Welcome to stren #55. This stren provides an exploration of love. The more you understand about love, the easier it will be to strengthen your love creation skills. A side benefit is that you will learn how to become your own best friend. The testimonial of others, personal experience, and observation verify the importance of love to a fulfilling life.
This and the next four strens offer directions in growing your ability to create love and the highest form of love – forgiveness. We lack disciplined teaching programs that offer these skills. Do you agree? This is an attempt to fill this void.
You probably know one or more persons who have a great capacity to express love, and you can think of others who have a great capacity to be hateful. The energy that goes into producing love or hate can be under our direct control. We can have an immense say in the degree we love and hate, and in what form we choose to express our self – how much, how many, and how long.
Many people whom I have asked to express what love is, respond by saying they don’t know how to describe it but they “know what it is.” The disciplined teaching and learning of a skill requires identification: “Learning starts with labeling.” Let’s begin by attempting to assigning meaning to what we will call “love.” What we call “making love” is often better described as “making sex” or “infatuation.”
We’ll distinguish 3 types of actions that are commonly labeled “love.”
1. Erotic Love, Eros: Erotic love is an intense sexual desire for another person. Our genes pre-program each of us to fuck to insure procreation. Little or no instruction is needed. Instinct equips us with an action so compelling that we are willing to put ourselves in great danger for a very brief pleasure. This is especially observed in animals. We can understand why; sex is essential for the survival of any species. Erotic love is very non-discriminating in that the stimulation leading to a pleasurable response may be from multiple sources including our self. Nature manages to keep our sexual interest dormant for over a decade until puberty, brings it forth with overwhelming intensity, and then it retreats in later life.
2. Parental Love: The “filial” love we have as a parent. Parental caring is, like sexual attractiveness, biologically motivated; it may be turned “on” or “off” in higher species by a hormone. In creatures with a long period of dependence, such as ourselves, the love of a parent for a child is also learned from our nurturer role models. The dominance of estrogenic hormones suggests why females excel in nurturance while androgenic hormones explain why competitive aggression is more characteristic of males. Here is a classic example, though, where nature is “both...and,” not simply “either/or” –each sex has both types of hormones, but usually in different proportions.
3. Mature Love: The third type of love is “intense, affectionate concern for another person” gifted without contingency. Mature love is energy and attention we our self create for the benefit of someone (including our self!) or something beyond ourselves. It adds to what our nature and nurture provides. My dictionary adds a second definition: “the benevolence, kindness, or brotherhood that man should rightfully feel toward others.” I would prefer to change “should feel” to “would wisely” feel toward others. I consider love and forgiveness acts of free will, rather than a “should” imposed on me by some authority.
Of these three sources of love – nature, nurture, and our self, this stren focuses on the “mature love” we our self create. Love is not limited in quantity; you can make a little, a lot, or virtually none. A parent with eight children is not restricted to giving 1/8th of the love that a one-child parent can offer to each child. Indeed, each of those eight children might receive more love than an only child. Likewise, you may love (and/or hate) an “other,” many “others,” and you may love your self. Giving love to one person doesn’t mean you love another any less.
Mature love is a willing gift – you have great freedom to generate love and decide where and how you direct it. Your loving may be short or long-lived. Your loving may continue, cease, increase, or decrease, in the same manner a factory may increase, decrease, or cease production; and like the factory, you may even change what it is producing. Indeed, these strens on love propose that you review all of the products coming from your energy factory and increase your loving capacity.
What thoughts do you hold about love? How do your views agree and differ? Most religions and ethical programs teach to love your neighbor as yourself. What does this mean to you? I prefer the wording: “Learn to love yourself so you have love in abundance to give to others.” It is quite difficult to give away what we don’t have. Mature love is created in our cerebral cortex when we free our will to act with common sense and intention; we create symbols that magically transform natural energy to the energy of love that we can gift to others. A valentine’s card that featured our cerebral cortex would be more appropriate than one with a heart.
Qualities of a lover:
Pure love requires the maturity to enjoy giving without strings. There is satisfaction in the act of giving even when love is not returned. The gift of love is a complete act in itself. The lover has learned to love him/her self and is skillfully self-endorsing. When you fill your cup and it overflows, you then have the greatest capacity to give. The person who gives with an unfilled cup often resents the receiver when their response is less than expected or hoped for. The love-maker skillfully uses energy to enrich others, and the world we share...and experiences joy in so doing. He/she has become aware of his/her natural tendency to blame, and redirects this energy in a positive direction.
The lover may have very limited or immense capacity. Most religions and cultures have examples of infinite lovers, for example, Jesus. While some strive to be an infinite lover, reality suggests that doing your “reasonable best” is a practical, attainable goal. To me, this means allocating an appropriate amount of our energy to continued growth of our love creation capacity and being humble enough to accept our human limitations and fallibility.
In my observation, many people create and feel their love but have great difficulty expressing it. It is as though we have a rationed quantity of love and store it for when we really need it. The words “I love you” are rarely expressed. Instead, we devise really obtuse ways to express love in a manner that won’t hurt if the loved one doesn’t “properly” receive our love. In a recent popular sitcom, Raymond is asked by his wife why he never says “I love you.” Though he quite obviously does, he chokes on the word and finally says, “I show you with my eyes.”
While the mature lover derives joy in the act of giving love and isn’t giving merely to get, the capacity to receive love is also a most worthy quality of mature love. Recognize that the loved person’s acceptance and acknowledgment of the love offered by another is itself an act of love; it does enrich the satisfaction of even the most experienced lover ... AND is immeasurably encouraging to the novice lover in their tender and often clumsy attempts to grow their skill in love creation. Maintaining unconditional love is a very advanced skill that few attain; thus, the gracious acceptance of the giver’s gift is your gift. I have observed many people who become quite good lovers but have little capacity to graciously accept love. I have heard the proposal that we create a marvelous life if we develop four qualities: giving love, appropriately expressing anger, accepting love, and appropriately receiving anger.
Do you agree with the above description of love? What would you add? Subtract? How do you assess your own love creation skills? Write down your idea of love-making. Share this stren with another person who would be willing to discuss it with you. Express your thoughts. The goal is for you to examine your own view of love and be able to put it into words.