The Power of Love

This being the month of hearts!, it is no surprise that the Universe has conspired to pop into my email today two messages that jumped right out at from Plum Village – A Buddhist foundation reiterating Dr. Martin Luther King’s own words on the Power of Love. An excerpt follows:

“I’m concerned about a better World. I’m concerned about justice; I’m concerned about brotherhood and sisterhood; I’m concerned about truth. And when one is concerned about that, he can never advocate violence. For through violence you may murder a murderer, but you can’t murder murder. Through violence you may murder a liar, but you can’t establish truth. Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can’t murder hate through violence. Darkness cannot put out darkness; only light can do that.

And I say to you, I have also decided to stick with love, for I know that love is ultimately the only answer to humankind’s problems. And I’m going to talk about it everywhere I go. I know it isn’t popular to talk about it in some circles today. And I’m not talking about emotional bosh when I talk about love; I’m talking about a strong, demanding love. For I have seen too much hate. […] and I say to myself that hate is too great a burden to bear. I have decided to love. If you are seeking the highest good, I think you can find it through love. And the beautiful thing is that we aren’t moving wrong when we do it, because John was right, God is love. He who hates does not know God, but he who loves has the key that unlocks the door to the meaning of ultimate reality. And so I say to you today, my friends, that you may be able to speak with the tongues of men and angels; you may have the eloquence of articulate speech; but if you have not love, it means nothing.

Yes, you may have the gift of prophecy; you may have the gift of scientific prediction and understand the behavior of molecules; you may break into the storehouse of nature and bring forth many new insights; yes, you may ascend to the heights of academic achievement so that you have all knowledge; and you may boast of your great institutions of learning and the boundless extent of your degrees; but if you have not love, all of these mean absolutely nothing. You may even give your goods to feed the poor; you may bestow great gifts to charity; and you may tower high in philanthropy; but if you have not love, your charity means nothing. You may even give your body to be burned and die the death of a martyr, and your spilt blood may be a symbol of honor for generations yet unborn, and thousands may praise you as one of history’s greatest heroes; but if you have not love, your blood was spilt in vain. What I’m trying to get you to see this morning is that a man may be self-­-centered in his self-­-denial and self-­-righteous in his self-­-sacrifice. His generosity may feed his ego, and his piety may feed his pride. So without love, benevolence becomes egotism, and martyrdom becomes spiritual pride.”

Then....the second email....from my own teacher of yoga, Erich Schiffmann, a very sweet video entitled ‘We are the current yogis on the planet!’ We are the ones to spread the word...NOW...and off course, his message to us is all about love and peace. Please click the link below to see the short – and very beautiful video:

I began to think about love. And it seems I am not the only one thinking about it....or Googllng it! In 2012, ‘What is Love?’ was the most Googled question! So, what is love anyway? Depends on to whom you pose the question. A physicist will explain that love is chemistry. A powerful neurological condition like hunger or thirst, only more permanent.

The philosopher would say that love is a passionate commitment. That love is not one thing. Love for parents, partner, children, country, neighbour, God and so on all have different qualities...

The romanticist would say that love is where you are in relation to it. If you are in it, it can feel as mundane and necessary as air, that you exist within it, almost unnoticing. But, deprived of it, it can feel like an obsession; all consuming, a physical pain........

A nun would say love frees us yet binds us.......that love is more easily experienced than defined.

My favourite follows: The psychotherapist – Philippa Perry (author of Couch Fiction) “Unlike us, the ancients did not lump all the various emotions that we label "love" under the one word. They had several variations, including:

Philia which they saw as a deep but usually non-­-sexual intimacy between close friends and family members or as a deep bond forged by soldiers as they fought alongside each other in battle.

Ludus describes a more playful affection found in fooling around or flirting.

Pragma is the mature love that develops over a long period of time between long-­-term couples and involves actively practising goodwill, commitment, compromise and understanding.

Agape is a more generalised love, it's not about exclusivity but about love for all of humanity.

Philautia is self love, which isn't as selfish as it sounds. As Aristotle discovered and as any psychotherapist will tell you, in order to care for others you need to be able to care about yourself. Last, and probably least even though it causes the most trouble, eros is about sexual passion and desire. Unless it morphs into philia and/or pragma, eros will burn itself out.”

Love is all of the above. But is it possibly unrealistic to expect to experience all six types with only one person? This is why family and community are important.

What do YOU think Love is? Do you love someone? Do you love some thing? Does someone love you? If so, have you told that someone that you love them recently? Have you lost someone you love? That pain in your heart – that’s love, too. The hurt lessens over time, but the love remains.

The quality of our lives will always be determined by the quality of the relationships that we have in it. Especially the relationship that you have with yourself. And just thinking......... today as I read the post that Erich Schiffmann made today.

In his class in Venice, California, he was talking about love, and that he senses that love is the power to stay present. It is an interesting concept to contemplate. It is not possible to love in the past, nor in the future. But love is always happening where we are, and love is what it takes to be present. Hmmmm.