Buddhist secrets for everlasting love

by Nash Siamwalla, The Bangkok Post, Nov 12, 2010

Nash Siamwalla looks into Buddhist teaching that will guarantee couples everlasting love

Bangkok, Thailand -- Buddhist secrets for everlasting love. Sounds too good to be true? Not at all. Lord Buddha himself gave these tips in the following story that is retold in the Pali Canon's Samajivita Sutta.

Once during Lord Buddha's time, there was a loving merchant couple by the name of Nakul who invited Lord Buddha to receive alms and preach at their home. Throughout their life, they had been perfectly devoted to each other, never once being dishonest or going astray. Wanting to be together forever in perfect bliss, both in the present life and ever after, they asked Lord Buddha:

"Dear Lord, since our youth, we have been perfectly devoted to each other. Never once did our minds stray. We wish to remain in this loving bliss forever both in this present lifetime and all the future lifetimes. Please, Lord, tell us what we have to do."

Hearing their question, Lord Buddha answered: "Nakuls, if husband and wife wish to be together in loving bliss both in this lifetime and the lives after, they should endeavour to achieve the same level of faith, morality, generosity and wisdom. They should also be modest, live by the Dhamma, and converse with loving words. They should also never have ill-will towards each other. If they can practice this, they will enjoy the worldly pleasure and happiness together, both in this life and in Heaven."

The first part of Lord Buddha's teaching is called Samajividhamma 4 which is sometimes known as "the qualities which make a couple well-matched". If you do not have that special someone in your life yet, Samajividhamma 4 will serve as a fool-proof guideline for you in finding someone that you want to spend the rest of your life with.

If you are already in a relationship and want to make it last in a loving bliss, this timeless advice of Lord Buddha is also useful.

The same level of faith applies even if you each follow different religions. The author is fortunate to know many couples who live together happily in full loving bliss despite different faiths. It is the same level of faith that counts, not the same faith itself.

As for the same level of morality, Lord Buddha used the term Sila, or precepts. For typical laypeople, there are five precepts, which are to refrain from killing; stealing; committing adultery; lying and intoxicating your mind. To be a decent human being in Buddhism, these five precepts are required. In Buddhism, the five precepts are what separate us from animals.

Talking about precepts, if you want to be a real Buddhist, you should also aim to try living by the eight precepts now and then, say, every Buddhist holiday _ that is, every half moon, full moon, and black moon on the lunar calendar. It comes roughly once a week. In the eight precepts, in addition to the five precepts, you refrain from any worldly pleasure and also do not eat after noon.

The same level of generosity refers not only to the idea of "giving" per se, but also to the sacrifice each person is willing to make. As for the idea of giving, we can already visualise how couples can get into trouble if one partner prefers to give more to society than the other partner.

The same goes for the level of sacrifice. For every relationship to last, one partner has to sacrifice him or herself at some point. It goes without saying that the willingness to sacrifice for the other should be mutual. The sacrifice should be without condition, though, for condition leads to the idea of "give and take". You want the other party to do something for you in return for what you have to sacrifice. Real love, the author presumes, should be about "give and give", don't you think?

The last advice on Samajividhamma 4 is perhaps the most difficult one to achieve: "To have the same level of wisdom."

By wisdom, Lord Buddha refers to the Buddhist type of wisdom, which means true understanding of Dhamma. In other words, it is the true understanding of life and of how the world operates. To achieve this type of wisdom, one needs to practice mindfulness training, either Theravada's vipassana style or Zen's mindfulness practice.

Yet, even if this last advice is the most difficult to achieve, it should be the first goal of any couples who wish for an everlasting love to try. Why? Because the wisdom from mindfulness practice will serve as a natural guideline as to how to achieve the same level of faith, morality and generosity.

Still, from the author's observation, in general, people seem to be oblivious to the true benefits of mindfulness. If you and your loved one haven't tried it yet, it is never too late to do so. The first step is to find a proper teacher because this is something that you can not just learn to do by yourself. It needs proper and constant guidance.

Secondly, the setting that will yield the true benefits of mindfulness is a proper meditation retreat.

Find one that has scheduled sessions throughout the day under close supervision. The key to successful mindfulness practice is continuity. That is why retreats offer a better chance of success.

See you in two weeks' time. Until, then, let us stay mindful. And all the best to couples and couples-to-be out there. To have an everlasting love, you have to work at it. Hey, if you love each other enough, you would work hard for it, wouldn't you?