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Conversely you could look for a way to express the new orientation in your life and find out the implications of the new point of view. You might assume that the implication is that you have to marry and have children and stay together for the rest of your life. That might be so, but it might not; love isn’t dependent on outcomes. You might notice that love is what really counts in life and that could mean you get a different job, spend more time with friends, forget about being famous, come out as gay, or shave your head and go into a long retreat. Both love and enlightenment are in favor of whatever welcomes more life.

Looking at the implications is what Buddhists call having a practice. Falling in love is the beginning of a practice.

2. Love is Underneath Everything

Here is Tolstoy near the end of War and Peace:

The whole meaning of life, not only for him, but for all the world, seemed to consist only in his love and the possibility of her love for him.

Everyone appeared in the bright light of the feeling shining within him, so that without the least effort, meeting any person whatever, he at once saw in him all that was good and worthy of love.

“Maybe I did seem strange and ridiculous then,” he thought, “but I wasn’t as insane as I seemed. On the contrary, I was more intelligent and perceptive then than ever, and I understood everything that’s worth understanding in life, because… I was happy.”

Pierre’s insanity consisted in the fact that he did not wait, as before, for personal reasons, which he called people’s merits, in order to love them, but love overflowed his heart, and, loving people without reason, he discovered the unquestionable reasons for which it was worth loving them.

—Translation based on Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky

The implication of Pierre’s discovery is that love is an epiphany and also a template for how to live, or at least a way of interacting that is truer and more fun and alive than what went before. Everyone has the capacity for those feelings, the unreserved release of your heart, the colors so bright. Meeting and marrying, we are ten feet off the ground, our hearts beat fast; the moment can’t find a way to end. That’s really how life is when we are not pouring it into little containers.

Love comes to the truth not through suffering but through a leap into a realm in which generosity, kindness, and appreciation are the basement floor of existence. This is probably the most important similarity between awakening and falling in love.


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