True Love: A Practice for Awakening the Heart

Thich Nhat Hanh (pronounced “tick not hon”) needs a better introduction than he’ll get here. I’ll just pull out the mantras and other tidbits I set aside from reading this book today.

I. “To love… is above all to be there.”

“If you are not there, how can you love? Being there is very much an art, the art of meditation, because meditation is bringing your true presence to the here and now.”

“Without mindfulness, we live like the dead.”

“Camus says that there are thousands of people moving about around us, carrying their own corpses.”

II. Four Elements of Love

In the Buddhist context, there are four parts or elements present in true love: kindness, compassion, joy, and freedom. If the love I give another person is real, they experience me as a source of kindness, healing, joy, and freedom.

Kindness (Maitri): To be a source of kindness to another person, requires understanding them.

Compassion (Karuna): To be a source of healing for another person, requires understanding them.

Joy (Mudita): If there is no joy in love–if I am suffering all the time, or making the person I seek to love cry–this is not love.

Freedom (Upeksha): A person who is loved feels free, outside and inside. A wise question to ask is, “Dear one, do you have space enough in your heart, and all around you?” If they feel constrained or imprisoned, you are not loving them.

III. “To love is to be; to be loved is to be recognized by the other.”

Some mantras:
“Dear one, I am hear for you.”
“Dear one, I know that you are here, and it makes me very happy.”
“Dear one, I am suffering, please help.”
“I am determined to practice deep listening. I am determined to practice loving speech.”

IV. The importance of a disciplined community

“The sangha is a practice community in which the brothers and sisters in the Dharma practice the cultivation of mindfulness daily… if the practitioner of meditation does not take refuge in a community, in a sangha, he will abandon his practice after a few months.”

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