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Six Easy Ways to Love

Love is a small word with a big promise. In a spiritual practice like Krishna Bhakti, the intent is to awaken love - our original pure love between us and our source of life, Krishna, as well as our natural love for everything connected to Him.

Somehow, lots of things seem to get in the way of generous and unconditional love. We are sucked into the shadier emotions of fear, envy, greed, shame, to name a few, and they pull us away from living in and with love.

A 16th Century book, The Nectar of Instruction, brings us a clue. It’s author, Rupa Goswami, offers six loving exchanges for us to practice, and when we do, our relationships grow in love. They are about giving and receiving three things - food, gifts, and words.

Srila Prabhupada said it well in 1966:

We cannot claim any favor from the Supreme unless we are in love. So love means... There are six principles of loving. What is that? Dadāti pratigṛhṇāti bhuṅkte bhojayate, guhyam ākhyāti pṛcchati ca ṣaḍ-vidhaṁ prīti-lakṣaṇam. How one can understand I love you, or you can understand that I love you? There is... There are six kinds of reciprocation, six kinds of exchange, reciprocation. What is that? Dadāti. One whom you love, you must give something. And you must take something from him. Dadāti pratigṛhṇāti. Bhuṅkte bhojayate: You must give him something to eat, and you must accept also what he gives to eat. And dadāti pratigṛhṇāti bhuṅkte bhojayate, guhyam ākhyāti pṛcchati ca: You must disclose your mind, and you must hear him. If your lover is also in some difficulty, he discloses his mind. So these six things, dadāti, giving, and pratigṛhṇāti, accepting, and bhuṅkte, to offer foodstuff and accept foodstuff, and disclose your mind and hear him also, these things... So we have to deal with God in that way.

The thing to remember as we practice these loving exchanges is that love is already present in all of us. We are literally made of love! It just needs to be uncovered. Also good to remember is that the sweetest love of all is unconditional - we give to give and receive with gratitude. We let go of any other expectations around the exchanges.

Remember too, love is a verb, it’s a practice. We are moody creatures, prone to self-centeredness. The six loving exchanges can bring us to love, in steady and deep ways. A daily practice, of at least one of the six, with thought and intention, will allow our love to surface more easily, more often.

It’s so easy we might miss it, and so important we can’t afford to.

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