Love Unconditionally

By Ron Esposito - June 2012

One of the dictionary definitions of love is: A deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from kinship, recognition of attractive qualities or a sense of underlying oneness.

The ancient Greeks in their study of love came up with a number of descriptions and concepts about types of love.  Some of the Greek words for types of love are: agape, eros, philia and storge.  Love arising from kinship is storge (natural affection like that felt by parents for their children or a descriptor of family relationships).  Philia describes a form of love in the recognition of attractive qualities through friendship and virtue.

Eros is passionate love with sensual desire and longing.  It does not have to be sexual but can include this aspect.  At its core I feel that erotic love ultimately is about seeking union and transcendence.  There is a body of philosophy and literature that examines the spiritual and physical aspects of eros in this regard.  Sex and relationship addiction can be a pathological and dysfunctional form of eros though it can be argued that addiction is not love but more akin to obsession and compulsivity.  Erotic love has captured artists and writers for thousands of years celebrating this integral aspect of being human.

Agape is unconditional love with no qualifications or contingencies.  God’s love for creation is agape.  This kind of love is a choice not dependent on other’s actions.  Loving unconditionally is about where one is in consciousness.  This can be hard when we don’t have an experience of being loved that way ourselves.  Like a muscle, agape can be strengthened through the practice of loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity.  Possessiveness, jealousy, fear, expectation, clinging, neediness, control and codependent behavior are impediments to agape and are expressions of bondage and limitation.  (Check out Claudio Naranjo’s writing on the “ills of love” for a deeper dive).

When all is said and done we are made to love one another…love thy neighbor as thy self.  Love for others begins with self-love and self-love begins with self-acceptance.  What we reject in others is what we are rejecting in ourselves.  Each one of us is acceptable, worthy and lovable because of incarnation.  Acceptance of ourselves allows us to accept others more fully.  Through agape love we realize that we are one.

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