A celebration of love
A celebration of love
The following "ceremony" was performed as our celebration of our wedding. We were married in a private ceremony by a magistrate and then arranged to invite extended family and friends to our "celebration of love." We had our friend facilitate the ceremony, while we stood holding hands, facing the guests with the main facilitator reading what follows off to our left. The crowd was more Christian than Buddhist, but we received a lot of positive feedback from people, particularly of the kind, "that really made me think!"
First names were replaced with generic terms in order for people to adapt this to their own use.
Reflections on love
Facilitator welcomes everyone, then says:
We are glad you could join us. We feel blessed in your company.
Your invitation to this event was to join Bride & Groom for a celebration of love. Bride & groom were married in a private ceremony earlier. This reception is a celebration of love for all to participate in. This word, love, means many things to many people. Bride & Groom have thought a lot about love and have shared these thoughts with one another as their relationship has evolved. Today they are excited to be able to share some of these thoughts with all of you and ask you to join them in the process.
Human beings benefit from loving others:
- To love another is to wish for them to be happy and to have the causes of happiness.
- To love another is to wish for their well-being, physically, mentally, and spiritually.
- To love another is to act in such a way as to support their pursuit of happiness; to relate to them in a healthy and productive way that generates trust and safety.
As human beings, we have many types of relationships, from the most distant relationship that exists among all humans around the globe, to our local community, to our family, to our partners, and to our children and to future generations. Love can, and must, play a part in all of these relationships.
Although the expression of love is different depending on the type of relationship we have with others, the motivation, the attitude itself remains the same.
Many times when we say we love someone, what we are saying is that the person has qualities that we desire to be near. These may be physical or mental, but with this kind of love, our motivation is more about our own happiness than the happiness of the other. This kind of love is often the beginning of romantic relationships. And while it may be an amazing feeling, it is does not have the power to sustain a relationship through the ups and downs of life.
Love should not be something that we direct only to the aspects of another person that we are attracted to. Love is to be directed towards the completeness of the other. To love another is to embrace them as they are, with all of their beliefs, values and behaviors.
In a loving relationship, we must be able to go beyond just tolerating the annoyances, small and large, we find in another person. We must be able to hold the other dearly in our hearts.
Bride & Groom, in joining together in marriage, have made a commitment to one another to practice love in their relationship and to work to be able to hold their love for one another above all other feelings, thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors that they may have for each other. They recognize that this is not an easy commitment to uphold. They recognize that they each lack the ability to love constantly, completely, and unconditionally. But it is the mutual commitment they have made to one another, to hold love as the highest attitude towards the other, and to favor acts of love above all others that is the foundation of their union.
The wedding ceremony is a familiar ceremony throughout time and throughout cultures around the world. The form and specific purposes vary.
Bride & Groom have asked you to come here today to celebrate their love and to witness the commitment they have made to one another. This commitment is not just to love one another, but to hold love as the highest goal in all relationships. To strive to live in this world as loving people who value the happiness of others.
The desire to love may be a natural human experience, but there are also many experiences we have, many beliefs we hold, many habits that we develop that interfere with our ability to love.
Meditations on the past, present and future
Bride & Groom would like you to join them in a meditation on the past. They would like to share with you some personal things from their lives which they are striving to be free of because they interfere with love. At the same time, we will be passing around baskets. They would like you to engage in your own reflection and to identify specific beliefs and behaviors which interfere with you being a loving person. When you receive the basket, please place your flower in the basket (guests were given dried flower blossoms upon sitting) and as you do so, imagine that you are free of those things from the past which make it difficult for you to be loving in the present.
(Bride and Groom each recite their "meditation" out loud. They then put their dried flowers into a basket. Two people who have 6 baskets then begin passing around those baskets in which others put their dried flowers. While the baskets are going around, the Bride and Groom and others meditate in silence.)
The present moment is all we really have. The past is gone. The time we dwell in the past is time lost in the present. In order to actively love, we must be fully present. Being judgmental, being resentful, being envious, being hateful, being numb, are all ways of being that block our experience of love.
We are passing around to you grapes. We would like you to take a grape and to eat the grape being as fully present as you can. Try to get the fullest sense of eating the grape. How does it feel on your tongue before you bite down? What is the temperature and the texture and the taste? Be aware of the transition of the grape as you chew and swallow. Be mindful of the change in your mouth after the grape is gone.
We would like you now to turn your attention to love. Please focus on another person or group of persons. You may choose someone you are very fond of. You may choose someone who you care about but have trouble feeling love towards. You may choose someone in your life whom you never considered could be a target of love—the wish for them to be happy. Please take a few moments and try to be present with an attitude of love towards this person or group of persons. Recall your experience with the grape and try to be as aware of all the different aspects of loving another as you were with the vibrant taste of the grape.
Aspirations are thoughts we have about how we wish to experience the future. Aspirations are not goals. They are not things that we wish to accomplish or obtain. Aspirations are about the way we want to be.
We would like you to join us in a meditation on aspirations for the future. Bride & Groom will share some of their aspirations. We will then pass around the baskets and ask you to take a packet of seeds in the basket. As you do so, imagine that you are sharing your aspirations for how you want to experience the future with all of us here today and all people around the world in the present and in the future. Bride & Groom chose seeds as a symbol to remind us that little things we do today can bear much fruit in the future. Bride & Groom have made a personal commitment to celebrate their anniversary by planting a tree each year. In doing so, they will commemorate our planting the seeds of love here today.
(Bride and Groom each recite their "meditation" out loud. They then take a packet of seeds from a basket. Two people who have 6 baskets then begin passing around those baskets from which others take packets of seeds. While the baskets are going around, the Bride and Groom and others meditate in silence.)
This concludes this portion of the ceremony. We invite all of you to join us over in the lodge for lunch. Games, hiking and conversation to follow. Please note that we have one more brief experience we would like for you to share with us as a group. We will begin the meal with a blessing of the food and that will mark the end of the formal part of our day.
We are going to toss the flowers, representative of past things that we have all imagined letting go of, into the fire. Take this moment to feel completely free of these things.
Food blessing (conducted by Bride & Groom)
This food is the gift of the entire universe
The sun, the water and the soil of the earth
Countless hands have labored for us all to be here together to partake of this food.
May we receive this food in such a way as to honor this gift
May we eat it conscientiously
May we use the energy it provides not only for our own health
But also to give us the strength to live our lives in love.
We want to thank you all so much for joining us here today. It is a day we will never forget and a memory that will inspire us in good times and bad.
Venerable Thubten Chodron
Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.