“Love Makes the World go Round” is a title of a song I remember from my youth. It might be evocative, but it isn’t strictly true – but certainly the quality of our existence in this world is enhanced by love.
My friend and colleague, Dr Phil Harker points out that we are often confused by what we mean by “love”. The problem is exacerbated by the paucity of our language. As he rightly explains other languages have multiple words for the different kinds of love. C S Lewis, the great Christian allegorical writer wrote a book which he titled “The Four Loves”. He distinguished between Affection (the Greek Storge), Friendship (the Greek Philia), Eros (similar in Greek, referring to sexual attraction) and Caritas (the Greek Agape) which is the traditional Christian love of one’s neighbour.
Agape is unconditional love. It is given with no expectation of getting something in return. It is, in fact, a true gift. For the purpose of this little discussion let us confine ourselves to dealing with this kind of love.
Now what could be the underlying cause of such love? How could men and women be inspired to love in such a way and to expect nothing in return? It is in fact because those that love in this way understand (not consciously but certainly intuitively) that they enhance their own well-being by giving such a gift. As Gerald Jampolsky once wrote, “All I give is given to myself.”
In other writings I have defined love as the dissolution of separateness. When I come to understand who I really am, I confirm my oneness with all human beings. At the spiritual level we all are one! We all share the human condition – perhaps in some way the same consciousness! Once I reach this realisation is it not natural that such love flows automatically?
Most of us live fearful lives trying to preserve our separateness and to magnify our specialness. We essentially live in fear. We strive for material possessions, status and recognition in the vain hope we can thereby preserve our separateness and enhance our specialness. When we let go of our separateness and realise also that there are no special people, that we all are the largely random products of our biological histories, our socialisation and our unchosen circumstances, just like every human being on the planet, our illusion of separateness and specialness falls away. Then we can live in love.
Indeed this is perhaps the only real choice human beings have. Albert Einstein acknowledged this when he said, “Everyone has two choices. We’re either full of love … or full of fear.”
This issue is one that has engaged many of the philosophers and sages over millennia. In Augustus Finds Serenity I touch upon the issue in Chapters 3, 5 &17 if readers would care to learn more.