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Excerpted from If the Buddha Married by Charlotte Kasl. Copyright 2001 by Charlotte Kasl. Excerpted by permission of Penguin Putnam, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.

"As our mind becomes quieter, we are more able to attune to the present moment, which allows us to see into the heart of things."

  Charlotte Kasl
If the Buddha Married
, Part 1

May all beings everywhere be free from suffering and the root of all suffering. May all beings everywhere find happiness and the root of all happiness.

-Buddhist blessing

Buddhist teachings provide a wonderful foundation to understand why relationships work and why they don't. They help us develop awareness so we live in the present and become alive to ourselves and our loved ones. Our exploration of vital, loving relationships will include Buddhist concepts of impermanence, lovingkindness, compassion, attachments, the nature of our conditioned responses, and the underlying unity of All That Is.

Buddhist teachings apply to everyday living as well as intimate relationships. Indeed, there is no separation between the awareness of how we breathe, think, talk, eat, walk, rest, work, play and the awareness of how we relate to others and to all sentient life. As we team to bring attention to whatever we are doing, we find that all of life is a form of meditation. There is simply the experience of the moment, and our task on the spiritual path is to be engaged fully in whatever is happening right now, without judgement or expectations.

We come to realize that happiness, pain, sadness, and joy are the passing winds of our ever-changing experience, closely aligned with our identification with our mind and thoughts. As our mind becomes quieter, we are more able to attune to the present moment, which allows us to see into the heart of things. We come to accept that for everyone, life is unpredictable, difficult, and wondrous. This, in turn, allows us to cherish, forgive, and love our brothers and sisters on this imperfect human path.

When the prince Siddhartha Gautama became known as The Buddha, meaning "the enlightened one," he had spent five years being intentionally celibate. Before he left the palace of his father and mother, however, to find a solution to the universal suffering of humankind, he was married to a beautiful princess and was the father of one son. So, we are faced with the paradox that prior to enlightenment, Buddha was married, and when he began his spiritual search for the causes of suffering, he became celibate. One might rightly ask, then, why would we look for wisdom on marriage from a man who left his wife and child for a life of celibacy? The answer lies in his exploration into the roots of human suffering and the profound wisdom of his teachings that lead to joy, compassion, and loving kindness-traits that free us to form loving relationships.

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