Well, here we are in February and many people are celebrating St. Valentines. It is a good time to think about love and relationships to put a bit of warmth in our lives after a long winter.
Today, I would like to look at what love is. The English language only has one word for love and it is used interchangeably for almost everything. We can say I love my husband and I love Chocolate.
Both are using the same word and it is only by the context that we can ascertain the difference. The Greeks, on the other hand, have four different words to describe love. Each word gives a different nuance to the word that helps us understand more fully what is being spoken of.
I want to look with you at the four Greek words for love.
The first type of love we are all familiar with. Our English word Erotica is derived from this word. Sadly, some people never get passed this type of love and base their relationships purely on sexual attraction. This is the type of love that merchandisers tend to play on with the public trying to get us to buy their products to make us more attractive to the opposite sex. Unfortunately, aromatherapy is being misrepresented by these same people also to traffic their products. You would be surprised to see how many products are being offered specifically to attract the opposite sex using aroma.
Studies have been done trying to prove the theory of attraction through Pheromones based on animal instincts. I personally feel that attraction of a life partner is much more than the basis of his/her smell. In fact, it was impossible for me to fall in love with my fiancé based on smell as we met through ICQ on the Internet. It was impossible for smell to play any part in our meeting. Our relationship was based on character and friendship which later developed into love. You can say we met each other and we just clicked ;-) (pun intended)
So, the point is that erotic love is not a deep meaningful love but superficial and based on sexual attractiveness only.
This type of love is what we find in families between the different members. It is the love of mother, father, brothers and sisters. This is a much stronger type of love and involves commitment. “Blood is thicker than water” and most people will do all they can to stand behind their families.
This type of love is pertaining to what we might call a brotherly love. Not brotherly in the sense of family, but in the sense of kinsmenship. This is the type of love that makes us want to help the little old lady cross the street safely and watch out for our fellow man. It is a good type of love and helps us to see others as needing our love but, sadly, it can often also be a selfish love. Many people only show love to others if they can get something out of it. Thankfully, most people love out of pure motives.
The fourth type of love is called Agape love. This is the highest form of love there is. This is an unconditional love for others in spite of their character flaws and weaknesses. It is a difficult love to obtain simply because we, as humans, are usually concerned more with ourselves and how the world and people around us affect us. In order to love in the agape way, we must overcome our selfishness and look to the needs of others. Prime examples of this type of love are people like Mother Theresa, Cardinal Leger etc. These are people who look out for others interests above their own. It is a special kind of love that needs to be cultivated for it to grow. We can only achieve this type of unselfish loving as we put the needs of others as a priority.
Without getting religious here, I just want to tell you there is a verse from the Bible that fits well with this concept. It is called the Golden Rule. Luke 10:27, says “Love your neighbour as yourself” and "Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." -Matthew 7:12 . All relgions of the world share in this same philosophy.
One thing that stuck out to me as I read these is that it says to love your neighbor as yourself. Sadly, many people in this day and age, don’t love themselves. If you don’t love yourself how can you love others? Unconditional love needs to start with you. You must learn to accept the fact that you are a special and unique person. Yes you have flaws, we are all human, but these flaws do not make you less of a person. Learn to love yourself in spite of your shortcomings and accept yourself for who you are. As you love yourself you will find it easier to love others.
The second thing that stands out is that the Golden rule says to do what you want others to do to you. This is not the same as “Don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to you.” It is not a position of avoiding doing evil or harming others but an actual DOING of something for others. This requires action on your part. It says “DO unto others”. It is when we realize that we reap the rewards of love as we involve ourselves in the lives of others, making their lives easier and more pleasant, as we would want our own lives to be.
Enjoy the month of Love and remember always to love yourself and to DO something for someone each day.