Rick G asks: I’m new to Buddhism & often have questions. Can a romantic relationship coexist with Buddhism? I want to avoid attachment and desire.
Lama Surya Das: Relationships are an important part of life, if not the essence of it, and romance certainly plays its part. Buddhism is not against that. In fact, many Buddhists are romantically attached, married, have families and so forth. This includes Buddhist leaders, priests, meditation masters, gurus and so forth. (Monks and nuns are celibate, and lay Buddhists not usually.) Human love is the tip of the fiery iceberg of divine love, and cannot be easily dismissed or avoided during an entire lifetime, though one may certainly have periods without it, either intentionally or otherwise. And opening the heart as well as awakening and illumining the mind is very important on the path of spiritual enlightenment.
A Japanese zen master once said to cultivate heart afire and eyes like ice; in other words, passionate engagement and compassion along with objective clear vision and wisdom.
Attachment and desire are also a part of everyday life. From the Buddhist point of view, the question is mainly how much, to what degree, and how conducive to happiness and well being, freedom and enlightenment are they,… or not? Can’t a loving parent attached to their offspring provide mothering without smothering? This is something well worth looking into yourself, personally, practically as well as philosophically, energetically, psychologically, emotionally and so on.
One of my wise Buddhist teacher friends likes to advise trying to cultivate cling-free relationships, intimate yet without overweaning craving desire and attachment. This is a bit of a conundrum, but well worth pondering and even experimenting with.
Buddha himself taught the Middle Way, summed up as “neither too tight nor too loose.”
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Submitted by Rick G. via Facebook on January 17th, 2011
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