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The Buddhist Concept of Love by Ven Dr. Medagama Vajiragnana

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  • Antony Woods
    The word love has many different meanings in English, some of which are contradictory and confusing. This word covers a very wide range of emotions which
    Message 1 of 6 , May 20, 2009
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      "The word 'love' has many different meanings in English,
      some of which are contradictory and confusing.
      This word covers a very wide range of emotions
      which human beings experience.
      There is selfish love and there is selfless love.
      In Buddhism we use the pali word 'metta',
      which has sometimes been translated into English
      by the term 'loving-kindness' or `universal love'
      in an attempt to avoid some of the undesirable connotations
      associated with the word 'love'.

      Buddhist metta means the sincere wish
      for the welfare and happiness of all living beings without exception.
      Metta is unconditional love,
      Not love in the sense of wanting to possess or belong.
      It is being open, accepting what is, without making demands.
      It is embracing impartially all sentient beings,
      not only those who are useful, pleasing or amusing to us.
      It means fraternal affection, unbounded love,
      Or friendly feelings, free from lustful attachment.
      It is not really the experience of beauty and romantic joy,
      but is also associated with ugliness, pain and aggression.
      It is not dwelling in aversion
      on that which is foul, bad, evil or terrible.
      It is an attitude or orientation of character,
      not a relationship with a specific person.
      Nobody can give this faculty to us,
      we must find it in ourselves
      and cultivate it mindfully."
      http://www.londonbuddhistvihara.org/samadhi/January2002.htm
      From: The Buddhist Concept of Love
      by Most Venerable Dr. Medagama Vajiragnana,
      Sangha Nayaka of Great Britain, Head of the London Buddhist Vihara

      With metta / Antony.
    • antony272b2
      The word love has many different meanings in English, some of which are contradictory and confusing. This word covers a very wide range of emotions which
      Message 2 of 6 , Jun 28, 2010
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        "The word 'love' has many different meanings in English,
        some of which are contradictory and confusing.
        This word covers a very wide range of emotions
        which human beings experience.
        There is selfish love and there is selfless love.
        In Buddhism we use the pali word 'metta',
        which has sometimes been translated into English
        by the term 'loving-kindness' or 'universal love'
        in an attempt to avoid some of the undesirable connotations
        associated with the word 'love'.

        Buddhist metta means the sincere wish
        for the welfare and happiness of all living beings without exception.
        Metta is unconditional love,
        Not love in the sense of wanting to possess or belong.
        It is being open, accepting what is, without making demands.
        It is embracing impartially all sentient beings,
        not only those who are useful, pleasing or amusing to us.
        It means fraternal affection, unbounded love,
        Or friendly feelings, free from lustful attachment.
        It is not really the experience of beauty and romantic joy,
        but is also associated with ugliness, pain and aggression.
        It is not dwelling in aversion
        on that which is foul, bad, evil or terrible.
        It is an attitude or orientation of character,
        not a relationship with a specific person.
        Nobody can give this faculty to us,
        we must find it in ourselves
        and cultivate it mindfully."
        http://www.londonbuddhistvihara.org/samadhi/January2002.htm
        From: The Buddhist Concept of Love
        by Most Venerable Dr. Medagama Vajiragnana,
        Sangha Nayaka of Great Britain, Head of the London Buddhist Vihara

        With metta / Antony.
      • antony272b2
        The word `love has many different meanings in English, some of which are contradictory and confusing. This word covers a very wide range of emotions which
        Message 3 of 6 , Oct 4, 2011
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          "The word `love' has many different meanings in English, some of which are contradictory and confusing. This word covers a very wide range of emotions which human beings experience. There is selfish love and there is selfless love. In Buddhism we use the pali word `metta', which has sometimes been translated into English by the term `loving-kindness' or `universal love' in an attempt to avoid some of the undesirable connotations associated with the word `love'.

          Buddhist metta means the sincere wish for the welfare and happiness of all living beings without exception. Metta is unconditional love, not love in the sense of wanting to possess or belong. It is being open, accepting what is, without making demands. It is embracing impartially all sentient beings, not only those who are useful, pleasing or amusing to us. It means fraternal affection, unbounded love, or friendly feelings, free from lustful attachment. It is not really the experience of beauty and romantic joy, but is also associated with ugliness, pain and aggression. It is not dwelling in aversion on that which is foul, bad, evil or terrible. It is an attitude or orientation of character, not a relationship with a specific person. Nobody can give this faculty to us, we must find it in ourselves and cultivate it mindfully.

          Metta allows people to be as they are, not forcing them to change or to become as we would like them to be. It is characterised as promoting welfare and beneficence. Its function is to promote the growth of friendliness. It is manifested by the removal of dosa - ill-will or hatred - filling the heart with love. Its proximate cause is seeing lovableness in beings, the linking of others with oneself in affection. It succeeds when it makes ill-will subside. It is not possible to practise metta and feel anger or resentment at the same time.

          Metta fails when it produces selfish affection (pema), desire or lust. Metta really means friendliness, not `love' in the often used English sense of the word; `love' is related etymologically to `lobha' which means greed, and this is inimical to metta. The near enemies of metta are greed and sensuous love that views objects with discrimination and seeks to indulge selfish craving. Its far enemies are ill-will, cruelty and envy.

          When one wants to develop this quality within oneself one has to practise towards oneself first for one cannot give to others that which one does not possess. One should be sincere to oneself in accepting one's own failings, and develop pure friendliness towards oneself before extending it to others. Then unselfish friendly feelings are to be extended by stages towards all beings, starting from the most dear and revered ones, then neutral persons and then hostile ones. We are encouraged to love all living beings, not restricted only to human beings. We should radiate our loving kindness towards every living being as it says in the Karaniya Metta Sutta, `those seen or unseen; dwelling far or near; those who are born and those who are to be born, may all beings, without exception, be happy minded'.

          It is the radiating of pure goodwill, with no expectation of reward or praise or anything in return. This is why the practice of metta can never end in disappointment or frustration It is to be measureless in its scope. It transcends all forms of barriers or boundaries whether they are social, racial, national, religious, communal or political, without creating anything with aversion towards failings and faults.

          A mother's love for her only child is held up as the ideal example of metta in its most developed form. A mother will willingly forgo her own pleasures and safety, and will even give up her own life if it will contribute towards the welfare of her child. She has no selfish thoughts for her own well-being but will go to extraordinary lengths to safeguard her child. This is the kind of attitude we should strive to develop towards all beings.

          Buddhism teaches us that we have lived an enormous succession of lives which have been going on since beginningless time, during which we have been born in an endless variety of different relationships. The Buddha himself said, "Monks, it is not easy to find a being who has not been a mother, a father, a brother, a sister, a son or a daughter, in this endless repetition of existence." (Samyutta Nikaya II. 189)

          The correct practice of metta has very powerful effects. Once when he was out walking with his disciples, the Buddha came across a tree which was burning and he remarked that a monk would do better to endure being burnt like that tree rather than to accept the four requisites from his supporters without being sure that he was worthy to accept such gifts. These requisites are food, clothing, shelter and medicines, and are supplied by lay supporters in order to meet the monks' needs, not for their enjoyment or sensual gratification.

          The Buddha advised his monks to make sure that they could justify the confidence and trust placed in them by their lay supporters and that the monks should examine their consciences to see that they had not abused this trust. The Buddha warned monks that it would be better to endure all sorts of torture and being burnt by red-hot implements than to take pleasure in enjoyment of their requisites. These words had such a profound impact on the monks that 60 of them vomited blood, 60 disrobed because they felt they were unworthy to continue as monks, and 60 reached enlightenment. The Buddha went on to say that if, however, a monk were to sustain a loving mind properly even for a period as short as one finger snap, then he could be regarded as being worthy of accepting the requisites.

          The Buddha said that no follower of his should show anger, no matter how much wrong might have been done to him. This means that there is no room in these teachings for what is sometimes called "righteous anger". Likewise, there can be no such thing as a "just war". In the Dhammapada there is a verse which reads, "Enmity never ceases by enmity; enmity ceases by amity. This is an eternal law." Non violence is a more effective power to fight against evil than weapons. Hatred brings remorse; love brings peace and happiness.

          The person who practises metta or loving-kindness is blessed by the following results: He sleeps happily, awakes happily, is not disturbed by bad dreams, is loved by human beings, is loved by non-human beings, is not harmed by poisons, fire or weapons, is protected by invisible deities, can concentrate easily, develops a beautiful facial expression, will die peacefully, and if he has not already attained enlightenment, he will be reborn in a blissful state. (Anguttara Nikaya v. 342)

          Because of the rat race after material gain many people are not aware of the wonderful results one can experience here and now in practising loving-kindness. Material prosperity when devoid of spiritual backing will never bring lasting happiness and peace to individuals or to society. Both happiness and peace are based in the mind. When the mind is happy and at peace one can bring peace to the others.

          `Let us live happily, not hating those who hate us. Among those who hate us, let us live free from hatred' (Dhp. 197)."
          http://www.londonbuddhistvihara.org/samadhi/January2002.htm#LOVE
          From: Samadhi: Journal of the London Buddhist Vihara, Issue No. 19, January 2002
          Posted with the kind permission of the London Buddhist Vihara

          With metta / Antony.
        • antony272b2
          The word love has many different meanings in English, some of which are contradictory and confusing. This word covers a very wide range of emotions which
          Message 4 of 6 , Nov 16, 2012
          • 0 Attachment
            "The word 'love' has many different meanings in English, some of which are contradictory and confusing. This word covers a very wide range of emotions which human beings experience. There is selfish love and there is selfless love. In Buddhism we use the pali word 'metta', which has sometimes been translated into English by the term 'loving-kindness' or 'universal love' in an attempt to avoid some of the undesirable connotations associated with the word 'love'.

            Buddhist metta means the sincere wish for the welfare and happiness of all living beings without exception. Metta is unconditional love, not love in the sense of wanting to possess or belong. It is being open, accepting what is, without making demands. It is embracing impartially all sentient beings, not only those who are useful, pleasing or amusing to us. It means fraternal affection, unbounded love, or friendly feelings, free from lustful attachment. It is not really the experience of beauty and romantic joy, but is also associated with ugliness, pain and aggression. It is not dwelling in aversion on that which is foul, bad, evil or terrible. It is an attitude or orientation of character, not a relationship with a specific person. Nobody can give this faculty to us, we must find it in ourselves and cultivate it mindfully.

            Metta allows people to be as they are, not forcing them to change or to become as we would like them to be. It is characterised as promoting welfare and beneficence. Its function is to promote the growth of friendliness. It is manifested by the removal of dosa - ill-will or hatred - filling the heart with love. Its proximate cause is seeing lovableness in beings, the linking of others with oneself in affection. It succeeds when it makes ill-will subside. It is not possible to practise metta and feel anger or resentment at the same time.

            Metta fails when it produces selfish affection (pema), desire or lust. Metta really means friendliness, not 'love' in the often used English sense of the word; 'love' is related etymologically to 'lobha' which means greed, and this is inimical to metta. The near enemies of metta are greed and sensuous love that views objects with discrimination and seeks to indulge selfish craving. Its far enemies are ill-will, cruelty and envy.

            When one wants to develop this quality within oneself one has to practise towards oneself first for one cannot give to others that which one does not possess. One should be sincere to oneself in accepting one's own failings, and develop pure friendliness towards oneself before extending it to others. Then unselfish friendly feelings are to be extended by stages towards all beings, starting from the most dear and revered ones, then neutral persons and then hostile ones. We are encouraged to love all living beings, not restricted only to human beings. We should radiate our loving kindness towards every living being as it says in the Karaniya Metta Sutta, `those seen or unseen; dwelling far or near; those who are born and those who are to be born, may all beings, without exception, be happy minded'.

            It is the radiating of pure goodwill, with no expectation of reward or praise or anything in return. This is why the practice of metta can never end in disappointment or frustration It is to be measureless in its scope. It transcends all forms of barriers or boundaries whether they are social, racial, national, religious, communal or political, without creating anything with aversion towards failings and faults.

            A mother's love for her only child is held up as the ideal example of metta in its most developed form. A mother will willingly forgo her own pleasures and safety, and will even give up her own life if it will contribute towards the welfare of her child. She has no selfish thoughts for her own well-being but will go to extraordinary lengths to safeguard her child. This is the kind of attitude we should strive to develop towards all beings.

            Buddhism teaches us that we have lived an enormous succession of lives which have been going on since beginningless time, during which we have been born in an endless variety of different relationships. The Buddha himself said, "Monks, it is not easy to find a being who has not been a mother, a father, a brother, a sister, a son or a daughter, in this endless repetition of existence." (Samyutta Nikaya II. 189)

            The correct practice of metta has very powerful effects. Once when he was out walking with his disciples, the Buddha came across a tree which was burning and he remarked that a monk would do better to endure being burnt like that tree rather than to accept the four requisites from his supporters without being sure that he was worthy to accept such gifts. These requisites are food, clothing, shelter and medicines, and are supplied by lay supporters in order to meet the monks' needs, not for their enjoyment or sensual gratification.

            The Buddha advised his monks to make sure that they could justify the confidence and trust placed in them by their lay supporters and that the monks should examine their consciences to see that they had not abused this trust. The Buddha warned monks that it would be better to endure all sorts of torture and being burnt by red-hot implements than to take pleasure in enjoyment of their requisites. These words had such a profound impact on the monks that 60 of them vomited blood, 60 disrobed because they felt they were unworthy to continue as monks, and 60 reached enlightenment. The Buddha went on to say that if, however, a monk were to sustain a loving mind properly even for a period as short as one finger snap, then he could be regarded as being worthy of accepting the requisites.

            The Buddha said that no follower of his should show anger, no matter how much wrong might have been done to him. This means that there is no room in these teachings for what is sometimes called "righteous anger". Likewise, there can be no such thing as a "just war". In the Dhammapada there is a verse which reads, "Enmity never ceases by enmity; enmity ceases by amity. This is an eternal law." Non violence is a more effective power to fight against evil than weapons. Hatred brings remorse; love brings peace and happiness.

            The person who practises metta or loving-kindness is blessed by the following results: He sleeps happily, awakes happily, is not disturbed by bad dreams, is loved by human beings, is loved by non-human beings, is not harmed by poisons, fire or weapons, is protected by invisible deities, can concentrate easily, develops a beautiful facial expression, will die peacefully, and if he has not already attained enlightenment, he will be reborn in a blissful state. (Anguttara Nikaya v. 342)

            Because of the rat race after material gain many people are not aware of the wonderful results one can experience here and now in practising loving-kindness. Material prosperity when devoid of spiritual backing will never bring lasting happiness and peace to individuals or to society. Both happiness and peace are based in the mind. When the mind is happy and at peace one can bring peace to the others.

            'Let us live happily, not hating those who hate us. Among those who hate us, let us live free from hatred' (Dhp. 197)."
            http://www.londonbuddhistvihara.org/samadhi/January2002.htm#LOVE
            From: Samadhi: Journal of the London Buddhist Vihara, Issue No. 19, January 2002
            Posted with the kind permission of the London Buddhist Vihara

            With metta / Antony.
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