The Language of Love

Birth of the Buddha

 

The language of love does not, in any way, correspond with the language of desire[1].

When one person, or even one being, loves another, their primary concern always lies
with how to remove the suffering and pain of another. It begins, continues and ends with thinking about ways to bring pleasure and happiness to another, and will even focus upon the needs and wishes of all beings. This is not because it is trying in any way to deceive another simply to fulfill its own selfish gratifications.

Love aims to avoid creating losses for another person or being. Simply, it aims to protect
the integrity, morality and self-respect of another person. Desire attempts to do the opposite. Desire does not care if damage is created in the experience of another person. It cares nothing for the self-respect, morality or aims of another.

Love aims to protect and nurture the happiness, contentment and health of people and all
beings. It has no interest in trampling on the needs of others in order to bring about some superficial, short-lived and impermanent experience of satisfaction.

In my experience, the Buddha will think, devise and perform limitless actions aimed at protecting, nurturing and sustaining the happiness and fulfillment of another person. He has no commonality whatsoever in the mundane, selfish and destructive motivations of ordinary, self-possessed beings. An ordinary being, on the other hand, has no thought or care about the consequences of his self-centered actions. An ordinary being with no insight or love will, without hesitation, create suffering and misery in the mind and experience of another. True, deep, endless love, aims to transcend the boundaries of space, thought and time. It can move beyond the limitations of the human form and reach far into the realms of space to bring peace, contentment and joy.

May all beings identify, recognize and be conjoined with the supramundane love of a Buddha. May they transcend their sufferings and recognize without any shadow of a doubt, that a Buddha can and will free all beings from their limited, miserable lives and transport them to a state of never-ending happiness, peace and everlasting joy.


[1] Desire means thirst. Like drinking salt water. A taste that cannot be satisfied. Quote from The Buddha

Copyright © Vanessa Anne Walsh 2011

The Buddha’s Begging Bowl

Four Sights of Birth, Aging, Sickness and Death

The word ‘diet’ has several different meanings. The Collins Dictionary defines it to be ‘the food and drink one regularly consumes’. An alternative to that is the definition given in A Kind Diet, which states that diet is “a way of living, or thinking, a day’s journey.”

The time we spend on shopping for food, planning our meals, thinking about what it is we like and do not like to eat and what adhere’s to the medical profession’s recommendations surrounding the subject of diet is indeed considerable. We spend many of our waking hours working out this basic survival function and the money that goes towards keeping this human body of ours in good shape and healthy is enormous. Having thought about that, and briefly looked into some popular diet trends that are heavily advertised on local media, I thought to divert away from the consumerist approach to food for a moment and consider the Buddha‘s teaching on non-attachment.

One symbol the Buddha employed as a means to convey his teaching on non-attachment was the use of an alms or begging bowl. Alms are charitable donations of money or goods to the poor or needy, yet the Buddha was neither of these things, so why bother with the use of a begging bowl? The alms bowl is considered to be symbol of the monastic life or life of a renunciate, and an aid to the life of the holy and those interested in seeking the truth. Once made from clay, which broke easily, the bowls were then forged with iron for added durability.

Specifically, the alms bowl refers to the time in the Buddha’s life just before he attained enlightenment, when a young girl, named Sujata offered the Buddha a bowl of milk rice. Although the Buddha was practicing the austerity of eating only a little food at the time, he realised that to achieve the final stages of enlightenment, he would need to partake of the offering of rice from Sujuta. After partaking of the meal, one tradition states that the Buddha then threw away the small amount of food left in that bowl to symbolise the Buddha’s complete non-attachment to material possessions. Another legend tells the story that the Buddha threw away the begging bowl itself into the river to symbolise the mind of non-attachment.

The point of all this is to question the validity, or lack thereof, of the attached state of mind itself. The mind of attachment is traditionally explained in Buddhist philosophy to be a mind that exaggerates the good qualities of an object and ignores it’s perhaps less apparent flaws. One apparent flaw in all objects of this world is their impermanent nature. Of the Four Seals of Buddhism, the first is that all compounded phenomena are suffering. The second is that all contaminated objects are impermanent. At Daily Buddhism, stained or contaminated actions are explained as follows;

The use of the word stained or contaminated refers to actions, emotions or thoughts that are stained by selfish attachment, or by hatred, greed or ignorance.

When we are motivated by an attached state of mind, and cling onto material possessions, relationships or even ideas, we fail to recognise the objects intransigent and impermanent nature. That does not mean to say that we are not in need of food and other such things to ensure our survival and good health. It does indicate however, that having a more open and loving outlook towards other beings is more important. Given the violent nature of our human history and past, the gross lack of regard for the lives of others and destruction of the environment and other species, it is most definitely time to act to lighten our environmental footprint and reduce our grasping towards the status symbols of the wealthy. Instead of spending big bucks on expensive living and chasing the latest fad or diet trend, I suggest that there is much more happiness and satisfaction to be gained and maintained from living a more moderate and simple lifestyle with a focus more upon ensuring a happy state of mind. If we spent more time ensuring our mind itself is in a positive and peaceful state, through the practice of meditation, this would naturally lead to a more balanced and healthy lifestyle which would not only benefit the practitioner, but others on the planet as well.

I will leave you here with a totally different interpretation of the word diet, from one of the founders of Buddhist literature and Mahayana thought. The great Nargajuna once wrote of the Five Diets being;

The Diet of Concentration

The Course Diet

The Inner Diet

The Diet of Touch and

The Diet of Volition.

Whilst I am no expert, I would say that the Buddha with his Alms or Begging Bowl is an important symbol of peace, happiness and prosperity to keep in mind as we go about our daily habit of foraging for food, drink and clothing, if in the least to try to minimise our ever-expanding impact on this precious planet.

Copyright © Vanessa Anne Walsh 2011

The One – the Lover and the Best Friend

#Actors Michael Pena and Yari De Leon after #T...
Image by joykennelly via Flickr

I saw a movie in this week. Three times. It’s called The Lincoln Lawyer. It struck some deep notes.

In samsara, when you meet beauty, when you meet true love, things can go awry. This is a story about a young man, a wonderful young man, not rich, but with genuine qualities who meets The One. One night in bar they meet. The sparks fly. He recognizes her beauty instantly and values it. She finds him sexy and drops her price. The chemistry is there. The future awaits.

As samsara would have it, a jealous, uncreative and corrupt man looks on. Seething with rage and hatred, he makes the determination to ruin it all. Unbeknownst to the lovers, he lies in wait, cultivating his evil motivation. In circumstances where sex and love are involved, evil watches on close by.

I suppose why this movie hit such a deep note is because I can draw so many parallels with events that have taken place in my own life. This movie focused upon a deep psychology, a psychology common to samsara, however this subject lies in a field of vision the ordinary person most often doesn’t recognize. The rich lay idly complacent, and the poor, wholesome ones unfortunately get lost in their naiveté and innocence.

When a common, uncreative and flawed ordinary being witnesses the play of true love and wisdom, their mind begins to spin out of control. Unable to contain their hatred, jealousy, fear and competitiveness, the wretched determine a plan that attempts to undermine such love and innocence and does its best to make the whole system fail. This of course will only further prolong the suffering of all concerned, but the evil mind never pays heed to that. Too ignorant to fathom the true depth of the consequences of an evil act, the uncreative mind is unrelenting in its inability to face up to the shallow nature of its own focus.

When you see others succeed, when you witness true love, don’t try to destroy it and take it away. Rejoice and recognize that by supporting such a rare event you create the causes for your own future happiness and success. Anything else is but a folly and a play of the unoriginal.

 

Copyright © Vanessa Anne Walsh 2011

Letting Go – The Path to Liberation

Buddhist saint and yogi - Padmasambhava

Recently I found myself a little disappointed over a turn of events. I analyzed the situation thoroughly, but still I could not reach a state of peace and relief in my mind. I spoke to a dear friend, and his response was, “well, just let it go.”

The impact of this statement was immediate. No sooner than those words passed through his lips, but a soft, balmy calm filtered through my mind, easing the anguish and frustration and reminding me of just how effective this technique of letting go of all one’s worries can be. There is no limit to what one may let go of. One can let go of anger, hurt, frustration, and most importantly, fear. The list of positive and negative emotions one can detach from is endless. One can let go of happiness, pleasure, pain and anxiety. When one does drop the emotion or thought from one’s mind, peace has an opportunity to take hold and flourish. Without the ability to let go and detach from one’s feelings and experiences, one remains locked in a prison, unable to escape the relentless torrent of samsaric emotions and fears ordinary beings remain afflicted by.

So how does one learn to let go?

Firstly, one can view the thought or emotion as though it were similar to an object one is holding in the palm of one’s hand, like a pen for example. Just as one can tip the hand and allow the pen to drop to the floor, so too can one take the thought, emotion or mental or physical experience and attempt to drop it from one’s mental perspective and continuum. Just drop the thought. Let it go and allow oneself to experience the freedom that arises when that thought is no longer dominating one’s mental processes.

Another even more powerful way, in my view, is to try to locate the heart of the emotion or fear. To ask oneself where is this fear located? Is it in one’s chest or stomach, one’s heart, or solar plexus? When one finds the source of one’s pain, one can attempt to ascertain its essence. Where is its heart? The more one searches for the essence of this feeling or emotion, the more difficult it becomes to find. As one begins to discover even the most painful and uncomfortable of emotions that one begins with having a tight hold over one’s experience, will undoubtedly dissolve and disappear altogether through the power of such analysis. What was once paralyzing becomes difficult to distinguish before evaporating altogether. This is a clear wisdom path to liberation whose method could hardly be simpler to describe, practice and integrate into one’s life.

The third way of letting go is to ask oneself firstly if one could welcome rather than resist the experience. Then when one has welcomed the pain, suffering, happiness or fear, one can then attempt to let it all go by means of one of the two methods explained above. One of the primary reasons we suffer when encountering unwanted situations is that our immediate reaction becomes one of resistance as soon as we meet with something we do not like. By welcoming the difficulty, we begin to disable the resistance, which is one of the causes of our suffering. We misinterpret the event and fight to protect ourselves from having to endure the discomfort or pain. So next time you are encountering an unwanted event or emotion, ask yourself first if you could welcome the experience and then try letting go of the emotion, dislike or hatred before it takes a grip over your mind.

My experience is that letting go has a tremendously liberating effect, to the point where one can disempower the negative associations and qualities surrounding just about every unwanted mental or physical event.

The source of this teaching comes from a scripture by the Buddhist saint Padmasambhava – Pointing a Stick at the Old Man.

More recently, in the modern era, Lester Levenson taught this practice of letting go, as have other well known Buddhist masters.

 

Copyright © Vanessa Anne Walsh 2011