The word “love” is prevalent in Christian teachings and in many other religious and spiritual practices. However, this word is not found very often in Buddhist writings. The words “compassion,” “equanimity,” “Enlightenment” and “Buddha Nature” are used far more prevalently. Why is this?
Avoiding Attachment and Aversion
The reason is likely linked with the Buddhist concept of “Emptiness.” That is, true Buddha Nature is without form. Indeed, any form at all has the potential to cause either attachment or aversion. In the case of some types of “love” as defined here on Earth, these emotions could inspire the temptation toward attachment and clinging.
Emptiness teachings in Buddhism emphasize that to know Enlightenment or one’s own Buddha Nature, one must penetrate all forms into the Emptiness that characterizes them all. This includes the forms of the ego, personality structure and all emotions.
While the word Emptiness implies something that is featureless, in Buddhism it is a dynamic featurelessness that has the pure potential to be anything. Buddhist Emptiness is much like The Tao “that cannot be named” in Taoist teachings; the Tao flows through all things, but is no-thing.
Compassion and True Love
The closest word to love used in Buddhist teachings is compassion. Some would describe compassion as “love in action.” It is a form of love that wishes for the relief of the suffering of others no matter what form it takes. However, ultimately, all suffering is psychological in that it requires the illusion of a mind to create it.
While the Enlightened master may know this, he or she still shows compassion for others who are trapped in delusion. Each individual is assisted with the intent of bringing relief as efficiently as possible; however, there is always an underlying prayer and intention that they become free from delusion as well. In this way, they will become liberated from suffering at a core level.
Source, God, Love and Buddha Nature
There is a Love that has no opposite that is often reported by those who have near-death experiences (NDEs). It is an Unconditional Love that transcends space, time and all forms. NDE’ers report that this Love is very different from what we call “love” here on Earth; it is in fact the energy from which our souls came and to which we will all one day return. Some might call it Source, Heaven or Nirvana. Others might call it God.
Although Buddhist teachings may not overtly make the parallel, this Love is the same energy that comprises Buddha Nature – the true, Divine nature of our immortal souls. So, while Buddhism may avoid making direct references to love, this force in its truest form permeates all Buddhist teachings and is ultimately their goal.