Book Review: “How To Love” – Thich Nhat Hanh

"How to Love", by renowned Vietnamese monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, is a short, about 128 pages, but powerful articulation of how to love. A must read for anyone who aspires to have loving relationships with others. The key themes are:

  • To love others, you must first love yourself.
  • To love others, you must understand them.
  • To understand others, you must deeply listen.
  • Love requires ongoing nurturing and attention.

Some notable quotes from the book:

  • "True love includes a feeling of deep joy that we are alive"
  • "Understanding is love's other name."
  • "If we don't know how to nourish our love, it withers"
  • "If you practice true love, very soon that love will grow and include all of us"
  • "We get crushes on others not because we truly love and understand them, but to distract ourselves from our suffering."
  • "True love is made of four elements: loving kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity."
  • "You can't offer happiness until you have it for yourself" (because you have nothing to offer)
  • "In a deep relationship, there is no longer a boundary between you and the other person"
  • "Body and mind are not two separate entities"
  • "There are three kinds of intimacy: physical, emotional, and spiritual"
  • "It's important that loving another person doesn't take priority over listening to yourself and knowing what you need"
  • "A true partner or friend is one who encourages you to look deep inside yourself for the beauty and love you've been seeking"
  • "Other people's actions are the result of their own pain and not the result of any intention to hurt you."
  • "Because we feel empty, we try to find an object of our love"
  • "To love, is first of all, to accept ourselves as we really are."
  • "If you can learn from your mistakes, then you have already turned garbage into flowers"
  • "One way we nourish our love is being conscious of what we consume"
  • "If we live in a place where people are angry and violent, then eventually we will become like them"
  • "Someone who can understand our suffering is our best friend"
  • "We should feel satisfaction in every breath, in every step, in every action. This is true fulfillment…fulfillment that comes from living deeply in the present moment"
  • "Meditation consists of generating three types of energy: mindfulness, concentration, and insight"
  • "When we practice the art of mindful living, we water the positive elements in ourselves and each other"
  • "True love is like the sun, shining with its own light, and offering that light to everyone"
  • "Mindfulness makes the present moment into a wonderful moment"

The quote that perhaps reminds most of the myburgundyrose mission is: "A true partner or friend is one who encourages you to look deep inside yourself for the beauty and love you've been seeking" and then of course to help it bloom in your heart.

In a more general sense, the following quote captures the spirit of the mindfulness movement, "True love is like the sun, shining with its own light, and offering that light to everyone." A point made in the book is that when two people have true love, that love will expand to a wider range of people, and that is what we all want, a world that understands that we all play a role in each other's healing and joy, and that we are all connected and impacted by each other – directly or indirectly.

This little book has been around for a while, but it remains a must read, for anyone interested in loving relationships, and hopefully, we all are.

 

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