Building Relationships In Love
“We must learn to speak with love again.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist monk
“Human relationships provide the ultimate litmus test of how healed, or whole, or spiritually mature we really are.”
-John Welwood, author of Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships
I want to share a few Buddhist precepts that serve as helpful guideposts in my life:
- Be open to receive others’ viewpoints, to learn throughout your entire life.
- Do not maintain anger or hatred. Learn to look at other beings with the eyes of compassion.
- Do not utter words that can create discord and cause the community to break. Make every effort to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.
- Have the courage to speak out about situations of injustice, even when doing so may threaten your own safety.
- Live in a way that will create a better future for our children.
Putting these precepts into daily practice is not easy. Much of Buddhist teachings involve many more steps to help along the way, such as meditation and mindfulness, to assist with right understanding, right speech, right action, and so on.
What I am learning is that tolerance is key to building healthy human relationships. We have to practice understanding, compassion, and gratitude for the vast diversity that exists in this world. Ecologists will tell you that it is through diversity that natural systems adapt, evolve, and thrive. The same is true for our human systems, including our families, neighborhoods, schools, places of worship, cities, states, and countries. We need our unique ways of being in the world because each one of us—with our creativity, passions, and insights—contributes to the whole.
Thich Nhat Hanh says that to avoid repeating the same mistakes, we need to water the flower of tolerance to see and appreciate cultural diversity. I would add that when we view religious and spiritual diversity as miraculous gifts, we honor what is sacred in each human being, and we build stronger and more loving communities.
As Thich Nhat Hanh says, “If we are willing to work together and learn together… we can offer the next century a beautiful garden and clear path.”
May it be so.
In joy and gratitude,