Dr. Wilfried Reuter, a medical doctor practicing in Berlin-Kreuzberg, and a Buddhist teacher at the Lotos-Vihara meditation center in Berlin presented his lecture entitled: “Liebe ohne Leiden – buddhistische Hilfen für glückliche Beziehungen” (Love without Suffering – Buddhist help for happy relationships) at Urania. The lecture was completely sold out, the large auditorium was filled with men and women of all ages, who came to get an answer to the key question: “Is love even possible without suffering?”
Nothing is impossible, the Buddhist teacher said. But maybe we need to rethink our thinking-patterns and behaviours.
Buddha said: You are nothing in your essence but love, so be that! – In our depth we are nothing but love, but sometimes we forget that because of painful experiences, mental obstructions, and broken trust.
The divorce rate in Germany is more than 40% – why do people separate? Too little closeness, intimacy, feeling.
Relationships are opportunities to learn, about ourselves, about others, to feel, but also to heal – healing means replacing fear with love.
What does it mean to be rich in life? Not houses, money, but closeness and connections to others. What does happiness mean? To be able to love without suffering.
But how can we protect this ability to love, the love that is supposedly our essence? How can we protect it so it’s not overwhelmed and even damaged by the difficulties of life?
What is the essence of Buddhism? Good will, empathy, joy, detachment.
Good will – caring for ourselves and others, it is connected to closeness, intimacy, the ability to feel (all the same aspects that lead to separation and divorce when they are neglected). It is the ability to see through and to judge our judgement of ourselves and others. When we judge, we can’t feel for the other, and when we can’t feel and can’t recognize our needs, we can’t understand ourselves or others.
Judgement creates distance between people.
An old native saying: Please don’t let me judge a person in whose moccasins I first haven’t walked for two weeks. I.e. Please don’t let me judge a person whose feelings and needs I have not felt and understood beforehand.
Math formula: Uncomfortable emotions x (times) resistance = (equals) suffering But if you multiply anything by zero it equals zero. Thus: Uncomfortable emotions x (times) zero resistance = (equals) zero suffering.
Even when we’re in pain, we have to be in the moment, be with ourselves, our thoughts, our life, without judgement. Accepting. Without force. Patiently. With each moment of resistance, understanding and acceptance are blocked. Behind resistance is nothing but fear. No one goes guarded (wearing an armour) through the world, not wanting to feel, refusing intimacy, who is not filled with fear. When we experience resistance, we have ask what we would need to lessen this resistance, what would do us good, which person, which activities?
To grow and to develop (what does nature need?) we need warmth, space, and nurture. Warmth – means support, looking for the great things in the other, not just the small, and empathy. Space – means tolerance, forgiveness, and empathy. Nurture – means joy, time together, and empathy.
We often feel stuck, making ourselves unfeeling, and numb ourselves with media, alcohol, and distractions. We get stuck in judgments: he or she should be different, this relationship should be different, etc.
Good will means not to run away and hide (from ourselves, from our pain, from others) and make ourselves unfeeling and numb. It means not running away when it gets difficult, and facing the difficulties.
First feel, then think, then act.
Limiting ourselves to rationality, we lose the connection to ourselves – connection comes from empathy. In order to feel our needs behinds our feelings, we need empathy – it is the shield of all relationships. Empathy is not to be confused with compassion, it’s more active, it’s strength, it has good will, it gives energy. We need to slow down in life to feel our feelings, understand before judging and prejudices. When we rationalize, strategize, resist, judge, those are the situation we need empathy.
All that goes out from you, comes back to you.
Being with our suffering and anger, we can see behind the anger, see the sadness, the mourning. Mourning for missed opportunities. Practising empathy for anger, we can feel the love behind the mourning. The essential answers come from silence, not from the mind. Empathy goes beyond boundaries and mental obstructions. Limitations and boundaries destroy relationships.
True intimacy is the space beyond you and me.
Joy gives us strength to recognize our value and gives us energy to foster good will. When we are in pain, we lose our ability to feel joy. How can we cultivate joy in times of pain?
Every night before going to sleep, we should ask ourselves: Did I feel joy today? Did I bring joy to another person today? – We shouldn’t fall asleep before we can answer yes to both questions.
Take care of and create joy, in times of pain. Joy is in the little things, in moments. But not at the expense of others. The joy of giving, joy when others are happy, taking care of others without losing oneself, do not go from one extreme to the other. Joy, contentment, detachment, and independence can be practiced in meditation. We can practice balance that accepts all of life, the painful and joyful sides, we can consciously feel, not allowing ourselves to turn numb, unfeeling, to stay connected, but also letting go (detachment), feeling less fear, but with understanding.
We can only let go once we have gone through the thick of it, right through it. Letting go has nothing to do with ignorance or indifference. Letting go means letting go of the prison of self-limitations and boundaries, to be able to connect with oneself, with one’s essence, and it allows closeness and intimacy. Intimacy is in the space behind I and you.
Love that we have is limited, it carries its own end in it, unlike the love we are. Be who you are, Buddha says. Love sees nothing but love. Love that created us is the love that we are. And the path is good will, empathy, joy, and detachment.