4 Ways of Loving

I am a student.

I am a searcher.

I look for a teacher. I look for what the world teaches, and what I can learn from others. These are the hardest lessons.

I read recently that Zen master Thich Nhat Hahn says the path to learning is through love.

He said the 4 Ways of Loving are:

  1. Loving Kindness—the openness to understand what a person needs, and then give it to them. Communication is really a flux of shared energy, whether spoken or silent. Open this flux to understand not just the words, but the need expressed beneath the words. This does not mean judgement; it means openness. Attune to communication’s flux by sitting meditation, breathing naturally, and accepting what arises.
  2. Compassion—the openness to see another’s suffering, and to lighten their sorrow. This does not mean taking on the other being’s suffering, but instead bringing comfort to it. An open ear, a single thought, a simple word. Leave no conversation without leaving the impression you were present.
  3. Joy—We know it is a loving exchange when we feel ourselves overwhelmed with its joy. Overflowing joy is infectious, spilling out to others around us and into the rest of our day. Joy is the gift our minds give our bodies. Gifts of bliss. Joy is not a complicated thing. It is simple.
  4. Equanimity—I struggle here. Equanimity is the act of letting go. Non-attachment. Non-discrimination. Even-mindedness. Perhaps even more to the point, a sense of no-self. Equanimity is love without expectation. Not loving so we be loved. Not caring so we might be seen as caring. Just, without any sense of self or demand. I struggle with this.

There are three Jewels in Buddhism: the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. The Enlightened one who inspires. The teachings that lay out the path to our own enlightenment. And those who challenge and nourish along the way, with whom we share love.

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