Romantic Love

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Aloka
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Re: Romantic Love

Postby Aloka » Wed Jul 15, 2015 6:18 pm

I know couples who've been together for years, who still have tender, loving relationships and some of them aren't even Buddhists .

Also, my dear (non-Buddhist) maternal grandparents were devoted to each other right into their old age. My grandfather died first and then a couple of years later when my grandmother was dying, she said that at last she was going to be with my grandfather again and died peacefully. It was very touching.




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Aloka
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Re: Romantic Love

Postby Aloka » Wed Jul 15, 2015 6:40 pm

dhammarelax wrote:I am afraid I have to point to you that he is not discussing it in terms of the 4 Brahma Viharas, ostensibly the 4rth Brahma Vihara (Equanimity) is absent from the video, its is replaced with "Inclusiveness".


Ven Hahn's interpretation of equanimity is here - and I think the parts I've underlined could be termed "inclusiveness":

The fourth element of true love is upeksha, which means equanimity, nonattachment, nondiscrimi­nation, even-mindedness, or letting go. Upe means “over,” and ksh means “to look.” You climb the mountain to be able to look over the whole situation, not bound by one side or the other. If your love has attachment, discrimination, prejudice, or clinging in it, it is not true love. People who do not understand Buddhism sometimes think upeksha means indifference, but true equanimity is neither cold nor indiffer­ent.If you have more than one child, they are all your children. Upeksha does not mean that you don’t love. You love in a way that all your children receive your love, without discrimination.

Upeksha has the mark called samatajnana, “the wisdom of equality,” the ability to see everyone as equal, not discriminating between ourselves and others. In a conflict, even though we are deeply concerned, we remain impartial, able to love and to understand both sides. We shed all discrimination and prejudice, and remove all boundaries between ourselves and others. As long as we see ourselves as the one who loves and the other as the one who is loved, as long as we value ourselves more than others or see others as different from us, we do not have true equanimity. We have to put ourselves “into the other person’s skin” and become one with him if we want to understand and truly love him. When that happens, there is no “self’ and no “other.”

Without upeksha, your love may become possessive. A summer breeze can be very refreshing; but if we try to put it in a tin can so we can have it entirely for ourselves, the breeze will die. Our beloved is the same. He is like a cloud, a breeze, a flower. If you imprison him in a tin can, he will die. Yet many people do just that. They rob their loved one of his liberty, until he can no longer be himself. They live to satisfy themselves and use their loved one to help them fulfill that. That is not loving; it is destroying. You say you love him, but if you do not understand his aspirations, his needs, his difficulties, he is in a prison called love. True love allows you to preserve your freedom and the freedom of your beloved. That is upeksha.

For love to be true love, it must contain compassion, joy, and equanimity in it. For compassion to be true compassion, it has to have love, joy, and equanimity in it. True joy has to contain love, compassion, and equanimity. And true equanimity has to have love, compassion, and joy in it. This is the interbeing nature of the Four Immeasurable Minds. When the Buddha told the Brahmin man to practice the Four Immeasurable Minds, he was offering all of us a very important teaching. But we must look deeply and practice them for ourselves to bring these four aspects of love into our own lives and into the lives we love.

http://www.mindfulnessbell.org/wp/tag/mudita/



:anjali:
Last edited by Aloka on Wed Jul 15, 2015 8:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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waterchan
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Re: Romantic Love

Postby waterchan » Wed Jul 15, 2015 6:55 pm

dhammarelax wrote:In a nutshell I dont think he is teaching Buddhism.

I see where you're coming from, but you have to consider the audience he's speaking to. Much of Thich Nhat Hanh's audience is comprised of the average Joe who is just looking for some meaning and warmth in his life. If the venerable had instead said:

Romantic love is a distraction. The opposite sex is a distraction. In fact, the Buddha praised seclusion and solitude over worldly relationships. After all, you don't really exist anyway. Go and practice jhanas at the foot of tree trunks if you want a good chance at not being reborn as an animal after you die.


that would close doors for further communication with half of the audience.

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Re: Romantic Love

Postby dhammarelax » Wed Jul 15, 2015 7:26 pm

waterchan wrote:
dhammarelax wrote:In a nutshell I dont think he is teaching Buddhism.

I see where you're coming from, but you have to consider the audience he's speaking to. Much of Thich Nhat Hanh's audience is comprised of the average Joe who is just looking for some meaning and warmth in his life. If the venerable had instead said:

Romantic love is a distraction. The opposite sex is a distraction. In fact, the Buddha praised seclusion and solitude over worldly relationships. After all, you don't really exist anyway. Go and practice jhanas at the foot of tree trunks if you want a good chance at not being reborn as an animal after you die.


that would close doors for further communication with half of the audience.


I completely agree, I followed a very popular teacher of similar style for about a decade, what I observe is that he should give this advice saying is his own not the Buddhas, nothing wrong in that, I think that will help people to find the warmth but also to realize that there is something higher: the true Dhamma. Had I heard that from my teacher I would have gained interest in what actually the Buddha taught earlier, but because we have all this teachers asserting shamelessly that this or that is what the Buddha taught the audience stays on that that level thinking that what they are getting is the final teaching.

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Re: Romantic Love

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Jul 15, 2015 7:27 pm

Jack Kornfield wrote a book several years back titled After the ecstasy, the laundry and I believe it was about various spiritual teachers and seekers who went off alone, had spiritual experiences and then when they returned to lay life discovered how much work they still had to do (the laundry). Kornfield himself struggled with relationship issues after disrobing as a Thai forest monk and found much of his progress after he settled down in a relationship and marriage.

Of course everyone is different and to each their own but a relationship can be a real test of the brahma viharas and your progress in general. But I am not saying one should have a relationship for the sole purpose of testing yourself! :tongue: But for those who do choose a relationship it can be a great way to share what you know with someone intimately and you can progress together. Ideally, a partner would be on the Path with you and it can be a great kalyana-mitta to have.

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Re: Romantic Love

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Jul 15, 2015 7:46 pm

Thanks Aloka, Here's a transcript from the Youtube link:
The Buddha is a teacher of love, true love. Love for mother earth should be true love. And if it is true love, it can bring a lot of happiness to you and to mother earth. And romantic love, if it is true love, it can also bring a lot of happiness. But if it is not true love, it will make you suffer, and make the other suffer as well.

And in the teaching of the Buddha, true love needs four elements. First of all, maitri, loving kindness, that is the capacity to offer happiness. If you cannot offer happiness, that’s not true love. In romantic love, if you are not able to help the other person [be] happy, that’s not true love. So you should train yourself in order to be able to offer happiness to you and to him or to her. Without that, both will suffer.

The second element of true love is compassion. Compassion is the kind of energy that can help remove suffering. It can help transform the suffering in you and in the other person. If you cannot transform and take care of the suffering in you and in [the] other person, that is not true love. That is why karuna, the second element of true love, should be cultivated by you and by the other person. Romantic and not romantic, that’s not important. The important [thing] is it is true love or not true love. Right? And the third element of true love is joy. If by loving you make the other person cry all the time, and you cry all the time, that’s not true love, romantic or not romantic.

True love is inclusiveness; that you do not exclude. His suffering is your suffering, his happiness is your happiness. There’s no individual suffering and happiness any more. In true love, there is the element of inclusiveness, non-discrimination, there’s no separation, there’s no frontier, between you and the other person. In that spirit, you cannot say “That’s your problem.” No. Your problem is my problem. My suffering is your suffering. So this is true love, the forth element of true love. And if romantic love has these four elements, it can bring a lot of happiness also. And the Buddha never said negative things about true love.

And romantic love, if you are successful, you will cultivate a lot of loving kindness and compassion, and very soon, your love will be all-embracing. The other person is no longer the only object of your love, because your love continue[s] to grow and your love will embrace all of us. And happiness become[s] limitless. And that is the love of the Buddha. That is the meaning of the forth element of true love, inclusiveness. If it is true love, then it will continue to grow, and include more and more and more, not only humans, but also animals, vegetables, and minerals, and that is great love, maha-karuna, maha-maitri. And that is the love of the Buddha.

I like the way he expresses how "true love" includes both the four brahmaviharas and selflessness.

:anjali:
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Re: Romantic Love

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Jul 15, 2015 7:48 pm

dhammarelax wrote: In a nutshell I dont think he is teaching Buddhism.
In your opinion, and in my opinion he is teaching, in this video talk, applied, kitchen sink, face-to-face Buddhism.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Romantic Love

Postby SDC » Wed Jul 15, 2015 10:45 pm

It isn't so much that 'romantic' love is not supported by the suttas, but what is taught is the development of a fundamental approach for the well being of all (metta) which goes waaaay beyond the bounds of romantic love - to the point that the two can barely be compared. In fact, it is arguable that to even call metta 'love' or 'loving-kindness' does it a disservice since the prerequisites for romantic and/or platonic love are many (often case specific) while those for metta are few, if any, save the goal of the path itself.

Obviously just my take.

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Re: Romantic Love

Postby Alex123 » Wed Jul 15, 2015 11:56 pm

Romantically loving one person means that one doesn't romantically love all the other people.


Why does love has to be exclusively to one woman or a man? Why can't one love all people?
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Re: Romantic Love

Postby samseva » Thu Jul 16, 2015 12:42 am

In the translation of mettā, loving-kindness (or loving-friendliness), 'loving' is an advective to the noun 'kindness'. It is therefore a kindness characterized by love and not the other way around.

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Re: Romantic Love

Postby Ben » Thu Jul 16, 2015 1:04 am

Alex123 wrote:Romantically loving one person means that one doesn't romantically love all the other people.


Why does love has to be exclusively to one woman or a man? Why can't one love all people?


If it is just love you re talking about, there is no limit to the number of beings you can make the object of one's metta bhavana. But romantic love usually implies a framing of a very personal love in the context of establishing a life together and/or family together.
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Re: Romantic Love

Postby ihrjordan » Thu Jul 16, 2015 3:13 am

Ben wrote:
Alex123 wrote:Romantically loving one person means that one doesn't romantically love all the other people.


Why does love has to be exclusively to one woman or a man? Why can't one love all people?


If it is just love you re talking about, there is no limit to the number of beings you can make the object of one's metta bhavana. But romantic love usually implies a framing of a very personal love in the context of establishing a life together and/or family together.
Kind regards,
Ben


Love in a Buddhist context means unconditional kindness, whereas romantic "love" is infatuation under the guise of love. We must ask ourselves "If this person never made us happy and produced no pleasant feelings for us via any of the six senses, would we still say we "love" such a person? " If one was to answer honestly they would say of course not. Attachment is hard to see and it's loves' evil cousin.

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Re: Romantic Love

Postby Ben » Thu Jul 16, 2015 3:27 am

ihrjordan wrote:
Ben wrote:
Alex123 wrote:Romantically loving one person means that one doesn't romantically love all the other people.


Why does love has to be exclusively to one woman or a man? Why can't one love all people?


If it is just love you re talking about, there is no limit to the number of beings you can make the object of one's metta bhavana. But romantic love usually implies a framing of a very personal love in the context of establishing a life together and/or family together.
Kind regards,
Ben


Love in a Buddhist context means unconditional kindness, whereas romantic "love" is infatuation under the guise of love. We must ask ourselves "If this person never made us happy and produced no pleasant feelings for us via any of the six senses, would we still say we "love" such a person? " If one was to answer honestly they would say of course not. Attachment is hard to see and it's loves' evil cousin.


I disagree completely. Certainly, for many people romantic love is infatuation. One need look no further than the revolving door of romances of celebrities.
But after the honeymoon stage wears off, what then? Is that also mere attachment and infatuation? What is it when one spouse continues to care for their husband or wife after they have become mentally and physically incapacitated?
Anyone who has been married or partnered for more than a couple of years is that love (or marriage) is hard work and for many Buddhists who have been in long term relationships can attest that these very relationships are a fertile ground for spiritual development.
Romantic love is more than just sex or the flood of endorphins in the brain.
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

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Re: Romantic Love

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jul 16, 2015 4:13 am

Ben wrote:Anyone who has been married or partnered for more than a couple of years is that love (or marriage) is hard work and for many Buddhists who have been in long term relationships can attest that these very relationships are a fertile ground for spiritual development.
Romantic love is more than just sex or the flood of endorphins in the brain.
Yes, and this is what Ven Nhat Hahn is talking about in a very practical way. The Brahma Viharas are more than just a meditative practice; rather, they become a way of cultivating Dhamma virtues and insights in real life situations, which carry over into one's life as a whole.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

      >> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<<
      -- Proverbs 26:12

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Is romantic love a hindrance?

Postby clw_uk » Sun Aug 02, 2015 3:00 am

Hi everyone,

Romantic attraction is obviously a powerful impulse that most people (except the asexual) have to deal with. My question is, do romantic relationships lead to dukkha? Also if someone engages in sexual activity, are they putting more obstacles in their path to enlightenment?


Two suttas I often reflect on in regards to this matter:

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Sāvatthī at the Eastern Monastery, the palace of Migāra's mother. And on that occasion a dear and beloved grandson of Visākhā, Migāra's mother, had died. So Visākhā, Migāra's mother — her clothes wet, her hair wet — went to the Blessed One in the middle of the day and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As she was sitting there the Blessed One said to her: "Why have you come here, Visākhā — your clothes wet, your hair wet — in the middle of the day?"

When this was said, she said to the Blessed One, "My dear and beloved grandson has died. This is why I have come here — my clothes wet, my hair wet — in the middle of the day."

"Visākhā, would you like to have as many children & grandchildren as there are people in Sāvatthī?"

"Yes, lord, I would like to have as many children & grandchildren as there are people in Sāvatthī."

"But how many people in Sāvatthī die in the course of a day?"

"Sometimes ten people die in Sāvatthī in the course of a day, sometimes nine... eight... seven... six... five... four... three... two... Sometimes one person dies in Sāvatthī in the course of a day. Sāvatthī is never free from people dying."

"So what do you think, Visākhā? Would you ever be free of wet clothes & wet hair?"

"No, lord. Enough of my having so many children & grandchildren."

"Visākhā, those who have a hundred dear ones have a hundred sufferings. Those who have ninety dear ones have ninety sufferings. Those who have eighty... seventy... sixty... fifty... forty... thirty... twenty... ten... nine... eight... seven... six... five... four... three... two... Those who have one dear one have one suffering. Those who have no dear ones have no sufferings. They are free from sorrow, free from stain, free from lamentation, I tell you."

Then, on realizing the significance of that, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:


The sorrows, lamentations,
the many kinds of suffering in the world,
exist dependent on something dear.
They don't exist
when there's nothing dear.
And thus blissful & sorrowless
are those for whom nothing
in the world is anywhere dear.
So one who aspires
to the stainless & sorrowless
shouldn't make anything
dear
in the world
anywhere.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


"Tell the danger, dear sir,
for one given over
to sexual intercourse.
Having heard your teaching,
we'll train in seclusion."

The Buddha:
"In one given over
to sexual intercourse,
the teaching's confused
and he practices wrongly:
this is ignoble
in him.
Whoever once went alone,
but then resorts
to sexual intercourse
— like a carriage out of control —
is called vile in the world,
a person run-of-the-mill.
His earlier honor & dignity:
lost.
Seeing this,
he should train himself
to abandon sexual intercourse.

Overcome by resolves,
he broods
like a miserable wretch.
Hearing the scorn of others,
he's chagrined.
He makes weapons,
attacked by the words of others.
This, for him, is a great entanglement.
He
sinks
into lies.

They thought him wise
when he committed himself
to the life alone,
but now that he's given
to sexual intercourse
they declare him a fool.

Seeing these drawbacks, the sage
here — before & after —
stays firm in the life alone;
doesn't resort to sexual intercourse;
would train himself
in seclusion —
this, for the noble ones, is
supreme.
He wouldn't, because of that,
think himself
better than others:
He's on the verge
of Unbinding.

People enmeshed
in sensual pleasures,
envy him: free,
a sage
leading his life
unconcerned for sensual pleasures
— one who's crossed over the flood."


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
The dogmatists have claimed to have found the truth, others say that it cannot be apprehended; the Sceptics continue the search.
Sextus Empiricus

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Re: Is romantic love a hindrance?

Postby samseva » Sun Aug 02, 2015 3:24 am

You would have to describe what you mean by romantic love, as well as hindrance. If by romantic love, you mean romantic love as its usual meaning and hindrance as in the general sense (not as one of the hindrances), then I would say most definitely. Could you even imagine trying to develop dispassion or insight while having a romantic relationship with someone?

If by romantic love you mean a parter. Then I think it is possible without it being a hindrance—sometimes it can even be an aid—but I believe it is very difficult to have such a relationship.

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Re: Is romantic love a hindrance?

Postby clw_uk » Sun Aug 02, 2015 3:40 am

samseva -


You would have to describe what you mean by romantic love


A)Sexual activity and attachment to another human being, with the aim of forming a family or long term stable partnership, which engages in sexual activity with the aim of strengthening said pair bond/reproduction.

B) The narrowing of love to one individual and the familial relationships that result therein.



as well as hindrance.


As one of the 5 hindrances, specifically sensual desire which romantic love entails.

If by romantic love, you mean romantic love as its usual meaning and hindrance as in the general sense (not as one of the hindrances), then I would say most definitely. Could you even imagine trying to develop dispassion or insight while having a romantic relationship with someone?

If by romantic love you mean a parter. Then I think it is possible without it being a hindrance—sometimes it can even be an aid—but I believe it is very difficult to have such a relationship.



I don't see the difference? My question is aimed at sexual relations. It's hard to imagine a romantic relationship without sex.
Last edited by clw_uk on Sun Aug 02, 2015 3:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is romantic love a hindrance?

Postby samseva » Sun Aug 02, 2015 3:40 am

I didn't really answer your questions.

clw_uk wrote:My question is, do romantic relationships lead to dukkha?

Again, it depends what you mean by romantic relationships. If it is in the usual sense, I would say for sure. Romanitc relationships are usually very passionate, which will inevitably lead to dukkha.

clw_uk wrote:Also if someone engages in sexual activity, are they putting more obstacles in their path to enlightenment?

Inherently and by definition, yes.

If you are asking this because you are wondering if you should get a partner or start a romantic relationship with someone, then I would say to mainly go with your common sense. You can consider what I said, but since this is a Buddhist forum (and especially Theravāda), then there is a good chance will get somewhat conservative and orthodox answers.

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Re: Is romantic love a hindrance?

Postby samseva » Sun Aug 02, 2015 3:52 am

clw_uk wrote:samseva -
A)Sexual activity and attachment to another human being, with the aim of forming a family or long term stable partnership, which engages in sexual activity with the aim of strengthening said pair bond/reproduction.
B) The narrowing of love to one individual and the familial relationships that result therein.
As one of the 5 hindrances, specifically sensual desire which romantic love entails.
I don't see the difference? My question is aimed at sexual relations. It's hard to imagine a romantic relationship without sex.

I don't think romantic love is the same as finding a worthy partner to start a family and maintain a long-term and stable relationship. One is mainly passionate and ephemeral, while the other takes much trust, communication and strength to go through obstacles along the way.

As for sexuality, it is part of a relationship with a partner, but it is only a part and not as important compared to the others.

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Re: Is romantic love a hindrance?

Postby Thisperson » Sun Aug 02, 2015 3:58 am

clw_uk wrote:Hi everyone,

Romantic attraction is obviously a powerful impulse that most people (except the asexual) have to deal with. My question is, do romantic relationships lead to dukkha? Also if someone engages in sexual activity, are they putting more obstacles in their path to enlightenment?


In order to attain full enlightenment sensual desire must eventually be let go of. Sexual desire falls under the category of sensual desire.

Even before full enlightenment there needs to be the letting go of sensual desire. Once returners have significantly reduced sensual desire and ill will. Non returners are free from sensual desire along with ill will.


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