The more you try to define what Buddhism is, the further from the true essence of Buddhism you actually are. To step into Buddha-nature, is to step into a being state. The mind corrupts such a concept with narrow reference points that can become polluted. Buddhahood exists in all beings.
The Buddha is a guide showing the way to enlightenment. To define Buddhahood or Buddha as God is an impossibility as Buddhism teaches self reliance and that every being is given the opportunity to awaken. Yet, since Buddhahood exists in all things, it really depends on how you define God. God has so many definitions, understandings and misunderstandings. And, tellingly, the gods of Buddhism must ultimately die.
The core of religious belief is the understanding of a spiritual way to inhabit the world. Whether one uses terms such as God, Buddha, Jesus Christ or Krishna does not change the intent. The tree is still the tree. The bird is still the bird. If you jump into a lake, you will still get wet!
Definitions come from the ego. To be alive, you don't need dogma to be validated. All you need is love!
A Buddhist View
A Buddhist's view of love in relationship must impart surrendering and being willing to be completely open and revealing - to know another without judgment or attachment - yet at the same time willing to invest one's full attention and open heart in caring for one another wholeheartedly. A true Buddhist must refuse to cling to another person. Pure acceptance, pure lovingkindness, yet detached enough to know that all of life is ephemeral.
Love is to walk the path of dhamma together, knowing that one may not always face the same direction, yet being compassionate whatever one's personal mood or leaning. Love is friendship without neediness, service without obligation, giving without the expectation to receive.
Yet love is also "love", something that cannot be defined or reduced in the definition itself. Definitions are in themselves reductions, limitations, narrowed thought compartments. The flow is the flow is the flow - as the water is the water. All must follow their true nature without wasted attachments.
Letting go of fear
The revelation of love is that all else vanishes or fades to nothingness when touched by the miracle of love. Love overwhelms fear, melting it to oblivion, reducing it to a distant memory.
The last line of the introduction to A Course in Miracles reads, "Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God".
This is the true meaning of love. Pure authenticity. Unwavering. Unconditional. Boundless. All-encompassing. Feeling. Doing. Action. Surrender.
Love is real, like breath is real - in motion, still, moving, dead, alive, ever-present.
Nothing. Everything. Blindness. Seeing. Peace. Explosion. Bliss.
If only we could overcome our fear. Then we would know God. And life still wouldn't be perfect - people would still annoy you; pollution would still stink. As Ajahn Brahm put it, "Love is loving things that sometimes you don't like."
God is within love. Love is inside and outside our understanding and interpretation. Words limit these concepts and are a poor form of translation. What can substitute for experience?
Love is effortless, a non-judgmental awareness of living from moment to moment. Love is not doing, it is being. You cannot experience emptiness without fullness. Resting in awareness, that is pure love. Love is like breath that inhabits life, flowing in and out constantly, endlessly until it transforms into something else - pure spaciousness.
Humans are the only species that get in their own way by cravings, aversions, addictions and thoughts; the only species that does not breathe naturally because thoughts have become an encumbrance interrupting the normal flow of life.
Love is our natural state yet we are the ones who get in its way. Love can be magical, sublime, completely unfathomable if we allow it to be.
Love can be the canvas on which we dream ourselves into being, or it can be the abyss into which we lose ourselves in all senses of reality. Embrace the mystery of being human like a flower or a bee, a hawk or a fly. When you let go of fear all that remains is love.
Learning to love yourself
You are the most important person in the world. Learning to love yourself is the final journey. As human beings, the final frontier is facing ourselves in the mirror and embracing all of our parts - learning to love every bit in its entirety.
So what's preventing or holding us back from feeling, acting and being authentically whole? Why are we so scared to be real? Why are we so scared to be ourselves?
"It's as if society has a strategy to condemn you for who you are but they then encourage you to be like someone else." ~ Osho
Are you scared to love yourself authentically whole? The kernel of personal growth is this - learning to love yourself.
How to begin? Speak to yourself like you speak to God. Easier said than done, of course! Self love is the gateway as with loving yourself comes the creation of a peaceful, whole vision of both inner and outer worlds. It isn't easy. Caroline Myss says it thus:
"To love yourself, truly love yourself, is to finally discover the essence of personal courage, self respect, integrity, and self esteem. These are the qualities of grace that come directly from a soul with stamina."
The goals of manifestation and personal growth can become selfish when they're only and exclusively inwardly oriented. Without a foundation in place of self love, giving to others can be an empty selfish experience, involving motives such as addiction, control, power play, and various other machinations. Giving wholeheartedly from a space of pure love and open-heartedness comes naturally when those qualities are already present, already deeply instilled in the giver. Thus loving yourself deeply, way beyond the superficiality of narcissism, is a gateway to spiritual growth. Yet even with only focusing on loving and growing, the spirit is still growing.
Our relationship to others mirrors our relationship to ourselves, which mirrors our relationship to God. This cycle of inner-outer, microcosmic-macrocosmic, action-reaction, is the result of cosmic unity - the outward flow of creation dictated life within life, life within death, death within life, and the energy of life that flows through all matter, animating a rock, infusing a plant with life force energy.
From a position of love, comes the opportunity to give unselfishly, to love unconditionally. If a person feels incomplete, then their love will always be conditional, and the result may lead to control, manipulation or as a balm for self loathing. A person's goals and path are always multi-dimensional, and judging it from any one position can give an incomplete picture, and thus a narrow judgment or perspective. It's fair to say though that a path that only highlights the self has aspects of the egocentric, or self centeredness. It can also become overly self absorbed or self indulgent.
Perhaps the answer is in explaining it more simply - love yourself and you open up gateways to advance yourself and the world in a positive direction. Don't love yourself, and the possibilities decrease proportionally.
Immersing yourself in your partner's or children's lives is also only filling a gap or deficit within yourself. Balance is the epitome of - and the path to - health. The need to be loved comes with the corollary, "Fill me up with your love because I'm not already full." As commentator Ruth Ostrow expresses it, "Unless we are happy and confident within ourselves, we tend to attract co-dependent mates hoping they'll fill the missing bits."
Is there an escape clause from the relationships that so often cause us grief? Sometimes keeping distance is not a solution, as it may prevent us from developing the resources to be still in the face of outside pressures.
Your chosen family and intimate partners are mirrors for you to learn and grow from. By all means, spend time alone and in isolation, yet also find the meaning within being with them, learning the lessons, and finding stillness and calm in the face of their triggers. These are your opportunities for self realisation. They're just your teachers so acknowledge them as such and treat them with reverence.
Your parents and the society around you send you lots of different messages that conflict with your true nature. So it's about getting to know who you truly are away from, and outside of, other people's views and opinions.
You are your greatest teacher. Look within for the answers you seek. For the most part, I recommend mindful awareness (just watching/ observing). This doesn't mean you don't respond - just watch how you respond. Then check in - analyse what triggered you and how you responded. Then ask why why why...?
Then work on what was triggered and why. Heal this part of you and those triggers will lose their power over you. Increasingly, you can choose how you respond. Share this knowledge with others. Live this knowledge if you believe it closely resembles who you are.
Learning to love yourself may be the most challenging, but ultimately rewarding, journey of your life.
David is a channel for Divine wisdom. His intuitive coaching, speaking and healing sessions invoke purposeful shifts into deeper connection, confidence, self love, abundance and happiness. An empath, David's healing is focused on bridging the gap between addressing core wounds and reaching limitless possibilities, to living an extraordinary life. David’s passion for synthesising Eastern and Western approaches to spiritual wellbeing, has seen him immersing himself in the biblical tradition as a monastic, studying Western Naturopathic Medicine and Buddhist / Taoist Healing under three living masters － Master Chen in China, Grand Master Mantak Chia (Time magazine’s top 100 most spiritually influential living people) in Thailand and Ajahn Brahm (one of the world’s foremost masters of meditation) in Australia.