I once was looking for good words to describe love in more subtlety than we tend to do in English – to try to express the different types of love – the love of a mother is different to the loyal love that a dog will express to you, and the love for your romantic partner is quite different again, and then there is divine love… So I looked at the words for love in sanskrita, and it was completely overwhelming – I found over a hundred different words for all the different subtle expressions of love. This is great, but not something that I will ever be able to make use of, so I turned to greek – they at least limited their definition of different types of love down to 7 or 8. But the important point is that we need to recognise these differences. It is not really useful to discuss love without defining what we are talking about – love is so all encompassing, so present everywhere in every thing that we do that it is difficult to say what is not love. It would seem obvious that war is not an expression of love, but what is it that moves a person to fight for their country if not love of country? Aggression and abuse would seem to be the opposite of love, but they are so prevalent in exactly the situations where people feel that love is appropriate – in close families – that there must be some link. At the other end of the spectrum the mystics who sit and do nothing and can smile at the world’s problems are also experiencing a kind of love. In the end I believe that all our actions are motivated by a kind of love – the various expressions coming about through the different types of love, or perhaps the different directions that love is directed. Much of what we think of as not love would be rather love of something else – if one focuses exclusively on the wellbeing of their own family then one can be quite harsh to everyone else etc. And so this leads to the obvious conclusion that what makes a difference here – what makes us more loving, and good people, is not the quantity of love, but its scope – how big a circle do we draw around ourselves inside which we love, and how large is the rest of the world where we choose not to diret our love? Where do you draw the line? What do you love? and what do you not?
As we grow personally we expand that circle of love and learn to connect and care about more and more of the world. This is a process that can be continued unto infinity, expanding and exanding until love becomes our world. I believe this is what the mystics, and spiritual teachers are referring to when they say that love is so important for us, to open to love etc. Allow that love to expand and fill your world, and in the process the love changes flavour. We go through a series of stages very similar to what we discussed previously about the different kinds of connectedness and disconnectedness. People begin with a kind of love that is very selfish, they expand to care about the people around themselves, and goodness, and it becomes generous, and noble, but less focused on themselves and their personal needs. Then the expansion happens again and they start to love the world around, and understanding it, the truth of the physical manifest world. This kind of love of truth is a rational intelligent way of looking at things, that may sometimes seem dry, lacking in warmth, but there is plenty of love and warmth it is just focused less on people and relationships, and more on things. As people expand their love further it encompasses more depths inside ourselves, and the animals and life around us, and becomes very compassionate, and interested in the emotional side of the world, and this then leads to the next step where the focus is on the whole pattern of relationships and connections, and not on any one individual which can be less earnest, but more peaceful. And then when people open up to the love of the universe, to the love that flows everywhere they experience ecstatic states of joy and divine romance, but the one that interests me the most, and the one that I think is very important for us as a society and as individuals is to learn to expand beyond the universe – beyond limitations to experience the infinite flow of love that is everywhere and in everything. This great expansion of love is known as Agape – it is not just ‘unconditional love’ but rather the essence of love that underlies all other expressions of love – it is this love that is the building block of the universe. Nothing exists that is not made of this infinite cosmic energy. (Sorry for making such a big claim without evidence to back it up, but to one whose eyes are opened to the experience of oneness and Agape this truth is patently obvious. All great mystics should be able to tell you this, because they experience this truth in every moment. Some things cannot be proved by logical argument, but can only be experienced directly. For example how do you know that the leaves on the tree are green? Only because you see them, some of our knowledge must be based on this direct perception.)