Love. Where to start? Such an encompassing word, but so misunderstood in it’s English meaning. This language is so lacking. Where in English, there is only one word for love, the ancient Greeks had 6 words for love depending on what type of love they were talking about.
There is Eros, named after the Greek god of fertility. It represented the idea of sexual passion and desire. Fiery passion! The kind where you lose all control of your emotions. The Greeks actually feared this type of love. They didn’t see losing control as a good thing.
Then there is Philia, or what is known as deep friendship. The Greeks valued this type of love above Eros. It is what causes those on a battlefield to call their comrade-in-arms, brothers. Anyone who has been in the military or any other organization that values loyalty and honor understands this type of love. Brother laying life down for brother (or sisterhood, I believe, falls into this category as well). This is where we get the word for Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love. There is another version of Philia, called Storge, which is the love between a parent and a child. Anyone with a child, knows there is no heart big enough to contain that kind of love. You will do anything for your child.
Next we have Ludus, or what was called playful love. This love was experienced between children. Children would have a certain connection with other childhood friends. This is that type of love. It also encompasses the flirting and teasing you may find with friends, especially when a relationship is new. It may or may not lead to Eros. This isn’t sexual in nature, it is just that, playful. It can be good for a relationship. We all need to lighten up a bit, don’t you think?
Pragma is the fourth type of love. This is a longstanding love. You will find this kind of love among couples who have been together for a very long time. It is all about compromise and working on making a relationship work over time. It shows patience and tolerance in the relationship. Too often people today are addicted to the feeling of ‘falling in love’ and not about what psychoanalyst Erich Fromm called ‘standing in love’. All too often, married couples give up because the marriage is no longer fresh with that new feeling of passion and fire, looking for something new and exciting. Some of our grandparents and great grandparents understood this love. These are the people who stayed together and still had a longstanding love over 50 plus years of marriage. Unfortunately, we live in a ‘throwaway’ society and mindset. Now I am not talking about things like abuse. There is no reason to stay and put oneself and their children in harm’s way.
The last two types of love are the ones I want to focus a bit more on. They are important to the entire human race and where I see us heading into our uncertain future. Especially with what is going on in the first half of 2020 on a global scale.
These types of love go hand in hand. The first is Agape, or a love for everyone, no matter who they are. Complete strangers on the other side of the planet, I dare say, the entire human race. Love for every living thing. This is unconditional love. It is a love that doesn’t expect anything in return. It is genuine in its nature and isn’t something you just decide to do. One must awaken to this love as it comes from all of creation, the Universe, all of existence, some call God. Whatever you call it, it is something that rises up in you from an eternal source which we all Are.
Before I go any further with this explanation, I want to mention the other type of love first. This love ties into being able to function in Agape. That love is Philautia or self-love. Now there are two types of this love. There is the destructive, unhealthy version that comes from narcissism. Where one is so self obsessed with a focus on fame and fortune to the detriment of all others. People making a run on stores to stockpile goods they don’t immediately need so that others will not be able to provide for their families, comes to mind. That is all I will say on that subject. This is an example of the unhealthy type of self-love. We are all better than that. We truly are.
The second healthier version of Philautia is where your capacity of loving oneself enhances the ability to love others with Agape, unconditional love. The wise enlightened master, Yeshua, was recorded as saying the two most important things were to love the ‘God’ that is within you and to love your neighbor (other humans) as you love yourself. If a person can’t love themselves, then how can they love one another? It isn’t possible. Every life is precious, even our own. If you honor your own life, then how much more can you honor others’ lives?
We all, as human beings, have the capacity to love in this way. May we all search deep within ourselves to find that depth of love and compassion for all beings on this planet. With what we are going through in 2020 with this pandemic, we need this love and compassion more than ever if we are going to survive as a species on this planet.
Be better and be well. Love and Light.
Glenn M Ryan