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Understanding Love
by Kadam Sonja Hanson

We have many different types of relationships: with our partners, our children, our co-workers, our neighbors, even the checker at the grocery story. All of us wish for harmony, but often we experience only difficulty and frustration. According to Buddhist philosophy, problems arise in our relationships when they are based on attachment instead of love. A recent advertisement said, “Love hurts.” Love doesn’t hurt, actually it is attachment that hurts. Attachment is a delusion that regards its object as a cause of happiness and then wishes to possess it. Observe how attachment functions when we “fall in love.” Meeting someone we are interested in, we wish to posses them and idealize their good qualities. Imagining this perfectly endowed being, we eventually no longer relate to the actual person. After a while we start seeing their faults and blaming them, “Our relationship fell apart because you changed. You used to be so perfect, what happened?” Our attachment for the person caused us to relate to someone who never existed.

Geshe Kelsang Gyatso teaches “Love is a virtuous mind that creates only peace and happiness, while attachment is never virtuous and causes pain and problems.” A mind of love wishes for others to be happy. A mind of attachment thinks, “How can others can make me happy?” Improving our love for others improves our relationships. When relating to others, instead of thinking, “What can this person do for me?” we begin to think, “What can I do for this person?” This is the beginning of cherishing love. Gradually we begin to replace the attachment in our relationships with love. A mind of cherishing love is peaceful and controlled. With a mind of love, we develop sincere concern for others and work for their happiness.

Kadam Sonja Hanson is a Resident Teacher of Mahasiddha Buddhist Center. Classes on “Love, Desire and Attachment” from the book,“Understanding the Mind” by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, will be taught by Gen Kelsang Jangsem, Principal Teacher of Mahasiddha Buddhist Center. See calendar listing or contact Mahasiddha Center at (503) 233-6747 or