This question is very important for all of us as the meaning of love is being depreciated and narrowed down by media, corporations and popular culture. I have just finished reading a short book by Thich Nhat Hanh called “True love: a practice of awakening the heart”. Written by a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, this book is a true masterpiece. It is also a book to keep by your bedside and read at times when you need some emotional support. The author discusses the four aspects of love according to Buddhism: maitri, karuna, mudita and upeksha. Maitri refers to loving-kindness or benevolence, karuna refers to compassion, mudita is joy and upeksha refers to freedom. All the four concepts are about the focus on the loved one, not on yourself: the focus on understanding as the essence of love.
These are very important ideas especially for people who meditate regularly. Many meditations require us to focus on love, yet not many of us truly understand this concept. Thich Nhat Hanh uncovers the essence of true love and provides some useful examples of mindfulness practices we can do every day. When we meditate, we bring our body and mind to the present moment and thus we can look into the essence of things. Human-made concepts and categories create fear and anxiety while meditation helps us to touch reality within ourselves. Love is about recognizing the presence of the other, being there when your loved one is suffering, deep listening, overcoming pride and practicing loving speech. Meditation is one of the ways how we can experience true love and freedom.
Do you practice mediation? Please share your meditation experience in the comments.