On Love - an article by Ajahn Jayasaro:

To live wisely in this world involves learning and understanding the nature of love and contemplating its disadvantages as well as its advantages. The Dhamma teaches us to abandon cravings which are the cause of the suffering and the harm that accompany mundane love. We should aim to be one who neither suffers from love nor causes suffering for others on its account. We should purify our love so that it takes on more and more the qualities of mettā. Learning from experience leads us to the truth of things. When we see the way things are, the love that is fuelled by ignorance and craving will diminish or disappear altogether. The love based on wisdom, understanding, and the desires that spring from them will persist and mature.

In Dhamma practice, wisdom acts as the direct antidote to ignorance by examining the reality of life and the world with a stable, stilled and unbiased mind sustained in the present. The direct antidote to craving is the systematic and integrated development of wholesome mental states. In the case of love, the most prominent of these virtues are loving-kindness and the effort to be a good friend. Training ourselves to practice restraint, to keep track of our emotions, to let go: these are at the heart of the negating side of the practice. But at the same time we need a positive ideal to cultivate. That positive ideal is provided by the pure love called mettā. The distinguishing characteristics of a pure love are:

1. It is unconditional.

2. It is boundless, a wish for all living beings to be well.

3. It is not a cause of suffering.

4. It is governed by wisdom and equanimity (upekkhā).

It is a miracle that such a love exists, and that every single human being has the ability to develop it. When we watch the news and see the cruelty and heedlessness of our fellow human beings, the feelings of depression and despair that can arise may be dispelled by reflecting on our innate ability to feel mettā. It’s true that human beings can be awful creatures, but it’s also true that they have it within them to be better than they are.


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