Buddhist View of Love and Compassion

By Venerable Jampa Drolma and David Mayer.

The definition of love in Buddhism is something quite different from the ordinary term ‘love’ we regularly use in our daily life. It is not in relation to attachment or lust but love with a sense of good-will and from the depths of one’s heart that we direct a sincere wish for sentient beings (all living beings with a mind) to be happy and have the causes that gives rise to happiness. 

So from this definition, we can translate it as loving-kindness, or unconditional love.

Silhouette of mother kissing child on head

 We all have this potential within ourselves and it arises from a gentle- warm heart. If we are willing to activate this and allow ourselves to open our heart and open our mind, this loving–kindness is the most powerful emotion. Why? Because with love our suffering is relieved, it brings protection and increases affection and happiness.  It is the very essence of our peaceful state of mind because it minimizes hatred and anger from dominating our mind.  Love is something that we all appreciate, and it is a value that should be directed to both the self and others. So, we focus on fulfilling others’ happiness while directing our practice to working on oneself, that is, removing attachment, anger and ignorance from one’s own states of mind, His Holiness the 14thDalai Lama advises us to “Put others first; you yourself come next. This works even from a selfish point of view. You want happiness and do not want suffering, and if you show other people kindness, love and respect, they will respond in kind; this way your happiness will increase. If you show other people anger and hatred, they will show you the same, and you will lose your own happiness.  When you are concerned with others, your own well-being is fulfilled automatically.”

 All sentient beings wish for happiness and there is nothing wrong in that, however often in pursuit of our own happiness we tend to neglect others. The true source of happiness is our connection with others and considering their needs. When we neglect others our own peace of mind is difficult to maintain because it is a mind that views others as different from the self.  

 The above extract was written by Drol Kar Buddhist Centre’s resident nun the Venerable Jampa Drolma from a one-day workshop on the topic of developing love, compassion, joy and equanimity. Buddhist practice makes specific reference to addressing everyday difficulties and offers level headed methods to deal with them. Developing love for all beings is advanced by recognizing our universal difficulties in life such as adjusting to sickness, aging and loss. Recognizing that we all experience pain when confronting these situations, we work towards developing a warm heart in wishing that all are free of this pain. As Jampa mentions, love is defined as the wish that all beings have happiness and genuine compassion and the wish that all are free of pain and we make effort through our practice to offer love and compassion equally to all, without bias or prejudice.

 Drol Kar Buddhist Centre conducts regular retreat days throughout the year held within the tranquil setting of our 7-acre garden, the day long practice provides opportunities to reduce stress and have a break from our busy life. Some of the feedback we received on our last retreat day included “enjoyed the retreat especially the next day, good lesson in tolerance”, “we meditated on love, compassion, joy and equanimity, you have made our day and future brighter” and “I found everyone involved very welcoming and encouraging”.

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