Monday, October 1, 2012

The Buddha On Love

Previous installment: "The Buddha and a Culture of Violence"

by Jack Lawlor

We haven't heard the word "love" used genuinely in our political discourse in the United States since Dr. Martin Luther King -- despite torrents of skepticism and doubt from all quarters -- changed this nation profoundly by both preaching it and practicing it.

In the West, Buddhism tends to be known for its remarkable focus on the practice of meditation, perceived to be the cultivation of wisdom. But although raised to be a warrior by his father, the local king, love is the essence of the Buddha and his teaching. After approximately 45 years of teaching up and down the dusty roads of northern India, the Buddha stated that he teaches but one thing -- the liberation of suffering -- out of his love and compassion for all beings.

Some witnessing Buddhist peace demonstrations in the Chicago area have encountered recitations of the Buddha's Discourse on Love and report utter disbelief that the text is 2,500 years old, its language and our need for it is so contemporary:
The Discourse on Love

"He or she who wants to attain peace should practice being upright, humble, and capable of using loving speech. He or she will know how to live simply and happily, with senses calmed, without being covetous and carried away by the will of the majority. Let him or her not do anything that will be disapproved of by the wise ones.

( And this is what he or she contemplates ):

May everyone be happy and safe, and may their hearts be filled with joy.

May all beings live in security and peace -- beings who are frail or strong, tall or short, visible or not visible, near or far away, already born, or yet to be born. May all of them dwell in perfect tranquility.

Let no one do harm to anyone. Let no one put the life of anyone in danger. Let no one, out of anger or ill will, wish anyone any harm.

Just as a mother loves and protects her only child at the risk of her own life, we should cultivate boundless love to offer to all living beings in the entire cosmos. We should let our boundless love pervade the whole universe, above, below, and across. Our love will know no obstacles. Our heart will be absolutely free from hatred and enmity. Whether standing or walking, sitting or lying, as long as we are awake, we should maintain this mindfulness of love in our own heart. This is the noblest way of living.

Free from wrong view, greed and sensual desires, living in beauty and realizing Perfect Understanding, those who practice boundless love will certainly transcend birth and death."

Next installment: "The Suffering Caused By Misperception"

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