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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.

"There is a unifying energy that underlies all life."

  Charlotte Kasl, If the Buddha Married, Part 2

Buddhism is more about experience than beliefs. There is no concept of a supreme God --no father, mother, or unseen being out there, guiding us, controlling us, comforting us, or giving us a hand to hold. There is also no one judging us, or telling us we are right or wrong. Rather, we take refuge in the teachings, and the support of our community of like-minded brothers and sisters. We gauge the clarity and goodness of our actions through attunement to our heart and mind, asking if we are being guided by kindness and compassion in all things. As a couple, we are full and equal partners on the path of awakening, joining together, learning from each other, yet each on our own journey. Buddhism embraces the belief that all life is sacred and interconnected. That underneath our surface behaviors and thoughts lies the essence of our being, a unifying force that flows through all of us.

Buddhism has no concept of sin. Rather it embraces the belief that we harm others out of our own unconsciousness or ignorance. If we were fully awake we would experience that to harm another is to harm ourselves, and that to harm ourselves is to harm another. There is no separation. As we come to fully understand this, we become less reactive to others and respond without fear or malice in our hearts.

Here is an overview of some basic Buddhist principles that are central to loving relationships.

1. Emptiness is form, form is emptiness: we are all connected

This concept, which lies at the heart of Buddhism, asserts that everything is made of emptiness. Said another way, there is a unifying energy that underlies all life. At our deepest level, we are essence -- the universal I Am. But we also live in a physical body and have a set of beliefs, values, and expectations that we have adopted. Unfortunately, we often identify with these beliefs to, the exclusion of experiencing our essential nature, which some people may call Source, God, Spirit, All That Is, or Essence. To be at peace with ourselves and to create intimacy, we need to connect with our deepest essence and realize we existed prior to all these learned thoughts, habits, and beliefs we adopted. If we peel back the thoughts and perceptions we have learned and try to find something solid to identify with that is uniquely who we are, something that goes beyond conditioning, we find that everything dissolves and we drop into essence. There is simply nothing solid we can adhere to that defines who we are. This is both frightening and freeing -- frightening to our mind and ego, freeing to our heart, which wants to experience love.

Paradoxically, it is through this emptiness that we find our wholeness and experience love, because there is nothing in the way. We are completely unified.

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