“Is this love, is this love, is this love, is this love that I’m feelin’?” Bob Marley was right. You should ask yourself that once, or twice, or thrice, or four times.
Last February 5th, I visited a Buddhist Centre here in Manila. Much to my surprise, I found out that it was on the same exact street as my school. As a huge believer in everything being exactly where it’s supposed to be, I took it as a sign to finally check it out and feed my years of curiosity. I wasn’t walking into it ready to shave my head and find a cave to meditate my life away, no. But, as an extremely anxious and over-thinking twenty year old, the idea of having control over my mind and thoughts instead of them controlling me, sounded like a party. So, this is how that party went.
Let me start off by saying that I had to do some badass ninja moves to actually get to the centre. A week prior to my visit, I sent both my parents the promotional poster for the upcoming Sunday’s drop-in class titled “Love Without Prejudice”. It looked just like any poster that could be found in any modern day type of church, inviting all to learn about beautiful lessons on love and faith. Which is lovely, right? Yeah, my mom thought so, too. Until she saw the word “Buddhist”. BAM! TRIGGERED. And just like that, I was being sermoned about me already having a God and all these other close minded nonsense. Little did she know that Modern Buddhism does not even worship anyone, not even Buddha. But, since she lacks listening skills and I have excellently poor communication skills, I just did my ninja moves. Meaning, I lied and said I had a wake to attend to so I can skip Sunday service to go the the centre instead. ~Ninja moves~.
Moving on. I, along with two other friends, arrived that Sunday fifteen minutes late (of course) to find everyone in meditation as the speaker, indian seated in front, guided them through it. We joined them in our attempt in meditation for a few more minutes, up until the speaker (let’s call him Freddy), asked us all to open our eyes. Freddy greeted and welcomed us all and went right to it.
He asked the class, “what the difference between love and attachment?”
It may have sounded like a really easy question, but no one in the room could answer it. Even I couldn’t answer it in my head. Hmm, what is the difference between love and attachment? Still got nothing.
Freddy went on and explained how the mind of love and the mind of attachment works. Basically, it was something like this:
The mind of love: “I love you. You’re beautiful. You’re amazing. You’re my favorite person in the world.”
The mind of attachment: “I love you. You’re beautiful. You’re amazing. You’re my favorite person in the world.”
Sounded pretty much exactly the same, right? Like, what are you trying to say, Freddy? He explained further and said that it is often difficult to differentiate love from attachment, because attachment mimics love. Attachment loves to pretend that it is love. It’s as dangerously simple as that.
So, how do we know if it is truly love or attachment at play in our hearts?
It’s quite simple. The difference between the mind of love and the mind of attachment, is the mind of attachment always asks, “What about me?”, while the mind of love does not make it about oneself. Attachment has always been about the benefits that you yourself will reap instead of the one you claim to love.
In romantic relationships, it’s almost as if that there are invisible contracts that we make our partners sign when we are getting into one. If you sign here, you will give me a lot of attention, a lot of hugs, a lot of kisses, buy me ridiculous amounts of pizza, and the list goes on. We all have our own, personalized contracts without actually realizing it. Whether you are aware or not, the things that make us jump for joy, are actually the things that are in it for us. Someone loves me. Someone is there for me. Someone will hug me after a long, tiring day. You claim to love someone, but the only thing you really think about is “me, me, me”.
Piece of cake, right?. Just don’t ask “what about me?” and we’re all good here. Easy, right? Errrrrr, WRONG.
Freddy then put things in perspective and gave a real life example based on a real life story. He continued on telling us about one of his previous students who was in pure distraught because her husband left her for her best friend. Criiinge!. She was heartbroken and angry, just as anyone would be having put in the same situation. She opened up at the centre, not knowing what else to do. Then, Freddy asked her, “Well, do you love him?”. She said, “of course”. Then he asked, “Then, why are you angry?”. Right away, in my head, I answered for her. UHHH, MAYBE BECAUSE MY FUCKING HUSBAND IS FUCKING MY SNAKE-ASS “BEST FRIEND”, LIKE DUUUUUUUH?!?!?!!?!? The fuck are you on, Freddy?!? But, of course, that was totally not the answer he was looking for. Go figure.
To wrap it all up, he asked us to test everything we learned by asking us to meditate on one instance when someone you loved made you feel angry, sad, or any negative emotion. I didn’t have to think too hard. I closed my eyes and thought about the time my first boyfriend broke up with me. Thinking about how it was done and how quickly it all happened made me feel angry. Meditating on one memory that I was trying so hard to forget made me feel sad. All these negative emotions were coming up to the surface once again, as if it had just happened yesterday.
In the heat of my emotions, the speaker then asked us to redirect our focus and meditate on which mind these emotions are coming from. Is it from the mind of love? Or the mind of attachment?
Right then and there, I felt very selfish. I couldn’t believe how selfish I was being without even realizing it. You left me. You forgot about me. You don’t love me anymore. All the resentment came from the fact that I made it all about me. And just like that, I wasn’t angry anymore.
The mind of love, unlike the mind of attachment, chooses to love the person even when they don’t choose you.
The people who we love in our lives, may it be a lover, a parent, a sibling, or a friend, can easily be the cause of our sadness, our pain, our anger, and even our hatred. Understanding the mind of love and mind of attachment can help us spread more love. Pure, sincere, love. A love that just gives and doesn’t ask for anything in return. So, the next time a loved one disappoints you, just ask yourself: Is it the mind of love? Or the mind of attachment?