The sea of the emotional love of birth and death is the fundamental obstacle to the Way. If cultivators feel love and desire, whether for people or objects, it will hinder them from making progress in cultivation. To discuss it in detail, love and desire are just birth and death, and birth and death are just love. Love and desire are the root of birth and death. If you don't break through the ignorance of love, you can never escape the great sea of love which is birth and death. How can you escape birth and death? It's simple─just cut off desire and get rid of love. There is no other way.
Cultivators shouldn't have thoughts of emotional love, even less should they engage in acts of emotional love. Don't give rise to thoughts of emotional love for anyone, no matter who it is. Once you have emotional love, you cannot cut off the root of suffering. Once you have emotional love, you cannot put an end to birth and death.
Someone says, “Humans are creatures of emotion. The desires for food and sensuality are part of their nature.” Precisely for that reason, we must cultivate the Way! The Sutra in Forty-two Sections says,
Think of those women who are elderly as your mothers, those who are senior to you as your elder sisters, those who are junior to you as your younger sisters, and those who are young as your children. Resolve to save them, and quell unwholesome thoughts.
Cultivators should contemplate in that way. Does having no emotion and love mean we should keep our mouth shut and ignore people when we see them? No, that's also wrong. We shouldn't cling to emotional love, or have thoughts of love, but we shouldn't loathe people, either. You can't say, “I don't love people, so I'll hate people.” That's wrong, too. Well, what's the right way to act? Neither love nor hate. Not loving and not hating is the Middle Way.
What is the Way that we are cultivating? We cultivate the Middle Way, by treating everyone equally, showing kindness and compassion to all. But we must be careful not to get trapped in the cage of emotional love.
All of you should pay attention! Don't let love confuse you. If someone writes you a letter, your heart thumps like a bunny hopping wildly in your chest─you think it's wonderful that someone loves you. In reality, that person is just trying to drag you into the hells!
All Good and Wise Advisors! You must apply your efforts here, and truly understand that love is a very troublesome affair. From beginningless eons until now, we have failed to end birth and death. Why? It's because we have been harmed by emotional love. Only by cutting off desire and getting rid of love can we transcend the Triple Realm and be liberated from birth and death.
Whatever you are fond of, you love, and whatever you dislike, you hate. If I like this, then I have a thought of love. If I am annoyed by that, then I have a thought of hate. This is to deal with things on an emotional level. Cultivators should not handle matters emotionally. But nor should they be like Lord Guan Y? sitting there with a wooden expression. Even if you bow to him, he'll ignore you. We should be amiable and courteous to people. We cannot be arrogant and look down on everyone.
In general, we should treat people with a spirit of kindness and compassion, and use expedient methods. We should always be considerate of others and make people happy. As long as we still have a breath left, we should be good to people, but there shouldn't be any thoughts of emotional love involved. Each one of you should be sure to remember this! This is a very important Dharma-door.