In the springtime, thousands of different kinds of flowers bloom. Your heart can also bloom. You can let your heart open up to the world. Love is possible—do not be afraid of it. Love is indispensable to life, and if in the past you have suffered because of love, you can learn how to love again.
The practice of mindfulness will help you to love properly, in such a way that harmony, freedom, and joy are possible. The true declaration of love is, “Dear one, I am here for you,” because the most precious gift you can give to your loved one is your true presence, with body and mind united in solidity and freedom.
You also have to learn how to speak all over again. When you speak with 100 percent of your being, your speech becomes a mantra. In Buddhism, a mantra is a sacred formula that has the power to transform reality. You don’t need to practice mantras in some foreign language like Sanskrit or Tibetan. You can practice in your own beautiful language: for if your body and mind are unified in mindfulness, then whatever you say becomes a mantra.
After you have practiced walking meditation or mindfulness of the breath for two or three minutes, you are here, really alive, truly present. You look at the person you love with a smile, and you say the first mantra: “Dear one, I am here for you.” You know that if you are here, then your beloved is here also. Life, with all its miracles, is here, and among those miracles is the person before you, the one you love.
You can say this mantra a few times a day: “Dear one, I am here for you.” And now that you have the ability to recognize the presence of this other person, you can practice a second mantra: “Dear one, I know that you are here, alive, and that makes me very happy.” This mantra enables you to recognize the presence of the other person as something very precious, a miracle. It is the mantra of deep appreciation for his or her presence.
When people feel appreciated in this way—when they feel embraced by the mindful attention of another—then they will open and blossom like a flower. There is no doubt that you can make this happen through the energy of mindfulness. You can do it right away, even today, and you will see that the transformation it brings about is instantaneous. In order to love, we must be here, and then our presence will embrace the presence of the other person. Only then will they have the feeling of being loved. So you must recognize the presence of the other person with the energy of mindfulness, with the genuine presence of your body and mind in oneness.
If the person you love is suffering, you can say a third mantra: “Dear one, I know that you are suffering. That’s why I am here for you.” You are here, and you recognize the fact that your loved one is suffering. You don’t need to make a big deal about it; you just generate your own presence and say this mantra. That’s all. “Dear one, I know that you are suffering. That’s why I am here for you.” This is the essence of love—to be there for the one you love when she is suffering.
A mantra can be expressed not only through speech but by the mind and body as a whole. The fact that you are there with the energy of your presence and understanding, and the fact that you recognize the presence of the other person and their suffering, will give them a great deal of relief. Some people suffer deeply but are completely ignored by others. They are alone and isolated, so cut off from the rest of the world that their suffering becomes overwhelming. You must go to them and open the door to their heart so they can see the love that is there.
Our bodies and minds are sustained by the cosmos. The clouds in the sky nourish us; the light of the sun nourishes us. The cosmos offers us vitality and love in every moment. Despite this fact, some people feel isolated and alienated from the world. As a bodhisattva, you can approach such a person, and with the miracle of the mantra you can open the door of his or her heart to the world and to the love that is always happening. “Dear one, I know that you are suffering a lot. I know this, and I am here for you, just as the trees are here for you and the flowers are here for you.” The suffering is there, but something else is also there: the miracle of life. With this mantra, you will help them to realize this and open the door of their closed heart.
The fourth mantra is a bit more difficult to practice, but I will transmit it to you because one day you will need it. It is: “Dear one, I am suffering. I need your help.” This fourth mantra is more difficult to practice because of the negative habit energy we call pride. When your suffering has been caused by the person you love the most in the world, the pain is very great. If someone else had said or done the same thing to you, you would suffer much less. But if the person who did it is the one who is dearest to you in the world, the suffering is really dreadful. You want to lock yourself away in a room and cry alone.
Now, when this person notices that something is wrong and tries to approach you about it, you might rebuff him or her. “Leave me alone,” you say. “I don’t need you.” The other might say, “Dear one, it seems to me that you are suffering,” but you do everything possible to prove you don’t need them.
This is exactly the opposite of what you should do. You should practice mindfulness of the breath with your body and mind in union, and with this total presence, go to the other person and say the mantra: “Dear one, I am suffering. I need your help. I need you to explain to me why you did this thing to me.”
If you are a real practitioner, please use this fourth mantra when you are in such a situation. You must not let pride come between you and your loved one. Many people suffer because of this obstacle called pride. You love someone, you need them, and so in these difficult moments, you should go and ask them for help.
In true love, there is no place for pride. I beg you to remember this. You share happiness and adversity with this person, so you must go to him or her and share the truth about your suffering. “Dear one, I am suffering too much. I want you to help me. Explain to me why you said that to me.”
When you do that, the Buddha does it at the same time with you, because the Buddha is in you. All of us practice this mantra along with you—you have the support of the Buddha, the dharma, and the sangha in uttering these words. These words will quickly transform the situation, so do not let things drag on for months or years. You should act decisively; the magic formulas have been transmitted to you for this purpose. Inscribe these four mantras in your heart, and use them. This is the practice of love, and its foundation is the energy of mindfulness.
From You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment by Thich Nhat Hanh. English translation © 2009 by Shambhala Publications, Inc. Reprinted in arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, CO.
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