Happiness and Love
Each week I look for inspiration throughout the week for my Monday post, this week it came in the form of a surprise phone call. You see this week was my wonderful niece’s 10th birthday. One of the things that makes her so wonderful is the fact that she is the most loving creature I’ve ever encountered. People say that one of the reasons that their pets are so wonderful is that they give their owners unconditional love; this is how my niece operates. She’s one of those amazing people whose default position is that people are good and wonderful; she loves immediately, unconditionally and somehow, so far, has not started to get jaded by the disappointments life can bring to a person with that attitude. One of my greatest memories of her will always be from when she was about three years old. She wasn’t the most verbal of children, and living on the West Coast and her on the East Coast, I didn’t get to see her very often. But when she was that age, whenever I showed up at her house she would get so excited the only thing she could say through her grinning face was, “yes”, over and over again, “yes, yes, yes.”
Well on her 10th birthday this past week she got her very own cell phone and she called me, she was so excited to get her phone and to tell me she called me on her phone. Her excitement and beauty of spirit inspired this post this week. A question I put to myself, that I now put to all of you, how do we get to a point of loving that completely? How do we look at not only our lovers, our family and our friends, but how do we engage the world with that kind of love? I’m not sure I know, but maybe, after studying under my young niece for a bit longer I might gain some more insight, I’ll keep you posted.
It doing a bit of research for this piece I came across a really well written piece on how to love deeply in a blog called The Owl’s Perch, it’s definitely worth a read and I hope you gain something from it, and as always, have a happy day my friends.
Thinking about “maitri” today, one of the four elements of love in the Buddhist tradition. Loving-kindness is the direct translation.
Real understanding is needed to truly love deeply. How do we understand each other? Thich Nhat Hanh in his book, “True Love” says that understanding is based on a “deep looking directed toward the person you love.” Can I understand deeply enough what another person’s suffering, joy, and aspirations are so that I can truly love? “Without understanding, love is an impossible thing,” says Hanh. And he doesn’t just use this term for those we’re “in love” with!
So when I look at the person behind the checkout counter at the grocery store, the person in the car that just cut in front of me or the children who rang my doorbell trick-or-treating last night… can I look deeply into them and “see” who they are, what their story is, what their pains are, what their joy is? I wonder what might be different in my day if I did that. What might be different in their day? Might I get a different sense of what’s going on in the world?
And then if I hold that stance for those I do love in a more traditional sense, what more is available in the relationship? It reminds me (okay maybe a bit sappy) of the expression of love in the movie “Avatar” when the Na’vi say to each other “I see you.” I know what it feels like to be “seen.” And I know what it feels like when it appears that I’m invisible. In this sense, I’m using so much more than my eyes to see… I’m listening to every clue from every source possible! And the potential richness of the relationship expands exponentially!
Don’t we all hunger to be seen? I know I do. And, I think it starts with me looking deeply into those around me, even if only for a moment to get a sense of who’s there. I’m going to give it a try–care to join me? ~ Rev Kane