Why Zen and Taoist Masters Recommend Against Saying “I Love You”

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Zen and Taoist Masters preach the importance of peace, love and compassion for all. So why do they recommend against saying the words “I love you” to someone?

It’s tempting to think that Zen and Taoism are missing something important, perhaps reflecting some kind of emotional constriction from the Asian cultures that they came from.

This isn’t the case. It’s based on a profound understanding of love that can benefit us all and paradoxically help love flow more freely in our lives.

And the best part:

Once this insight is embraced, you won’t be looking for love in all the wrong places ever again.

When you ask what love is, you make it into a thing

The Hsin Shin Ming (“Faith in Mind”), begins: “The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences; when love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised.”

We have our own cultural biases in how we approach love. We treat it as a feeling, and people end up becoming objects of devotion, sexual craving and psychological need.

We think of love has having some kind of core and distinguishing substance to it. One of the guiding questions in our culture is to ask: “what is love?”

The problem is this:

When you ask what love is, you make it into a thing. Zen and Taoism deal not in things but in flowing rivers. Buddhism stresses the ephemeral transience of everything. There is no essential nature to anything. Everything is constantly changing.

The love inherent to Buddhism and Taoism can’t be defined. It can’t be grasped. Instead, it is a practice.

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