Thich Nhat Hanh on love

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Do you also think the world has become a crazy place? Do you also long for a soft landing, a reassuring place of comfort and safety?

I have found the Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh to be such a place. His kind and gentle voice betrays a sharp intellect that speaks directly, but comfortingly, to the concerns of many people.

On more than one occasion I have questioned myself on this very issue: What is love and have I ever really loved anyone in my life?

Some of us have a totally warped idea of what true love is. We associate it with emotional declarations and idealizing the object of our love. We think we must go out and look for it and we hope desperately to find it. And in the quiet of our inner world, we fear most of all that we won’t.

We never suspect that love is simple and that it’s available all the time.

True love is not some prize you get if you’re one of the lucky ones singled out for a life of love and happiness.

We need someone like Thich Nhat Hanh to bring us to our senses so we can realize that love is a simple matter.

He explains that there are four elements to true love, but before he goes into them, he makes a simple statement that strikes me more than anything:

“True love makes you happy and makes the other person happy.”

How simple. How could I have missed that. True love makes both people happy.

[Not only does Buddhism provide a spiritual outlet for many people, it can also improve your health and wellbeing. Check out my new no-nonsense guide to using Buddhism for a better life here].

The four elements of true love

1. Loving kindness.

When you are able to generate a feeling of joy and happiness and are able to help the other person do the same, that is loving kindness and that’s true love.

“So, if you are a true lover you create a happiness for you and for the others.

“And this is not so difficult to achieve. Just breathe in and realize the many conditions of happiness and joy that are already available.”

2. Compassion

The second element of true love is compassion – this is the capacity to make yourself suffer less and help the other person to suffer less as well. In other words, it means to find a way to lessen each other’s burdens.

“Did you know there is an art to suffering? If you know how to suffer you suffer much, much less.

“We can make good use from something in order to fabricate understanding and love, so you can help the other person to suffer less.”

3. Joy

The third element of true love is joy.

“If love does not generate joy, it’s not love. If love makes the other person cry every day, it’s not love. If love makes you suffer every day, it’s not true love.

“True love is capable of generating joy for yourself and for the other person.”

If you can make someone laugh and they make you laugh, that is joy and that is love.

At least now I know that I am not the loveless fool I thought I was – don’t I laugh endlessly and effortlessly with my family and friends? Don’t I experience utter joy in their presence? I have found true love.

Do take a moment to become aware of the laughter in your life – that’s where the gem of true love is hiding in clear sight.

4. Inclusiveness

The fourth element of true love in inclusiveness. In true love you don’t see and 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’s why communication between them is perfect.”

He goes on to explain that in true love our suffering is each other’s suffering; your happiness is her happiness.

Here is the point: There is no individual suffering in happiness.

“You begin with yourself and the other person, but if you continue with this practice of true love, your heart will open and grow and very soon you will include all of us in your love; you don’t exclude anyone or anything from your love. That is the love of the Buddha including every living being; no discrimination on any basis. This kind of love is unlimited and is the basis for much happiness.”

In the end it continues to grow until it embraces everyone in the cosmos.

What do you think of that? Can you envisage yourself capable of that kind of love? Is your love expanding?

Putting yourself first

Hey, Lachlan from Hack Spirit here.

What’s your number one goal at the moment?

Is it to buy that car you’ve been saving up for?

To finally start that side-hustle that’ll hopefully help you quit your 9-5 one day?

Or to take the leap and finally ask your partner to move in?

Whatever it is, you’re not going to get there, unless you’ve got a plan.

And even then…plans fail.

But I didn’t write this to you to be the voice of doom and gloom…

No, I’m writing this because I want to help you achieve the goals you’ve set.

I’ve recently been taking part in a workshop called Life Journal created by teacher and career coach Jeanette Brown.

Covering all the basics and more on what’s needed to reach your goals, Jeannette tackles everything from creating habits and new behavior patterns to putting your plans into action.

She doesn’t mess around – this workshop will require effort on your part but that’s the beauty of it – Jeanette has carefully designed it to put YOU in the driving seat of your life.

Click here to find out more about Life Journal.

So…think back to that important goal I asked about at the start of this message.

How much do you want it?

Are you willing to put the effort in to get there?

If so, check out the workshop here.

If you do take part, I’d love to hear how your Life Journey goes!

All the best,

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Written by Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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