This Zen Master Just Explained What It Really Means When Someone Says “I Love You”

The true meaning of ‘I Love You’ explained by a Zen master.

Love is one of the most all-encompassing feelings you will ever experience, but what does it really mean?


To say ‘I love you’ to somebody creates a whole world of connotations, but it means something different to each person who says it.

‘I love you’ means that you cannot possibly think more of the person you are saying it. It means that your feelings are as strong as they can possibly be and that you think the world of your lover.

Buddhist Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh explains that ‘love’ with all of its complex and intense connotations, really is the same as ‘understanding’.

He believes that to say ‘I love you’ really means ‘I understand you’, because understanding is the highest connection we can really have with another.

Thich Nhat Hanh says:

“Often, when we say, ‘I love you’ we focus mostly on the idea of the ‘I’ who is doing the loving and less on the quality of the love that’s being offered.

“This is because we are caught by the idea of self. We think we have a self. But there is no such thing as an individual separate self.

“A flower is made only of non-flower elements, such as chlorophyll, sunlight, and water. If we were to remove all the non-flower elements from the flower, there would be no flower left. A flower cannot be by herself alone. A flower can only inter-be with all of us…


“Humans are like this too. We can’t exist by ourselves alone. We can only inter-be. I am made only of non-me elements, such as the Earth, the sun, parents, and ancestors.”

“In a relationship, if you can see the nature of inter being between you and the other person, you can see that his suffering is your own suffering, and your happiness is his own happiness.

He reiterates that the human condition means that we are ell experiencing suffering all of the time, due to lack of enlightenment. To truly understand, and love another person pulls us out of the darkness, and towards enlightenment.

He says:

“In true love, there’s no more separation or discrimination. His happiness is your happiness. Your suffering is his suffering. You can no longer say, ‘That’s your problem.’”

Thich Nhat Hanh highlights how the phrase ‘I love you’ really has got nothing to do with the ‘I’ part, it is all about giving everything to the other person.

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