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Lions Roar : November 2008
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2008 55 both ourself and our beloved, then it’s not true love. Joy is filled with peace and contentment. It is settled, solid, and light at the same time. We delight in the happiness of others. There is no jealousy and we can feel this happiness in our own being. The fourth element of true love is upeksha, which means equa- nimity and nonattachment. Upa means “over,” and iksh means “to look.” With upeksha, we can see our whole garden. We don’t favor one flower over the other or only take care of one patch while leaving the rest to wither and wilt. If our love has clinging, attachment, prejudice, or discrimination, it is not true love. Upeksha is the wisdom of letting go. Without upeksha, our love can become possessive. If you say you love someone but don’t understand his or her aspirations, needs, and challenges, then your love is a prison. True love allows us to preserve the freedom of our beloved along with our own freedom. Until we’re able to embrace ourselves with love and care, our ca- pacity to offer true love to others remains very limited. One day the Buddha gave a teaching about the Earth’s capacity to receive, em- brace, and transform. He said we should learn to be like the Earth, because no matter what people pour on the Earth, whether milk, perfume, flowers, jewels, urine, excrement, or mucus, the Earth re- ceives them all without discrimination. This is because the Earth is immense, so it has the capacity to receive, embrace, and transform. If you cultivate your heart so that it is open, you become immense like the Earth and can embrace anyone or anything without suffering. If you put a handful of salt in a bowl of water and stir it, the water becomes undrinkable. But if you put that salt in a river, it’s not affected because the river is so great. If your heart is large like the river, you won’t suffer because of small problems. Our practice is to cultivate the four aspects of true love—loving-kindness, com- passion, joy, and equanimity—that have the capacity to receive, embrace, and transform everything. A TRUE FRIENDSHIP The best thing you can do for your relationship is to begin to learn to fully love yourself. This self-love will not make you more inward or selfish. Rather it is only the person who truly loves him- or herself who is able to offer that love outward. There is a Buddhist sutra called the Raja (King). In this teaching story, the Buddha states that no being is more precious to us than our own self. King Pasenadi of Koshala asks his queen, Mallika, who is the one in the world who is the most dear to her. He expects her an- swer to be that it is he, her husband. But she answers that it is she herself who is most dear to her. The king realizes that the same is true for him, that no one is as dear to him as he is himself. The king and queen go to ask the Buddha about this, and he confirms their discovery with this teaching: I visited all quarters with my mind nor found I any dearer than myself; self is likewise to every other dear; who loves himself may never harm another. meditations, and exercises that invite us to see true love in a fresh way. PHOTOS BY VITALI POZDNIAKOV NOV 48-57.indd 55 NOV 48-57.indd 55 9/1/08 12:21:44 PM 9/1/08 12:21:44 PM