“Love: (As defined by Wikipedia) is the emotion of strong affection and personal attachment. In philosophical context, love is a virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection. In religious context, love is not just a virtue, but the basis for all being, and the foundation for all divine law.
The word love can refer to a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes, ranging from generic pleasure (“I loved that meal”) to intense interpersonal attraction (“I love my wife”). “Love” can also refer specifically to the passionate desire and intimacy of romantic love, to the sexual love of eros (cf. Greek words for love), to the emotional closeness of familial love, or to the platonic love that defines friendship,to the profound oneness or devotion of religious love.This diversity of uses and meanings, combined with the complexity of the feelings involved, makes love unusually difficult to consistently define, even compared to other emotional states.”
Each person has their own definition, weight, view, guidelines and context for love. As illustrated in the above definition, the meaning and usage can vary from a mere generic expression of pleasure to the most intense and passionate declaration of emotional connection.
How can we have one single word that encompasses such a breadth of emotional states?
One could argue that this emotion is so abstract and dynamic that it is impossible to pinpoint; however, those who have loved purely and to their core know without question that it is as real and tangible as anything else in our perceived reality.
What I found most interesting in the definition, and have struggled with in my personal recognition of love, is the range of purity represented within this emotion.
Some people are quick to love and just as quick to let the love fade, thus often granting the emotion less weight. Others tend to be very frugal and guarded with their emotion in fear of getting hurt. These perspectives on love share a common thread of conditional and self-serving interests.
There are certain emotional states that masquerade as love, and probably have an element of love within, however are hindered and tainted beyond recognition by conditional variables: love grounded by attachment and by lust. Both selfish and swaying on conditions… and both a recipe for inescapable pain and suffering; which, then, completely negates the whole purpose for loving.
That being said, the purest form of love thus would be completely altruistic, unconditional, and pervasive. As idealistic and unrealistic as that foundation may sound, this quality and purity rushes into one’s being the moment eye contact is made with their newborn child. I know from experience that I never experienced pure love until the day I gave birth to my first son.
I finally understood that love has nothing to do with reciprocation, gratification, and limitations. I began to reevaluate my existing relationships using this new found realization as a benchmark. This included relationships with my husband, parents, extended family, friends, pet…. and every person I encounter along my path.
My goal: If I was going to love, I was going to love purely and completely.
As I examined and assessed, I found that the greatest factor was acceptance – an open acceptance of oneself and others.
From these realizations, an amazing occurrence then began to take shape – my love began to grow and expand. The fear associated with being hurt, being disappointed, of loss and vulnerability diminished. The foundation to this emotion shifted to a sublime and passionate appreciation for these beings in their own dynamic and unique state, completely independent of other factors, perceptions or projections from me.
So, my job as the person radiating the love, is to compassionately understand them, do everything in my power to end their suffering, and to be an aid in their pursuit of happiness. There is absolutely no room for fear or pain in this equation for without imposed requirements, expectations, judgment, and need for reciprocation, one is free to love in the purest form.
This is how I love my children, family, friends, and is my ongoing practice for every other being I encounter. And, as stated so succinctly in the above definition, it truly is ‘the basis for all being.’
May we all pervasively radiate in altruistic love, free from the constraints of conditions and limitations, and open to all beings on the basis of absolute acceptance, genuine compassion and the pursuit of complete understanding.