Love: Too Much or Not Enough?
At times I wonder whether I’m the only person who feels slightly uncomfortable when a complete stranger hugs me and tells me “I love you” at some healing workshop or New Age festival. Or someone I have an online session with has “I love you” as their Skype status. Because surely they don’t really love me? Or am I a cold emotionless Northern European unable to understand warmth and unconditional love?
Can we say “I love you” too much to the point when the phrase becomes meaningless? Or is it always appropriate because everyone wants love — as we’ve been told?
For surely, “love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends”
Am I too arrogant to doubt that all those well-meaning strangers really embody the qualities of love — in relation to me — that St Paul wrote about in this timeless piece?
Perhaps English is not the best language to begin ruminating on the nature and forms of love. In the Greek language, there is a distinction between philia, eros and agape, that is, brotherly love, romantic/erotic love, and unconditional Divine love, respectively.
In English, and many other languages, we have to add qualifiers if we want to specify which form of love we are referring to. In this way, and quite unfortunately, we love pasta, ice cream, our parents, the guy who is the love of our life, everyone who comes to our workshop, and the book we are currently reading.
That’s a lot of love.
But how much of it is real? What meaning do we put into the word “love”? Is it unconditional love? Brotherly love? Romantic love? And what happens if someone wants to hear “I love you” in one sense, but we mean it in another?
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends”
In the famous piece from 1st Corinthians, Paul was speaking about agape, the highest form of love, the love that the Divine has for us and for all the world. This is what we now would call unconditional love.
This piece is often quoted in and out of season at weddings or other romantic occasions, but remember that it was Paul who wrote in the same 1 Corinthians that he who marries “does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better.” The love Paul was referring to was agape specifically, not romantic love (although, if we had asked him, he would have probably said that romantic love should always strive for, and include, agape).
I believe that since the times of Paul, we have evolved, and no longer need to prioritize one form of love to the exclusion of others, but as humans, our call and our lifelong work is to embody, to the degree that is available to us, the divine unconditional love in everything that we do.
The question is, how capable we are of loving unconditionally.
Unconditional love is not abstract nor is it easy. At the soul level, where we already are Divine, we radiate this quality of love. In the higher dimensions, where all is One, we are love, and all is love. In our physical bodies, however, embodying Divine Love is more often than not a lifelong work, and we fail in loving every day.
In a body, the only real way to practice love is though relationships.
Part of the purpose of incarnating in the very dense and difficult 3D is to experience ourselves as individuals. We are a part of the great I AM, experiencing the world through individual eyes, in individual bodies, in limitations of time and space. As difficult as this may be for some of us, this individuation also allows us to express ourselves as Divine Creators of our own experience. But the catch is of course that we experience ourselves as separate, and thus practicing love becomes at times an impossible feat.
Can we honestly say that our love never envies? Is never jealous? Does not insist on our own way? Is not resentful but forgives everything immediately, no matter how great the offense?
And yet there is a level where we are that love already! The more we connect with our soul, and consequently with the Divine I AM presence, the more we realize it in our daily lives. In a way we must accept the paradox of both being love and striving for love, and our work is attaining that perfection which is already ours at higher levels of existence.
Indeed, Paul, who was himself far from perfect in love, seemed to have realized it, because he wrote in the same passage, “for now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
Back to our “I love you”s. Is it appropriate to tell a person that we love them, when we know, deep inside, that our love is not perfect, nor is it really Divine agape that we strive for?
In a way, yes and no. There are times when we are so filled with love, so connected to the universe, that we truly want to scream “I love you!” to the whole world, to the trees and the birds, and the sea, and to everyone we meet on the street. And such moments are pure and holy, and we are truly blessed to experience them, and share them. As we ascend to higher dimensions and are able to hold higher frequencies, these moments become a part of us more and more. Truly, we are able to see face to face.
But I don’t believe we should take this high call lightly. Nor speak of love indiscriminately. In this 3D world, love is a verb. It is not a feeling, nor an intellectual concept. If it is just that, it is fantasy, not love. It may be that it is because I come from a relatively unemotional and unexpressive culture that I am more comfortable with love shown to me in action, not words.
But we all know many great saints and enlightened beings from all over the world, from many different cultures, scattered across time and space, who have shown us perfect love. We know Qwan Yin and Buddha, Jesus and Mother Mary, Mary Magdalene and Isis, we know great saints of India, the saints of Europe and the Americas, and we know there are countless others whose lives and achievements have been hidden from the public eye, and yet they were shining their light through acts of love, big or small, each according to their soul’s calling and their ability.
And I firmly believe the key word here is acts of love. Now, I don’t know whether any of them told everyone they loved them. For some reason, I doubt it. I may be wrong. What I do know is that everyone who came in contact with them felt loved, because of their actions and their energy, which, again, came through because of the cultivation of little acts of love. Now, it may not have always been the kind of love people were expecting from them, but they were surely radiating Divine love through their work, their decisions, their practice, and their whole being.
And they knew well enough not to take love lightly, nor take it for granted.
Yes, we all want love, and we all want to give love. But wouldn’t we rather see people of action rather than words? And maybe we could all use wisdom and discernment, and ask ourselves — how can I embody love today?