What is Real Love – Buddhism and Unconditional Love

Buddhist philosophy teaches that true love is free from attachment and emotional dependence. Love is unconditional, the need of reciprocity is mere passion

Loving and being loved is not as easy as it may seem. Building a strong relationship involves commitment and patience, and still, most people have at least once in life suffered because of a broken heart. Falling in love brings joy and tenderness as well as fear of loss, jealousy and insecurity. Is it impossible to love without suffering? Before delving into the reasons why people suffer for love, it’s necessary to answer one essential question: what is real love?

What Buddhism Says About Love

According to Buddhism, to love is an action. It’s that force that motivates people to become better, to improve themselves in order to reach eternity and happiness. Love brings out the best in people, as when they love, the target is not themselves but the beloved ones. This wish to serve others is said to be a reflection of an innate knowledge that everybody is connected through the same principle, and therefore, it is an illusion to believe that one can achieve true happiness while those around haven’t attained it . So, love is the action that makes people step out of their own ego and work in favour of the whole in a search for fulfillment.

In fact, Buddha said that he would not enter nirvana until the last person had reached enlightenment, and this is the main principle of the Mahayana school, which teaches that true love is the wish that every living creature achieves wisdom and pure joy. So, those who love, work to lead the beloved ones towards enlightenment.

The Difference Between Love and Passion

When a person truly loves another, nothing can be expected in return, because the motivation is the spiritual growth of the beloved ones, not reciprocity. If a person loves another only if the other person loves him or her too, or only if the other person is faithful, then, this conditional love hides an unconscious assumption that it is necessary to be loved in order to love, and, according to Buddhist philosophy, this is a mistake as love ought to be an end in itself.

Passion has nothing to do with this force that impels people to guide the beloved ones towards unity and true happiness. Passion is a desire to please the senses and to be physically fulfilled, however, as much as two people can complete each other physically, if the motivation behind the union is to obtain physical pleasure, none of them will experience real love.

Why Do People Suffer for Love?

Many people only love so that they can be loved, and use love as a tool to avoid the feeling of rejection and for fear of being alone. When a person cannot live without another and needs to be loved in order to be happy, love is only a mask to hide neediness. If the fact that love is not reciprocal or exclusive causes sadness and anger, this might be an indicator that the ability to love is conditioned to the possibility of being loved. This, according to Buddhism, is not love.

True love is free from emotional attachment. Romantic love reaches its peak when two people are together for the mutual wish to grow spiritually and do not depend on each other to attain inner peace and happiness. The greatest lesson of Buddhism is that detachment does not mean that loving is meaningless. Rather, detachment is the state of mind that allows people to love even more, abundantly, and for the right reasons – because every single living being is a small part of the same universal body and not loving the neighbour would be the same as not loving oneself.

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