Welcome to stren #55.  This stren provides an exploration of love.  The more you understand about love, the easier it will be to strengthen your love creation skills.  A side benefit is that you will learn how to become your own best friend.  The testimonial of others, personal experience, and observation verify the importance of love to a fulfilling life.  This and the next four strens offer directions in growing your ability to create love and the highest form of love – forgiveness.  We lack disciplined teaching programs that offer these skills.  Do you agree?  This is an attempt to fill this void. 

     You probably know one or more person who has a great capacity to express love, and you can think of others who have a great capacity to be hateful.  The energy that goes into producing love or hate can be under our direct control.  We can have an immense say in the degree we love and hate, and in what form we choose to express our self – how much, how many, and how long.

On love:
     Many people whom I have asked to express what love is, respond by saying they don’t know how to describe it but they “know what it is.”  The disciplined teaching and learning of a skill requires identification: “Learning starts with labeling.”  Let’s begin by attempting to assigning meaning to what we will call “love.”  What we call “making love” is often better described as “making sex” or “infatuation.”

We’ll distinguish 3 types of actions that are commonly labeled “love.”

1.    Erotic Love, Eros: Erotic love is an intense sexual desire for another person.  Our genes pre-program each of us to fuck to insure procreation.  Little or no instruction is needed.  Instinct equips us with an action so compelling that we are willing to put ourselves in great danger for a very brief pleasure.  This is especially observed in animals.  We can understand why; sex is essential for the survival of any species.  Erotic love is very non-discriminating in that the stimulation leading to a pleasurable response may be from multiple sources including our self.  Nature manages to keep our sexual interest dormant for over a decade until puberty, brings it forth with overwhelming intensity, and then it retreats in later life.

  

2.    Parental Love: The “filial” love we have as a parent.  Parental caring is, like sexual attractiveness, biologically motivated; it may be turned “on” or “off” in higher species by a hormone.  In creatures with a long period of dependence, such as ourselves, the love of a parent for a child is also learned from our nurturer role models.  The dominance of estrogenic hormones suggests why females excel in nurturance while androgenic hormones explain why competitive aggression is more characteristic of males.  Here is a classic example, though, where nature is “both...and,” not simply “either/or” –each sex has both types of hormones, but usually in different proportions.


3.    Mature Love: The third type of love is “intense, affectionate concern for another person.” Mature love is energy and attention we our self create for the benefit of someone (including our self!) or something beyond ourselves.  It adds to what our nature and nurture provides.  My dictionary adds a second definition: “the benevolence, kindness, or brotherhood that man should rightfully feel toward others.”  I would prefer to change “should feel” to “would wisely” feel toward others.  I consider love and forgiveness acts of free will, rather than a “should” imposed on me by some authority.