It was probably 6 years ago when Bhante Pema and I were traveling back from a program in Ohio, and I shared the thought, that in order to promote teachings on love, we best define what love is. We sat silently, driving along, while he took the time to gather his thoughts. He replied, "acceptance without conditions".
When we practice meditation, we're learning the art of unconditional acceptance. When we move along our outline during a body scan meditation, we're not looking for particular sensations, favoring particular sensations, pushing some sensations away while clinging to others. We're objectively experiencing whatever's occurring in the body at the moment, then moving on, accepting reality as it is.
The same holds true for the breath. We're not pining over a past breath or dreading the coming of a future breath. Sure, we might deepen our breathing, or make it more shallow, but most often we're just watching it happen, objectively.
These concentrated periods of practice are antipodal to our normal mode of operation; of liking this, not liking that, craving this, being averse to that. The peace of mind that arises during the practice does so partly on account of the temporary suspension of preference. Usually, when we're clinging to our preferences, and we meet with what we don't like, most often, before we know it, we become agitated. When we're meditating, and happen upon an unpleasant sensation, if we're putting forth the right effort, we'll watch for and resist any urges to push it away, instead bearing witness to its temporary nature, moving on, unagitated, to the next sensation.
When we're moving through the world throughout our day, we're constantly coming into contact with that which we've developed likes and dislikes. Through this facet of meditation, rather than being knocked around and set off kilter, we're culturing our minds to accept these experiences with a greater sense of balance and ease. In this way we're slowly training in the art of acceptance without conditions, not of just one person, but life as a whole.
We're learning the art of love.