Thich Nhat Hanh is a Zen master who reflects deeply on love. His best-known work is True Love: A Practice for Awakening the Heart. This book contains valuable teachings and also includes four mantras of love that are indispensable for strengthening relationships of love.
For Thich Nhat Hanh, love must be a source of joy, not suffering. However, it’s a feeling that requires commitment which, in turn, promotes personal development. Mantras of love are a way of remembering these fundamental pacts that form the basis of all relationships.
“Love is a true thing if it’s made up of a substance called understanding.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh-
Although love mantras are particularly relevant for a couple, they can have an impact on any intimate relationship. They point to the essence of love, where those involved support and accept each other. Here are Thich Nhat Hanh’s four mantras.
Four mantras of love
“I know you’re there and I’m very happy”
The first gift you can give to someone you love is to recognize their existence and presence. Hence, this first mantra speaks of recognition, stating “I know you’re here”. This implies you’re aware of the other’s existence.
The second part states “and I’m very happy”. Because it’s not enough simply to recognize the existence of the other, but this acknowledgment must be accompanied by a feeling of approval and satisfaction. It’s a way of reminding yourself and the other person of the importance of their presence.
Thich Nhat Hanh recommends you think of this mantra every day, at least twice. Once, without saying it, for yourself. Secondly, saying it to the person you love because they make you happy.
“I’m here for you”
This second love mantra complements the first. It basically means being present in the life of the other. Indeed, if you’re aware of the feelings and needs of another person, it’s important to let them know through your words or your behavior.
There are many ways to say, “I’m here for you.” In fact, every gesture and every action that signifies support and respect is a way of expressing it. This implies that you know the other person enough to recognize the moments when they need you by their side.
It also means responding to their gestures and words. In addition, you must value what they give you. It’s always a good idea to put this into words. Because, when someone they love says, “I’m here”, it can relieve many of their worries and burdens.
“I know you’re suffering. That’s why I’m here for you”
In the language of love, it’s important to let the other know you’re not just there when things are going well. You also need to develop enough sensitivity to recognize when they’re suffering.
Just knowing that you’ve noticed they’re suffering will really help them. Because recognizing their discomfort is a way of validating and respecting how they’re feeling. This way, you’re actually reaffirming their existence.
You’re not obliged to take responsibility for their suffering. However, you can listen, understand, and encourage them. In fact, although it isn’t easy to understand another’s suffering, it’s usually enough just to be there and not question them.
“I’m suffering. Please help”
Thich Nhat Hanh points out that this is the most difficult of the four mantras of love. It means overcoming your pride and fear. Furthermore, it means that you don’t allow yourself to be carried away by false autonomy and that you’re able to trust the other person when you need to.
No matter how much the other person knows you, they aren’t always going to know that you’re suffering. Or, indeed, how much you’re suffering. Expressing it will make it easier for them to understand and sympathize. This mantra explains that you’re in a particular situation and you need support.
This mantra is best expressed in words, otherwise, it could be misunderstood. It’s far better that you let the other person know how they can help you. This way, your discomfort or cause of suffering will be reduced. Furthermore, it won’t be able to spread and taint your bond of love.