. I feel like I've been there, done that, and have found that being with someone else to make my life feel "complete" has only made it more complicated in many ways in hindsight. Again, maybe it's because I didn't really ever know what a "healthy, loving, romantic" relationship looked like growing up. But even when I look around, I see just so much... dysfunction. Everywhere I look there are just so many people who bring all their baggage into a relationship which always just compounds things. (And I include myself in this equation, of course.) People think that searching outside themselves for someone else will make them happy or their life better. And then when they want to have kids on top of it, I just cringe. I understand no one is born perfect and relationships are things which help us to grow and face our issues, but I think the point I'm trying to make here is, I think we're all so unaware of our own issues, that we become co-dependent and cling on to others, hoping that they will bring balance to our lives, when in fact, we need to do that for ourselves first before ever really finding a healthy, loving, romantic relationship.

    So now as I look back on everything I wrote in this thread, it's no wonder I want to be a nun. :lol: I believe in love, I love all living things as best I can, but in terms of romantic love, it just does nothing for me. When I look at someone I love "romantically"-- and love deeply-- sex isn't even close to the deep feelings I have for them. It doesn't even touch the surface. In fact, I find that the physical only complicates and insults that love I feel for them. Reaching out and touching their hot naked body parts is not enough. :lol: When I look at someone I truly love-- whether that be romantically or on a deeper level-- what I really want to reach out and touch is their very essence. I want to embrace their soul-- their energy-- their embodiment of that same love. When you see it in those terms, having a "relationship" just... pales in comparison. In short, I guess I'm saying that, it seems better to love someone from afar. To wish them well and help them when need be. To be there for them without actually being attached (no pun intended) to them. When you throw in the sex and the dating and all that jazz... well, it's fun in the beginning. But then reality always strikes. And eventually? If you are in such a loving romantic relationship and it actually lasts... you eventually come to the same conclusion, which is: love is much more powerful when it is not interdependent.

    And, no, I wasn't high when I wrote this. :D
    kashiInvincible_summer
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    Hey......*snapping my fingers* ....... hahaha
    Enjoyed the song, I did. :)

    I enjoyed the read, also. Thanks for posting!
  • How did you read my mind?? us leos wrote the book on love you know...
    personaly I have had the struggle of wanting to become a monk for the same reasons you just stated...and yet...what I long for is a love that goes beyond the physical, beyond buddhist ideals, someone I can sit in silence with and feel the same love and energy without saying a word. I could go on...but i dont want to make your thread about me.
    You have a beautiful spirit.
    _/\_
    SillyPutty
  • kashi said:

    How did you read my mind?? us leos wrote the book on love you know...
    personaly I have had the struggle of wanting to become a monk for the same reasons you just stated...and yet...what I long for is a love that goes beyond the physical, beyond buddhist ideals, someone I can sit in silence with and feel the same love and energy without saying a word. I could go on...but i dont want to make your thread about me.
    You have a beautiful spirit.
    _/\_

    Awwww, thanks. :o And feel free to write-- this thread isn't about MOI... t'is about LOOOOOVE (or in my case, EMO LOVE :lol: ).
    kashi
  • My haiku about love...

    "What is love I ask?"
    Beyond conceptual thought...
    silence- share a glance.

    ( The shared glance is not the outer shell we call self...but the silence that is love beyond words and language. The essence that you mentioned with no way to say what that is..and yet you feel the truth of it. )
    SillyPutty
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran
    I didn't find love with someone else until I was complete in myself. I mean, when I stopped looking for someone to be my "other half" is when I found my husband. I always hated the suggestion that I was only half a person somehow. The only unconditional love I have felt to this point is for my children. Because I can honestly say that no matter what horrible thing they would do, I would still love their true being. I use that to work towards gaining that kind of compassion for other people, so it works out well for me. I'm not sure I personally could have begun to entertain what I thought unconditional love really was without having children. It helps me to know what that place is so I can expand it more to the world around me.

    SillyPutty
  • SillyPuttySillyPutty Veteran
    edited May 2013
    karasti said:

    The only unconditional love I have felt to this point is for my children.

    I was going to bring this point up but ended up digressing into the other romantic love topic.

    I think that's great you feel that for your children. I would think it's a given; that parents would love their children without any conditions. Sadly, I see there are so many sick and hurting people out there nowadays, that I don't think this whole "I love my children unconditionally" is given statement anymore. These people can't even love themselves-- how are they loving their children "unconditionally"? (And I don't mean that comment to come off judgmental... it just seems to be what I perceive to be truth nowadays.)

    Anyway... that wasn't really a question or anything... just a mini rant I suppose. The concept is strange, though. We are able to love someone unconditionally if they are considered our family (specifically our children), yet some stranger on the street-- whom shares the same universal consciousness and love that "we" do-- does not fit into the equation. What makes one person more lovable and valuable than the next? If we pick and choose whom we "unconditionally love", isn't that putting conditions on love to being with? And following that thought, is it really love to begin with?

    Don't mind me... I'm just talking out loud. I'm trying to figure out why I do the things I do and feel the things I feel. I don't know why it's so easy for me to love someone I know or even an animal, but so hard to love someone that drives me crazy in the workplace. Is my love really, truly real for those whom I love, or is it a superficial kind of love since I cannot apply that same heart-felt energy to someone whom I feel has hurt me? It's just all very confusing. In one moment I feel that true love is so easy to share and receive, then in the next, I doubt if I'm doing it right... or should be doing it at all and just worrying about feeling content and that's all.
  • I think an important aspect to unconditional compassion is that it IS impersonal. In fact, it is that very aspect of it that makes it unconditional. Personal love cannot be unconditional becuase it is tied to particular conditions (even if they are worthy conditions, such as the relationship of one's parents, one's children, one's romantic partner, etc.).

    Being willing to do something--ANYthing for someone you personally love is due to the fact that you *personally* love them. In other words, the ego comes into play just by virtue of the fact that there is that pre-existing personal relationship. There is nothing wrong with that per se, but this confuses what the term "unconditional" refers to.

    The unconditional aspect isn't the conditions of WHAT you would do for someone but rather WHO you would do it for--if you would do it for ANYone (whatever the action), then it is THOSE conditions that are transcended. That is the meaning behind unconditional love / compassion.

    True compassion is impersonal because WHO that person is (and WHO you are) are not factored into the act of compassion. Compassion transcends both the particular conditions that make the *I* and the *you*.

    In unconditional compassion, there are no conditions called *I* and *you*.
    SillyPuttyInvincible_summerpersonkarmablues
  • SillyPuttySillyPutty Veteran
    edited May 2013
    riverflow said:


    True compassion is impersonal because WHO that person is (and WHO you are) are not factored into the act of compassion.

    Okay... trying to let all this sink in here... so, going back to the first post where I commented on that quote someone wrote about love being samsaric... are you then agreeing with the idea that compassion does not equate to love then? Was I reading the quote correctly the first time then? Because love as we know it-- whether it be agape, eros, or one of the other two in between-- is not the same as compassion if we put it in those terms. And if it is not the same as compassion, then we shouldn't "waste" our time here on earth searching for it, because all forms of love (not compassion, but love) eventually come back to the idea of "I" and "you," as you stated indirectly yourself (at least that's what I got from it... but I've known not to be the best critical reader out there either, ya know... :D ).
  • I'd say that when talking about love, English just won't cut it, so we have to make some distinctions. Unconditional love, as I understand it, is compassion (agape, or caritas). And the reason the qualification is necessary is because in English, the word "love" is more often used in the sense of romanic love (eros, or amor).

    So:

    1. Unconditional love = compassion = agape = caritas (where we get "charity" in the ORIGINAL sense of the word, which has also been degraded) = karuna = impersonal

    2. "Love" = romantic love (in most cases) = eros = amor = personal

    I wouldn't go so far as to say romantic love is "bad" per se, but it can easily lead to some inner confusion because of its link to sexual desire. And familial love (philia in the Greek) also is a conditional love (conditioned by blood relations). There are many other kinds of love one could say too, such as love of country, or of one's race, or one's political affiliation. All of these conditioned loves are tied to desire, various kinds of attachment.

    Of course, the Beatles song wouldn't sound as cool if the chorus went "All you need is unconditional love!" would it? haha

    Personally I prefer to just say "compassion" rather than [unconditional] love -- just saying "love" -- certainly in English -- is incapable of expressing it.
    SillyPuttykashi
  • " yet some stranger on the street-- whom shares the same universal consciousness and love that "we" do-- does not fit into the equation. What makes one person more lovable and valuable than the next?"

    Because of the wrong view of self. "my" children..."my" husband\wife..."my" parents.
    The ego clings to the idea of a self and attachments to things and people it associates with as "me, myself I and mine"

    A stranger on the street? not "mine" so it dont matter as much..... Wrong views you see? ^_^
    SillyPutty
  • SillyPuttySillyPutty Veteran
    edited May 2013
    riverflow said:

    I'd say that when talking about love, English just won't cut it, so we have to make some distinctions. Unconditional love, as I understand it, is compassion (agape, or caritas). And the reason the qualification is necessary is because in English, the word "love" is more often used in the sense of romanic love (eros, or amor).

    Okay... I shall cease in splitting hairs then. :D I didn't intend for this thread to start off that way, but I see that I have turned it into a thread of semantics now. :lol:
    riverflow said:


    Of course, the Beatles song wouldn't sound as cool if the chorus went "All you need is unconditional love!" would it? haha

    :lol: "She compassionately cares for you, yeah yeah yeah..." :lol:
    riverflow said:


    Personally I prefer to just say "compassion" rather than [unconditional] love -- just saying "love" -- certainly in English -- is incapable of expressing it.

    Yeah, I get ya. I think I was just going back and forth between the idea of compassion vs. unconditional love, and then bringing up the idea of is love something that ties us to this earthly form. But I think I've exhausted my brain on this one so I'm just gonna leave it alone. There are oodles of other Buddhist-related concepts I have yet to destroy on this site and I want to be an equal opportunity topic jumbler. :D
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    Sidenote: Teacher Appreciation Week in the US.....
    May 6-10th.

    That means....love a teacher! Say Thank-you, if you know one.
    Volunteer to me a room mommy.
    Be a walk the hall, dad.
    Join the PTA.
    Do what you can!

    Love your Teacher this week!!
    Show a teacher gratitude.
    :)
    SillyPuttyriverflow
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran
    For me, at this point in my life, there is still a distinction between unconditional love and compassion. I have compassion for most people. With certain people I have to stop and work on developing it, but I manage to do it much of the time. I can have compassion for the Boston bombers, for example. But I cannot say that I have unconditional love for them. The 2 concepts are coming closer together, but they aren't one for me, just yet.

    I don't view my kids as "mine" as in property or any such thing. It is simply a word to identify who exactly I am talking about. If I said "i love kids unconditionally" then it would not be so clear what I really meant by my statement. They are "my" kids because they grew in my uterus and I gave birth to them. They do not, however, belong to me in any sense. I am simply looking after them and guiding them until they can do it for themselves. Simply having children, to me, is not nearly the same sense of "MY kids! They do what I tell them, when I tell them, I own them!" as other people seem to have.

    I guess for me, the distinction comes because I can imagine situations of one of my kids doing something horrible, and being able to see them and love them exactly the same as I do right now. Without question. Now, while I can develop and practice compassion for, say, the surviving Boston bomber, I cannot honestly say that I could go visit him in jail and say that I would feel the same immense love and understanding that I would feel if he were one of my children. But I can imagine being his mom. Perhaps one day my practice will allow me to do so. But not yet. But I do have compassion for him.

    I just don't adequately have the words to say exactly what the difference is in my mind between unconditional love, and compassion. Compassion I guess is more being able to see the world from someone else's point of view, to put myself in their shoes and think about how they may be thinking or feeling, or simply just feeling a sense of sadness that they are so far removed from what their true nature is, and so on. Unconditional love (again, just to me, not defining for anyone else) is more"I love you and I will be here for you no matter what. I understand you, and I will be here to support you and help you through and hold you and listen to what you have to say without judgement, without conditions. Nothing you could do or say could make me not love you."
    SillyPuttykashi
  • Very honest response...I am happy to read from a mothers point of view who does not see her children as "mine" but uses the term as a way to simply explain something..whereas most parents say "mine" due to an ego self.
  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran
    I like what I've heard on here about the distinction between the attachment kind of love being "wanting/having another make you happy" and true love as wanting the other to be happy.

    Just a couple of quick definitions that I've heard Buddhists make. Love is wanting others to be happy and compassion wants another to be free of suffering of some kind. So they're certainly related but compassion seems to add the condition of suffering to love.

    Also there is conventional love where there is a you and them. Then there is an enlightened type of love that Thich Naht Hahn has compared to like soothing your hand if you hurt it. There isn't the thought of "oh my poor hand, I'll rub you and wish you felt better". When you hurt your hand you just automatically reach to comfort it because it is a part of you.
    SillyPuttykarasti
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran
    Funny you should mention that, @person, about TNH. I was just reading that exact explanation of his this morning. Really enjoying his Reconciliation book about healing your inner child. I shouldn't have read until after I meditated though because I had so many thoughts about the book I had a hard time settling myself. I've been spending some time lately trying to figure out where some of the intense fear I have comes from (very specific fear) and I've found that book most helpful in learning how to find those things and how to treasure yourself.
    person
  • Yes there is life, love, happiness, but also betrayal, deception, lies and accusation. In strictly spiritual terms, there is the love of compassion or genuine kindness. Easy to describe, not so easy to come by. At the same time, the world is filled with this love, the love a parent might have for their children, or one might have for their grandchildren, nieces and nephews. It's the muddying of it, or the inability to extend that past certain people that is a source of error for us all, but nearly common place across the world.
    Jeffrey
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited May 2013
    You can think of love as a spontaneous response to a situation or person. It could be the positive qulalities of a Buddha and in ourselves though distorted. Equanimity doesn't mean we treat each person the same rather we have a unique relationship to each person and we are not held back by our own short sightedness in expressing love. Khenpo Gyamtso Tsultrim Rinpoche who is very old said he wanted to make clear the point that love is real whereas the 'appearances', the skhandas, are not real.
    riverflowSillyPuttyFloating_Abu
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    SillyPuttyInvincible_summer
  • kashi said:

    I think I got an STD from watching that. :lol:

    kashiJeffreypersonInvincible_summer
  • Lol
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