Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The word "love" - the negative connotation in Buddhism

In this past Sunday's Sutra Study class we had a discussion about the word "love" - as it appeared in the reading below (from the "Struggle and Argument" chapter of Sutta Nipata):

           [someone asks Shakyamuni:]
“From where do struggles, arguments, grief, sorrow, selfishness, arrogance, and the slandering of others arise?
Please teach me from where they arise.” 

[Shakyamuni Buddha replies:]
“Struggles, arguments, grief, sorrow, selfishness, arrogance, and the slandering of others arise because of love.
Struggles and arguments are connected with the selfish mind. When an argument arises, one starts to slander others.”

from Face to Face With Shakyamuni by Shuichi Maida, unpublished translation by Nobuo Haneda


In an alternate translation by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Geoffrey DeGraff)
cf http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/snp/snp.4.11.than.html
verses 862-863 of “Kalaha-vivada Sutta: Quarrels & Disputes”
we see the verb used is "to hold [something/someone] dear." Of course, there is nothing wrong with feeling "love" or "holding dear" towards family and friends, sports teams, favorite dishes etc. The problem comes in when we get possessive ("attached"), clinging and controlling. The class decided to read the word "love" in this passage as "selfish love" as opposed to the usual connotation of unselfish love (agape, in Greek). We look forward to continuing our monthly study of this chapter as Maida guides us towards Shinran's teachings of self-examination and the Power Beyond Self.


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