Missing your significant other -- what is true love?


Barely a month into a new, passionate relationship, I had to leave Hong Kong for three weeks in Latin America. Before I had this relationship, I was very excited about my Latin American trip. I had never been to several of these countries before, so I was thrilled imaging my first time drinking Colombian coffee in Bogota, visiting the Panama Canal, or stepping into the Ecuadorian rain forest. Now, only a few days into this three-week trip, I am missing my partner so badly, and all that I want is to return to HK and be with him. The fact that we are talking every day has helped, but I still want to hop onto the next flight back to HK.

Luckily, I am carrying with me Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh's "How to Love" book. In it Thay talks about "a pot in search of a lid":

"Very often we feel like a pot without a lid... We want someone who will look at us and embrace our feeling of emptiness and suffering with his energy of mindfulness. Soon we become addicted to that kind of energy; we think that without that attention, we can't live... When we ourselves can't generate the energy to take care of ourselves, we think we need the energy of someone else..."

Thanks to Thay's words, I better understand that this feeling of "missing" my partner is actually a feeling of "emptiness." However, where does this emptiness come from? Originally everything is empty, so why is this feeling of emptiness a problem? I come back to our Kwan Um School's teaching of "enough mind" or "everything is already complete." Once you understand that everything is empty, then you understand that what is in front of you is all that there is, and that this is enough. Anything else that you add to this moment is just your mind's delusions. In the past few days, I failed to see clearly and appreciate what was in front of me. My mind was taken hostage by a deep desire, feeding delusions of what ought to be, rather than seeing what is.

From this experience, I see clearly once again what is meant by "desire is suffering." That my desire to be by my partner's side at all times is not true love. That true love doesn't mean always being next to your partner, nor does it mean emotionally clinging to your partner. True love means practicing hard every day, attaining this "enough mind," and supporting your partner in his practice so that, soon, he will attain enlightenment and save all beings.