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Love in Buddhism

Walpola Piyananda Thera

Dharma Vijaya Buddhist Vihara, 1990

...... ... .  . .  .  .



Part II :

Illustrations and practice of love and compassion



The Buddha’s compassion and love were equal, with no judgement of the being to be loved. Thus he knew no enemies.

One day Devadatta fell ill. Many doctors came to see him but no one could cure him. Then his cousin, the Buddha, went to visit him.

One of the Buddha’s followers asked him "O Buddha, why are you going to Devadatta? He has tried to harm you many times. He has even tried to kill you!"

And Buddha answered, "There is no reason to be friendly with some people and an enemy to others. All people are equal in that everyone wants happiness and no one likes to be sick and miserable. So, we should have love for everyone.

Then he approached Devadatta’s bed and said, "If it is true that I live Devadatta, who is always trying to harm me, as much as I love Rahula, my only child, then let my cousin be cured of his sickness!" Immediately Devadatta recovered and was healthy once again.

Buddha turned to his followers and said, "Remember, a true Buddha helps all beings equally." (29)

A Rude Man

The Buddha explained to skeptics how he was able to maintain his compassion.

One day Buddha was walking through a village. A very angry and rude young man came up and began insulting him. "You have no right teaching others," he shouted. "You are as stupid as everyone else. You are nothing but a fake."

Buddha was not upset by these insults. Instead he asked the young man "Tell me, if you buy a gift for someone, and that person does not take it, to whom does the gift belong?"

The man was surprised to be asked such a strange question and answered, "It would belong to me, because I bought the gift."

The Buddha smiled and said, "That is correct. And it is exactly the same with your anger. If you become angry with me and I do not get insulted, then the anger falls back on you. You are then the only one who becomes unhappy, not me. All you have done si hurt yourself.

"If you want to stop hurting yourself, you must get rid of your anger and become loving instead. When you hate others, you yourself become unhappy. But when you love others, everyone is happy."

The young man listened closely to these wise words of the Buddha. "You are right, o Blessed One, "he said. "Please teach me the path of love. I wish to become your follower."

The Buddha answered kindly, "Of course. I teach anyone who truly wants to learn. Come with me." (30)


On another occasion a Brahmin came to the Buddha with anger, and the Buddha gave him a lesson similar to that of the young man above.

Once Akkosaka of the Bharadvaja Brahmins was angered at what he had heard of the Buddha’s dhamma teaching. He went to the Compassionate one and abused and reproached him. At these words the Blessed One said, "Tell me, Brahmin: do you receive visits from friends and colleagues, relatives and others?"

"Yes, good Gotama, sometimes such people come."

"And tell me, do you serve them solid food, soft food and savories?"

"Yes, good Gotama, sometimes. But supposing, Brahmin, they do not accept what you offer, whose is it?"

"If they don’t accept, good Gotama, then it belongs to us."

"So here it is, Brahmin. The abuse, the scolding, the reviling you hurl at us who do not abuse or scold or insult, we do not accept from you. It all belongs to you, Brahmin. It all belongs to you! If a man replies to abuse with abuse, to scolding with scolding, to insults with insults, Brahmin, that is like you joining your guests for dinner. But we are not joining you for dinner. It is all your, Brahmin, it is all yours!" The Blessed One explained in verse how to deal with a person’s anger.

How could anger rise in him who’s free,

Wrathless, all his passions tamed, at peace,

Freed by the highest insight, by

himself, so abiding, perfectly serene?

If a man’s abused and answered back, of

the two he shows himself the worse.

He who does not answer back in kind,

celebrates a double victory.

From his action both sides benefit, he

himself and his reviler too:

understanding that man’s angry mood, he

can help him clear it and find peace.

He’s the healer of them both,

because he and the other benefit thereby.

People think a man like that’s a fool,

For they cannot understand the Truth. (31)


 Accepting Criticism of the Teaching

The Buddha taught his disciples how to deal with outsiders opinions, goods and bad, of the teachings.

One day, some monks noticed how a disciple of an ascetic argued with his teacher. The Buddha happened to visit them while they were having a discussion this, and he asked the nature of their conversation. "Venerable sir," they replied, "Last evening, we overheard words passed between the mendicant teacher and his disciple Brahmadatta. While Brahmadatta was praising the Buddha, his teaching and his disciples, his teacher was condemning the same. Just now, we were discussing the disciple’s arguing with his teacher."

The Buddha responded, saying "O, Monks, if outsiders should speak against me, against my teaching, or against my disciples, you should not be angry or hold that against them. If you were angry with them, how would you know if they were right or wrong? And also, if outsiders should praise me, my teachings or my disciples, you should not pleased nor proud. If you were pleased or proud, how would you know if they were overpraising us? Therefore, whether people praise or criticise me, my teaching, or disciples, he neither proud nor angry. Rather, be impartial, and acknowledge it if they are right or calmly explain where they are wrong. Furthermore, both anger and pride would be against your own development." (32)


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Computer typesetting: Jenny Truong - Ngoc Han

Update: 01-04-2001


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