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Life Arts

Ruminations on Four Types of Love

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The ideal love, I suppose, is the love of strangers. It's also known as compassion, loving-kindness, or agape love.

Strong feelings of love for humanity in general, or for strangers, come for me only under the influence of hormones or, more rarely, spiritual upliftment.

I find myself yearning for spiritual connection, since that's the best way I know of to find peace and joy and wholeness. A selfish motivation perhaps. But if you don't feel good about yourself, it's very hard to help others. The goal seems to be clear the mind and emotions of impediments and then reach a natural serenity that opens up into higher states of consciousness. I don't know how to achieve those states. Perhaps it requires moral cleansing. Maybe only unselfish people can be clear-headed enough to be truly happy: selfish people will close themselves off to real joy.

Apparently psilocybin opens minds and hearts: click here . Never tried it. If you did, I'd like to hear about your experiences.

4. Toxic Love and Doubts about Love

Love isn't all good. There's love of money and love of power and love of booze and love of fame and love of being loved and love of feeling good.

There's also unhealthy romantic love, such as love of abusive partners.

For many people, love is a drug. They want to love in order that they can be happy. They love the feeling of love.

Similarly, hatred isn't all bad. There's hatred of injustice and war.

Are some people so selfish that they don't care enough to love or to hate?

I suppose we can't escape trying to be happy, and it's a relief to admit that. I don't want to sound like Ayn Rand or other libertarians who extol the virtue of selfishness. But I can see the truth in the attitude that says: let's be honest with ourselves. Most of us look out for number one and for our offspring, and it's perverse and dishonest to pretend otherwise.

It's wise not to be overly sentimental and mawkish about love. Life is a game. Nietzsche pointed out that love can be a consolation prize and a cop-out: people who are too incompetent or lazy to succeed at school, at business, or in other areas of life often try to escape their misery by helping others. I suppose there's nothing wrong with that, but it seems inauthentic and weak. Authenticity and truth seem, ultimately, more important than love.

"The truth is what is; what should be is a dirty lie." -- Lenny Bruce

If people want to love in order that they can be happy (or so they can get a reward like eternal live in heaven), then that motivation for love is selfish.

It's sometimes hard to believe in love. Sometimes I wonder if I'm capable of real love. I can have feelings of love towards others, and sometimes actually act om them. But the proof is in actions, not words or feelings. I don't donate to charity as much as I should. I don't volunteer enough. I worry too much about money. I find myself choosing to stay distant from people.

Many people are isolated and relatively friendless. Some people have just their partners and family, and often they fight with them. Romantic love can be a trap and a prison that cuts you off from others.

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DFA organizer, Democratic Precinct Committee Officer, writer, and programmer. My op-ed pieces have appeared in the Seattle Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and elsewhere. See and for my writing, my (more...)
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My hubby and I have been together for 30 some year... by patricia win on Saturday, May 1, 2010 at 5:13:25 PM