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Looking for divinity in love

Is there any religion where love is concerned? I had never thought of this question until recently when we - three women - had a gal chat. We have many things in common. We had boyfriends, had broken up with them and married. But more importantly, we were born Buddhists and assume we still are.


Yet, I discovered we shared another trait: We had so little to believe in, except the beliefs to which we had given shape in our search for solace.

Love and relations seem easier if we explain them using religious concepts. If we were born Christian or Muslim, we could say that tragic or unrequited love was God's will, and seek comfort in God, praise God and eventually give God all our love.

A close male friend told me he prayed to God for a chance to marry the love of his life, but ended up eventually tying the knot with another woman. I expect his thinking went more or less like this: It's God's will. Or that had God sent him the bride.

It's easier if we humans can relate our love life to God, isn't it?

But Buddhists are taught about the circle of life, which is the fall-out of good and bad karma. If we experience an unhappy marriage, we are taught to assume that we probably have some bad karma on our account sheet, either in this life or in a past one.

My friends, however, have never tried to relate love and relations with any facet of Buddhism, even though there are some relevant precepts. Are we sinners? I don't know.

My friend, who separated from her husband after five years of marriage, met a fellow who flirted and acted as if he was all for her. Later, he told her that he didn't mean to be anything more than a close friend. When he revealed his true self, she shrugged and told herself: "Why care for such a jerk?" And then she erased him from her list of friends.

Never did I hear my friend blaming it on her bad karma. During her time of frustration, she worked with underprivileged people and found happiness and peace through it. "Why waste my time while I can feel happy with those smiles," she explained.

Those underprivileged people were the path to a peaceful mind for her. Their smiles were like a reward for her being good as far as my friend's very own religion was concerned.

The other friend of mine is still married, but is in love with another man. No, she doesn't want a divorce. She just wants to free her mind and find out what the crush will lead to. She has been a good Buddhist as long as I have known her, but her new religion is to follow her heart. Nothing else matters. She now worships her new love.

After listening to them, I examined myself. There are times when I too feel low. Despite the temptation to do crazy things like I used to when I was young, I always hold back. How can I do something silly when I have the greatest love with me?

I once told my friends, "I used to think of some crazy and stupid thing to do but my daughter holds me back."

Doesn't that make her as great as God in my life? My love for her rescues me from time to time. I just can't do anything that harms me because it'll only make my little God miserable.

Maybe God is omnipresent, and maybe being able to spot him depends on how you look at things. When sorrow and suffering knocks at your door, you realise that you're tied to a religion.

As for me, God is great and I love my little God.

Comments on this column can be sent to relations@nationgroup.com.

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