Sounds strange doesn’t it, to think of love as dispassionate?
Don’t most of us think that it is the passion and powerful feelings that comprise what we refer to as love?
The definition of dispassionate is – free from or unaffected by passion; devoid of personal feeling or bias; impartial; calm.
And personally, I really like that definition and more importantly to think of it when I focus on love towards the self or other beings. And yes, this certainly applies to partners, spouses, parents and children.
To help clarify this thinking, I will share a bit of the Atthi Raga sutta:
“Where there is passion, delight, & craving for the nutriment of consciousness, consciousness lands there and increases. Where consciousness lands and increases, there is the alighting of name-&-form. Where there is the alighting of name-&-form, there is the growth of fabrications. Where there is the growth of fabrications, there is the production of renewed becoming in the future. Where there is the production of renewed becoming in the future, there is future birth, aging, & death, together, I tell you, with sorrow, affliction, & despair.”
You may need to re-read this paragraph a few times to deeply understand the teaching contained in it. I know that I have. But I find it to be extremely profound and liberating as I begin to understand the result of love with attachment and passion. This also brings to mind an old saying of “it is better to have loved and lost, then never to have loved at all”. I now see how delusional that type of thinking is in this life. More importantly, I see that as not actually referring to love, but passion. For if we love without passion, attachment or expectation, we truly experience the truer and deeper meaning of the word.
Loving you whether you are here or not, loving you whether you love me back or not, loving you regardless of what you say, do or don’t do.
Perhaps this is what the Buddha was really trying to teach us when he spoke of metta (loving kindness/loving friendliness).
Of course, none of this can ever take place without first experiencing this purity of love for yourself. And when we have doubts, remorse, fear and even self-loathing, we are not yet capable of offering unconditional love to others. We have not yet learned how to completely love and accept the self. This should be our first mission in our practice. To be our own best friend, with limitless compassion and understanding. Opening ourselves to the present moment with awareness of the Three Basic Facts (Three Marks) of Existence which are Anicca, Dukkha, and Anatta.
“All conditioned things are impermanent (anicca); a false sense of self arises when we fail to recognize that all things arise from causes and conditions, so there is no permanent “self” or “thingness” that is unchanging or inherently real (anatta); ignorance of these characteristics of experience leads to suffering (dukkha).”
These realities can be very difficult to not only understand, but even more difficult to fully accept. But this is the practice, to quiet our minds of the endless chatter and see the truth of this life. And the more I am able to allow this, the more I accept these three marks of existence and the delusions begin to fade. Clinging, attachment, desire, passion, expectations and judgements are all able to be replaced by a peaceful mind that cultivates wholesome thoughts, words and actions.
May you each remain determined on your practice, and may you be well, happy and peaceful.