What is love?

I gathered some Buddhist thoughts about love. We talk a lot about this in meditation class and it is something I really want to practice in my real life to a lot further extent then I do today.

The definition of love in Buddhism is: wanting others to be happy. This love is unconditional and it requires a lot of courage and acceptance, including self-acceptance.

The “near enemy” of love, or a quality which appears similar, but is more an opposite is: conditional love, also called selfish love.

One has selfish love when one is concerned only with the satisfaction to be derived for oneself without any consideration for the partner’s needs or feelings. Jealousy is usually a symptom of selfish love. Selfless love, on the other hand, is felt when one person surrenders his whole being for the good of another. Parents feel such love for their children. Usually human beings feel a mixture of both selfless and selfish love in their relationships with each other. For example, while parents make enormous sacrifices for their children, they usually expect something in return.

Another kind of love, but closely related to the above, is brotherly love or the love between friends. In a sense, this kind of love can also be considered selfish because the love is limited to particular people and does not encompass others. In another category we have sexual love, where partners are drawn towards each other through physical attraction. It is the kind that is most exploited by modern entertainment and it can cover anything from uncomplicated teenage infatuations to the most complex of relationships between adults.

On a scale far higher than these, is Universal Love or what in Buddhism is called Metta. This all-embracing love is the great virtue expressed by the Buddha. Lord Buddha, for example, renounce His kingdom, family and pleasures so that He could strive to find a way to release mankind from an existence of suffering. In order to gain His Enlightenment, he had to struggle for many countless lives. Buddha is called ‘The Compassionate One’. The Buddha’s boundless love extended not only to human beings but all living creatures. It was not emotional or selfish, but a love without frontiers, without discrimination. Unlike the other kinds of love, Universal love can never end in disappointment or frustration because it expects no reward. It creates more happiness and satisfaction. One who cultivates universal love will also cultivate sympathetic joy and equanimity and he will then have attained to the sublime state.

What do you guys think about love?

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