Emptiness and Altruistic Love

Part 2 We want to know and experience true love, a state described earlier as not being able to find it, but maintaining a flow toward a person, an object such as a passion for a hobby, or as a love of buddhist study. In the higher practices, we learn to maintain an intimate relationship with the objects of our buddhist studies; bodhichitta, emptiness or other cultivated attitude we need for transformation. Even in ordinary mature interpersonal relationships, there must be continuity, a steady undercurrent developed and cultivated that comes from a deeper place than the changeable mental functions.

Love contains a capacity to maintain a kind of “not knowing” that helps us hold steady in our desire to maintain the emotion by not owning the object of love while still maintaining contact. Without the ability to endure our tendencies of changing our mind, from moment to moment, we would be in love, and then a minute later we would not be in love, and then again in love, and again not in love.

Even though you have received a bestowal of love continuity by the complex programming of a human innate view, and commitment to hold through difficult times, it is still your obligation to cultivate your ability to love so that you can become steady in your love. In this way, we continue to develop capacity and understanding of how to get along with many others. Eventually, we will realize altruistic loving kindness and great capacity for being able to get along with all others.

The steady flow of inner guidance for awakening, connected to a growing desire for higher-level objects such as Buddhas and bodhisattva inner mentor, experienced in the higher trainings, comes from training in loving-kindness. This motivates us to become proficient by study and practice that makes us steady in our efforts to become a benefit being like inner mentor, for the benefit of myriad living beings. That mental steadiness prevents you from disturbing yourself, so that you will be able to experience a love energy bestowal coming from your own mind, inner mind, and inner mentor. This further increases the capacity to love, and is again applied toward study and practice for a very long and pleasant time.

The next steps of maintaining steady mind and motivation are supported by many restful interludes in the state of no foundation allowing your mind to return refreshed each time to human activity and human understanding and human bestowal of increased capacity for love while on the Path to the enlightened state. You will then become more balanced in your intellectual mind by knowing that this state of no foundation does exist. This is accomplished by the many glimpses and encouragement by outer mentor, study, and meditation, and you are becoming even more attracted to that state. You will then have an inner process in training for a career as a bodhisattva who’s process is based in altruistic love for all living beings. For best results, this altruistic love for all sentient beings needs to be instilled in the practitioner by stages.

It is possible that you could also have a natural ability for altruistic love. Perhaps you arrived in this world with an understanding of love cultivated toward transformation that was not completed in some previous time. If that remains undamaged by worldly contact, as soon as you come into connection with the teachings, you will easily remember the stage of development and be able to express altruistic love toward the correct object, all sentient beings. However, even beings more advanced in their inner nature from previous lives will also need to experientially review the step-by-step process of understanding the actual nature of altruistic love beginning with loving-kindness.

Even for less advanced people who do not arrive in this world with developed altruistic motivation can practice loving-kindness. This social lubricant of the world does not hurt you in any way, it helps you and it helps others. It is uncomplicated to understand this because when others show loving-kindness toward you, it is very easy to act with loving-kindness toward them in return. However, even if you have loving-kindness toward them, and they respond by giving you a hard time, you still have an opportunity to practice loving-kindness, patience, and compassion toward them.

At this point in development, it is usual to be presented with new ways of looking at things that are contrary to the worldly view and are powerfully beneficial such as love and compassion returned for difficulty. Altruistic love does not depend upon receiving good feedback in order to feel appreciated. If we crave appreciation, it is no longer altruistic love, but ordinary love, a kind of buying and selling of favors. Steady love comes because of training in emptiness and understanding the illusory nature of ordinary reality.

We do not want to contaminate our understanding or ability to increase altruistic love in the future by becoming disappointed that others do not appreciate our altruism, and think that it is no use to try to practice it. In order to avoid that obstacle, we begin with loving-kindness. We then remember that if we feel disappointed or angry with people while we are doing, for example, altruistic dharma service, we can always go to the fallback position of mild and gentle loving-kindness. We should go no less than loving-kindness, however.

We also need to experience less grasping while love still remains intact. We can be in accordance with the ideals of abandoning grasping of the Hinayana practitioner that is destined to enter cessation where love and grasping disappears together. However, in the Mahayana, we must sustain a new balance of less grasping while love is still active because we placed love high in our practice and continue to increase our desire to save all living beings. This makes us juicy and dear to others who begin to be attracted toward us. This attractive quality coming from inside creates new and strong connections to others so that, in the future they will benefit. As we experience less grasping and love still remains, we will receive bestowals of ability to strengthen this dynamic from the Buddhas and bodhisattvas to help stabilize this positive and healthy attitude. The safest method of stabilizing is the practice of holding all sentient beings in your heart of hearts and dear.

When beings are no longer "out there" because they are here in your heart, a new intimate relationship arises based in equanimity toward all living beings without regard for individual characteristics or whether they have benefited you or not. This time it is not mixed with your contaminated outer universal energies or confused mental energies of others. As you probably already know, this world is not a pureland, therefore, there are unaligned energies in abundance. Attempts to try to align what is un-alignable, would be like fixing a wound with blood already flowed out. Perhaps you tried to collect the spilled blood in a bottle and maybe mixed it with something, maybe some bleach to take all that red color out of it, and get it back inside the body. This would be like trying to repair contaminated universal energies once they have escaped into this denser place. It is no use.

Once you blood has left the closed system of your body, it is not the clean substance that it was inside. It has now escaped and is mixed with air and molecules of other substances and dust. We may have to put it in a centrifuge and extrapolate its little corpuscles in order to make it clean enough to stick back inside. We might have the boil the blood too. I am just joking. Seriously, in the attempt to fix our life force inner energies out there, they become changed and so we have to use new strategies.

Chandrakirti states reality is not the way we perceive it. We should practice refraining from stimulating our own mental confusions by training in viewing all sentient beings as near and dear as our own mothers. This must be done in conjunction with studying and meditating on emptiness, compassion, and other important elements of preparation for awakening. Then I can truly acknowledge that living beings as an entirety are dear and that my heart of hearts is the safest place for them to be. That is also true because if you hold them dear, you will never hurt them. We do not want to depend on the unreliable and unstable influence of the innate view because it is not the excellent filter for our interactions with the world or for the world to interact with us. To be continued….


  1. Holding all sentient beings in our heart as dear, seems to ignite a strong flow of love and compassion from the interior. It facilitates positive interacions with others. It feels like a much safer and happier way to live.

  2. "if you hold them dear, you never hurt them" produces a strong energetic arisal inside, in the heart. It causes me to feel that they are so very dear and kind that I would do anything in order to see to their happiness and freedom from suffering!

  3. Holding others dear changes interactions dramatically, as well as the benefit of feeling tremendous love. I never thought of the difference between Hinayana and Mahayana in this way. Thanks.


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