Love Needs to be Constantly Cleansed

Ajahn Jayasaro


Image of the WeekIn the stories that I cherished in my youth, happy endings almost always involved some kind of love, and I began to observe that in “real life” love is not always a guarantee of happiness and it rarely resolves anything for very long. One of the slogans of the day which impressed me the most as a teenager was the one that asked whether you were part of the problem or part of the solution. I think that this is a question we might ask about love. Is it truly part of the solution to our suffering in life or does it merely compound it? My short answer to this question is that it depends. On what? On the kind of love and how you care for it. Even the purest love needs to be constantly cleansed.

Why is it necessary to keep cleansing love? The easy answer is that it tends to get soiled. And the dirt that soils it is suffering and the cause of suffering: craving. Since we human beings do not desire even a shred of suffering and gladly accept every little bit of happiness that comes our way, it makes sense for us to ensure that all the various aspects of our life, including love, be as conducive to happiness and as safe from suffering as possible. Love is a part of life which we need to imbue with wisdom and understanding.

Love tends to get intertwined with other emotions, making those who have never considered it closely mistake the emotions associated with love for a part of, or indeed expressions of, love itself. Usually, for example, rather than considering worries and jealousy to be impurities of love, we take them to be a proof of it, and thus gladly harbor such feelings. We tend to blind ourselves to love’s impurities. It is alarming how easily the defilements (i.e. negative mental states such as greed, hatred and delusion), which can destroy love, sneak inside a heart [...]. Most people are like the owner of a home with a wide opening instead of a door. Anyone is free to enter or exit such a house and it is no surprise that thieves abound.

It is intelligent to learn about love because knowing and understanding our own nature is the only way to the peace and happiness that we human beings can and should aspire to.

excerpted from Ajahn Jayasaro's book, On Love.

Seed questions for reflection: How do you relate to the notion that we mistakenly consider emotions like worries and jealousy as proof of love? Can you share a personal story of a time you became aware of the need to cleanse your love? What helps you stay aware of the need to constantly cleanse your love?

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7 Previous Reflections:

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    On Nov 4, 2020 google wrote:
    informative post

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    On Nov 24, 2016 Dinesh Mehta wrote:

     Often we block the flow of our real nature and expression through love, peace and compassion as we generate impurities in our mind.  Impurities manifest in the form of different emotions. One easy way to avoid this blockage is to be in the present moment and accepting the reality as it is. 

    1 reply: Aj | Post Your Reply
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    On Nov 23, 2016 Rajesh wrote:

    Yes there Is definitely need for constant cleansing. I would even use the phrase "constant vigilance". Without vigilance, the defilements can be mistaken for love and can develop into an unhealthy pattern over time in the relationship. The constant cleansing will keep us and our relationships aligned with the universe. 

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    On Nov 22, 2016 Annette wrote:

     For me, if the love between myself and another feels uneven, that is, if I feel as if I'm giving more than I receive, I feel taken advantage of.  I've adapted to the others in my life until I've established some sort of pattern and unhealthy molding of my being to accept this unevenness, this unbalance.  It's not that I expect the other to to love exactly as I do ('The 5 Love Languages' goes into the differences), but it's more of this observation that I am being taken for granted.  I wonder if this feeling of unfulfillment I experience is something I need to just accept and live with it realizing that the other won't or can't love me 'more' or if I just need to not settle and find someone else who can fulfill this 'need' or desire in me to be loved in a more balanced way. 

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    On Nov 19, 2016 Jagdish P Dave wrote:

     It has been my experience that pure love brings peace, joy, happiness and fulfillment. It has helped me grow and expand. It  has also helped the other connected with me grow and expand.Love keeps the tree of life green and flourish.

    It has also been my experience that craving to possess and to control the other in intimate relationships causes suffering. Such suffering has helped me to reflect on me, awaken me  and is has created deeper bonding. Such love showers flowers of joy, peace, happiness and fulfillment. When love gets soiled by selfish desires and cravings, we need to cleanse the dust before it gets dense and heavy.

    It is my conviction that when I wake up from my self-created suffering, the light of love dawns upon me and makes me free from my own bondage. Such awakening demands courage to be true to oneself and to the other.

    May we wake up from our self-created suffering and be grateful to receive the blessings of pure love!

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    On Nov 19, 2016 david doane wrote:

    Emotions like worry and jealously aren't proof of love but are likely to be evidence of insecurity, control, and possessiveness.  Love is positive for the lover and for the one loved, and trying to control and possess is not positive for either.  Healthy love sets you free, not binds you down.  Healthy love involves intimacy that allows freedom, individuality, and growth.  I've had experiences of wanting to possess who I loved, and it didn't work -- that kind of love hurt the relationship rather than nurture it.  Unfortunately I didn't become aware of the need to cleanse the way I was loving until far into the relationship and much damage had already been done.  Such painful experiences have resulted in my being aware of the need to cleanse my love.  As the saying goes, good judgment comes from experience, experience comes from bad judgment.

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