Love trumps Trump — if it’s true love

betty ming liu Inspiration, Relationships 9 Comments

All the news coming out of the White House makes me insane. But after much gloominess and overeating, my doubts are gone. I believe 1,000% in my mantra. Against the odds, I know that love trumps Trump. The only way to carry on is with love — true love.

While feel-good emotions can be nice, I’m chasing something more practical and as well as more profound. From my life journey, you know about my childhood quest for a lasting hug I can trust. It’s the kind of unconditional bond I want to get from others and give back too. This is my community. We will survive and even thrive under a Donald Trump administration, because he is not our focus.

Our focus is us. Our work. Our dreams. The stuff we’ve been committed to since forever. If anyone takes it away from us, it’s because we let them. So I have my path. With a specific definition for true love as my platinum standard, I am prepared to embrace the next four years (and beyond).

My inspiration in these dark days comes from a beautiful, easy-reading little book: “True Love: A Practice for Awakening the Heart.” It’s one of many books by Thich Nhat Hanh, a 90-year-old Zen master and peace activist. He goes by the nickname Thay. In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. nominated him for a Nobel Peace Prize, which made him famous.

I found Thay’s book after a bad relationship breakup. Once I read about true love, I understood why the romance went wrong. Even more importantly, the book gave me practical advice for self-care and a vision for social justice. I could relate completely, even though I’m not Buddhist. Spiritual truth is spiritual truth, period.

Thay’s key word is “mindfulness,” which, according to my shrink, is getting kind of trendy again in therapy circles. But Thay has been there talking and walking mindfully for more than half a century.

Mindfulness, according to Thay, begins with a simple practice. Breathe. Just breathe, in and out. When I’m really aware of my breath, everything else churning in my brain fades away. Thay describes mindfulness as the ability to stay in the moment without obsessing about the past or future. Staying in the moment is a form of meditation. Whenever I’m stressed, mindfulness gently pulls me back to quiet, which is a form of personal transformation.

What is true love?

Four elements define true love, according to Thay:

#1 — Loving-kindness, which makes the beloved actually happy. In other words, wanting to make someone happy is not enough. If anything, our wanting can actually make loved ones suffer. Thay says that making others truly happy takes “deep looking” to understand who they really are.

#2 — Compassion is a must for true love. Once again, wanting to ease someone’s pain is not enough. To actually relieve another’s suffering takes genuine understanding. “The practice of understanding is the practice of meditation,” Thay writes. “To meditate is to look deeply into the heart of things.”

#3 — True love involves joy. “If there is no joy in love, it is not true love,” Thay explains. “If you are suffering all the time, if you cry all the time, and if you make the person you love cry, this is not really love — it is even the opposite.”

#4 — True love brings freedom.  “You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free, not only outside but also inside,” Thay says. “‘Dear one, do you have enough space in your heart and all around you?’ This is an intelligent question for testing out whether your love is something real.”

A call to action in the Trump era

Here’s a passage from the book that sets my standard for dealing with Trump, our government and politicians. It also rallies me to be my mostest as a citizen, journalist, teacher and creative person.

I am convinced that everybody can practice mindfulness, even politicians, political parties, even Congress. This is a body that holds the responsibility for knowing the nation’s situation well, and knowledge of this kind requires the practice of looking deeply. If our elected officials are not calm enough, do not have enough concentration, how can they see things deeply? If they are not able to listen to the people or to their colleagues in the Congress, if they are not able to speak with loving speech, then there will be much to be desired. It is necessary for poiticans to practice calm, to practice stopping, and to practice looking deeply.

You who are journalists, writers, citizens, you have the right and the duty to say to those you have elected that they must practice mindfulness, calm, deep listening, and loving speech. This is the universal thing, taught by all religions. In Buddhism, we call this samatha — stopping, concentration, calm. When calm is there, we are able to practice deep looking….

If you are a journalist, a teacher, or a filmmaker, you should practice mindfulness — for the sake of your own calm and your own happiness, but also for that of other people as well. Because we need your calm, your compassion, your understanding. So we should be mindful as individuals but also as a community, as a family, as a nation. 

What’s next

The four elements of true love keep me busy on a path where love trumps Trump. They are hard to practice because they take me beyond my comfort zone. Right now, I’m challenged to look more deeply into understanding the electoral process, have compassion for his people, find joy with like-minded souls and give others the freedom to be themselves around me. What about you? If any of the four elements of true love speak to you, please share.

Comments 9

  1. Thanks for the title of Thich Nhat Hahn’s book. I look forward to reading it and practicing it with Trump and his supporter’s. However, I do not believe that he has been elected for 8 years and he’s said “for the next 8 years” more than twice which concerns me greatly.

    I have a question regarding a children’s book that I have written and now want to illustrate as well as publish one day in the near future. Since you are an artist as well as a teacher and journalist, which medium should I consider using? Pastels or watercolor or acrylic? Which do you find as your favorite medium?

    I am taking a drawing class that is mostly painting after the first month. There will be both pastel and acrylic work done. Just wondering how much to invest in acrylics since I am not crazy with the thought of oils for my book’s illustrations.

  2. Post

    Sandy, I hope you enjoy Thay’s book. As for the children’s book, congrats on your project. That’s exciting. But I’m in no position to give advice on illustrating direction. I’m trying to figure out that stuff myself! Everyone tells me to do what makes me happiest. Maybe that’s a place for you to start too. Good luck with the book!

  3. Betty..thanks for the recommendation of Thay’s book. I live in the south and work with many Trump supporters. Additionally, I am a woman of deep faith so it is particularly troubling that so many people of faith voted for him. I had also decided a few days ago that I must work harder to love people. It is easy to love lovely people but difficult to love the unlovely. I had found myself angry and wanting to ignore or be rude to my co-workers when they made provocative comments. However, that is not who I am and I will not let the politics of hate change me. “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear” Dr. M.L. King. Let us all go higher! Warmest Regards.

    1. Post

      Debra, you are gonna be doing a lot of loving over the next four years! And what a beautiful quote from Dr. King. Thanks for sharing and giving me even more inspiration. I’m with you. We CAN go higher. :)

  4. While I have never read Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, I agree with much of the four elements posted. I am not Buddhist; I notice universal perspectives within these elements that echo sacred words that have pointed me back to the heart of love from 1 Corinthians 13 (often referred to as “the love chapter) in the Bible. The words in 1 Cor. 13 have been a mirror for my actions when they reflected love, and a mirror to help me understand when they were not. I think what Thich Nhat Hanh calls looking deeply at a thing (paraphrase) reminds me of something in the “love chapter” where it says in one version that “love believes the best in all” and that love “is always hopeful” or “hopes all things.” When you look deeply at a situation or person, even when it is someone/something that you dread or possibly even hate, you won’t look at the thing or person as an enemy but as someone who lacks love and understanding and needs your compassion more than your hate. Hate never changes a person but I strongly believe love can. Hate may turn the world upside down but I believe that those who love can work to turn it as it should be.

    It is challenging to see the good in a lot of people these days. It can even feel like an ache to remember that there is still good in the world. I don’t mean to forget or lose the urgency in being a passionate or active citizen, but I will do those things still remembering that there is love and beauty and peace and things and people to protect. I believe that love is a responsibility and from 1 Corinthians 13, and now, from That’s writings, as well, I know that for such a time love is needed. We need to responsibly love this nation and in love, protect each other. The element that resonated with me the most was #4, having to do with freedom. A decision to love beyond the circumstances takes maturity on our parts and commitment. I’ve seen what the lack of love does to a relationship, to a family, to a workplace, to a community. Imagine what love could do. Extend freedom.

    “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
    1 Cor. 13:13

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      Skye, how beautiful of you to share your reflection on love. Thank you for taking the time to write so much, and so thoughtfully. We’ve gotta keep believing that we will prevail by staying true. xo

  5. Hi Betty,

    I have been attending group training in mindfulness at the Veteran’s Hospital here in Tampa Bay where I live. It is one of the VAs newest methods to treat pain, PTSD, Depression, etc. that so many veterans deal with. It is now my favorite alternative to narcotics for dealing with pain. It is challenging and I have a long way to go in being able to become accomplished at using mindfulness in every area of my life but that is my goal.

    As for Love: it too is a major focus of my learning to deal with life and I truly believe it is the only way to defeat Trump and all the evil he represents. Thank you once again for a great article which I will share with everyone I know.

    1. Post

      June, reading what you have here about mindfulness and veterans gives me goosebumps. Wow. That is super-powerful and profound. I’m starting to share mindfulness tips in my classes too. We all need more inner quiet! Thank you for sharing the post. I’m so glad you stopped by tonight. xo

  6. Pingback: If you want to feel better, meditate now - betty ming liu

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