Love might not be what we think it is. We all seek the happiness that comes from loving and being loved, yet we often find ourselves dissatisfied in our relationships and unable to grasp the cause. Thich Nhat Hanh here shows the way to overcome our recurrent obstacles to love—by learning to be mindful, open, and present with ourselves and others. As he explains, "training is needed in order to love properly; and to be able to give happiness and joy, you must practice deep looking directed toward the person you love. Because if you do not understand this person, you cannot love properly. Understanding is the essence of love."
This quintessential guide to loving also introduces the four key aspects of love described in the Buddhist tradition—loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and freedom—and describes many simple and direct ways in which we can practice authentic love in our everyday lives.
This umpteenth volume from the highly regarded Vietnamese Zen monk really has nothing new, but that is precisely the author's point: just do a few simple things, and keep doing them. True love the real thing is actually hard to practice, and so Nhat Hanh begins with a short Buddhist explanation on the components of love loving kindness, compassion, joy and freedom and then offers a series of practices, including mantras, deep listening and a variety of meditations. Throughout, he skillfully weaves in Buddhist teachings about consciousness and nonduality whose complexity belies the simplicity of the author's words. Nhat Hanh is always good, and poetic, at seeing the deep in the ordinary: how the ring of a telephone can be a call to awareness, how the waste material of human fear and pain can be composted transformed into flowers of understanding and hope. These teachings will all be familiar to the many students and admirers of the popular monk, but the compassionate call to awareness and to everyday practice does not grow old. The book's gift format makes it an especially good choice as a present to anyone who might need an accessible door to the author's vast body of work and teachings.