A Zen Buddhist master explains how to know if you’re truly in love

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Do you also think the world has become a crazy place? Do you also long for a soft landing, a reassuring place of comfort and safety?

I have found the Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh to be such a place. His kind and gentle voice betrays a sharp intellect that speaks directly, but comfortingly, to the concerns of troubled Westerners burdened by an alienating society created by capitalism.

We have drifted so far apart, we are so lost, that we don’t even know what love is anymore.

On more than one occasion I have questioned myself on this very issue: What is love and have I ever really loved anyone in my life?

We have a totally warped idea of what true love is. We associate it with emotional declarations and idealizing the object of our love. We think we must go out and look for it and we hope desperately to find it. And in the quiet of our inner world, we fear most of all that we won’t.

We never suspect that love is simple and that it’s available all the time.

True love is not some prize you get if you’re one of the lucky ones singled out for a life of love and happiness.

We need someone like Thich Nhat Hanh to bring us to our senses so we can realize that love is a simple matter.

He explains that there are four elements to true love, but before he goes into them, he makes a simple statement that strikes me more than anything:

“True love makes you happy and makes the other person happy.”

How simple. How could I have missed that. True love makes both people happy.

The four elements of true love

1. Loving kindness.

When you are able to generate a feeling of joy and happiness and are able to help the other person do the same, that is loving kindness and that’s true love.

“So, if you are a true lover you create a happiness for you and for the others.

“And this is not so difficult to achieve. Just breathe in and realize the many conditions of happiness and joy that are already available.”

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