True love is the wish and dream of many if not all people. We all want to love and be loved and throughout history, we’ve written countless tales and poems about love. True love can mean different thing in different cultures, and to each person. But generally, it’s a relationship of deep love and bond between two humans.
What makes a love between two people ‘True Love’? Does it requires great chemistry or sacrifices? If you have some sort of guidelines, you can improve your relationship to a heightened level. Here are the four components of True Love according to Buddhism.
1) Loving kindness (or Maitri): Being kind to each other. It’s pretty obvious, right? When you love someone, you want to be kind to that person. While it’s obvious, it’s not always present in a relationship. Is it kindness if you insist on the other person doing something for their own good? Is it kind to give someone a gift that they don’t like?
2) Compassion (or Karuna): you want to relieve the other’s sufferings. I would say this is most common in relationships. When you see the other suffering, you can’t help but to empathize and want to help them. We all wish our loved ones to be safe, healthy, and happy. Running to get our loved one medicine to alleviate their pain, that’s compassion.
3) Joy (or Muddita): Being able to bring joy and happiness to the other person’s life. This can be easily confused with the first two components but there’s a subtle difference in relieving one’s suffering and making someone happy. Helping your partner with their chores can be kindness but that might not necessarily bring them joy. Do you feel happy and your mood uplifted just being in someone’s presence? If yes, that person brings you joy.
4) Equanimity (or Upeksha): No discrimination between you and other, their happiness and sufferings are your own and vice versa. I find that in relationship, it’s easy to share hardship and problems but it’s not always easy to take on individual suffering and happiness. For example, it’s obvious that when a couple faces financial issue, they both share that struggle. It is more difficult to take on the other’s individual struggles and hopes. Would you cheer your partner on when they achieve something great in their career but would be away from home more? Would you see your partner’s emotional struggle such as insecurity?
All of the four components are essential in True Love. They sound simple but not always easy. The qualities deepen the love and make an unshakable foundation for the intimate relationship. A relationship can have one or two or three but it would need all four to make it the long lasting true love. Unlike chemistry, these four characteristics of true love don’t lessen in time, they can be nurtured and expanded. With effort and mindfulness, we can nurture our relationship, deepen our bonds to true love.
So, if we just look for these four qualities in a relationship with a person, we will for sure have true love, right? Life is unpredictable and it’s not always black and white, especially when it comes to feelings and emotions. Why we do love who we love? Why are we attracted to someone? There is another fifth element at work: Karma.
5) Karma: We each have our own karmic pattern and karmic debts. When someone crosses our path, that’s part of our destiny. But what we choose to do, to leave or to stay, how to act with them, that’s our karma. Karma is this dynamic training for our soul evolutions that spans across lifetimes. Perhaps we meet someone in this life because we have unresolved karmic debts from past lives. Perhaps we have such strong feeling for someone because our soul remember something that our mind doesn’t.
There is great freedom in understanding these concepts and integrating them into our own lives and relationships. We can nurture our relationships based on the four qualities guideline. We can loosen the blame and frustration with ourselves when we can understand that might be part of our karma and how we choose to move forward.
As a spiritual coach, I help people uncover their own patterns and I often find that they are related somewhat to karma. But karma is a verb, by understanding ourselves, we can always choose to better, to cultivate our own goodness, to nurture healthy relationships and to deepening our bonds. This is where great transformation takes place over time. So take a moment to look back at your history, is there any repeated pattern that jumps out to you? Is there a component in your relationship that you can improve?
May you find love, feel love, and be love.