Beginner's Heart

the author's

the author’s

Love is, I think, like ribbon. It’s beautiful, for one thing (I adore pretty ribbon!). But it tangles, gets easily wrinkled and needs care to last. At the holidays, when I’m going through SKEINS of it, I find myself thinking of it as a metaphor for almost everything. But certainly love. And thus happiness.

Who can be happy w/out love? And I’m not talking about ‘true love,’ or eros. Or even agape. Like ribbon, love comes in all shapes, sizes, colours, finishes… There’s shiny ribbon; there’s flocked ribbon, there’s the fuzzy fringed ribbon I put on my grandniece’s present. Besides the passion of the beloved, or belief in the divine, there is philia, friendship. And storge, love of family. All different kinds of love.

The most important love I can imagine — at least as a Buddhist (and I realize that this is not true of other religions) is self-love. Because if I can’t love me knowing my own faults, my own reasons, my own secret vulnerabilities then how on EARTH can I love you? The Golden Rule is meaningless w/out strong self love.

Buddhism stresses self-kindness, of course. Metta — lovingkindness — is to be turned inward as well as outward. It’s a version of Christianity’s Golden Rule, but easier on the self (which far too many current religious leaders seem to believe we should go back to flogging). The Dalai Lama even says, Why would you disavow your happy life? There’s this idea that where you are is where you should be. Now: what good can you do from there? And why beat yourself up doing it?

This really is the kind of stuff that fills my head as I stand at the kitchen island, wrapping presents for each of my loving (and lovable!) family & friends. I have this feeling it’s what Thich Nhất Hạnh means when he says that everything — everything — can be meditation, if you do it right. So that’s what I’m trying to do these days: see Buddha nature all around me.

Including in the furls of bronze & gold & scarlet ribbon. Neatly wrapped around cardbood spools, awaiting a moment to beautify foil paper for someone I love.

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