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Four Types of Love

The evolution of agape love-creation by Donald Pet, M.D.


Love, like hate, can be the source of both constructive and destructive action.  For example, love of a flag or religion has been one reason our history is defined by its series of wars.  Hating injustice has been the source of energy to elevate us above animals and to inspire humane values such as forgiveness and freedom from physical and mental slavery.

  Love evolves in form and function in tandem with progress from simplicity to complexity.  The ability to distinguish between four types of love enables us to direct this powerful energy to beneficial outcomes.         

Assigning labels that clarify the meaning of different expressions of the same phenomena can dramatically advance our wise application of energy.  This insight will become apparent once you can distinguish four expressions of love-energy: erotic, filial, tribal, and agape (universal unconditional) love.  

General definitions:

  1. Energy is power that may be directed to both constructive and destructive outcomes.
  2. Love is energy directed for the benefit of someone or something.
  3. Hate is energy directed  to the detriment of someone or something
  4. Mental freedom (self-mastery) from the authority of fate and circumstance (nature and our nurturers) is the power to choose among existing alternatives and those of our own creation.
  5. Stupidity is repeating solutions that worked for yesterday’s problems to solve today’s challenges when we have new knowledge that applies to today’s issues.
  6. Wisdom is using today’s knowledge to create out-of-the-box solutions to new and old problems.    

Erotic love:  This is the most primitive form of love-energy.  The survival of any species begins with its ability to procreate.  Nature’s command to procreate is reinforced by innate drive and intense immediate pleasure.  Erotic love is directed to a personal intimate relationship.  Males of many species will fight to assert dominance for personal benefit, often for harem rights.  As for females, bonding with an alpha male provides protection to nurture offspring to maturity. 

Filial love:  A parent’s love for their progeny is necessary in complex species where sufficient nurturing to maturity is required for survival.  The child quickly learns to attach to the source that provides protection.  In complex species such as our own, nature has equipped the female with physical features and instinct to sustain the nurturance of progeny to reproductive age.  She will fiercely protect her children to maturity.  The male is equipped with strength and instinct to protect the family including securing food.  He is prewired to aggressively “sow his seed.”  

Tribal love: As evolution moves forward, individuals relate to families; families relate to tribes; tribes to societies; and so on.  Groups devise symbols of unity such as a flag, a religion, and an assumptive worldview.  Each individual is taught the language of their tribe, what allegiances are appropriate, and who is to be regarded as subservient, harmful, and to be feared.  Love-energy directed for the benefit of one’s own symbols will commonly disregard the well-being of anyone or anything not subscribing to the favored symbols.  Bigotry, prejudice, jealousy, and physical confrontation are included in the adaptive qualities of tribal love.   

Agape love: Unconditional love is self-fulfilling in the giving of it, a complete act in itself.  It is not giving to get.  As progress in technology connects the world, common sense tells us we must transcend the tribal love that divides the world into us and them.  As we apply wisdom to our expanding knowledge of the universal law of cause and effect, we discover the need to add unconditional universal love.   Otherwise, surviving and thriving in this new era, when each tribe possesses weapons with ultimate destructive power, is implausible. 

            What I find remarkable about the universal law of cause and effect is that it does not change with evolution; rather, common sense solutions change to adapt to our stage of evolution.  Simple life, innately prepared to survive at birth, required no nurturing.  Species with increasing complexity require the support of filial love.  In the savage environment of animals and our primitive ancestors, tribal love, advocating survival of the fittest through win/lose harmful confrontation, worked.  Equipped with a freedom organ and sophisticated language, modern humanmind makes us powerful creators and destroyers, connects the world through our technology, and strives to become more civilized.  Agape love, advocating cooperation for mutual benefit, is now essential for survival.   

Great leaps of faith based on authority, unsubstantiated by common sense, often lead to  false conclusions.  Dogma is being increasingly challenged as science enlightens us to the universal law of cause and effect that applies to all life.  Science makes us aware that our similarities and oneness far exceed our superficial differences.  We recognize we are related, brothers and sisters. We see the need to unconditionally love our neighbor as we unconditionally love our children.  Common sense knowledge furthers our moral and spiritual values.  

  Nature’s laws do not discriminate.  Because common sense is available to everyone, multiple tribes independently discover similar universal moral values.  The two most common are “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and “Treat others as you would have them treat you.”  However, we neglect common sense mental-spiritual values because our everyday language has yet to be updated to reflect our oneness, to convey or similarities above our superficial differences.   Common sense is not yet common.  Tribal love will continue to divide the world into us and them until we add newer symbols whose meanings reflect common sense, word-meanings that are adaptive to our progress in evolution.  Wise use of our power requires labels that accurately reflect the universal laws of cause and effect.    

As we evolve to higher levels, complexity introduces new challenges which must be solved using new knowledge.  The earlier forms of love, adaptive when they have been prescribed for us, often become inadequate, even dangerous.  We are advancing rapidly in discovering and applying common sense to physical phenomena; we are lagging in discovering and applying common sense to mental-spiritual (non-physical) phenomena.   It is our mission to make common sense common. 

Here are important lessons to keep in mind as we understand the evolutionary process:


1.      Eros, filial, and tribal love are the default expressions of our love-energy.  They are hard-wired into us by fate and circumstance, nature and our nurturers, before we are capable of resisting authority.  Each form of love expression advocates for one’s self, family, and tribe, often to the peril of “not our tribe.”  The command, Survival of one’s kind is very powerful! 


2.      Agape love may be acquired during our formative years through (a) imitation if we have exceptional role models and, (b) education in the skills of unconditional love.  Education strengthens self-mastery more than imitation because it provides greater understanding.  Jesus is one highly recognized role model of agape universal love.  Those who follow his example are far fewer than the majority population who emphasize tribal love – allegiance to one’s self, family, personal flag, religion, and assumptive worldview.  Our world will continue to be characterized by conflict above cooperation, egotism above altruism, until we teach unconditional love, beginning with our self.


3.      With maturity, we may teach our self agape-love.  Loving our neighbor as our self requires that we create unconditional love in such abundance that it overflows to enrich the world.  The secret of love-creation is education in self-endorsement! Sadly, traditional education not only overlooks self-endorsement skills, it even admonishes them.  Self-putdowns are more a part of our education than self pull-ups.  Most people fail to develop their own love-creation ability and stay stuck in their childlike dependence on others for love and approval.   


4.      Evolution does not replace earlier expressions of love with newer ones; it adds sophistication to those previously established.  Eros, filial, and tribal love each continue to serve important functions.  Our mission, if we choose to elevate our species above the animals, is to recognize the importance of universal unconditional love and make it the guiding force to balance our creative energy.


5.      Given the rapid discovery and proliferation of weapons with ultimate destructive power, we will remain on a course to self-annihilation until we transcend tribal love-energy by popularizing agape love.  We have the initial curriculum and the technological means to rapidly educate our global family in a newer way of thinking at little cost.  We only need to wake up our will to the opportunity and danger that evolution has now put directly in our face.  “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” … Margaret Mead   Social entrepreneurs, united, will be unstoppable.         

Our kind has become rulers on earth, “King of the Beasts,” because the prime creative force (what some call nature, others call God) has gifted us its most powerful brain.  What most people identify as the cerebral cortex, I prefer to call our freedom organ because this name better describes its function.  Unlike our five senses that are designed to recognize superficial differences within our immediate environment, imagination empowers us to “see” non-physical reality – ideasand concepts, values and spirituality.  Our freedom organ creates symbols and manipulates them to imagine multiple alternatives.  Mental power then directs energy to our preferred outcome.  We discover and pass forward knowledge of our creator’s universal laws of cause and effect, thus making ourselves ever more powerful creators and destroyers.  No other species partners with nature and nurture (fate and circumstance) as we do to determine our destiny.       

Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit priest and paleontologist, was an early rebel from tradition when he accepted the idea of evolution.  From his scientific study of bones, he concluded that humankind was evolving in the image of God.  We are now an active partner with nature and our nurturers, responsible for ourselves and what is around us.  We best identify ourselves as humane becomings, not human beings 

Barbara Marx Hubbard was nominated for the position of U.S. Vice-President in 1984 advocating a peace platform; the winning nominee was Geraldine Ferraro.  Barbara has persistently pioneered the concept, “evolution by choice, not chance,” and asks “How can we best use our new powers for good?”  To date, over 4000 people have taken her Agents of Conscious Evolution (ACE) course and thousands more have aligned with her teachings to become ACEs.  

Globally, we are awakening our consciousness to the idea that the prime creative forcehas provided us the opportunity and the danger to determine our own destiny AND we have the mental freedom to direct our energy wisely or stupidly, for our benefit or harm.  We currently do both.  With the rapid spread of new weapons with ultimate destructive power that offer no second chance, we can no longer tolerate the traditional means of resolving conflict, war.  We can remain part of the problem or become a force for the solution.  What is your choice? 

I am passionate to popularize a newer way of thinking for the benefit of my seven grandchildren and other loved ones.  If you have a similar passion for your loved ones, go to and begin by listening to Brad Shepard’s brief self-endorsement recordings to add joy and wisdom to your life’s experience.  You will love passing them forward to become an each one, teach many force for world peace and agape love-creation. 

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