Book Review: The Four Noble Truths of Love

Full disclosure: I teach in Susan Piver’s Open Heart Project. So please take my opinion with a grain of salt. Back when I started teaching at the Open Heart Project in 2015 I had never heard of Susan Piver. Now after three years of following her I think she’s one of the best Dharma Teachers around. I’d be happy if there were physical OHP centers spread across this country. Some other Buddhist organizations are able to do that and I think that would be great. That being said, The Open Heart Project is a platform for practicing Buddhism over the internet and 20,000 people use it. That is amazing and something to be celebrated.

When I read Susan Piver’s new book The Four Noble Truths of Love, I immediately wanted to write a review.


This is a book about applying Buddhist teachings to relationships. We talk a lot in Buddhism about things like suffering, desire, worry, anger, etc. Susan has wisely applied these teachings to human relationships, an area where we could all use a little help.

 Not that I’m assuming everyone has bad relationships. Plenty of us have good relationships, but good can always be better. We can all learn how to listen instead of waiting for our turn to talk. We can all learn how to see our partner as a person instead of a being that exists to serve our needs. We can all do better, and that’s what Susan wrote about here.

There’s always room for improvement.

Her formulation of the Four Noble Truths of Love is as follows:

1. Relationships are uncomfortable

We think at some point our relationship is going to get comfortable, all fights will stop, we’ll just settle in and love each other. But…

2. Thinking they’re supposed to be comfortable is what makes them uncomfortable.

Like a lot of life, our problems come from expecting something different, expecting something that life doesn’t provide.

“Expectation is the root of all heartache” – fake Shakespeare quote.

3. It is absolutely possible to love and be loved unconditionally.

We can have human relationships without bringing our baggage and our clinging and neuroses into the forefront. We CAN just love each other.

4. There is a path that teaches you how and it really works.

This is about meditation. Practices dedicated to cultivating awareness, compassion, and concentration can help us in relationships.

Here’s a part that really resonated with me. Susan describes being aware and attentive toward your partner as good manners: just caring about the other person and wanting to show them that you care. She says good manners are: “A sign that you’re really paying attention to the other person and showing evidence of that in the way you act and speak…. if you are with someone who doesn’t care about you enough to notice you, who doesn’t think about you, it is hard to imagine how far you could go with that person.”

I’ve long thought that attention was very important in a relationship, so I like the way she described it here.

This book is all about how we can use Buddhist teachings in our everyday lives. Susan explores the six perfections, the four immeasurables, and the eightfold path in down to earth and relatable ways with insight developed from her years of study and practice. Sometimes Buddhism seems exotic and strange. But the truth is that it can be practical and useful. In my view Buddhist teachings should be practical and useful. If it’s not practical and useful…why are we doing it?

In this book Susan does a masterful job of bringing these teachings down to earth and making them relatable and easy to understand for anyone.

She closes the book with some guided meditations for individuals and also meditations that couples can do together.

I think even someone who has no experience with meditation or Buddhism could still get a lot out of this book. I recommend it.

The Four Noble Truths of Love


Upcoming Events:

7/28/18: 11:00AM-11:30AM

Meditation Mob: Kansas City

Nelson-Atkins Museum South Lawn

4525 Oak St, Kansas City, MO 64111

We are going to meet up on the south lawn of the Nelson Museum for some public meditation. I’ll give a very short talk and then a bit of guidance and we will sit together.

Click HERE for more information

Please go like my page on Facebook.

The Lies We Tell Ourselves


“You can no longer deceive yourselves as sincerely as you did before. You have now got the taste of truth.” -Ouspensky

There’s something about the spiritual journey that we don’t talk about much.

When we really engage spiritual practice and we go deeply within ourselves, a lot of things change. The spiritual journey takes us all sorts of places and that’s why it can become uncomfortable at times. We lie to ourselves all of the time and really, looking within is hard sometimes because it forces us to take a good hard look at all the things we believe.

And, of course, we can continue lying to ourselves. We often do. But as stated in the quote above, once we have a certain level of awareness we know we’re lying. We spend a lot more time fooling ourselves than we spend fooling others.

What kind of lies am I talking about? I’ll tell you some lies I used to tell myself.

I’m not overweight but I’ve always had a beer belly. I used to say it was genetic, that I couldn’t really do anything about it. But that wasn’t true. I took control of my health. I started eating better and working out and it started going away. It’s largely because I drank too much soda and ate too many carbs (and, of course, too much beer).

I used to tell myself: I can’t handle that. Some projects or interactions seemed like too much for an anxious introvert like me. But the truth is I can handle anything with just a little effort. I do all sorts of things that I thought I would never be able to do.

And pretending to be confident goes a long way.

I used to tell myself that I loved my job. The truth is that I’m comfortable. I don’t stay at my workplace because I enjoy it. I stay there because it’s comfortable and leaving seems scary. Although I make more money than a lot of people I know, I am well aware that I could make a lot more money in a different industry. But money isn’t everything. I like being comfortable.

I used to tell myself that I couldn’t leave. We tell ourselves that we can’t leave relationships or jobs or situations. But the truth is that you can always leave. Many of us can say: “I should have left but I thought I wasn’t strong enough.” I can say that.

The Eagles said, “Oftentimes it happens, that we live our lives in chains. And we never even know we have the key.”

And it’s a side effect of the spiritual journey. Once you’re in touch with your true self, it just gets harder and harder to fool yourself. It gets harder to make excuses for yourself too.

That said, it doesn’t necessarily make things any easier. We just come to a point where we have to admit to ourselves that the reason we’re doing something (or not) is because that’s a choice we’re making. We come to a point where we aren’t interested in making excuses to fool ourselves anymore.

Because the spiritual journey makes us more honest. And I don’t mean with others, although I think that’s true too. The spiritual journey makes us more honest with ourselves. Because when we are looking for TRUTH, we find all sorts of little truths along the way.

What lies do you tell yourself?