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Love in Buddhism

Walpola Piyananda Thera

Dharma Vijaya Buddhist Vihara, 1990

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Love, meditation, and mindfulness



Developing feelings of lovingkindness, compassion, joy in others’ happiness, and equanimity is its own reward. The ability to cultivate these states is an assurance of reduction of our own suffering. And to the extent we are able to reduce our own suffering, we can help other beings reduce theirs.

But it is this very suffering which is the key. The Buddha’s teachings on love were not something he developed because they sounded nice, or reflected family values, or any other admirable soundings ideas. These four "divine dwellings" are an approach to the main teachings of the Buddha: that birth, illness, old age and death are unsatisfactory; that grief, lamentation, suffering, affliction and despair are unsatisfactory; that not getting what one wants is unsatisfactory; that those element responsible for feelings of attachment and clinging are unsatisfactory.

By unsatisfactory the Buddha didn’t mean they were "wrong". He just meant they led to unhappiness, that the way to ending unhappiness was understanding it roots and undertaking practices to combat it directly.

The principle practice to develop one’s mind along the path to the end of suffering is "mediation". In Buddhism, mediation does not mean "hard thinking", it means calming the body and thought processes and then observing all that goes on inside oneself. The meditative technique which is the most general and widely practiced is breathing mediation, which consists of focussing on one’s attention on the breath and then observing the consequent bodily and mental processes. Metta, lovingkindness, can also be used as a preliminary technique. Its primary contribution to mental development is in the establishment of calm, which arises when one banishes all enmity and ill-will from one’s mind. When one is totally free from anger and similar feelings, one can move on to observing the mental process dispassionately. Thus in addition to the social benefits which may accrue from the practice of metta, the dedicated practitioner will also find him or herself—and consequently al living beings—well along the way to the ending of suffering.


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Computer typesetting: Jenny Truong - Ngoc Han

Update: 01-04-2001

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