How strangers become loved ones

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How strangers become loved ones

In Korean, the words for “stranger” and “loved one” are very similar. The lyrics of a Korean pop song said it best: “With just one dot, your loved one becomes a stranger.” The song says that people get married and divorced all too easily these days.

The importance of a dot in defining relations among people has been verified scientifically. In the beginning, primordial cells divided only for self-preservation, but one day they were infiltrated by a germ.

The germ was the crucial dot. Instead of driving the “dot” out, the cells decided to live with it, realizing that the addition could benefit them both. This triggered evolution. It was also the prototype for marriage.

The driving force behind evolution is imperfection in the species. The same applies to humans. If we had been perfect, there would have been no reason for us to go through the difficult process of evolution. I am imperfect, therefore I need my better half to take me one more step toward perfection.

But no matter how far we may advance perfection is still far away, eons even.

These days, people lament that love is unstable and that people change. Love can appear suddenly sometimes, but in most cases isn’t love something that we accumulate over time?

In Buddhism, most people find the truth through a long period of asceticism rather than through a sudden moment of enlightenment.

The smile that a person wears when he or she finds the truth has the same roots as the smile that one has when he or she is holding the old and weary hand of a spouse whose thick, rich hair has since gone gray and whose once-youthful face is now covered with lines etched from both laughter and tears.

Sakyamuni preached the Four Noble Truths, namely, the nature of suffering, the origin of suffering, the cessation of suffering and the paths leading to the cessation of suffering.

Pain originates from craving. One must rid oneself of one’s cravings to reach enlightenment. To do that, one must follow the eight paths to bring their suffering to an end.

This can also apply to married life. Suffering also starts with craving. To be happy, one should get rid of this craving. And endless love must be the path to the goal.

Yesterday was Buddha’s Birthday on the lunar calendar and this year it fell on the Day for Married Couples in Korea.

One leaves his life behind when he practices asceticism to find the truth. In Korea, a woman leaves the home of her parents when she marries a man. When one finds the truth, one reaches enlightenment. Likewise, when one matures in love one finds true happiness.

Let us put our palms together in front of our chests, praying that compassion and love will prevail all over the world.

The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

By Park Jong-kwon
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