What is true love? In the Christian New Testament, we read that there is no greater love than when one lays down one's life for another. In the Zen tradition, we could say that true love is when one completely forgets one's self in relationship with another, when the division between self and other disappears. In those moments, there is a quality of passion; where passion is a state of emotion or feeling in which the reasoning mind disappears.
Joshu Sasaki Roshi once said, "In the first moment of hearing the bird sing (wheet, wheet!), you give yourself completely to the bird, and the bird gives itself completely to you. And that is true love!" Roshi also once said to the men, "To truly love a woman, you must become a woman." He didn't mean that men should imagine themselves in a woman's place to help them be considerate or anything like that.
When we meet our sweetheart, self vanishes for a moment, as we become that smiling face. But if we are thinking, "That is the nicest person, and I think a longtime relationship would make me happy," self has not vanished, passion is absent, and this isn't true love in the Zen sense.
With true love, we are completely freed from the self. We are free to become our lover's smile. We are free to sing and take flight with the birds. We are free to set with the sun, and embrace the clouds in a moonlit sky. We are free to sway in the wind with the yellow flowers. True love opens a realm of great freedom and great joy.
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