Love, without desire to possess, knowing well that in the ultimate sense there is no possession and no possessor: this is the highest love.
Love, without speaking and thinking of “I,” knowing well that this so-called “I” is a mere delusion.
Love, without selecting and excluding, knowing well that to do so means to create love’s own contrasts: dislike, aversion and hatred.
Love, embracing all beings: small and great, far and near, be it on earth, in the water or in the air.
Love, embracing impartially all sentient beings, and not only those who are useful, pleasing or amusing to us.
Love, embracing all beings, be they noble-minded or low-minded, good or evil. The noble and the good are embraced because love is flowing to them spontaneously. The low-minded and evil-minded are included because they are those who are most in need of love. In many of them the seed of goodness may have died merely because warmth was lacking for its growth, because it perished from cold in a loveless world.
Love, embracing all beings, knowing well that we all are fellow wayfarers through this round of existence — that we all are overcome by the same law of suffering.
Love, but not the sensuous fire that burns, scorches and tortures, that inflicts more wounds than it cures — flaring up now, at the next moment being extinguished, leaving behind more coldness and loneliness than was felt before.
Rather, love that lies like a soft but firm hand on the ailing beings, ever unchanged in its sympathy, without wavering, unconcerned with any response it meets. Love that is comforting coolness to those who burn with the fire of suffering and passion; that is life-giving warmth to those abandoned in the cold desert of loneliness, to those who are shivering in the frost of a loveless world; to those whose hearts have become as if empty and dry by the repeated calls for help, by deepest despair.
Love, that is a sublime nobility of heart and intellect which knows, understands and is ready to help.
Love, that is strength and gives strength: this is the highest love.
Love, which by the Enlightened One was named “the liberation of the heart,” “the most sublime beauty”: this is the highest love.
And what is the highest manifestation of love?
To show to the world the path leading to the end of suffering, the path pointed out, trodden, and realized to perfection by Him, the Exalted One, the Buddha.
The Four Sublime States
Contemplations on Love, Compassion, Sympathetic Joy and Equanimity
By Nyanaponika Thera © 1994–2011