cue music "Love makes the world go round..."
But seriously, a post and its subsequent comments on Larry's blog has me thinking about the importance of love. Larry mentions it as an antidote to mood swings; my friend, Barely Attentive Mother queries this. While I entirely agree with Larry, I was trying to figure out why -- that is what I hope to do in this post.
The Barely Attentive Mother and I are friends in real life and when she was over once for a playdate for our daughters, I showed her a children's picture book, The Three Questions by Jon J. Muth. The book is based on a story by Leo Tolstoy and in it, a little boy poses three questions to his friends: when is the best time to do things, who is the most important one, and what is the right thing to do? I wanted to share this book with Barely because of her interest in Buddhism and the note in the book that the story follows Zen principles (she's not particularly interested in Zen Buddhism, but what difference does that make to a narrow-minded Protestant who doesn't really understand any of it? he he) Well, the answers to the questions are (don't read this if it will ruin the book for you): now, the person you're with, and to do good for the one you're with. To me, doing good for the one you're with is showing love for them.
I recently grabbed a book at the library, Stone Soup. Its a familiar tale of clever visitors who induce reluctant townspeople to share by piqueing their curiosity about how stones can make a delicious soup; I thought it would be a nice story for my 4 year-old. Interestingly, this version of the story was written by Jon J. Muth and is set in China and the visitors are Zen monks. In the story, the townspeople are alienated from each other as a result of the hard times they have endured. The book follows the traditional story, one by one, the villagers add items to the pot, making the soup by sharing with one another. Muth ends the book with the villagers thanking the monks, "with the gifts you have given, we will always have plenty. You have shown us that sharing makes us all richer." "And to think," said the monks, "to be happy is as simple as making stone soup."
Does this prove my point? Maybe, maybe not. It does lead me to note that Muth states in an Author's Note that he uses a trick from the Buddha story tradition, where tricksters spread enlightenment rather than seeking gain for themselves. I find myself asking, how is this tradition any different from the parables told by Jesus. (Larry has noted -- on two blogs -- that Jesus and the Buddha are brothers).
I can't help adding that my conclusion is that the meaning of life is the search for God (its a lifelong search). To seek happiness is a basic human drive, love is the key to happiness and God is love (as shown to us through Jesus). QED. Okay, maybe its not a solid proof, but perhaps I'm persuasive...or not.