Dharma Talks / Love and the Three Doors of Liberation

Sr Chan Khong

We apologize for a technical problem which meant that the first 10 to 15 minutes of this talk was not recorded, but below is a summary. The talk is bilingual – English and Italian.

Love is like a plant, and we need to know how to take care of our plant otherwise it will die. Do we know what our beloved likes? What their dreams and aspirations are? Do we impose our ideas of beauty and happiness on our loved ones?

The start of a relationship is usually so wonderful, but with time and impermanence (the first Door of liberation) we and our beloved will change. Sr Chân Không proposes that we make time regularly to appreciate each other, and ask our beloved, “Do I understand you enough?”. Practice deep listening without interrupting, even if we don’t agree with what they are saying, just allow them to say what is in their heart and then later on (perhaps even another day) we can share our view. Do we make enough effort to understand our beloved’s family and socio-cultural background? For example, do we know of the difficulties and suffering in our beloved’s childhood. These challenges perhaps could be the background of the difficulties experienced in the current relationship. Each week try to understand each other more so that your love can grow deeper than the first time.

The second Door of Liberation is non-self. We are made of elements from our parents and ancestors. Do we love our beloved with all their familial roots? Do we take enough care of our beloved’s family of origin? Do we recognize and appreciate their positive qualities that our beloved has inherited? We learn to grow our love so that it embraces not just our beloved but his/her non-self elements – their parents, siblings, as one big extended family.

The third Door of Liberation is nirvana – the extinction of all ideas. What does a kiwi taste like? A bit like an orange, a bit like dragon fruit… The best way is to taste it for ourselves, experience it just as it is. The same is true with our beloved. Sometimes we need to accept our beloved just as he/she is, and learn to love the kiwi as it is, not what we want it to be. Sr Chân Không shares stories of real people she has met in her experience of giving consultation to illustrate each door of liberation.

Love is understanding! Love is impermanence! And because of that our love can grow from a seedling into a great sequoia tree. Be humble about our views and perceptions about our beloved, which is never a complete reflection of the reality. When encountering something shocking, don’t show your ugly face! Return to your breathing to calm your reaction, then look deeply to understand the deeper issues and wound.

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— More from Sr Chan Khong

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