Today I’ll talk about love. Usually the word “love” is defined as “to care about” (ex. It’s incredible how much she loves those the kids.) “romantic attraction,” (I love you.), “like/enjoy” (I love playing tennis.), and “loyalty” (I love the president.)
In daily life, we use it as positive meaning. How about in religion? Most religions consider the word “love” as a positive passion and regard it as the most important thing in religious morality. In Buddhism, however, love is considered a form of attachment and looked upon as a cause of suffering. For example, this is expressed by the term “the suffering of separating from those we love” (Aibeturiku 愛別離苦in Japanese). Its true meaning is that by parting from love, we can leave from suffering. In conversely, because of love, we suffer.
Of course, love itself is a very pure and beautiful thing, at the same time, however, it brings about attachment, suffering, compromise, and so on. I can only define love in my mind, but it may not make sense for another. And, I can talk about its nature. Love is attachment and brings about many complicated feelings. It is like a magnet. Shinran Shonin states this in his hymn:
Ignorance and blind passions abound,
Pervading everywhere like innumerable particles of dust,
Desire and hatred arising out of conflict and accord
Are like high peaks and mountain ridges.
（註釈版, p. 601）
his hymn means that we are full of blind passion. We love something when all goes well as we wish but hate the thing which does not go well as we wish. Our existences are like the high mountains made of self-centered mind.
Concerning attachment, let me introduce the following article:
According to the Buddhist teachings, difficulty is inevitable in human life. For one thing, we cannot escape the reality of death. But there are also the realities of aging, of illness, of nor getting what we want, and of getting what we don’t want. These kinds of difficulties are facts of life. Even if you were the Buddha himself, if you were a fully enlightened person, you would experience death, illness, aging, and sorrow at losing what you love. All of these things would happen to you. If you got burned or cut, it would hurt.
But the Buddhist teachings also say that this is not really what causes us misery in our lives. What causes misery is always trying to get away from the facts of life, always trying to avoid pain and seek happiness―
Turn Your Thinking Upside Down by Pema Chödrön
We can possibly understand this statement in our brain, but we can not accept this reality because our experiences are not so simple. There are a lot of tragedies we can not accept as they are. As long as we live, we have to suffer. But we may lessen the suffering through Amida’s compassion. In Buddhism, compassion is presented as the equivalent of love in the other religions. Then, what is compassion?
Amida’s compassion is to be with you at all times and to give you the opportunity of self-reflection. Whenever we go to in front of Buddhist altar, Amida Buddha is definitely there. Amida Buddha listens to us and does not run away. Whenever we are reminded of Amida Buddha, Amida Buddha immediately appears in us. Accordingly we can do self-reflection and cry with profound relief. By this, we may lessen our sufferings.
In conclusion, I’d like to introduce one poem written by Kaneko Misuzu: one of Japan’s premier female poets of the early 20th century.
浄土真宗本願寺派 大見山 超勝寺 衆徒。翻訳家。ハーバード大学 神学部研究員を修了し、帰国。現在は、執筆活動や通訳・翻訳を通して、日本仏教を世界に弘める活動をしています。