Adapted from True Love, by Thich Nhat Hanh (Shambhala, 1997).
Love is one of the most confusing of feelings. What some people call “love” may be possessiveness, or simple desire, or some other lesser emotion.
According to Buddhism, there are four elements of true love. Read what this wise teacher has to say, and find out if what you feel is true love, here:
Here are the four aspects of true love.
1. Loving-kindness. Loving-kindness is not only the desire to make someone happy, to bring joy to a beloved person, it is the ability to bring joy and happiness to the person you love, because even if your intention is to love this person, your love might make him or her suffer. To be able to give happiness and joy, you must practice deep looking toward the person you love. Because if you do not understand this person, you cannot love properly.
2. Compassion. This is not only the desire to ease the pain of another person, but the ability to do so. You must practice deep looking in order to gain a good understanding of the nature of the suffering of this person, in order to be able to help him or her to change.
3. Joy If there is no joy in love, it is not true love. If you are suffering all the time, if you cry all the time, and if you make the person you love cry, this is not really love–it is even the opposite. If there is no joy in your love, you can be sure that it is not true love.
4. Freedom. In true love, you attain freedom. When you love, you bring freedom to the person you love. If the opposite is true, it is not true love. You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free, not only outside but also inside. “Dear one, do you have enough space in your heart and all around you?” This is an intelligent question for testing whether your love is something real.