Thich Nhat Hanh on the meaning(s) of true love

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(what is true love?) I was wondering if you could speak to us of love. What is the essence of true love? And how do we connect to that in us? True love is something that help you to suffer less. And help the other person to suffer less. True love is something that you make you happy and the other person happy. True love can help you have more freedom. In the teaching of the Buddha there are four elements of true love. The first is maitri, it means love and kindness. Maitri has the power to offer happiness. When you are able to generate a feeling of joy and happiness to you that's true love. Offer to yourself. And if you can generate a feeling of joy and happiness in helping the other person generate a feeling of joy and happiness, that is loving kindness, that is true love. So if you are a true lover, you create happiness for you, for him, for her. And according to our teaching, it is not so difficult to create joy and happiness. Just breathing in and recognize that many conditions of happiness and joy are already available. Generating joy, generating happiness, for you, and all the other person. The second element of true love is compassion - karuna. That is the capacity to make yourself suffer less, and the other person suffer less. And we have learned there is an art of suffering, if you know how to suffer, you suffer much much less. And we can make good use of suffering in order to fabricate understanding and love. And you can help the other person to suffer less. Transform suffering in her in him. And that is the second element of true love - karuna. The Buddha is able to help people to suffer less, and his compassion is great. We call it maha karuna.   Great compassion.   [Unless] we continue to practice, our karuna continues to grow. And one day it will be maha karuna, maitri maha karuna. And then the third element of true love is joy – mudita. If love does not generate joy every day it’s not love. If love make the other person cry every day it’s not love. If love make you suffer every day, that’s not true love. So true love is capable of generating joy for yourself and for the other person. And in the last four days we have learned how to produce a feeling of joy. And the fourth element of true love is upeksha – inclusiveness. In true love, you don’t see any frontier between the one who loves and the one who is loved. It’s like bowing to the Buddha, the one who bows, and the one who is bowed to. Between them there is no frontier, and that is why communication between them is perfect. So in true love, your suffering is her suffering.  Your happiness is her happiness. There is no individual suffering and happiness anymore. No discrimination. All inclusive. Is the fourth element of true love. Equanimity that can be translated as inclusiveness. And you begin with yourself and the other person. But if you continue with this practice of true love, your heart will open, grow, and very soon you will include all of us in your love. You do not exclude anyone, anything from your love. That is the love of the Buddha. Including any living beings. Not excluding anyone. No discrimination about race, citizenship, religion, or anything. And that is that element of non-discrimination, of inclusiveness, that make you feel very free, very happy. Make your love unlimited. And in true love you continue to grow. Your love continues to grow. Until it embraces everyone in the cosmos. (connect. be inspired. be nourished.)


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1 Justin Halloran = "The first element of true love, according to Thich Nhat Hanh, is maitri, or loving kindness.  Here Pema Chodron suggests maitri can mean unconditional friendship with one's self."
2 Cary W = "Loving-kindness always lightens the heart and eases the load and any act of compassion and empathy heals the whole world."
3 Cary W = "True love always generates inclusiveness, rather than possessiveness, and though it begins within each one of the two lovers, their equanimity generates an open heart leading to inclusion of everyone."