Valentine's Day has passed, once again. I have nothing against the day itself, nor the sentiment, but I do have an objection to the contrived, commercial, often desperate aspects of the day, and the dearth of authenticity. We do, indeed, need frivolities, reminders and rituals in our lives, but there are also 364 other days (365 this year) to love, to be loved, and to allow love. So in the authentic spirit of Valentine's Day I'd like to share this beautiful advice that I chanced to read the other day by Thich Nhat Hahn on being in a loving space not just that one day, but for the the whole year; not only with a significant other, but with yourself, your family, friends, and even strangers:
"The substance of the art of [creating happiness] is mindfulness. When you are mindful, you are more artful.
"You and your partner each have a garden to water, but the two gardens are connected. We have two hands and we have names for them: right hand and left hand. Have you ever seen the two hands fighting each other? I have never seen this. Every time my finger gets hurt, I notice that my right hand comes naturally to help my left hand. So there must be something like love in the body. Sometimes they help each other, sometimes they each act separately, but they have never fought.
"My right hand invites the bell, writes books, does calligraphy, and pours tea. But my right hand doesn’t seem to be proud of it. It doesn’t look down on the left hand to say, “Oh left hand, you are good for nothing. All the poems, I wrote them. All the calligraphy in German, French, and English—I’ve done it all. You are useless. You are good for nothing.” The right hand has never suffered from the complex of pride. The left hand has never suffered from the complex of unworthiness. It’s wonderful.
"When the right hand has a problem, the left hand comes right away. The right hand never says, “You have to pay me back. I always come to help you. You owe me.”
"When you can see your partner as not separate from you, not better or worse or even equal to you, then you have the wisdom of nondiscrimination. We see the happiness of others as our happiness. Their suffering is our suffering."
Excerpted from an excerpt on Lion's Roar from Thich Nhat Hanh’s Introduction to “Love’s Garden: A Guide to Mindful Relationships,” by Peggy Rowe Ward and Larry Ward
Read the rest at http://www.lionsroar.com/growing-together/