Exponentially growing our love

Learning to develop unconditional love is something that will bring inconceivable meaning to our life. I can’t say I have this mind myself, but I do know that the deeper my experience of love goes, the happier I feel. This in turn helps me to build much more positive and harmonious relationships with others. And ultimately to enjoy a deep and lasting experience of inner peace

I was recently reading over my notes from a Lamrim Retreat (a retreat on all the stages of the path to enlightenment) with Gen Rabten. In one of the sessions, in which we meditated on love, he said:

If we’re finding someone difficult we should be grateful as they’re helping us to develop unconditional love. They’re showing us the limit of our love, where our love is weak. We have the opportunity to recognise this and, by understanding which people and what attributes we find hardest to love, extend our love unconditionally to all living beings.

I have found this to be true in my experience. Recently I’ve started to notice this overwhelming desire to overcome all limitations and extend my mind of love to all living beings throughout space and time. It comes from an understanding that if I’m to be of true benefit to others then I need to become something more than I currently am

Letting go of self concern opens the doorway to a loving mind

Doorway to unconditional love

Personally I’m tired of focusing on myself and my own problems all the time. They’re clearly not that important, yet somehow I’ve spent so much time deceiving myself into believing that they are

So now is the time to break free from the constraints of self concern. It’s not easy to do in the beginning, and we need to work on this gradually over time. But fast forward 20, 30, 40 years…. do we really still want to be fussing over the same old sh*t?

‘Oh so and so said this’, ‘I can’t believe this weather’, ‘state of the world today in politics… in the environment’. ‘My body is so painful, it really is terrible you know’, ‘why don’t they like me, what did I ever do to them?’. ‘I can’t believe the bus left early again’, blah blah blah…

The truth is our existence as we know it doesn’t give rise to happiness. It wasn’t designed that way. No matter how hard we try, seeking happiness in people and things will never fulfil our deepest wish to be happy all the time. To actually achieve the happiness we seek, we need look no further than our own mind

So when we encounter difficulties, particularly with people, rather than blaming them instead we look within ourself. We try to discover what’s causing us to respond in a way that’s giving rise to mental pain

By doing this we learn to see the perspectives of others. And to clearly identify the limitations in our own mind that are causing us to habitually respond in such ways

It’s not as hard to do as we may think. In the beginning, when we lack familiarity, everything is hard. It’s simply a matter or re-training our mind and getting into a new habit. It requires a level of self reflection and investigation, based on a wish to improve ourself for the benefit of ourself and others

I remember when I was a little boy I had a bell to ring when I was finished with the toilet and my mum would come and sort me out. Now, I’m proud to admit, I’m totally competent and capable of sorting myself out!

A crude and possibly silly example it may be, but the point is we all have to start somewhere. If we haven’t already gained some familiarity then we need to start at the beginning, and that’s ok. By applying effort to something we previously lacked experience of, eventually we can come to gain mastery over it

The happiness of unconditional love

Cats displaying unconditional love

In this way, rather than being overwhelmed by obstacles, such conditions act as the catalyst for developing deep and powerful minds of love. We just need to have the openness of mind to allow them to function in this way

When we realise our wish to be happy is more important than being right or being in control, doing so comes easily and naturally. This mind of love is the true source of our peace and will never deceive us

Through gradually applying effort to grow our love, it will eventually develop into the mind of unconditional love. This mind is is like a wish-fulfilling jewel that will bestow happiness on ourself and everyone we come into contact with. How wonderful.

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