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Lions Roar : September 2018
The Four Noble Truths of Love SUSAN PIVER lays out love’s second noble truth: expecting relationships to be stable is what makes them unstable. IF YOU SHOP FOR BOOKS about relationships in the self-help section, you will see that roughly 99 percent of them are about how to get love: how to find it, keep it, or make it come back. Very few are about how to give love or be loving. If there are ideas about such things, they are suggested as another way to get more love rather than as an end in themselves. The search for love is portrayed as an elliptical, self-serving endeavor. In the Buddhist view, the emphasis is shifted. Happiness is not seen as a consequence of getting your needs met. It comes from placing attention on the needs of others, not because you are a goody-goody with no needs, but because the joy of connection, whether to a per- son, animal, flower, idea, or sensation, is the most profound of all the joys. As my teacher Sakyong Mipham said, “If you want to be happy, think of others. If you want to be unhappy, think of yourself.” It was not politeness that made him say so. Yet it is rarely the way we approach love. To begin, it is helpful to consider that when we say we are looking for love, we may not mean exactly that. Rather, we are looking for safety, a way to get comfort- able. “Relationship” is equated not with the crazy, boundary-busting, irritating, empowering, ordinary, extraordinary thing that it really is, but with a protec- tive cocoon. This is understandable. Loving is so vulnerable—maybe the most vulnerable thing you can do—and we want to put as many controls in place as possible to protect our hearts. However, the moment you try to make love safe, it ceases to be love. There is nothing less safe than love. Love means opening again and again to your beloved, yourself, and your world, and seeing what happens next. You can’t know what it will be. Waves of connection are followed by waves of distance. Sunny conditions give way to more sun—or to storms. Storms give way to clear skies. Or not. One sim- ply never knows, and a great deal of pres- ence and bravery is required to face the shifting patterns. The ride cannot be fully SLEEPINGLOVERS,1997,EVELYNWILLIAMS/PRIVATECOLLECTION/BRIDGEMANIMAGES LION’S ROAR | SEPTEMBER 2018 72