Improve your romantic relationship

- through Henry Oudin

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When Buddhism helps to build a relationship that is both benevolent and joyful, in understanding each other, free from projections, expectations and attachment.

“There are two forms of love: one is subjective and depends on our emotions, the affection and attachment we have for our loved ones, our friends and our family. The other stems from the realization that we all want happiness. We are equal in the face of this hope. The feeling of affinity it engenders leads us to wish and want all beings to be happy. What we experience then is genuine love. "True love can neither change nor disappear since it is built on altruism and not on attachment and desire", says Tenzin Gyatso, XIVth Dalai Lama.

Buddhism, realistic, relies on these two aspects of love to understand and accompany human beings on the path to true love. It is clear that this pragmatic and lucid approach is in a way quite different from that found in the West. It is enough to be convinced of this to remember the way in which our fairy tales end and the famous “And they lived happily the rest of their lives”. This chimera is not based on reality. We all know it, however, from generation to generation, parents pass it on to their children at bedtime. And, over the generations, the same drama is repeated: as adults, we hope to live this dream before realizing that it is not possible. This causes in us, and around us, great suffering.

In I wanted to tell you I love you (1), a work halfway between autobiography feel good and the interview book, Isalou-Regen questions this reality: how can we stop believing that the other can offer us this idealized stereotyped world? Following a painful breakup, to understand the inner tsunami she is going through, Isalou then offers a Tibetan Buddhist master Sabchu Rinpoche to analyze and decipher one of the most used phrases on the planet, "I love you". : “I”, this ego which defines it and which feeds on its projections; "Love", love in its dimensions of understanding, compassion, benevolence and evolution; "You", the other without whom this adventure would be impossible and who is, in a way, more important than oneself. To answer this profound question, Isalou questions this monk for a year. His knowledge, his words, his common sense allow him to gradually make his teaching his own. Concerning this sentence which concludes the tales, Sabchu Rinpoche answers him very naturally: “The truth is that they did not live happily for the rest of their lives! They lived simply and learned to be happy. This is the truth! ".

Meditate on the nature of the relationship

Thus, from page to page, we realize that, according to Buddhism, loving and caring for others is part of our deep nature. We also discover precious keys to learning to live happily as a couple. So that all this does not remain theoretical, the master encourages her to practice meditation and warns her against possession and attachment in a relationship. This perspective shows her that the couple is a partnership that allows you to grow together, to overcome hardships and to welcome change. For Isalou, spending a year with Sabchu Rinpoche was therefore very inspiring. It allowed him to realize how much we work with powerful projection systems. "It helped me to question my limiting representations and beliefs, which gave me greater inner freedom," she says. And to add: “Today, I focus on what I live and no longer on what I tell myself. I don't see or experience love the same way anymore. Because Sabchu Rinpoche explained to me that our reality depended entirely on us: the pain (for example of a separation) is largely associated with our way of seeing the event (…) Ditto for failure”.

“If we only love the good sides of a person, that's not love. We must accept its weaknesses and bring our patience, understanding and energy to help it transform. » Thich Nhat Hanh

Buddhism teaches that a nascent couple relationship is based more on attachment than on true love: "It is built according to the projections of the two partners who, because of their respective desires and expectations, exercise a certain influence on top of each other, depending on the circumstances. In this case, love is not based on the wish to make the other happy, but on a selfish need that prevails over reason,” says the Dalai Lama. During an interview with journalist and author Catherine Barry, the Nobel Peace Prize winner encourages us to rethink our relationship with others, to reflect on what their true nature is and to remember that any idealization of Love is likely to cause relationship difficulties. And since conflicting emotions exist, the Dalai Lama recommends replacing them, for example, with genuine compassion and love that are free from desire and attachment: "Buddhism teaches that two opposing emotions cannot coexist at the same time. time in the space of our mind. If we feel anger or hatred for someone and strive to develop love for that person, the negative emotions go away on their own. This is the system of antidotes. »

But what is true love?

In Buddhism, love is at the same time understanding, kindness, benevolence, generosity and kindness. Thus, to understand is to see with the heart and to feel the other beyond the appearances and the limited vision of one's own ego. "When we understand, we become filled with compassion for our companion or our partner and we welcome his sufferings", specifies Sabchu Rinpoche. This is also taught by the Zen master of Vietnamese origin Thich Nhat Hanh who designates true love by the Four Immeasurables: benevolence, compassion, joy and equanimity. In his book Teachings on love (2), he insists on the acceptance of the other such as he is: “If we only love the good sides of a person, it is not love. We must accept its weaknesses and bring our patience, understanding and energy to help it transform. This is the dharma of two people to practice love: to care for each other, to let it blossom like a flower, and to make happiness a reality. “Honey, do I understand you enough? Am I watering your seeds of pain? Am I watering your seeds of joy? Please tell me how could I love you better? are the best questions to ask,” he adds.

Daily practices

This is how in Plum Village, we practice the five mindfulness trainings, based on the precepts of the Buddha. “Everything needs food to grow. If we don't feed our love, it will die. If we don't nurture our relationship with each other, it will die out. You have to feed her. How ? This is the whole art of the practice,” says Sister Chan Dao Nghiem. This nun close to Thich Nhat Hanh receives retreatants every year. Among these, couples who sometimes leave transformed, she says. “The practice of renewal helps them a lot. It is about knowing how to recognize the beauty in the other and what is going well in the relationship. The practice of reconciliation helps, for its part, to reconcile with oneself and with one's ancestors in order to stop making the other responsible for one's suffering. As master Thich Nhat Hanh teaches, if you don't know yourself well, your marriage will be difficult: "By getting married, we promise to transform ourselves and help the other to transform, so that both can grow together”. For him, joy is one of the best indicators of a successful relationship: “True love always brings joy, to oneself and to the loved one. If our love doesn't bring joy to both sides, it's not true love."

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Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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