Presented by Jhampa Shaneman
These lectures were transcribed by T Vd Broek. Heartfelt gratitude is offered for all the hours of work spent on this Dharma activity. These talks are offered free of charge. They have been slightly edited.
November 14, 1989
In response to question:
The definition for love: love is the wish to give happiness and the cause of happiness. When you are feeling love, when you are feeling good. The feeling I think is there is that you become more involved in it and we will talk about it in that sense. You could be walking along and see a child, a balloon vendor, and you grab a balloon and give it to the kid. You have made the child happy. there is no release of the child's suffering or anything, it is just a child got this balloon. You see this kid light up and it makes you feel good. So there is you could say, a neutral state, and when it is activated, there is that feeling, a good feeling. That has all the facets of all the different types of good feelings depending on the situation. There is love and giving happiness or the causes of happiness.
From a dharma perspective there is then the mundane giving of happiness and causes of happiness, as in giving someone a candy or giving someone a good meal or a nice coat, whatever material sort of things. And then there is the immaterial transference or giving of love. And happiness. Where you try to give someone self sufficiency. The ideal of rather than feeling someone for a day, give them the capacity to grow food for their life. That in the dharma sense, it means giving someone self esteem or self realization where they have inner confidence or inner realization that takes them further on their own inner path. So there is those aspects of love. The general theme is the giving of happiness or the causes of happiness.
The initial aspect is the wish and then there is the actuality. You should have the wishing state. If we want to go back into the teachings more so, the way of developing altruism or bodhicitta, is initially you should start with the wish. And you should develop the wish without being too concerned with whether you could do it or not. Because the wish will finally evolve into an actuality where you can do it. Whereas if you do not develop the wish, it is difficult. It doesn't have a consistency to it. So the wishing state is referred to as literally the wishing state of developing altruism. It needs to be developed first. And as the wish grows then you will find that you will spontaneously do it. And the spontaneity of it is also something that comes. It's important because that is where the real joy of it is. Is is referred to as the satisfaction of being a more loving person, it will come the more spontaneous you are in your activities. If it is too pre meditated, there is not much fun it.
The wishing state and then the actual state. You could say its to give happiness or make an opportunity for happiness or the causes of happiness, or to give it, depends on how much you can have it come about, it's all the same.
Compassion is the desire to free from suffering and the causes of suffering. That way, it is also a wishing state first, the wish for others to be free of suffering and the causes of suffering. Such as negative karma. When there is suffering, any time suffering manifests, it is the results of negative activity. So you wish the person to be free from the suffering which is the manifest aspect, and then even the causes of that which are created by negative karma, negative activities, negative attitude, however it comes about.
The actual way of doing it, is you know... putting a band-aid on somebody, cleaning a roof, giving someone some inspiration!
One powerful way to generate love is to realize that you have been loved. This aspect is an interesting meditation. It can be done on a variety of objects. Generally it is done with one's mother. If not, if that is a difficult object, then one can also do it with others that have been kind to you. Sometimes your spouse, you brother, sister. Then utilizing that person, thinking of the things that they have done for you, someone who has been giving to you all the time and selflessly, creates the feeling of love. Because you have been loved. Then of corse, you are experiencing love. It's a whole interesting thing of subjectivity and objectivity there, just games with our mind, but, if we meditate on someone being continuously kind to us, as we become more conscious of it, then actually we become more filled with love, that we are the recipient. And from there you can generate love.
For this evening I would like to deal with how one brings oneself into being more realized in the subject. And by realized, I mean, having some interest in it and being inspired in someways. One way is to start to think of the benefits of the practices, and the disadvantages then if one lacks that quality. If one is without that quality, then the problems that comes about in life. In that way, to have love and concern, the wish to give happiness to others, is an unbelievable asset in ones practice. One of my teachers said that if one has love, ones realizations come easy. The more that one can focus on the practice of love, for example the realizations of the ultimate nature of reality, the union oneness with reality with the world around us, is a snap. Whereas if one is selfish, the more unloving they are, the more intellectual the person is, the more difficult it is to realize the true nature of reality because there is not that openness which comes with the feeling of love, with the generation of the sense of love.
So love has many great qualities. And in generating it, it adds a very powerful aspect to your practice in giving you more and more positive karma, more positive energy. Positive karma literally means just having a positive attitude. Taking things in the best light that one can. So when one has a particular experience or situation that one is involved with, one tries to see it as a learning experience.
The point is to see that if we have love, the realizations of the spiritual path are easier if we have love. Then also, our own practice is our daily life is much easier. For example, if we have a lot of selfish concern, self centered thoughts like I need this, things arn't going well for me... those thoughts, the whole flow of the energy is coming to oneself. In doing so, one is creating a difficult situation, making the situation very tight. The personality, everything has to be acceptable to us. The personality gets very brittle and rigid in it's conceptuality. Thinking like, I need it this way, if I don't get this... etc. There is a saying in Tibetan that says the greater one's desires, the less satisfaction. So in having many desires, if one thinks of selfishness or self centeredness, or thinking of one's own needs all the time, the more one is involved with that, the less satisfaction comes about in one's life. So one won't have that feeling where it is just saying, things are alright. I am really comfortable.
In that way you can see that people that are wealthy, all of the amenities and so on, if they have just desire in their minds, they are always thinking of themselves, then there is never satisfaction. They always want more. And whatever they do have, they are never satisfied and are always thinking of something new. Some new game to play. That is all part of mind, and you could look at it as there is always energy coming into oneself. I need this and I want that. I am unhappy. So the energy is always self centered. In being that way, we always set it up that we will experience dissatisfaction.
So if we have love we have real pleasure in our life. If we don't have love, then we have a lot of suffering and are involved mainly with that because our whole conscious experience, our conscious mind attitude is very self centered. The more self centered it is the more we suffer. So it is important to start to actualize some aspect of love.
One of my teachers said love can start at home. He would say that in showing love, it's wonderful to say love all sentient beings, it sounds really good to say to be an altruistic person, but the real point where love starts is in one's own family and with the people that are around oneself. Often we think, I can go to this other place and do wonderful things for others, and wouldn't that be good! That's real love! And that is where my fulfillment will be! Well in doing that, and we might be able to do something when we are there, but we are really moving away from the immediate environment where we have reality, we have right here a situation. And although we might be able to alleviate the immediate need, or say I am going to generate love by being with this person which I feel good with, etc., although that is projecting to go somewhere and is in some ways beneficial, it is not really. We are actually avoiding the issue of the immediate situation we have now.
What I am trying to say is working with one's immediate family, as best one can, whether it is one's children or the people that are around oneself, to try to work with love and with them. For example when we have a relationship with someone, not thinking of what can I get from this person, but thinking what can I give to this person, to this relationship. And that is important because it sets the whole tone for the relationship. If it is always wanting things and support, then it is not a good relationship in a sense. there is an imbalance there.
So love on a mundane level makes our environment more comfortable. Makes our attitude towards life better. Makes ourselves actually an outward going energy. So if we think of love, like I say, it has to be that our personality reverses itself or starts to give out things. You have to look at your personality, ask what it normally do when someone comes to me. What is my personality doing to that person. Am I saying, what is that person going to ask of me? Which is the reversal of saying someone is going to take something from me. Or on the other side, you can say what is this person going to do for me? If they come, are they going to be entertaining? Are they going to give me a good time? Are they going to do this or that for me? All of those conceptualizations are going back to me and what I am going to get out of it. Either I am going to be bored with the person or I am going to..... Those mind sets which are always coming back to yourself. You should try to appreciate what happens when you are around people. If you have love in your heart, the energy is here comes somebody, what can I do for them? A whole different mind set.
And that mind set is an attitude, a consciousness which says hey, people around me, what can I do for them? And that is the birth place of love because as we start to move into that frame of reference we will start getting naturally the results of that sort of attitude which will be nice responsive people will be nice to us, and better things will happen in life. In that way we start to get the warm fuzzies and we will start to say, hey I like that! I like having warm fuzzier rather than cold pricklies. You know what cold pricklies are. Those are when negative feelings exist between people. You want warm fuzzies all the time.
The basis of this is to say, if I am selfish, the selfish personality is focused on my self and what I need and want. And it has a lot of demands. And if you think about it, it is easily to bring up that the greater my desires for myself, the less and less I am going to have satisfaction. The more I suffer etc. Being caught up with self centered attitudes is an unbelievable root to suffering.
Whereas if we can reverse it, even for a moment, think about it! Say you are at home and finding that life is a bummer and everything is a drag, and then someone comes along. To make it really blatant, let's say they are suffering viciously. You immediately forget all your sufferings. Let's say your kid comes in running and breaks their leg! All your sufferings are gone immediately. You are thinking what can I do for this child, etc. So we completely forget ourself and our own needs and such things. This is a heavy example. But let's use another example. Let's say someone shows up and we have some special chocolate cookies, and you give these cookies to them. Just immediately your mind is out of what I need or what I want, things like that. You are in a giving mode which takes you out of being self centered and pushes you into a more positive head space.
As I was saying, start to appreciate the benefits of having a loving compassionate attitude. And the disadvantages of being caught up in a selfish attitude. In doing that, one should not hassle oneself too much. Because maybe we are selfish. Maybe we have a lot of selfishness within us. Maybe we don't need to be self critical. But as we start to become aware of ourself and realize that we are a lot more self centered than we actually considered. And we start to sort of see that. If you are more meditative you will find yourself doing that. Like here comes so and so, what can I get from them. Or here comes so and so, what a drag! You know I don't like that person. So it's to be with them is taking away from my personal time, whatever it is! The more we become aware of all those negative head spaces, the more we become aware of it, if we hassle ourselves about it, it is not good. It's just makes us more negative and depressed and more unhappy. What we should do is start to do things which take us out of that mode. So if we start to become aware, saying, love has benefits, it is something that is a giving energy and I like to be happy so let's get into that mode. Then to start to be activated in that, so do something that is simple. And then give someone cookies, a balloon. And work into it in a natural way, not an exaggerated way . It won't produce the correct results.
To try to be more conscious of love and compassion, their good qualities. Happiness which is related to satisfaction, in the sense of not being satisfied as in complacent, but as you are happy, the good feeling that you have has a sense of a job well done. Jobs are being done well, put it that way. That that feeling then is part of that. So when you start being active, not just sitting back and being complacent, but being a little more active, then that sense of love will bring about happiness. Happiness will bring about personal fulfillment.
I guess in that sense if you have a lot of desire, saying I must go out and help people, then again you will be dissatisfied. So even in that way, you work as a negative so one has to have balance in there. The right amount of things and not be too evangelical.
For this evenings meditation, in speaking of the advantages and disadvantages, the important point is to find personal experience for it. Like try to say what is that to me? So try to take your own mind, you have to literally open your mind and ask how it relates. I mean I can visualize someone walking up and try to be as neutral as you can. And ask do I really feel love? And do I really want to give this person joy or happiness? Or do I not? Because if you do have a sense of love for the people that come into your life, then there should be joy, happiness, and such things there. So allow yourself to sit there and try to visualize your mind. See how your own mind sets up things. In that way, come to a conclusion. Maybe I can do better than I have been doing and start to be more conscious of the energy. As I say am I looking at it from what can I get? Or is it what can I give to everything?
Work within yourself and try to see, how does my conscious mind work. It is something along those lines a little bit. You find out.
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