What Is The Foundational Practice Of Love?

What Is The Foundational Practice of Love?

In his book, ‘True Love: A Practice for Awakening the Heart’, Thich Nhat Hanh says that the foundational practice of love is to be there:

“To love, in the context of Buddhism, is above all to be there….. If you are not there how can you love? Being there is very much an art …… bringing your true presence to the here and now. The question that arises is: Do you have the time to love?

What Is The Foundational Practice Of ‘Playing BIG’?

It occurs to me that many of us (including me) misunderstand what it it to ‘Play BIG’ in life. We confuse ‘Playing BIG’ to taking on big projects, going for big outcomes, achieving big wealth/status.

It occurs to me that you/i can ‘Play BIG’ simply by being there. Why do I say this constitutes ‘Playing BIG’?  Here is what Thich Nhat Hanh says: “But being there is not an easy thing.” It takes practice: ongoing practice.

Is being there that important?  Is being there for the people who you/i profess to love that important?  Is being there for those who count on you that important?  I share with you the card I received from my son in relation to Father’s Day:

“Dear Papa,

I am sorry this card is late but now, I feel ready to give it to you. The truth is you’re not a perfect dad by any means but overall you do a good job. You love your family to bits, you do so much for us all, and I for one love you to bits…….. having you at my side when I need you most is a blessing. You are so kind and you have the biggest heart of anyone I know. Thank you for all your hugs, warmth and affection that you have given me. These mean so much to me and make me feel really loved. You help me feel at ease and at peace with myself and your presence is calming.

Also, I hope you know that I look up to you in so many ways. I love the fact you appreciate the simple things in life and are always prepared to count your blessings rather than looking at what you don’t have or what you could have……

Finally, I hope you can believe that you are worthy dad. In my opinion, you are a background person, and so it can be easy to forget that you are there, but this doesn’t mean that people don’t love you or care about you. For me, just you being yourself makes a big difference. Also, remember to inject that random sense of craziness and fun of yours into life!

I guess all I can say is thanks for everything you do for me and just being there for me when I need you the most…… believe in yourself and believe you are a worthy dad.

Love, Marco.”

All I can say is that when times have been the most difficult for my son, and I have not jumped into the ‘fix it’ mode of being-travelling in the world, I have simply been there for my son. To my utter astonishment that has made more of a contribution than if I had turned up and fixed it.

Forgiveness is a gift that you give yourself

Until recently I had not thought that much about forgiveness.  Firstly because I have been fortunate in that very few of my human beings have hurt me that much.  Secondly, I have been a master at distancing myself from those – a few that – have caused me pain. Thirdly, I have always thought that forgiveness lets the bad guys off and so gives them an incentive to go and do that again – to me or to others.

For a week or so this month anger, frustration, despair and confusion gripped me tightly.  The working day was not so bad as I was absorbed in tasks that consumed me mentally.  Yet, these feelings, these states of mind would grasp me in the evenings.  And all because I had created a story called Betrayal: I played the part of the wronged person and some of the people who are closest to me were the betrayers.

Being versed in existential philosophy I recognised I had a choice.  Continue with the Betrayal story and thus keep creating anger, frustration, confusion and despair.  Or to create a new story.  And whilst I was in this search I happened to read Anger by Thich Nhat Hanh.  The book is subtitled “Buddhist Wisdom for cooling the flames”. The book gave me access to stories that inspired me to step into the ‘shoes of the other’ and to get that if I was feeling hurt, they were feeling hurt.  If I was wrapped up in a story of Betrayal then they were wrapped up in their own story.

So the question arose: who goes first?  Who says I am folding up my story and putting it on the fire?

So I chose forgiveness: I forgave everyone including myself.   Did that make the lives of the people I was angry with easier?  Yes.  Were they the  only people to benefit?  No.  Were they the main beneficiaries?  No.

What I found is that the main beneficiary of this act of forgiveness is me. Yes, me.  Anger, frustration, confusion and despair have flown leaving only peace of mind.  I am at peace with the world and the world is at peace with me: no need to ready the sword to cut others nor the shield to defend myself from others.

So I can honestly say that forgiveness is a gift that I gave myself.

As I human like you I can confidently state that forgiveness is a gift that you give yourself. Even when you choose to break from someone – you can do it in a way that bears no grudges of the past.  In a way that leaves you overflowing with a peaceful mind.