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I’ve been trying to get to grips with aspects of love, how they relate to spirituality in recent history and how buddhism thinks about them. Let’s start with some context, the flower power movement of the 1960’s — back then love was a big deal, it was one of the motivating factors of the whole thing. When I was part of the Osho communes in the 1970’s and 1980’s, love was seen in many forms and to a certain extent idealised as a goal.
In the communes you often saw men and women getting together, it would start as mutual attraction, deepen into loving, and then sometimes people would drift apart again. But there are also other forms of love, between children and parents, between disciple and teacher, between man and God (as Rumi might have put it).
So how much of love is desire? Buddhism teaches that desire and clinging are not good things, to what extent do you apply that to love? Certainly lust is mostly desire, and romantic love is a kind of game. A love for God or for a spiritual teacher is not that at all. But on the subject of love Buddhist lore is largely silent.
In a way the closest buddhism gets to love is the Four Immeasurable Minds of loving-kindness, empathetic joy, compassion and equanimity. From what I’ve seen of it in meditation, that expression is very pure. But it’s not the same as the other forms of love.
So it’s a quandary, how to resolve this. I’m still mulling it over, but honestly I could use some fresh views