Sunday, June 8, 2008

Unstoppable Friendship

What love requires is the willingness to know and understand intimately the conditions for the arising of suffering and the commitment to resolving a problematic existence.
From An Awakened Life:

This chapter talks about compassion and how living with an open heart comes out of awareness, deep sensitivity, and looking directly at the actualities of life. The author talks about how true friendship is a powerful force for healing and change and implores us to wake up to the existence of suffering. We all have our theories and ideas about how life is, or should be, about how relationships should go. And then here we are, in the midst of the real thing, not our concepts and preconceived ideas, but the actuality of it all. And that's what needs to be dealt with.
Authentic love comes from a mind that doesn't turn away. It comes from a mind that faces the possibility of not getting what we want, of losing what we have and being separated from whom and what we love.
The practical application of love is paramount. "What we see, hear, or read may touch our heart, but this inner response may fade quickly as other priorities and concerns enter our mind." Rather than just leaving love at the level of a feeling, we need to take appropriate action. I'm reminded of a parenting class I used to teach where I used the analogy of love being a verb rather than a noun. These were parents of troubled children, many of whom felt unloved and some of whom had been taken away from their parents and were in foster care. I explained how all parents love their children, at least all of the parents I've met do. But having the feeling of love for one's child and actually doing what it takes on a daily basis, to make that love obvious is another thing altogether. Love as a verb, takes action. It's what we do to show our love that counts. We have to be "committed to resolving a problematic existence". We can insert the word relationship here to take the place of existence.
We have to be committed, to do whatever it takes, to resolve a problematic relationship.
Authentic love requires the intention to do whatever it takes. This is what gives substance to love. Authentic love requires us to be available and supportive of another. It requires us to be responsible, to respond wisely in painful situations. What does being responsible in love mean? I have always appreciated this definition of the word responsibility:
Responsibility = Response and Ability = The Ability To Respond
Problems arise in human existence. Problems arise in relationships. We must be willing to understand the situation intimately. We must be willing to know the truth. We must be willing to be available and supportive and to resolve the problem whatever it takes. We must be willing to learn to respond with great ability. Authentic love demands this of us. This is true friendship.

Choosing to love can be difficult. We all want to love and be loved in return. But authentic loves asks for nothing in return. It releases the attachment to getting back that which we give out. It requires nothing from another.
It is an extraordinary thing to feel the power of love, to make life as much as possible one long act of unstoppable friendship.
I find the last quote from this chapter to be extraordinarily profound:
If we wish to lead a genuinely awakened life, we may well have to open our minds to teachings and practices outside of our respective faiths. Sometimes we are reluctant to do this. We feel we are betraying what we have put so much faith in. To explore does not mean a loss of faith: it is an act of faith to open our heart. If we are open to this exploration, we can experience a genuinely deep love without limitations. That's what counts. That's what we need to be very clear about.

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