As a precursor to the content of this article, I would like to ask you to think about the meaning of love.
And not just the romantic notion of love which our western culture seems to prioritise, but the compassionate state of love; Love as an entity through which we can interact with the world.
Included in this precursor, I also wish to separate the two types of love we humans are capable of. I wish to do this in order to go beyond what could turn out to be a rather predictable discussion about the feelings of love or more specifically, the feelings of love we have for another person i.e. the person we ‘romantically’ love.
Love is more easily experienced than defined because love is not one thing.
However, it can be categorised.
The two types of love I wish to distinguish between in this article are: Romantic Love & Compassionate Love. I think these are the only two categories in which love can be placed (love can show up in many forms, but I’d say ultimately, there are only two types of love i.e. if it’s not romantic love, then it’s compassionate love and vice versa. If it’s neither of these, then it isn’t love). If you feel there are more than two categories, then please communicate your thoughts using the comments box.
A state of intense longing for union with another human being.
Falling in love is a magical trip. Every bit of ones’ internal universe seems to explode with joy and relish. I, personally, love being in love – it’s like being on some wonderful drug!
However, when one thinks about it objectively, romantic love seems to be more about our own biological chemistry, expectations and fantasies, than it is, necessarily, about another person.
The person who is the focus of our romantic love is certainly involved in the process – without them we wouldn’t undergo the experience. But the experience is an internal one.
If we are lucky, the person whom we have fallen in love with will undergo the same internal experience at the same time as we do.
There is an element of caution required in the process of romantic love that is rarely heeded because, more often than not; we feel we have no power in choosing the person we fall in love with. Also, the longing and yearning for another can become so great that it’s hard to imagine how another human could be expected to fulfil the expectations we place upon them.
As we grow older, we learn that romantic love can indeed play a transformational role within our lives, but rarely a lasting one.
For me, as a westerner, romantic love has become somewhat of a cultural obsession.
We are continuously reminded of the importance of romantic love through plays, books, movies, TV and fairy tales and of course Valentine’s Day.
Yet romantic love is more complicated than we imagine it to be and more elusive and fleeting than our cultural fairy tales lead us to believe.
“Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.”
~ Robert Heinlein 1961 novel Stranger in a Strange Land
Today, looking at the divorce rate – romantic love seems to have become an every day promise which can be easily broken tomorrow.
In order to live within a state of romantic love, I believe one has to effectively manage it. There must also it seems, be a ratio of love, one which is broken up into ‘to love’ and ‘to be loved’. Some people are more predisposed to want to give love, this feeling of love is then transposed onto another. On the opposite side of the equation are those who need to receive love; the feeling of being loved by somebody else. This is an interchangeable equation and a symbiotic relationship between two players, one passive and one active, interchanging as the situation dictates. If two people can find an adequate ratio for their requirement to give & receive love, then I don’t see why the romantic part of love with another human being couldn’t be sustained over the long term. But, in order for it to be sustainable, it must involve a certain amount of effort from each party and will likely evolve away from chemistry, expectation and fantasy towards a love that is based on understanding, companionship and friendship ~ A more compassionate love shall we say.
The affection we feel for that with which our lives are deeply intertwined.
Compassionate love is the connective tissue of emotional existence, a state of being that exists regardless of our opinions of what it ought to be. It’s a more real love; it accepts flaws and has a tolerance of imperfection. It also requires ‘less effort’ than romantic love.
So is compassionate love ultimate reality?
I’ve walked past many churches displaying posters saying “God is Love”. Many religions believe love to be, or the route to, ultimate reality (or God if one believes in such an entity).
But what is ultimate reality?
Reality is surely relative. Even science can’t pin down the nature of reality.
If love were ultimate reality, then surely we wouldn’t have predators, disease or suffering…
I believe love is simply a way to be.
A way in which to approach the world.
It is a lens through which one is able to bear witness to the world. If you apply the lens you can certainly make love one of your primary realities.
Love is also a psychological state that needs to be nourished within ones self. People who are readily able to get in touch with this part of themselves are able to live more frequently in a state of joy and happiness.
As a human entity, you are a source of energy.
As a source of energy, I believe you act as a kind of feedback loop – What you internalise and subsequently give out to the world is fed back to you through the action of engagement with it.
This, to me, is what it means to be a conscious being.
Without a world in which to interact with, there would be no requirement for consciousness.
Love amplifies the experience.
The source of love may be universal or it may just be a part of the human condition. What it is and where it ultimately resides, is for me; unimportant.
What is important is the ability to access it and allow it to contribute to ones’ overall state of joy and happiness, and through acting as a feedback loop, if you choose to give love to the world, you somehow increase its overall vibration.
It is my belief that you can tap into the source of love without religion, but in order to feel its true extent, one does seem to benefit from invoking an element of belief in either spirit, the non-phsical nature of things, or the oneness of everything.