Sharon Salzberg recounts an epiphany she had on retreat in Burma, in 1985.
From her discussion with conversation with bell hooks, “The Power of Real Love,” at the Jewish Community Centre in New York co-sponsored by Lion’s Roar, the Garrison Institute, and the JCC.
There’s a line from a movie called Dan in Real Life, which is some years old now and the line goes something like: “love is not a feeling, it’s an ability.” And I had some conversations with my editor about that line, because I had it in this book, and she said, “Well you can’t really say that. Of course, people think of love as a feeling. That’s what we want. That’s what we yearn for. That’s what we know.”
So, I sort of fudged it. You know. “While we might think of love as a feeling — we can think of it also as an ability.” And, that turned out, I think, to be the most important line in the book. Because, when I came to what I was trying to describe in the book as something that was really powerful for me, and I think like many transformative experiences sometimes they don’t sound like much when you put them in words, but you know how much they changed you, and this was an experience I had when I was practicing intensive loving-kindness practice in Burma. It was 1985. I was there for three months and I just had this, kind of, realization that up until that moment in time I’d considered love kind of in the hands of someone else. And they were gonna deliver it to me or take it away, and it was almost like, if the UPS person had that package of love, and they got to my doorstep, and they changed their minds, I would have no love in my life. And then, at that retreat, I realized that’s not true, that it’s inside me. Other people might awaken it, or threaten it, or whatever. But, as a capacity, it’s actually mine.