When you like somebody, the best thing you can provide that person is your presence. Even prior to you do anything to assist, your unfaltering existence currently brings some relief, due to the fact that when we suffer, we have terrific need for existence of the person we enjoy. If we are suffering and the person we like disregards us, we suffer more. Your presence is a wonder, your understanding of his or her discomfort is a miracle, and you are able to use this aspect of your love instantly. When you are suffering like this, you must go to the person you like and ask for his or her help.
“Fearlessness is what like seeks,” Hannah Arendt composed in her magnificent early deal with love and how to live with worry. “Such fearlessness exists only in the complete calm that can no longer be shaken by events anticipated of the future … Hence the only valid tense is today, the Now.”
This idea of existence as the antidote to fear and the crucible of love is as old as the human heart, as old as the awareness that first felt the blade of anticipatory loss pushed against the exposed underbelly of the yearning for connection. It is at the center of millennia-old Buddhist philosophy and comes alive afresh, in a splendidly useful way, in Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm (public library) by the excellent Vietnamese Buddhist teacher and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh, who continues to enrich, ennoble, and empower with his mentors well into his nineties.
Thich Nhat Hanh
In the general Buddhist design of befriending intricacy through simplicity and with his particular gift for easy words strung into a rosary of immense knowledge radiating tremendous generosity, Thich Nhat Hanh writes:
We have a terrific, habitual worry inside ourselves. Were scared of numerous things– of our own death, of losing our loved ones, of change, of being alone. The practice of mindfulness helps us to touch nonfear. Its only here and now that we can experience overall relief, overall happiness … In the practice of Buddhism, we see that all psychological developments– including compassion, love, despair, fear, and sadness– are natural in nature. We dont need to be scared of any of them, because transformation is constantly possible.
Such improvement is possible just through purposeful practice– none more difficult, or more satisfying, than the practice of transforming fear into love. In consonance with his mentor that “to like without knowing how to enjoy wounds the person we like,” he anchors this transmutation practice in four mantras “effective for watering the seeds of happiness in yourself and your beloved and for transforming isolation, suffering, and fear.”
Red poppy from Elizabeth Blackwells pioneering 18th-century encyclopedia of medicinal plants. (Available as a print and as a face mask.).
Unlike a prayer– which channels a hope at some thought of entity efficient in interceding in favor of that hope and has only as a side advantage (though perhaps its only real and robust benefit) the psychological self-clarification that comes from honing our hopes in language– a mantra is not dealt with at anything or anybody external and is entirely committed to distilling the item of want to its clearest essence. This, in and of itself, transforms the hope into an intent, making it more actionable– however likewise saving it from the particular complacency against which Descartes advised as he thought about the vital relationship in between worry and hope. A mantra is therefore not a form of wonderful thinking, for while there is a sense of magic to how such distillation seems to move the situation by its very utterance, it is an entirely useful sort of magic, for a mantra merely clarifies, focuses, and consecrates intent, and all meaningful improvement springs from purposeful, devoted intent.
Thich Nhat Hanh writes:.
A mantra is a kind of magic formula that, as soon as uttered, can completely change a situation. It can change us, and it can change others. However this magic formula should be spoken in concentration, with body and mind focused as one. What you say in this state of being becomes a mantra.
Within this conceptual framework, he offers four mantras for transforming fear into love, beginning with “Mantra for Offering Your Presence.” A generation after Simone Weil firmly insisted that “attention is the rarest and purest type of kindness,” he composes:.
The most precious present you can offer to the one you love is your real existence. So the first mantra is extremely simple: “Dear one, I am here for you.”.
Easy though this mantra might seem, he reminds us that actually cultivating the capacity for it– the capacity for presence, which is where our capability for love lives– is extremely difficult against the tidal wave of need and diversion that sweeps daily life and sweeps us in addition to it, leaving us constantly on the verge of drowning, bereft of what Emerson celebrated as “the power to swell the moment from the resources of our own heart until it supersedes sun & & moon & solar system in its expanding enormity.”.
Planetary system quilt by Ellen Harding Baker, 1876. Offered as a print and a face mask.
A century after Tolstoy insisted that “love is a present activity only,” Thich Nhat Hanh gently advises us that the best resource of our own heart– our greatest source of power, our mightiest remedy to fear– is the quality of love we provide through the quality of our presence:.
When you love someone, the finest thing you can use that person is your existence. How can you enjoy if you are not there? Youre not preoccupied with the past or the future; you are there for your precious.
Such crystalline existence is the prerequisite for the next mantra– “Mantra for Recognizing Your Beloved”:.
The second mantra is, “Darling, I understand you exist, and I am so happy.”.
To be there is the first action, and recognizing the presence of the other person is the second action. Because you are totally there, you recognize that the presence of your precious is something really precious. You welcome your beloved with mindfulness, and she or he will bloom like a flower. To be liked means firstly to be recognized as existing.
In a belief of especial importance and consolation in these disembodied times, he reminds us that these mantras can be performed throughout range, across cable televisions and wires and screens, not needing the physical existence of the precious– however they are articulated, they are at bottom meditations containing all four components of real love as described by the Buddha: love, joy, freedom, and compassion.
Illustration by Marianne Dubuc from The Lion and the Bird.
While the 3rd mantra, “Mantra for Relieving Suffering,” could be amplified and deepened by the atomic rewards of Thich Nhat Hanhs “hugging meditation,” it too can be extended across the digital distance:.
Even before you do anything to assist, your dedicated presence already brings some relief, because when we suffer, we have fantastic requirement for presence of the person we enjoy. If we are suffering and the individual we like ignores us, we suffer more.
Your existence is a miracle, your understanding of his/her pain is a miracle, and you have the ability to use this element of your love right away. Actually try to be there, for yourself, for life, for individuals you love. Recognize the presence of those who live in the exact same place as you, and attempt to be there when one of them is suffering, due to the fact that your presence is so precious for this person.
Art by Jean-Pierre Weill from The Well of Being.
The 4th and last mantra, “Mantra for Reaching Out to Ask for Help,” seems on the surface to be self-concerned, however is in reality the crucible of self-care from which all unselfish love and presence spring. It is also, Thich Nhat Hanh observes, the most challenging of the 4, for it stays in the location of our greatest vulnerability and at the very same time presses us to lean on our most debilitating crutch:.
When you are suffering and you believe that your precious has triggered you suffering, this mantra is for. If another person had actually done the exact same incorrect to you, you would have suffered less. This is the individual you enjoy the most, so you suffer deeply, and the last thing you feel like doing is to ask that person for assistance … So now it is your pride that is the obstacle to reconciliation and recovery. According to the mentor of the Buddha, in true love there is no location for pride.
When you are suffering like this, you must go to the individual you ask and enjoy for his/her help. That holds true love. Do not let pride keep you apart. You should overcome your pride. You need to always go to him or her. That is what this mantra is for. Practice for yourself first, to bring about oneness of your mind and body before going to the other person to state the 4th mantra: “Dear one, I am suffering; please assistance.” This is very basic but very tough to do.
Complement this particular piece of the wholly soul-salving Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm with Seneca on overcoming fear and Audre Lorde on turning worry into fire, then revisit the excellent Buddhist teacher Pema Chödrön on improvement through tough times.