The Practice of Love
Recently I was reflecting on how a lot of Buddhist teachers are known as teachers of mindfulness. For example in Thich Nhat Hanh's writings, he often talks about appreciating the sights and sounds of nature, of just being. There is no special reference to the Buddha or Buddhist scriptures in many of his writings. So Buddhism has become associated simply with mindfulness, with being in the present moment. Even teachers like the Dalai Lama will insist that you don't need to become a Buddhist in order to benefit from the wisdom of teachings on mindfulness and compassion. That is true, you can practice mindfulness without being a Buddhist and it can improve the quality of your life.
Just as Buddhists are known as practitioners of mindfulness, so I think Christians ought to be known as practitioners of love. Jesus, first and foremost, is an example of a person who lived and breathed love. He showed us what love looks like.
Jesus essentially said "You want to see God? You want to know what life is all about? Open your eyes. I'm standing right in front of you. The Love that is in me, that animates me, that IS me...that is It." That Love was capable of forgiving the unforgivable, of washing the dirty feet of the disciples, of caring for the people no one else cared about, and of facing death.
Therefore, a Christian is one that strives to connect with, practice, and embody this Love. A Christian is one who gets high on love. Just as a Buddhist strives to put mindfulness into every action, a Christian strives to put love into every action: working, cooking, cleaning, interacting with others, sitting, walking, eating or sleeping. The goal is to treat every action as a sacred action, deserving of our whole heart. But of course these two, mindfulness and love, are really not separate. You cannot love something without also giving it your full attention. Likewise, when we are mindful it inevitably opens our hearts to love.
So just as I would recommend the practice of mindfulness to anyone because I believe it can improve the quality of our lives and make the world a better place, so too I recommend that we intentionally take up the practice of love. The world needs it badly.