Love Meditation

A brilliant passage from Thich Nhat Hanh's Teachings on Love. After listing the meditation exercises, he discusses at length the origins and purposes of each line. I've included several paragraphs of this analysis below.

These three exercises are a continuation of the love meditation based on the Visuddhiamagga:

May I learn to look at myself
with the eyes of understanding and love.
May he/she learn to look at him/herself
with the eyes of understanding and love.
May they learn to look at themselves
with the eyes of understanding and love.

May I be able to recognize and touch
the seeds of joy and happiness in myself.
May he/she be able to recognize and touch
the seeds of joy and happiness in him/herself.
May they be able to recognize and touch
the seeds of joy and happiness in themselves.

May I learn to identify and see the sources
of anger, craving, and delusion in myself.
May he/she learn to identify and see the sources
of anger, craving, and delusion in him/herself.
May they learn to identify and see the sources
of anger, craving, and delusion in themselves.

Last winter, when the residents of Plum Village practiced love meditation, one young laywoman said to me, "When I meditated on my boyfriend, I found that I began to love him less. And when I meditated on the person I dislike the most, I suddenly hated myself." Before the meditation, her love for her boyfriend was so passionate that she was not able to see his shortcomings. During her practice, she began to see him more clearly, and she realized that he is less perfect than she had imagined. She said she loved him less, but in fact she began to love him in a way that has more maitri and karuna in it. She was able to recognize his suffering, and therefore her love deepened and became healthier. She was able to breathe more freely and to let him breathe more freely also. Although she said, "I love him less," I think she meant, "I love him more."

She also had fresh insights into the person she disliked the most. Suddenly, she saw some of the reasons he was like that, and she saw how she had caused him to suffer by reacting so harshly to his words and actions. Her statement proved that she was really practicing.