A book, a movie and a song have helped me connect some dots in my reflections on love recently. The book is Cultivating the mind of love by Thich Nhat Hanh. The movie is Cashback. The song is Life is Wonderful by Jason Mraz.
A while back already, a year or two ago, I read Thay’s book Cultivating the mind of love. Wonderful book, where Thay relates his experience of falling in love for the first time to the deeper meaning and practice of True Love in Buddhism. I remember being touched and inspired by this book. I don’t remember what exactly was written in it though. But seeds have been sown.
Then, a few months ago, in January, I watched a movie called Cashback. I really liked the movie, and although it was mainly about romantic love, my interpretation of the main character’s reflections related to a broader definition of Love. Love with a capital ‘L’ perhaps. Or ‘True Love’ as it’s called in some Buddhist circles. Some might also call it God. The kind of love that you can find in every moment, in every person, in every thing. The miracle of life is right there.
Once, I looked outside my window and saw the tree in my street. 10% of its bright yellow leaves were still clinging on to its branches, it was fall. The sunlight was capturing the movements of the leaves in the wind. Or the waving of the leaves in the wind was capturing the sunlight. It was incredibly beautiful, yet so simple. I saw it, thanks to mindfulness I believe, and wondered if anyone else was seeing this miracle of life, right here for us to receive.
In the movie, the main character Ben, art student, has just broken up with his girlfriend. Ever since, he cannot sleep anymore so he decides to start working night shifts at a supermarket. To pass time, he stops time and finds the beauty which lies in the moments between two seconds. He does it with the artist eye and through capturing it on paper with his drawings. And in the end of the movie he relates it to love, romantic love. He falls in love with another girl he met at his supermarket job. His conclusion on love:
“Once upon a time I wanted to know what love was. Love is there if you want it to be. You just have to see that it’s wrapped in beauty and hidden away between the seconds of your life. If you don’t stop for a minute you might miss it.”
Yes! When we stop, smile and breathe, beauty is there, love is there. That beautiful tree with its yellow leaves glittering in the sunshine, that is love to me. Love of nature, love of life there for me. My own love, there when I am fully present in the moment, allowing myself to capture this beauty nature is offering me. The same is true with people: when I am fully present I see a small gesture, the tiny change of someone’s facial expression, the choice of a word, something I usually take for granted, and I see the love in there. The spark of love that comes through a person into that gesture, facial expression, word, action, maybe unconsciously, but it’s there. All I need to do is receive it. Seems so easy, but it’s not. Not always at least. For me it relates to living simply. It is sublime in its simplicity.
This enlargens my definition of love so much and the ‘places’ where I can find love. Actually, you can find love only in yourself. Through that, you are able to connect to anything outside of yourself that is love as well.
In February I got into the songs of Jason Mraz. The lyrics of some of his songs are really cool. One of my favorites is Life is Wonderful. Jason Mraz tells us how nothing stands on its own. Everything is interconnected. I especially enjoyed the parts where he sings: ‘It takes some silence to make sound. It takes a hole to see the mountain.’ But I found out I am an exception in that. Most people around me were more touched by what Jason sings about love: ‘It takes no time to fall in love but it takes you years to know what love is.’ And even though this was not my favorite part of the song, it got stuck in me because of hearing it from others several times! It got me reflecting again on what this feeling of love actually is and means in our lives.
But it was a quote I bumped into recently, surfing the internet, from the book Cultivating the mind of love by Thay, that connected it all to me:
‘Your first love has no beginning or end. Your first love is not your first love, and it is not your last. It is just love. It is one with everything.’
Love is an energy, present everywhere around us, in people, in nature, in actions, in things. The feeling of love is not something we possess. I don’t have my feeling of love separated from your feeling of love. Love is an energy we can connect to, by connecting to that space in ourselves where this energy of love is felt, connecting to our heart. The wonderful thing is that by loving, giving love to someone, feeling love, connecting to this energy of love around us, we do not use it up. This energy is not a finite energy that we have to recharge somehow when we’ve finished it. No, on the contrary! The more we connect with this energy, the more we spread this energy, the more we are able to feel love and the more love we have to give! We are more capable of finding, seeing, sensing the energy of love around us, ending up with seeing it everywhere we go. The energy of love in us grows when we share love with other people and things. It is one of the most sustainable energies I know. An energy that does not burn up by using it, but is actually charged by using it. And it gives us so much energy to act from!
Actually, this seems true for most of our feelings. Anger is also a very strong energy and when we are in touch with the energy of anger it is easy to see it all around us and have the feeling of anger inside us grow, grow and grow. Making us feel pretty miserable and exhausted. Even if in the beginning this might move us to take action for something, on the long term it burns us up. Looking a little bit deeper into it, anger doesn’t seem such a sustainable energy anymore, as it burns up our own energy to take action.
But nothing can continue living when we do not feed it. So let’s consciously choose which energy we feed and make grow. Let’s consciously make use of this sustainable energy that is Love, to give us energy to act from, to take action in a positive way, to keep going, to not get burned out, to connect to the world and the people around us, to connect to ourselves also.