Monday, September 15, 2008

Are You Prepared to Love?

Do you have someone to love? We all want to love and be loved.

We may want to love children who are hungry, disabled, or abused, to relieve them of their suffering. We carry that love in our heart and hope that someday we will be able to realise it.

But when we actually contact these children, they may be difficult to love. They may be rude, they may lie, they may steal, and our love for them will fade.

We had the idea that loving children who need our help would be wonderful, but when confronted with the reality, we cannot sustain our love. When we discover that the object of our love is not lovable, we feel deep disappointment, shame and regret.

We feel as though we have failed. If we cannot love a poor or disabled child, who can we love?

A number of Plum Village residents of Vietnamese origin want to go back to Vietnam to help the children and the adults there.

The war created much division, hatred and suspicion in the hearts of the people. These monks, nuns, and laypeople want to walk on their native land, embrace the people, and help relieve them of their suffering.

But before they go back, they must prepare themselves. The people they want to help may not be easy to love.

Real love must include those who are difficult, those who have been unkind.

If they go back to Vietnam without first learning to love and understand deeply, when they find the people there being unpleasant, they will suffer and may even come to hate them.

You think you can change the world, but do not be too naive. Don't think that the moment you arrive in Vietnam, you will sit down with all the conflicting factions and establish communication immediately.

You may be able to give beautiful talks about harmony, but if you are not prepared, you will not be able to put your words into practice.

We must practise harmony of views and harmony of speech. We bring our views together to have a deeper understanding, and we use loving speech to inspire others and not hurt anyone.

We practise walking together, eating together, discussing together, so we can realise love and understanding.

If you are able to breathe and smile when your sister says something unkind, that is the beginning of love.

You do not have to go some place else to serve. You can serve right where you are by practising walking mediation, smiling, and shining your eyes of love on others.


Extracted from: Beginning Anew, Teachings on Love, by Venerable Thich Nhat Nanh

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