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Buddhadharma : Fall 2011
buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly fall 2 0 11 32 friend. So love is friendship, and that friendship should bring about happiness. Otherwise, what’s the use of friendship? To be a friend means to offer happiness. If love doesn’t offer hap- piness, if it makes the other person cry all the time, then it’s not love; it’s not maitri; it’s the opposite. Maitri is the ability to offer happiness. True love requires this element. Love does not just mean love for another person. Self-love is the foundation for loving another person. If you don’t know how to love and offer happiness to yourself, how can you love and offer happiness to another person? If you don’t know anything about happiness, how can you offer it? Live in a way that brings you joy and happiness, and then you’ll be able to offer it to another person. We know that happiness has something to do with suffer- ing. If we don’t understand suffering, we can’t know what happiness is. Understanding suffering is the very foundation of happiness. If you don’t know how to handle a painful feeling in you, how can you help another person to do so? So self-love is crucial for loving another person. A successful relationship depends on us recognizing our own painful feelings and emo- tions inside—not fighting them, but accepting, embracing, and transforming them to get relief. Compassion The second element of love is karuna, or compassion. Karuna is the capacity to relieve suffering—to remove and transform suffering. When someone you love suffers, you’re motivated to do something to help. But if you don’t know how to handle the suffering in yourself, how can you help the other person to handle their suffering? We first have to handle the suf- fering in ourselves. Whenever a painful feeling or emotion arises, we should be able to be present with it—not fight it, but recognize it. We can learn how to embrace and accept suffering and use mindfulness, concentration, and insight to understand its nature. Then we get relief. The Buddha’s teaching is very clear In true love, there is no distinction between the one who loves and the one who is loved. Your suffering is my suffering. My happiness is your happiness. Lover and beloved are one. photo ryaN MurpHy