Last winter, on the sidewalk next to the Museum of War in Ottawa, I found this single earing bearing this chinese character: 愛. I thought it was cute so I kept it. Eventually I decided to try to find out what it meant, and I did: it means Ai. In both Japanese and Chinese Buddhism, the term Ai was adopted to refer to a passionate caring love and was considered as a fundamental desire. However, Ai was seen as capable of being either selfish or selfless, the latter being a key element towards enlightenment. And so 愛 means love… funny when I think about the place where I found it!
Love. The emotion of strong affection and personal attachment. In a more philosophical context, love has often been seen as a virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection. In some religious contexts, love is not just a virtue, but the basis for all being, the reason we are here on Earth.
Happiness as it relates to love is learning to appreciate, understand and value yourself for who you are. By loving someone else, may it be your children, your family, your friends or your partner, you are expressing your deepest compassionate feelings for others. This is great, but once you start to recognize that all human beings seek to be loved and understood and cherished, it can become so much more and your world, as you know it, may start to change.
For example, we may think that whether those strangers on the bus are happy or not is irrelevant to us and that their life doesn’t really affect ours, right? But what if we were wrong. What if we tried, just a tiny bit, to see ourselves as interconnected to every other human being… well, I think that the world would be a much nicer place to live. Think about it. How do you feel and what is your reaction when you see someone smiling, either in a car in oncoming traffic or walking by you on the street? My reaction is to smile back, ok, well maybe I think it’s funny at first, but then it makes me want to smile! And how do I feel? Relaxed, happy. I might have even forgotten for a minute or two that I’m going to the dentist!
We each have it in us to love and show our love for others. Surely we can decide to keep it for ourselves, but little benefit will come of it. And so, whether it’s a smile, a laugh, a kind word, your love will affect everyone and anyone positively and in turn will make this world a little more enjoyable to live in.