Part 1. Our sense of identity is very mixed with our personalities and we take quite a bit of pride in its upkeep and practice. However, if we look more objectively with higher motivation, we can view personality as a set of strategies that we developed to interact with others, our environment and even ourselves without making effort to discover what it is we are using. Buddhism teaches us techniques of how to have a better relationship to self, other or the world without exclusively leaning on strategies of personality.
Relying on ego centered interactions with the gross senses is not as healthy as higher dynamics such as understanding the illusory nature of ordinary reality so that we do not exclusively use memory of our own personality strategies that easily become mixed with the dysfunctions. Now we want to see fresh and not just use a collection of habitual strategies, distractions and disorders. In searching for the words and description of the underlying dynamics of personality there needs to be an explanation of what is love.
I have observed that many forms of love can be described as a fluid state that seeks stability but does not find it. However, the lack of support for this state does not seem to damage or disturb it, but instead has a secondary state that finds that instability pleasurable, almost floating. Depending on the personality and the qualities of the person in general, there will be positive or other perceptions that cascade from this state that causes still other perceptions to arise. These might even include controlling behaviors, jealousy, or self-abnegation to gain favor of the object of their love that is learned.
As the mind continues to try to bond to an object, not only does it seek to know it, but desires or craves to be the subject of that love object. This continual pleasurable attempt should, however, never find satisfaction and must remain in that dynamic to sustain love feelings. If there arrives a point where the love-curiosity-grasping is satisfied, there will either be a drop in love and a falling out of love feeling that comes, or it will change into another dynamic relationship. Feelings of closeness, companionship, careful familiarity, or respect are encouraged in psychology and maturing of relationships when dealing with the end of curiosity love in an intimate relationship. This state of wishing to be seen as the object of love changing to a drop in pleasure/curiosity feelings forced upon an immature lover by a more mature love waiting for that important change to happen, can be an important factor in divorce.
Another similar form of love dynamic could be experienced, for example, perhaps in your love of photography, your collection of brass spittoons, or even a “love” of duck hunting. However, it could happen that this hobby or object is easily known, such as completing a course of study or having gone out a number of times duck hunting or having a number of brass spittoons and knowing pretty much about where they all came from and how old they are. When that occurs and the object is known to a certain satisfaction, that form of obsessive grasping “love” will disappear or substantially subside. So often, hobbies or interests that we feel are all consuming or a gripping love of knowing more can suddenly become stale and uninteresting. In this way, the possibilities of enjoyment of that kind of love will again rise as you discover new avenues of possibilities such as a new hobby, or perhaps inkwells will be the next object of your obsessive love, seeking to know everything about it, or perhaps even Buddhism.
However, if you approach Buddhism as a hobby, then it will have the qualities of a hobby, stimulating your interest to satisfy your emotional curiosity. In spite of a lower quality wish to enter a new hobby, the nature of the Great Path of dharma teachings have qualities of being complex, dear, and not possible to fully know. In addition, the training in stages of the teachings, Buddha-nature, one's root mentor, or bodhisattva inner mentor all have an alive great love toward you by blessed design that can arise in you a new form of love. The deep and never-ending qualities of practice, related concepts, and virtuous objects should stimulate your mind for your whole life and beyond.
In Hinayana practice, the correct relationship with one's own mind requires being always watchful and ready to discipline it. In that tradition, it is also important to withdraw from sensory experiences as much as possible so there is less data to process. It is reasonable to think that the fluid mind-bending states of love of the Mahayana altruistic wish to save all sentient beings would not be so compatible with the discipline needed at this level of practice while attempting to withdraw from the senses in Hinayana or path of personal liberation.
I quote here from a Hinayana monk warning of us the negativities inherent in love. "If, through our own ripening knowledge, we appreciate that our ultimate and highest purpose should be Nirvana, the absolute end of sorrow, then all goals beneath that are cast in a new light. When we have something to live for that is higher than fame, honor, friendship, or health, higher even than love, we can never be utterly impoverished or ruined. We are in fact in a much better position to enjoy what ever may be achieved in worldly life because we no longer depend solely on changeable circumstances for our happiness."
This monk is looking at love in a different way, however, what he is saying is exactly the same position that the Mahayana, or greater vehicle, takes in the first of three paths of training. What he is saying is not wrong from the first view of the first yana, or first path, the Hinayana. The Mahayana also contains the Hinayana trainings as a beginning training, and the Vajrayana, or path of transformative energetic practices, contains all three training paths.
Even at the beginning, the Mahayana path of altruistic responsibility gives us another love object by training right from the beginning in loving-kindness toward developing altruistic love of others as though each one were our mother from a previous life. The Buddha to his son: "Rahula, practice loving-kindness to overcome anger." In Buddhist scriptures and throughout the actual training facilitated by the outer mentor and your own studies and meditation, loving-kindness is extremely important. The Buddha training his own son: "Loving-kindness has the capacity to bring happiness to others without demanding anything in return."
In this way, we establish expanded parameters on our love in order to overcome the negative, bad habit of seeking love in order to possess another. We also become capable of breaking free from bonding the concepts of anger, jealousy, and perhaps even violence, to our perceptions of what is love. The dreadful consequences of perceptual crossed wires; for example in video games, connecting violence and sex or violence and love are present or even encouraged by rough modern society. This bonding of the dynamics of sex and love can prevent higher forms of love from arising and more animal forms become the norm. These poor strategies create confusion by wanting to possess another, or feeling that other person needs to obey you in order to give them your love.
Another method to understand love in Buddhism higher practices is developing a love of study. This love keeps us interested in pursuing difficult subjects such as emptiness or the commentaries of famous Buddhist scholars of the past and applying the teachings to personal practice. We feel drawn to drink from the a well of understanding until we are filled, then meditating and reviewing our understanding, we return again to drink deeply. However, during the entire process, whether we are actively studying or processing and integrating what we are learning, we never lose our thirst or feel satisfied and need to take a rest from study and refresh ordinary mind. . You do not need to refresh yourself with ordinary mind or take a break from study. The very thing that you do not want to do is to reactivate ordinary concepts once you begin
Someone told me a story about a monk in strict three-year retreat, except every six weeks for three hours, he would leave his retreat to have tea with a friend and take a break from his retreat. He found it be quite helpful to go back into his retreat place for another six weeks after having worldly interaction with his friend for three hours. In contrast, during study time, we always remained connected to our studies because we did not want to contaminate our studies with ordinary concepts, to the best of our abilities. We remained “in love” with study and did not want to break the connection between ourselves and the well of learning and wisdom. When you are activate love feelings toward study, enlightened beings will encourage with blessings and inner guidance. To be continued….