Question as gift

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“Darling, do I understand you enough, or am I making you suffer? Please tell me so that I can learn to love you properly. I don’t want to make you suffer, and if I do so because of my ignorance, please tell me so that I can love you better, so that you can be happy.”

~ Question to ask those you love, as suggested by Thich Nhat Hanh; from Peace is every step.

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Image: The first camellia of winter.

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13 thoughts on “Question as gift

  1. I’m touched by the selflessness of the question. Still, the question confuses me. Aren’t we ultimately responsible for our own happiness? If we are feeling dukka, then we are responsible for noticing it and deciding what to do about it (if anything). That’s what I thought the Buddha taught. Or maybe I’m not understanding what I’ve been taught–which is a distinct possibility!

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    • We are responsible for our own happiness, and how do we be when those around us are unhappy or suffering? We can’t truly be happy when those we love are unhappy. Can a parent be happy when their child is unhappy? And at the level of community or world: imagine if the Israeli government asked the Palestinians — “Do I understand you enough?” — or the Palestinians asked the Israelis.

      We have it that we know what the other person is, what they’re thinking, who they are, and it’s all nonsense. All we have is the stories we made up about them. A woman told me yesterday she had met a wonderful man and they were talking about moving in together. They’d had an argument, their first, because he’d suggested they move to a house that was new to them both, rather than her house. She told me she immediately thought he didn’t want to move into her house because it was small and Victorian and not open and spacious like his. Later, he shared with her that his fear was that if they moved into her house, she could ask him to leave if she was not happy about something, that he wouldn’t feel secure. And the fight just fell away, right then and there. She got that she’d been about to cook up a whole story without understanding his view.

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  2. What I love about those lines is the wisdom of knowing that we all need to be loved in unique ways. You can love someone how you want to be loved and be completely off base about what makes them feel loved.

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  3. This quote isn’t easy to embody, but I love that it shows even when it comes to loving, in the moment of selflessness, we still want to be left to our own devices to figure things out… :)

    Michael

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    • Spot on, Michael. Left to our own devices to figure things out, ie, to make up our stories about the person/situation which have no connection to reality :) To be being the kind of human being who could ask this question of another is not the ordinary mode of human being. It would take inventing a new way of being human; ie, being committed to love and relationship over and above the desire to be right/avoid being wrong, to look good/avoid looking bad, to dominate/avoid being dominated. And it’s possible.

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