Question: It seems easier aspire for rebirth in Pure Land to avoid suffering. But what can we do to let go of wanting to experience the love of loved ones again, of the human kind; not of the Buddha’s kind? While we know that we can aspire to reach Pure Land to see loved ones, we also know that such relating will be pure; not of the human kind. How can we transform such clinging to human love relationships?
Answer: There is clinging to human love relationships when yet to clearly see serious deficiencies of human worldly love, in contrast to precious advantages of the Buddha’s spiritual love. Let us analyse the differences.
In the rounds of rebirth, samsaric love is fickle. We can know this simply by reviewing this life. Try to recall the earliest object, such as a toy, that you were attached to as a child, that you cried over – due to wanting it, or having broken it. If you cannot recall, you might want to ask your parents – on how intense your attachment was.
Reflect on how neutral the feeling towards it is now. You had simply moved on to the next toy, to repeat the cycle. Such is the nature of worldly love – intense at first and easily forgotten. Now grown up, it is the same, shifted to other things and people… before suffering when dying with clinging, only to be reborn, to re-cling and re-suffer.
Just as it is ridiculous for a child to cling to a fragile toy, only to weep intensely over it when broken, time and again, it is likewise if doing so for worldly relationships when they expire. Such sorrow arises from clinging to the way things were, not seeing the way things are, as constant change, thus not being aligned to reality.
This cycle of suffering from clinging when karmically forced to let go due to impermanence should be seen as tiresome. Cling as we might, every relationship changes in this life, and from life to life, which makes clinging to transformed relationships as their past versions insensible, as if stuck in a one-sided and outdated relationship.
If not reaching Pure Land, and due to having strong attachment, one might become a wandering spirit haunting loved ones, who surely will not find your presence lovely. (In fact, your presence will be unhealthy physically and spiritually for all.) Again, such is the fickle nature of worldly love, which changes when conditions change.
There is attachment to worldly love only when there is attachment to its nice side, while not seeing the pain from being torn apart – repeatedly. The more ‘heavenly’ the worldly love, the more ‘hellish’ it can be at the end. The solution is to transcend worldly love together, by aspiring to reach Pure Land, one after another.
Thus, we should love well now – with less clinging, and with guidance of loved ones to Pure Land, to outgrow immature love, and to grow in pure spiritual love, to be like the Buddha – to have immeasurable loving-kindness, compassion, rejoice and equanimity for all beings, who were our forgotten loved ones in many rounds of rebirth. Not reaching Pure Land, there is instead forgetting of all past lives.
The best love story is not one that remembers one true love, but with inspiration to love all beings, without any sense of clinging – via training in Pure Land. We know this is possible as it is exemplified by the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Knowing we can love all truly to benefit them, why would we still want to love in immature ways?
If we truly love ourselves and our loved ones, we should not want anyone to experience another cycle of painful loss. This should motivate rebirth in Pure Land – to cultivate loftier love, to rescue them. Just as good parents would advise their children to outgrow immature attachment, the Buddha advises us as too – out of true love.
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