The Four Elements of True Love
Whilst reading about Buddhism and it’s take on true love I came across the four elements of true love. In this post I will detail those elements and discuss how we can apply them into our lives and relationships.
Whether you’d like to develop a deeper love for a family member, friend or a romantic partner, I hope this post helps you to reflect and transform the way you think about love, so you have more harmonious relationships with yourself and others.
The 4 elements of true love according to the Buddha.
1) Love and Kindness (maitri – the desire to offer happiness)
This is the ability to offer happiness to yourself and to others. Relationships shouldn’t be just about our needs and our happiness and what we can gain. If we find it a struggle to offer kindness and happiness in any of our relationships, we must make the effort to develop and cultivate happiness within ourselves. According to Buddhist philosophy being able to offer another person happiness is a true kindness and a necessary component of a loving relationship.
2) Compassion (Karuna – the desire to remove suffering from other beings)
Compassion is an energy that can help transform the suffering in us and another person. It’s important to take time to understand our own suffering and be compassionate with ourselves. The ability to offer genuine compassion with the desire to remove another persons suffering is necessary for love, this compassion extends to our own suffering too.
3) Joy (mudita – The desire to bring joy to people around you)
Loving someone should be a joyful experience for the giver and receiver. Often love gets confused for attachment. First we should aim to cultivate joy within ourselves and then we can share it with others. If you don’t feel joy now that’s ok. Work on developing your own joy, find things that make you feel good, work on your own wellbeing. Cultivating joy so you can offer it to another is the ultimate act of love.
4) Inclusiveness / equanimity (Upeksha – the ability to accept everything and not to discriminate)
In love there is an element of inclusiveness, non discrimination, and no separation, between you and the other person (romantic or non romantic). In this spirit of inclusivity you can’t say ‘this is your problem, you deal with it’, ‘you fix yourself’, ‘this doesn’t suit me anymore’, ‘you aren’t doing what i want you to do’. In love, your problem is my problem, your suffering is my suffering, and your joy is my joy. This inclusiveness runs both ways. It is important to build equanimity into any relationship and to accept and understand another person without placing conditions for your love.
A Love that Transforms ((Maha Karuna – the great love/ the love of the Buddha)
Any kind of relationship that imagines that we can fulfil ourselves through another person is bound to be problematic and it’s likely to face obstacles. Fulfilment begins within.
According to Buddhist philosophy if your love has the four of the above elements it will bring happiness into any of your relationships (romantic or non romantic). If you can nurture these elements within yourself, your love will continue to grow and embrace all of us. Your joy and compassion will become limitless and your love unlimited. This kind of love will continue to grow to become a great love (Maha Karuna) and it will embrace everything in the cosmos.
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