|Quench your mind/heart because dispassion is the key to enlightenment and liberation. Not by passion or anger or delusion can one find happiness and freedom. Clinging and hating are tangled up in ignorance. Untangle.|
- QUESTION: Anonymous asks, "We aren't supposed to want love? Should I live alone for the rest of my life? I am new to this blog. Please forgive me if you have answered this question."
|I'm supposed to be alone and not in love?|
|You can see what buddhas see (DM).|
Surely you don't think we are saying that people in general, or Buddhists in particular, should NOT cultivate altruism, loving-kindness, compassion, unselfish joy, impartiality (unbiased equanimity). We think you should love, but love is not "love" the way we normally mean it. You know how we as Westerners normally mean it. These are the Four Divine Abidings (Brahma Viharas), excellent (Greek, arete) forms of "love," excellent sources of merit (puñña), excellent karma!
|I want to meditate, but my compulsions (OB)|
No person wishing for his/her own good, the good of others, or the good of both would continue in this way. But we do. Why do we? It is because we are not being mindful, not thinking, not engaging in wise action, not being compassionate, not living up to our actual and professed ideals.
|American loves lives on "West Coast"|
But let us guess: You want to suffer (to be disappointed, dissatisfied, unfulfilled). That's real passion! We can tell you're very passionate (in the throes of suffering). And so, naturally, you want painful progress (dukkha-patipadā). Maybe Suffering is your teacher, as Eckhart Tolle points out, Suffering being most people's only teacher.
("Like Crazy") Love rules! Love is the best! Love rocks! We have nothing higher to live for!
And that's what we've been taught and conditioned to want -- told that that's the way to fulfillment and a happy life. Yet, spirituality teaches us something better. But we don't want to give up our pleasure even for a better (more sublime) pleasure.
We're spiritual not religious. We want it ALL! Like Bauhaus, "All we ever wanted was everything"! Give us enlightenment, AND let us keep our sexy, clingy, hopelessly pathetically attached forms of "love."
|One of many human honey traps. Oh, just look at the poor monkey, doesn't realize what's going to happen when the hunter arrives to claim what the monkey can't let go of internally. Run, monkey, run!|
|The Buddha's mother, the first Buddhist nun|
|The Buddha's ex-wife, who became a nun|
The Buddha walked beyond the gate without turning to collect his bowl. Nanda thought to follow him back to the monastery (probably a cave in Bamiyan or Mes Aynak or any of the ancient Afghan Buddhist sites) and return it to him there then get back to his wedding plans honeymoon preparations. When they arrived, the Buddha turned and seeing that Nanda had followed him all the way to the monastery, naturally asked, "Oh did you want to become a monk?" In other words, Oh did you, like your wiser, more spiritual, possibly older (see below) brother and so many of your royal cousins you loved in childhood, want to join us in renouncing that dusty, burdensome homelife and live here with us in our left-home life?
|What am I doing sitting here when I could be having sex and getting high on love?!|
|JP: "Come back to me soon, Nanda!"|
Before he could say, "Wait, no, I meant no; I'm getting married to this hot woman tomorrow!" or explain what had happened, he was clean shaven, in robes, and meditating in his kuti (hut, cave, room, cell). But he couldn't concentrate or achieve the absorption (jhanas) like other wandering ascetics (shramans), spiritual recluses (bhikkhus), mendicant meditation masters (theras). All he could do was think about sex.
|All my family and belongings! (motifake.com)|
They traveled through the sky, over the Earth, over a burnt field, and there was a she-monkey there sitting on a stump with a burnt nose. They ascended to pleasant celestial plane in space where there was a brilliant, sparkling, white granite mansion being washed by a large number of pink footed celestial nymphs.
|Western art: Nymphs and Satyr (xahlee.org)|
"But Nanda lives on Earth," Nanda said. "Yes, but thereafter he will come here, and we will serve him." (They would be his wives, his harem, the celestial nymphs people mock Islam for talking about). Nanda stepped back to the Buddha and said, "She says this is for me?" The Buddha asked, "What do you think of these nymphs, Nanda?/Isn't Janapada Kalyani beautiful?" "Jana-pada-who?" exclaimed Nanda. "Your beautiful fiance, the one you're leaving us to go back to, the 'Belle of the Land'!"
"Venerable sir, Janapada Kalyani, my former fiance, can't compare to these nymphs. Even the ugliest one. She doesn't even possess one-sixteenth part the beauty of any of these; she doesn't even come into the count! Why compared to these nymphs, Janapada Kalyani resembles that monkey we saw on the way here with its nose and tail burned off."
"Let's go, Nanda," the Buddha said. On the way down to Earth, they took a detour. They descended to a frightful subterranean hell, where frightful beings were stoking a fire for a large iron cauldron of oil. And Nanda asked these scary demonic figures what they were doing. "What the hell's it to you, $#@&!? Not that it's any of your damn business, but we're making preparations for that scumbag Nanda."
"But, sir, I have it on good authority that Nanda will be reborn in a celestial world with a mansion," Nanda explained. "Yeah, but after that, he will be reborn right here, and we'll do as we wish with him, slaying him, flaying him..." Nanda stepped back to the Buddha. "Did you hear that, venerable sir?"
"Let's go, Nanda," the Buddha said gently. "Now you see how things stand; now you see how samsara, this endless round of the playing out of karma, goes." [We're filling in the colorful language in case you hadn't noticed, Anonymous. The is the gist, the sentiment of what was said and meant.]
|Knowing-and-seeing results from persistence|
- Kammatthāna: literally, "working-ground," "field of exertion, effort, or striving" (i.e., for meditation), is the term in the Commentaries for "subjects of meditation"; see bhāvanā.
- Actually, they would have been age-peers, almost exactly the same age because Nanda's mother, Maha Pajapati Devi, who was the sister of the Buddha's biological mother, Queen Maha Maya Devi, was co-wife of the polygamous king, their father. And when the latter passed away just a week after her son Siddhartha's birth, the former took over nursing, caring for, and raising Prince Siddhartha as her own, turning over the primary care of Nanda to a nurse in the royal palace. Queen Maya, who was considered the "first wife" would have been more beautiful, the more pleasing long time companion of King Suddhodana. Contrary to our modern opinion that this is sexist and patriarchal, her sister would surely have been happy to co-marry the king and thereby live together with her sister as royals from the ruling family of the rich crossroads capital of Kapilavastu (in the vicinity of modern Kabul and Bamiyan according to Dr. Pal), having and raising kids at the same time like virtuous-Kardashians, then taking over the role of Queen Kim with her sister's passing. The Shakyas were a fiercely proud, tough, formerly-nomadic warrior peoples not like the more refined people of Brahminical India, much like hearty Afghans/Central Asians today.
|Novice's devotion in a sacred cave (13som)|
But his fellows were dissatisfied and they complained to the Buddha: "Nanda's a hireling! He works for nymphs!" Knowing better the Buddha had Ven. Nanda summoned. "They say you're a hireling, Nanda, that you work for nymphs, that I promised you nymphs if you would meditate." Ven. Nanda was abashed for it having once been true that he worked for such a petty aspiration as superhuman sensual experiences in that lowly heavenly world they visited, having lost the healthy dread of what they had seen would happen in that subterranean fallen/hellish plane of existence (niraya).
Ven. Nanda implicitly declared his attainment by stating that he had released the Buddha from his implied promise of heavenly splendor the moment he realized the Truth. His fellow monastics were shocked and abashed, not realizing they were mocking and complaining about an arhat, an enlightened disciple of the Buddha. They quickly returned to their kutis to meditate and follow the example of the one they had wasted so much time and made such unskillful karma berating. The end.
Anonymous, does our overkill answer make sense? Does this famous Story of Nanda make sense as applying to your dual question?
Question. Selfish "love," sensual lust, desperate clinging, emotional attachment, pathetic obsession, does it arise in a person for her/his own good, for the good of another, for both? Or does it bring harm?
Love is a snare, a trap, a lie leading us to buy the ways of the world without thinking and only realizing too late what bargain we made? When the Dhammapada speaks ill of desire, clinging, and passion, we recoil. No, we like those! We want those! "Passion" (which literally means "suffering" in English) is good, it's zesty, it adds spice to life. You're question was very good because people don't want to get caught up in words and thinking, paying attention and actually analyzing anything. We want it spelled out, or we'll learn from experience. But most of us won't learn even then.
What the Buddha said makes sense, a lot of sense. If one stays superficial, it is easy to debunk karma, spirituality, religion, and claims of all kinds. That's nonsense. That's not science. We know everything; the ancients knew nothing! The purpose of an "American Buddhist Journal" is to spell out all the ways that Buddhism does apply, does make sense, does offer a Path to the end of all suffering. And it's beautiful even if it seems to us sexist and full of it. For instance, did you notice a gaping hole in Nanda's story? We know you did.
We know what you're thinking, Anonymous! "Hey, but what about Janapada Kalyani?! The Buddha was wise, exceedingly wise; he thought of that, too. Here is her story: The Beautiful Princess Janapada Kalyani's spiritual journey