Awakening Our Hearts

Awakening Our Hearts

Discussion date: Thu, Jun 22, 2023 at our weekly Thursday evening practice

Dear Friends,

Long ago, I was struck by a journalist’s account of the Dalai Lama greeting each person he met, from a Hollywood celebrity to a convenience store attendant, with the same warmth and reverence, as if they are an old friend. I have since aspired to emulate the equanimity of the Dalai Lama. Yet, even after two decades of mindfulness practice, I often find that I can be so preoccupied with thoughts about myself that I hardly register others, especially those who are not known to me. More than just being a kind or friendly person, it is my wish to transcend my small and separate-self and be available to experience my interconnection with other living beings.

In The Art of Power, Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) describes this as boundless love:

In Buddhism we are encouraged to love every living being as a mother loves her only child; this is called boundless love. It is a tremendous source of energy. With the power of mindfulness, of concentration and insight, we can transform our limited love into a source of boundless love.

A few weeks ago, I felt my limited love growing beyond the usual circle of my family and friends. After meeting with fellow mindfulness practitioners, I passed workers picking up garbage and recycling nearby.  Nourished by the warm interaction with my friends, I noticed feeling deep gratitude for the essential service that they provide. I greeted them with a whole-hearted presence that is not always easy for me to access. I was clearly aware of our shared humanity and interdependence. That morning, rather than being concepts, interbeing and love were my felt experience.

Thay goes on to say that it takes an active effort to cultivate this kind of love:

When we meditate, we look deeply to nourish our joy and peace, and to embrace our suffering and transform it into wisdom and liberation. Love is no different from meditation. It is what we do with our love that makes it into a spiritual power. Our aim is to transform our limited love into true love, boundless love, offering ourselves and others the great gifts of compassion, transformation, and healing.

I hear Thay saying that if we aspire to grow our love into boundless love, we need to both take mindful care of ourselves and have a committed intention to connect with and help others. While this aspiration is important to me, it continues to be a challenge to manifest boundless love. The other day, I was grumpy and running late as I left my house, and again ran into the sanitation workers. I almost passed them without acknowledgment before I remembered my intention to cultivate a love for all living beings.

You are invited to join us this Thursday. After our meditation, we will focus our Dharma sharing on cultivating boundless love. Here are some questions to consider:

  • When is boundless love most alive in you?
  • What conditions and practices helped you cultivate boundless love?
  • When and why is this teaching difficult to practice?

An excerpt from All About Love: New Vision by bell hooks is below.

Space is still available for this weekend’s online Coming Home to Ourselves retreat. Please join us if you can.

Warm wishes,

Rachel Phillips-Anderson


From All About Love: New Vision by bell hooks

Imagine how much easier it would be for us to learn how to love if we began with a shared definition. The word “love” is most often defined as a noun, yet all the more astute theorists of love acknowledge that we would all love better if we used it as a verb. I spent years searching for a meaningful definition of the word “love,” and was deeply relieved when I found One in psychiatrist Scott Peck’s classic self-help book The Road LessTraveled, first published in 1978. Echoing the work of Erich Fromm, he defines love as “the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.” Explaining further, he continues: “Love is as love does. Love is an act of will—namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love.” Since the choice must be made to nurture growth, this definition counters the more widely accepted assumption that we love instinctually.

in: Dharma Topics
Discussion Date: Thu, Jun 22, 2023


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