Rekindling the love you have to give
By: J. Marlando
Love is probably the most often used word in the universe and may well be the very essence and spark of life—I once asked the physicist Fred Alan Wolf what love is and he replied, “Love is the glue of the universe.” An extremely simple answer but an answer containing a manifold of complex meanings!
The ancient Egyptians said that it is transcendence and I like this observation since I believe that love transcends us above the mundane but I will go deeper into that a little later. The ancient Greeks during Plato’s time most basically interpreted love as being (1) “Common” or, in other words, which occurs between a man and a woman and (2) “Heavenly,” that is, love occurring between a man and a man. Romantic feelings have always been misinterpreted as love of course and, truth told, romantic love has always been a weaving of sexual desire and passion for possessing the loved object. On the other hand, As Woody Allan once said, “Sex without love is an empty experience, but as empty experiences go, it’s one of the best.” And so, Eros or erotic love is a kind of “loving” that is “empty of (authentic) love because it demands responsiveness; a reciprocation and so a participation. In short, it is conditional.
This is not to imply that Eros (erotic love) cannot also contain deep devotions and caring for the love object. However, according to Plato Eros love although in essence is sexual can graduate to forms such as justice, wisdom and knowledge, art and other aesthetics.
Next arrives the term, “Storge Love.” This refers to the kind of love that parents have for their children and other relatives. We (naturally) love Aunt Katy and Cousin Bobby, Uncle Joe; love that is based on prejudice and limits itself to family and even close, but scrutinized friends
“Phileo Love” is closer to (real) love than either Eros or Storge, It simply is a love of “being with” or “in” such as being “in” nature or “at” such as love being “at” home. It explains our feelings of warmth like being close to friends. We can, for example, love sitting in the sunshine or shade in terms of our feelings and this might include the deep affection that we feel for certain animals.
The last labeled love is “Agape.” Agape is also called God’s love because it is unconditional and everlasting; agape love seeks the well-being and betterment of others and is selfless. In this light one might say that Eros, Storge and Phileo are all levels of mundane loving (with the one exception being a mother’s love) or, in other words, human because they seek reciprocation as opposed to agape which is love for the world and all those in it openly and without selfish motive.
*Regardless of what Freud suggests, we are all born with agape love—with God’s love so to speak and this kind of unconditional loving remains with us until our socialization begins. As soon as our socialization begins we are taught how to discriminate and make value judgments; we learn how to use love as a coercive tool; a tool to gain favors and other gifts. If you love me you will. If you love me you won’t and so forth. The very purity and innocence of the child is soon enough corrupted and his unconditional love taken away by concepts, dogmas, ideologies and other prejudices and so from his or her state of innocents sexism and racism soon enough arrive. As a result, the young child’s perfect state of love for the world changes into learned hatefulness pushing his or her unconditional love further behind the veiled depths of his or her psyche.
By the time we are in high school (no longer a child—not yet adult) we have probably lost our ability to experience agape love at all; what if I love someone and they do not love me back, we say. What if I give someone my love and I receive nothing in return, we worry. What if I love someone who rejects me, then what, we ask ourselves. We have forgotten how to simply and openly walk in love; to be like Emerson’s rose. Emerson tells us: These roses under my window make no reference to former roses or to better ones; they are for what they are, they exist with God today. Instead we have been conditioned and have surrender to the ways of the world and that most common of all unhappy makers: judging self by others and others by self.
I have written much on this corruption of our human joy in other materials because nearly everyone is thoroughly indoctrinated to loving conditionally, which is not really loving at all. Indeed, it may be extreme affection, devoted caring and even absolute dedication but Eros, Storge and Phileo while called love are instead emotional attachments, often strong, deeply rooted emotional attachments but attachments nevertheless.
When we are in the “I love you if/I love you when mode” we are loving others, we’ll say, as we love our cars. When they are new and beautiful to us we love them but when the first ding or scratch occurs that love diminishes and when the motor has troubles the love, most generally, goes away completely.
So what exactly is unconditional loving?
Unconditional loving is consistent and unwavering and it consistently reveals itself in acts of love; unconditional love is the good Samarian. Indeed, unconditional love is the helping hand, the word of encouragement, the pat on the back, the kind word and listening ear; it is giving as opposed to being generous because generosity mirrors itself as the giver. Real or true giving is necessarily without strings or conditions, it is, after all, an act of unconditional love. To say, here is a nice gift appreciate it, take care of it, do not let harm come to it, is not a gift at all, it is a symbol of the giver. There’s nothing wrong with this kind of exchange. After all, it is only human to want to have ourselves mirrored in the nice things we do for or give to others. Nevertheless, real giving belongs to real love and therefore is unconditional.
Unconditional love cannot be given, however. While Eros, Storge and Phileo love is always targeted, agape is all encompassing; it simply is!
How does one open up to agape or God’s love?
Recall your childhood self. The little girl or boy that you once were remains with you always. Permit him or her to lead you through your day during which you become mindful of everything because everything, including the grass beneath your feet, is included in the spirit or glow of your presence. Understand, however, that while Eros, Storge and Phileo love the object over there, agape is in a certain oneness with everything, including the silences. And indeed, even the silences are composed of love.
The child processes everything through his or her love like this. That is, to the child nothing is outside him or herself because everything is experience as opposed to image. There is always something in the object that is mirrored from the self, this is why children can tell flowers and trees that they love them, have conversations with their pets, see perfection in the passerby; be spontaneous in their hugging and kissing both statements of unconditional love; of merging consciousness of self with the consciousness of another.
Unconditional love transcends the subject/object world. This was known by the ancient Egyptians who, as said earlier, named love transcendence. While Eros, Storge and Phileo keeps us, if you will, earth bound, unconditional love lifts us from the “bound-age.”
Because most people have forgotten what it is to truly love unconditionally and therefore at peace with the self and the world, unconditional love needs to be summoned up from the psyche through a rekindling of loving without conditions. This can only occur in one way—the individual who yearns to truly love again, to walk and talk in love must choose to love him or herself unconditionally because it is impossible to give what one does not have.
This means to STOP judging yourself, to forgive and let loose of all your regrets and permit yourself to love you unconditionally. Only after you have done this can you truly love the world of others and once again see perfection in the passerby.
*Freud said that when a baby is born it is in a "hating mode." With all Freuds brilliance and insight he missed the mark here. Infants are born with potential to love the entire world and do unless they are neglected or left in pain of some kind.