Love. The Merriam-webster.com dictionary defines love as “a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person; attraction that includes sexual desire: the strong affection felt by people who have a romantic relationship; and a person you love in a romantic way.” Reading this definition still doesn’t tell me what love is or what it feels like. Defining love is like defining God. It can’t be done; it can only be experienced. Each person experiences love differently; therefore, each person has a different definition of what they think love is.
The ancient Greeks spoke of love in six different categories. The first is Eros love, which is the physical, romantic intimacy between two lovers. Philia is the love of deep friendship and the bond that is developed between people. It is sacrificing for your friends, being loyal, and sharing your emotions. Ludus is the playful love when people are flirting, joking around, dancing, or laughing with friends. Pragma is longstanding love such as the love between a couple who have been together for years. Philautia is love for self, though there is a healthy and unhealthy version. The unhealthy is associated with narcissism and being self-obsessed. The healthy version is one where you have a great capacity to love.
And then there’s Agape, which is selfless love, the love that we extend to all people. C.S. Lewis called it ‘gift love’ or the highest form of Christian love, although it also appears in other religions. Paulo Coelho stated, “Agape is total love, the love that devours those that experience it. Whoever knows and experiences Agape sees that nothing else in this world is of any importance, only loving. This was the love that Jesus felt for humanity, and it was so great that it shook the stars and changed the course of man’s history.”
I didn’t really totally understand Agape love until I lost my little boy (Toy Poodle) several years ago. He was my child and his death absolutely devastated me (as it did with any of my ‘kids’). One night, I was lying in bed so distraught with grief that I just didn’t care about anything anymore. I didn’t care if I left the world that night just so I could be with him. I wasn’t suicidal and wouldn’t have done anything to harm myself; it was just my frame of mind at that moment. Then it came to me. Nothing mattered. Nothing. I saw all the nonsense occurring in the world and I could only ask ‘why?’ Soon, another epiphany... Nothing matters except for the meaning that you give to it. I was able to stand back and see the world like I was watching it on a movie screen. And then the greatest Divine thought came to me. Nothing matters but love…the pure unconditional, perfect love of the All-That-Is, and we are all connected as Divine beings in this play called life. In that moment, I saw it and I felt it. I got it! It helped me see the world in a different light, and that light overcame the darkness. I still grieved and bawled me a river of tears for months to come for my boy, but as far as humanity and our world, I got it!
We’re seeing a lot of hate, bigotry, anger, violence, and ignorance in the world right now; a lot of it is being promoted by the media, politicians, and religious leaders. And that’s sad as it makes it seem so much larger than it is. But there’s something greater brewing! We are now seeing love start to swell in more and more people all over the earth and we’re allowing our Divine light to overcome any darkness in the world! Mainstream media may not be reporting it, but we are seeing it on social media! Countless people are uniting together as one heart filled with unconditional love for all people. We know that united we stand, divided we fall.
We need to learn Agape love, not only for others, but for ourselves! If we really, truly loved ourselves unconditionally, we could never, ever cause any harm to anyone or anything! It’s the love that all our great Spiritual Masters taught us! Love one another, and love your neighbor as yourself!
Ram Dass said, “Unconditional love really exists in each of us. It is part of our deep inner being.” And Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”
Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper June 24, 2016.