Recent events have made me recently contemplate what it means to love. Love means something different to different people and in different situations and circumstances. Did I love you? Do I?
In Peace is Every Step, Thicht Nhat Hanh distills the matter:
When you understand, you cannot help but love
That is a very powerful statement. He writes so simply and plainly – in a way that makes what he is saying is the most natural thing in the world even though it is also intensely profound and altering. He goes on to say:
We really have to understand the person we want to love. If our love is only a will to possess, it is not love. If we only think of ourselves, if we know only our own needs and ignore the needs of the other person, we cannot love. We must look deeply in order to see and understand the needs, aspiration and suffering of the person we love. This is the ground of real love. You cannot resist loving another person when you really understand him or her […] We practice in this way until we see clearly that our love is not contingent upon the other person being lovable.
Hafiz of Shiraz said:
I wish I could show you, when you are low or in darkness, the astonishing light of your own being.
I think of you and love and feel deeply that I want you to know these things. I want you show you your own light. I want you to see it and understand it they way I do. One day, I am sure, you will feel the reality of inter-being and be able to accept that you are worthy of love. This doesn’t need to be a unique realization. You are not worthy of love because you’re a special snowflake or because you have done something extraordinary that makes you qualify. You are worthy because you are me and I am you. You are worthy because so am I and so is everyone. You are worthy because you are. You are worthy because it is not contingent upon being lovable, it is contingent upon being. I consider this and have to say, yes, I love you. I love you because I see you. Namaste. This is how I love you, I want to say to you.