The four principles of love are essential values applicable to any form of affection, even to what we feel for ourselves. These are parameters to be cultivated and maintained to bring out the best of our inner world.
Last update: April 25, 2020
There are four pillars of love according to Buddhism and they were described by the Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh in a little book whose title is Mind of love: the practice of looking in depth. It does not refer only to love as a couple, but to any type of emotional bond, including that towards oneself.
In reality, the pillars of love are simple truths that, perhaps for this very reason, go unnoticed in our eyes. They tell us about essential elements that must be identified, cultivated and protected in family, couple and friendship relationships. Indeed, the ideal would be to keep them in mind in our general relationship with ourselves and with the world.
I am here, I listen to you carefully and I am happy to do so.
-Thich Nhat Hanh-
Buddhism conceives of love as a universal feeling to be bestowed on everything that exists. By filling ourselves with true love, we achieve balance and, therefore, spiritual peace.
We invite you to reflect on what, according to Buddhism, are the pillars of love. It can add great value to your life.
Joy, one of the pillars of love
Cheerfulness is a manifestation of inner jubilation. It means that we are comfortable with our reality and that we are satisfied with it, and that it generates enthusiasm and joy in us. This does not mean that this emotion is constant or that it always has the same intensity at any time. Rather that it is a predisposition.
Those who are cheerful convey this feeling to others. Just as anxiety or sadness are contagious, cheerfulness also spreads and imbues the soul of those around us with a good mood. It is one of the cornerstones of love for oneself and for others. It requires a constant effort to adapt and to maintain balance.
Compassion between the pillars of love
Compassion is not feeling sorry for another person, nor is it seeing that person as inferior or limited. As the word itself indicates, it is a question of sharing passion (in its meaning of suffering) with the other. Understand the pain of it and even come to feel it as your own. Consequently, an act of empathy is essential.
Compassion is a fundamental part of love because it presupposes an interpenetration between our feelings and those of the other person, as well as the acceptance and validation of his or her weaknesses and limitations. Thanks to compassion, instead of questioning the latter, we learn to understand them and come to feel them as our own.
Mutual enjoyment, multiplied happiness
We know that there is love when a person enjoys their existence and the company of others. This presupposes a desire to give her time and to really make her presence felt in the challenges she is facing. That is, to focus our attention on her when we converse or when we share a common situation.
It also involves the ability to listen and to be open to what the other person thinks, says and does. According to Zen Buddhism, mutual enjoyment is not only one of the cornerstones of love, but also offers an equivocal signal of the presence of love. If there is no mutual enjoyment, one cannot speak of love.
Freedom, the basis of everything
Buddhism indicates that one cannot be free if there is no inner balance at the base. It is expressed through calm and attitude in front of any situation. In order to love ourselves and others, first of all it is essential to appease those inner torments that, at times, invade us and prevent more positive feelings from flourishing.
To attract the human being more and to take away more freedom are anger and fear. Only by working on these emotions and managing to mitigate them, will we be truly free to love.
Otherwise, it is possible to find oneself transforming the other into the object of one's fears and aggressions. If there is harmony within us, however, we will feel free and let the other be too.
According to Zen Buddhism, it is important not only to cultivate our personal inner world. When we love, there is also an interest in making the person we love grow and achieve their inner balance.
They say that love is an active, non-receptive feeling. Anyone is a support and a point of reference for loved ones. By cultivating the cornerstones of love, we also influence the other person's life, particularly through the path of example.