Where does our idea of love come from these days? How much of it is influenced by pop culture? Is a relationship necessary to experience true love, is it something we can experience within ourselves and with our relationship with family and friends?
What is love? What is ‘true’ love? Can it even be defined? Is it even dependant on being in a relationship with someone? Our idea of what true love is today may comes from a fairytale, movie, or reality TV show, and the definition has likely changed many times. But we all have certain conditions attached to our idea of what love is, or some sort of criteria drawn up for what our ‘perfect match’ would look like, and I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. Perhaps true love is much more simple than popular culture would have us believe. As Thich Nhat Hanh (a Vietnamese Buddhist Monk) explains below, if there is love/kindness, compassion, joy, and inclusiveness, according to Buddhist teaching, you are experiencing true love. It’s pretty simple. True love doesn’t necessarily have to be something magical that sprung out of a fairy tale, although if that’s the case there’s nothing wrong with that either.
The main points taken from the video are that love and kindness have the power to create happiness. When you are able to develop feelings of joy and happiness in yourself, that’s true love, offered to yourself. If you can generate these feelings, and help the other person generate these feelings, that’s true love. So, if you are a source of joy and happiness for another, that is true love. True love is the capacity to make yourself suffer less, and help the other person suffer less. “There is an art of suffering. If you know how to suffer, you suffer much, much less.” Practice compassion and it will grow and if love does not generate joy, it’s not love. If love makes the other person cry every day, it’s not love.
It seems that “true love” can be a choice. You can choose to be in a relationship and cultivate these feelings with anybody. “True love is capable of generating joy for yourself and for the other person.” What do you think ‘true love’ is?