Love and Lightness

          Falling in love is a transitional step to a mature relationship

                   By Renate Ogilvie
 

          Buddhism is not romantic.
          Not only it is not romantic, it generally tells us what we need to hear; not what we want to hear.  We know that and accept it.  But when it comes to relationships, we secretly think that the teachings have only a vague, goody-goody sort of relevance - kindness, compassion to be sure - but what of really useful stuff like: how to meet people, ho wto be attractive, how to be cool sexually or how to live with the pain of rejection?  We do not know automatically lok to the Dharma because we suspect these are base concerns, and somehow not spiritual, but they are pressing, very pressing.

        Let's start at the beginning.  Falling in love.  Often, it happens just like that:  one moment you are quietly tending your herbs in the window box, checking the tires on your Harley or taking a back row cushion in your gompa (prayer room).

        The next: you fall.  And then a lot begins to happen, not much of it good from a Dharmic point of view.  A form of madness descends on our mind, wiping out years of practice and meditation.  We think: Beginning?  Surely not.  Just a karmic minuet!  Certainly not the accidental meeting of two strangers.  Rather a highly poignant event, dripping with karmic imprints from past life connections - full of possibility.

        Extreme delusions from about the perfect attributes of the beloved person - exaggerated in our own mind, but also in our descriptions to others.  We marvel endlessly about how that person is meeting all our needs.  Never was there such a union!  Never so many obstacles so easily overcome! Nor an occasion for so much wit, beauty and simple goodness!

        Attachment?  Yes, of course!
        Labels? Only the best.
        Impermanence? Not if we can help it.
        Suffering? Yes, but how delicious.
        And look: the world is a good place.  Just as long as the beloved smiles our way.
        If it wanes, well - we may come down with a thud.  The beloved is suddenly a disappointment, the world ugly and depressing, the passionate declarations embarrassing.  How could we be so wrong!  How awful! How inexplicable!

        The sober truth: by projecting our own neurotic needs on to another person in the heat of passion, we produce an image of impossible perfection.  It precludes change and sets the other person up for an inevitable fall.  If we dealt in sin as Buddhists, I'd say it is a cardinal one.  The seduction and madness of being in love usually lasts six months or so.  It can make us blind, selfish, and ruthless.  It is an amplification of our berserk mind.  It is the very opposite of equanimity, wisdom and compassion.

       Buddhism is not romantic.  While we cannot practice, meditate or think properly during those months, we can do a bit.  Keep our commitments.  See the funny side.  Expect the "crunch."  If we are feeling strong: ride the tiger of attachment and ponder the teaching on Tantra which teaches the union of feminine and masculine principles.  And if we are being realistic:  accept that falling in love is often the necessary part for establishing a more mature relationship.

       Once Lama Yeshe faced a tense gathering of students who wanted to know about relationships.  He looked at their earnest faces and laughed.  From a box next to him, he ripped out tissues, threw them in the air and said, "Light, light!"