|art by Luna Gale|
"Who can tell me what love is?" the master called to his class.
"It is a lure into samsara," said his brightest student. "It is an invitation to desire and pain, a thing we must escape to achieve enlightenment."
"No, wait. It's more than that!" said a young woman. "The Buddha had love for all people. Can anyone deny that? Therefore, it must be possible to love but be enlightened."
"Yes, I can't see it as a snare," said a third student.
The discussion continued. But one of the youngest, lowest-ranked members of the class, Nathan, had gotten out of his chair when the master asked his question. He eyed the collection of Buddha figures along the class window sills. They had been gifts to the master. Although the master deemed them to be of no importance, mere material things, he nevertheless displayed affection for the statues from time to time.
At the front of the classroom, Nathan offered to his master the figure of the Buddha he had been carving. It was almost finished. The master eyed it with a gentle smile.
"Thank you, Nathan." The master nodded for his student to put the gift down on the floor next to him. "You may be excused from today's class. You already know what love is."
The rest of the students spent all day in debate.