What is Love?

happy-marriageThe secret to love is that it is the quality of our love for others, not how much someone loves us, that makes us happy. This means we don’t need to “find the right person” we just need to develop and improve our own love for as many people as we can. We may feel that we only really love a few people, but actually our potential to love is limitless! The more people we love, and the purer our love is, the happier we will be.

Love is often confused with attachment. One is a real cause of happiness and the other is an inner poison that eventually leads to pain and anger. If we ever want to enjoy good relationships, we must begin to recognize attachment and make our love real.

These two are easily confused, but it is vital to discriminate between them, because love will bring us only happiness while the mind of attachment will bring us only suffering…
–Eight Steps to Happiness by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

Five Signs Our Love is Polluted with Attachment

smAngryCouple1. Love says: I want you to be happy.
Attachment says: I want you to make me happy.
Love is an other centered mind, whereas the mind of attachment focuses on our wishes, what we want from the other person. While it is true that a healthy relationship consists of both giving and receiving, the more we focus on the happiness of others the happier we will feel as well.

2. Attachment keeps a tally of what has been given and received. With real love we find the joy in giving and are simply happy to make someone else happy.

3. Attachment always turns to anger. When our love is contaminated with attachment, we will get angry at our loved ones more than at strangers.

4. The mind of attachment is relating to a projection of mind and not to a real person. There is an exaggeration of good qualities that leads to expectation and ultimately disappointment. When the person doesn’t live up to our projection of them, we think “you’ve changed”. In particular we are projecting a person that has the good quality of being able to make us happy all the time. Real love accepts the person as they are–imperfect.

5. “Only You”–With attachment our love for everyone else diminishes, it is as if that person becomes technicolor and everyone else fades into black and white. We feel we don’t need anyone but that person. With real love, the person we love becomes a window to deepening our love for all living beings.

How to Reduce Attachment and Improve Real Love


We develop real love on the basis of unchanging, universal truths, not momentary feelings. All living beings want to be happy, in that respect we are all equal. Everyone’s happiness and freedom is important. The more we open our heart to all living beings the more balanced and stable we will feel.

“Cherishing others is not that difficult- all we need to do is understand why we should cherish others and then make a firm decision to do so. Through meditating on this decision we will develop a deep and powerful feeling of cherishing for all living beings. We then carry this special feeling into our daily life.”
–Eight Steps to Happiness by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

There is no perfect person, but there is perfect love. We need to build real love in our heart. This doesn’t happen overnight, but by gradually improving the quality of our love, we are moving towards a goal worth working for–real, unconditional love. If we can love for the right reasons, unchanging reasons, then our love for all living beings will increase through our personal relationships.

 “It is sometimes very difficult to distinguish between our love and our attachment for others, but when we are able to do so, we will see that it is invariably the attachment that i the cause of our suffering.  Pure unconditional love never causes any pain or worry but only peace and joy.”
–Geshe Kelsang Gyatso