I just read an article in an old Spirituality and Health magazine, written by Thich Nhat Hanh, "The Four Aspects of Love". I found the magazine (July/August, 2011) in one of the piles I was sorting through to get organized on this first day of 2013. I wanted to share these four aspects of love and hope that you find it just as interesting as I did!
Perhaps this was better left for Valentine's Day - but I couldn't wait to share...
Hanh tells us that in the Buddhist tradition there are four elements of true love: maitri, karuna, mudita and upeksha.
Maitri is about loving-kindness or benevolence - this is not only about the desire to bring this to someone you love, but your ability to do so as well.
He goes on to say that it is important that we take time for deep understanding of the person because is we do not truly understand them, then we cannot love them properly.
Karuna is about compassion, which is not only the desire to ease the pain of another person, but the ability to do so. Again, knowledge and understanding help us to get to this place of karuna (compassion).
Mudita is about joy. "If there is no joy in love, it is not true love."
Upeksha is about equanimity or freedom. Your love should bring freedom to that person and this freedom should be not only on the outside, but on the inside as well.
Thich Nhat Hanh also gives us this question to ask ourselves as a test as to whether your love is something real, "Dear one, do you have enough space in your heart and all around you?"
I hope you are now reflecting on the way you are loving the people in your life. It is my hope that we all live from true love in all of our relationships - but it will take "deep looking" and understanding and this takes time and effort. But, I know that you will agree - that love is all we need!