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Buddhist Study

Finding Real Love Starts With Me

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This series highlights how Buddhism can enhance daily living. As Nichiren Daishonin says: “When the skies are clear, the ground is illuminated. Similarly, when one knows the Lotus Sutra, one understands the meaning of all worldly affairs.” [1]

Does love conquer all? Over the ages, love and romance have captivated people’s hearts. Love can be as painful and confusing as it is exhilarating. Countless magazines, books and TikTok posts offer attractive strategies for navigating everything from puppy love to painful breakups. Yet despite all the wisdom amassed through centuries, relationships continue to challenge us. 

In response to a youth unsatisfied with the love advice from a friend, Ikeda Sensei said: 

There is no set answer. There are as many views on love as there are people. So I don’t think we can find a blanket policy on love that will win everyone’s consensus. Love is a complex matter that reflects each person’s attitude and philosophy toward life.[2]

What Is Real Love?

A typical image is two people gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes. Some studies suggest that if two people look into each other’s eyes for four minutes, they should “feel closer and more connected to each other.”[3]

While enjoying the company of a partner and respecting and appreciating them are keys to a healthy relationship, sometimes we may fall so deeply in love that everything and everyone else falls by the wayside. Some telltale signs of an unhealthy relationship are becoming neglectful, disrespectful or malicious. Sensei says:

If you are neglecting the things you should be doing, forgetting your purpose in life because of the relationship you’re in, then you’re on the wrong path. A healthy relationship is one in which two people encourage each other to reach their respective goals while sharing each other’s hopes and dreams. A relationship should be a source of inspiration, invigoration and hope.[4]

Real love is not two people clinging to each other; it can only be fostered between two strong people secure in their individuality. A shallow person will have only shallow relationships. If you want to experience real love, it is important to first sincerely develop a strong self-identity.[5]

No matter how exciting it may be, when romance becomes a distraction from other important areas of our lives, it can cause us to suffer. Pursuing love shouldn’t overshadow our goals and dreams or take away from valuable activities. We also don’t need to be in love or in a relationship to be happy.

As Nichiren Daishonin states, “If you seek enlightenment outside yourself, then your performing even ten thousand practices and ten thousand good deeds will be in vain.”[6] Happiness is not something we gain from others. We cultivate it by developing our character, honing our abilities and tapping our limitless potential, or Buddhahood.

Love That Extends to All Humanity

We can’t control all aspects of a relationship nor can we control the other person. As Buddhists, we strive to become strong and treat others with respect and compassion. Sensei says: 

If you genuinely love someone, then through your relationship with [them], you can develop into a person whose love extends to all humanity. Such a relationship serves to strengthen, elevate and enrich your inner realm of life. Ultimately, the relationships you form are a reflection of your own state of life. The same is true of friendship. Only to the extent that you polish yourselves now can you hope to develop wonderful bonds of the heart in the future.[7]

Our desire for love and romance can be a tremendous catalyst for bringing forth our rich humanity. Some relationships end while others last, but the enduring lesson from all is learning how to compassionately embrace another person. It can open us up to treating everyone around us with that same compassion—a vital aim of our Buddhist practice. So, in that sense, maybe love does conquer all. 

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department

November 3, 2023, World Tribune, p. 10


  1. “The Object of Devotion for Observing the Mind,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 376. ↩︎
  2. Discussions on Youth, p. 61. ↩︎
  3. See <accessed on Oct. 18, 2023>. ↩︎
  4. Discussions on Youth, p. 60. ↩︎
  5. Ibid., p. 67. ↩︎
  6. “On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime,” WND-1, 3. ↩︎
  7. Discussions on Youth, p. 65. ↩︎

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