Sunday, October 13, 2002

Does Your Love Get You Down?

Many puritan Buddhists think that any love relationship will be worldly, and that it will only bring the two people in the relationship further and further away from Enlightenment. This is not always true. Two lovers should be in a partnership of letting go, not holding on. Does this seem illogical? Why to have and to hold only to let go? I call it the "Siddhartha Syndrome." In the classic novella "Siddhartha" by Novel Literature Prize winner Herman Hesse, a truth seeker who happened to have the same lay name as the Buddha's, found the need to experience the depths of Samsara before realising the essence of Enlightenment. He fell in love with a prostitute, became a merchant, gambled, drunk... I intepret that the experience of deeply realising the First Noble Truth (that life is prevalent with dissatisfactions) was needed by him. Sometimes we need to hold on to something before we can let go of something. Sometimes we need to go in a circle to realise we were already where we should be.

No, please don't get me wrong- I'm not saying we need to go through deep shit in order to appreciate purity. But most people do need some negative experiences to drive themselves to work towards liberation. The less you need, the more fortunate you are! In the end we should not shun the world in disgust, but realise that Samsara and Nirvana are only relative as long as we hanker on both or either of them. What good does it do to deny your attachment to Samsara and boycott it in a fit of escapism, thinking of Nirvana when you are secretly dreaming of Samsara, especially of samsaric love?

I have a friend who yearns for love. He would very much like to be in love, though he knows there might be no one "for" him karmically. I can understand the quiet anguish in his heart. Should he feel complete in himself NOW? Or should he feel incomplete NOW? If it is the first, he would not "need" love anymore. If it is the latter, he will always be craving for love despite the possibility of not finding it. This itself is samsaric love! Even though there is no lover yet. How much more samsaric will it be when he really falls in love? I'm not saying stating the situation like a Zen koan to confuse you; only to state an example of the very substance Samsara is made of. No matter how paradoxical it is, our attaining of True Happiness lies in our ability to resolve it.

Thus, fall in love if you think you must- but transform your samsaric love to spiritual love in good time. Two spiritual lovers are to liberate each other from each other and everything else, not just embrace each other, only to weigh each other down and sink into the muck and mire of Samsara. Are you in love spiritually? Don't worry if you are already in a worldly relationship- any love relationship that continually strives to be spiritual is already a spiritual one! And any one that does not is Samsara itself. reply

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