A Brief Note on Love and Human Feelings

Buddhists are imperfect. We form attachments. We feel suffering. We try hard to balance spiritual prerogatives with worldly success. We feel loneliness. We want the company of others. Unless you have the luxury of a monastic life, you’re dealing with these realities constantly. And I’m writing this as a reminder:

It’s OK. Managing samsara is hard. It’s nasty sometimes, and disappointing. It’s OK if you’re not in a relationship today.

It’s OK if you feel like you shouldn’t be in one, or can’t be. On the flip side, it’s OK if you’re madly in love or just happy with your relationships. Why are all these things OK? On one level, we can practice compassion by accepting the limitations and gifts of others. Accepting that some people would rather be alone. Accepting that there are causes and conditions that give rise to such a disposition. Accepting that there are also other states of mind.

Accepting that pushing someone to be like someone else can generate more suffering than happiness. By all means we should celebrate the kind of love that couples share. Their happiness is good for the world. At the same time, it’s worth remembering that there is a higher form of love capable of embracing all sentient beings, whether they’re capitalizing on cocktail parties or falling asleep in foxholes. Couples should employ it and “single” people should receive it, and vice versa.

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