A month from today many countries in the world will be celebrating with a day dedicated to LOVE and most of the traditions associated with the annual event have to do with cards, champagne or wine, romantic dinners, flowers, chocolates, jewelry and weddings. In fact, a court clerk in Maryland, USA reports that this is “the most love-infused day of the year and the busiest wedding date at many area courthouses.” Not to be outdone, even NPR stations sneak an additional fundraiser blitz for this date. Is this really a “most love-infused day” or it is the message we get from the media and retail world? Can we resonate with something even bigger than romantic love?
Last year Time magazine reported that at least in America, the holiday also elicits “a sense of obligation, dread or apathy.” For those who are “in love”, it could mean expectations that the parties are uncomfortable with coupled with a pretty big financial commitment. It turns out that it is also hard to celebrate a very uneven relational landscape. Valentine’s celebrations and hype can be difficult for singles, for however “contrived and forced, the holiday can serve as a nasty reminder of what some singles want but don’t have, or just a day when they simply feel like they’re missing out” writes Time’s Kit Yarrow. Could we perhaps shift the emphasis and focus on the real meaning of love, a quality that when absent, makes any type of relationship meaningless?
The historical Buddha said that we can be in a “love-infused” state of being not only for a day, but 24/7, because every thought, word and action can come from the heart-mind that knows and practices four immeasurable qualities: loving kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity. When we abide in what in Sanskrit is called the Brahmaviharas, we dwell in the heart of God (Brahma) and Vihara (abode). From that place, we vibrate LOVE and when we vibrate love, we not only attract love; this deep love is instrumental in attracting all that we desire easily and gracefully. We are so enriched by these feelings that we are like strong trees that weather the harshest storms, thrive in the gentlest of breezes and provide the sweetest fruit to nourish all who need it. Won’t you practice being that kind of tree and be infused with true love? Let us start with Maitri for today.
Maitri—love or loving kindness in Sanskrit is the practice that Pema Chodron calls unconditional friendship with oneself. It is accepting who we are and how we are, without expecting the value to come from the outside. Loving oneself does not come from make-up, clothes, meditations, lovers, gurus, jobs, webinars, or family. In looking at the golden tree at the center of the picture above, Maitri is in the roots of the tree hugging the nourishing earth below. It is the quality of being at home with your own mind and body and as Pema teaches, it is the seed of happiness, compassion and well-being. It is what makes you glad to be alive. Maitri is also about seeing life as it is, not as we wish it to be, and accepting that we along with everybody else, we are all are doing the best we can, so that we soften up our stand and look at others going through similar experiences and see them with curiosity. We pay attention to see how and what they are learning, so that we may be helpful. Maitri helps us practice loving others because we truly care about what they need, because we want them to be joyous. So we do not impose our ideas or solutions about what makes them joyous. We respect their lives and their path. Just like the tree, we all have love within us. We sometimes have to learn to look deeply into those roots, so that we don’t feel left out when we see a happy couple celebrating a Valentine’s Day wedding. We notice and appreciate their happiness and accept that we may feel that we are missing out, but that such feelings come from an ego mind. The heart mind rejoices instead and thus grows stronger Maitri roots. The best way to start the Maitri path is to commit to a daily practice of cultivating self-love.
I will be using this painting and writing about the other attributes in the coming weeks, so I invite you to purchase either the original of or archival quality giclee prints now. When you purchase the original, you will get a one hour consultation with me during which I will also teach you the special meditation. If you purchase the prints, you will get a copy of the meditation, and a follow up shorter call to support you. See details by clicking below.
Click Spiritual Art Gallery to purchase the painting or print and get your bonus consultation and meditation. Have a Maitri filled week!