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Excerpted from Awakening the Buddhist Heart by Lama Surya Das. Copyright© 2000 by Lama Surya Das. Excerpted by permission of Random House, 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.

"Love comes through relating. That's why we must connect."

Lama Surya Das, 
Awakening the Buddhist Heart, Part 2

Mother Teresa was talking about the pain associated with feelings of isolation and separateness. These feelings are common to mankind. They can overtake any one of us in a heartbeat, even in the very midst of happiness and joy. Loneliness implies a lack of meaningful connection. For most people, it is a familiar travelling companion. Even when we're surrounded by people we know, we can feel separate and apart. Separate from what, we might ask? Separate from others, separate from ourselves, separate from the Divine, separate from meaning, separate from love. Separate from a sense of belonging.

The promise of spiritual life is that we will be able to heal these feelings through love and an experiential understanding of the essential interconnectedness of all beings. The Dalai Lama of Tibet, for example, often says that no matter how many new faces he sees each day, he never feels as though he is meeting anyone for the first time. That's because the Dalai Lama knows that every single one of us is on an infinite journey that began aeons ago. According to Tibetan Buddhism we have each had so many births that in all probability our paths have crossed time and time again. Wondrously connected one to the other, we have been for each other brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, children, fathers, mothers, and mates. At the heart of Tibetan Buddhism is this belief: Each person we meet has at one time been a close, caring family member and should be treated with the respect and love such a relationship deserves.

Don't we all need to feel the light and warmth that emanates from others? Don't we all want true love? Don't we all hunger for genuine communication, and deeper and more authentic connections? Don't we all recognize that the quality of our individual lives is determined by the quality of our relationships both external and internal? When our relationships are superficial, we feel as though we are leading superficial lives; when our relationships reflect our deeper commitments and aspirations, we feel as though we are walking a more meaningful and satisfying path.

Love comes through relating. That's why we must connect.

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