This emotion called "love" is one of the hardest to understand of all human emotions. One of the main problems is, that in current-day America, we use the English word "love" to mean many different things: "friendship", "sexual attraction", "sexual intercourse", "parental love" (between parent and child), "inter-sibling love" (brotherly, sisterly, or brother/sister), "fraternal love" (as between soldiers on a battlefield or members of a club, lodge, group, or fraternity), "patriotic love" (love of country), "Platonic love" (really the same as "friendship"), "altruistic love" (love of one's fellow humans, in general), "self-love" (self-respect), etc. Whew! That's a lot of different things for one word to mean! But some of these things are really the same, while others are very different from each other.
Specifically, one should refrain from using the word "love" to refer to sexual attraction or sexual intercourse. Throughout this essay (and throughout Midnight Moonlight Madness) I do not use the word "love" to mean "sex". Sex is really something quite different from the other meanings of "love" I listed in the last paragraph.
But most of the other meanings I listed are actually the same emotion, applied to different objects. This basic underlying emotion, "Love" (with a capital "L"), is centered in the human mid-brain, in the so-called Limbic System. Love is the human ability to care about a person, lifeform, or thing. It is Love, the ability to care, that inspires human beings to build, to nurture, to heal, rather than to destroy, to maim, to kill. (These last behaviors are inspired by the emotion of hate.)
To better understand this powerful emotion called "Love", let's look at what various people have said about Love over the years:
- Love is a temple,
Love the higher law.
~~"One", from the album "Achtung Baby"
- The Bible:
- Love is patient, Love is kind. It does not envy,
it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude,
it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight
in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects,
always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Prophecies may go unfulfilled, tongues may cease,
and knowledge may be forgotten,
but Love never fails!
~~Attrib. to the apostle Paul,
1st. Corinthians Ch. 13, v. 4-8
- Tibetan Buddhism:
- All of Buddha's teachings
can be expressed in two sentences:
"You must help others."
"If you can't help, you should not harm others."
--Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama
- The Bible:
- Love your enemies, bless them that curse you,
do good to those who hate you, and pray for those
who despitefully use you and persecute you.
~~Attrib. to Jesus of Nazareth,
- Tibetan Buddhism:
- A truly compassionate attitude toward
others does not change even if they behave
negatively or hurt you.
~~Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama
- Pink Floyd:
- No more turning away
from the weak and the weary
or the coldness inside;
it's just a world that we all must share;
it's not enough to just stand and stare.
Is it only a dream that there will be
no more turning away?
~~"On the Turning Away", by Pink Floyd,
from their album A Momentary Lapse of Reason
Do you notice a common thread here? It is the inter-connectedness of all life, and especially all humanity, which these quotes are driving at. Once you see yourself and another person as truly being parts of a greater whole, it becomes possible to love that person, even if he or she hates you! Once the interconnectedness is felt, a person feels compelled to take the higher spiritual ground and help others, whether friends, enemies, or strangers, not because it is the "right" thing to do, but because one begins to see other people not as totally separate entities, but as fellow parts of a greater whole, and it begins to seem that to treat other people badly, or even just thoughtlessly, hurts one's self as badly as it hurts the other person.
Unfortunately, in a country such as The United States of America, where independence and individualism is greatly valued, it is much more difficult to achieve this sense of interconnectedness. But it is in our best interests to understand this concept, as it is really the only cure for war, poverty, and most of the other problems which beset our society. And the best time in one's life to learn this is in early childhood, before one is set in one's ways. (Much more about this in my web document titled "Children").
Love is one of the two main foundation stones in my personal religious philosophy. (The other is logic.) I see "Love" as being God influencing the behavior of lifeforms, human or otherwise, to do good things. Similarly, I see "hate" as being the devil influencing lifeforms to do evil things. I believe these forces -- Good, Evil, God, Devil, Love, Hate -- to be the same throughout the universe. I believe that if humans visit planets orbiting other stars, they will find the same forces at work there as here. I believe that these forces are manifestations of the basic physical workings of the universe, and hence are more within the purview of physics (especially thermodynamics) than religion. These beliefs are at the core of my own personal religion. (Call it "Hatleyism", if you will).
I believe that Love is the best, greatest, most precious, and most fun thing in the world! I agree with the apostle Paul -- everything else will eventually crumble to dust, but Love never fails!