What is Love? (Ego, Unconditional Love and a Hearty Debate)

Love means ‘having good will towards’.

That is the most integrated definition of love that I have discovered so far.

Aristotle and then St. Thomas Aquinas put it like this: love means “to will the good of another.”

Not bad, although that’s a bit too clinical and impersonal. Love is more than a sense of willing good things for someone, it’s actually having good will towards them. It’s an emotion after all. A feeling of good will.

And jack that up a few notches and we arrive at the levels of love experienced in close relationships, whether it be eros (romantic love) or philia (platonic friendship love).

Eros and Philia are 2 of the 4 types of love identified in ancient Greece.

The other 2 are Agape (total general love) and Storge (natural affection as a parent for their child).

But the essence of them all is ‘having good will towards’.

And perhaps you can easily see that this understanding of love permits an entire spectrum of polarity for experiencing love.

I may have good will for the strangers that pass me by (more like the Greek Storge) love of natural affection for my fellow beings, but I’m not bent out of shape about that degree of love.

Ancient hebrew reveals good insight by breaking the hebrew word for love (ahava) into its components which means ‘to give’.

But to give what?

The answer is giving good will.

Hence again: having good will towards something/someone is the essence of love.

Love isn’t unconditional either:

“Unconditional love” is the limited condition of love that mistakenly forgives the crime while the crime is ongoing.  Thus it is the opposite of love, because it unconditionally encourages continued unloving behaviour. – Meru Fondation

Let’s move on…

Mistakes with Eastern Philosophy of Love

Eastern philosophy guru’s stuck too far in their yin define love as ‘oneness’.

Probably because they are caught up with an inability to understand the yang of ego.

Speaking on ‘ego’, Osho writes in his book Sex Matters:

“..as long as I am ‘I”, the world around is the ‘other’, separate and apart. And as long as there is separateness there can be no experience of love. Love is the experience of oneness.

Love is the experience when the wall has fallen down and the two energies have met in oneness, have united. Love is the experience when the walls between two people have crumbled down and their beings have met, united, and become one. When this experience happens between two individuals, I call it love. When this same experience happens between an individual and the whole, I call that experience godliness.”

Well I don’t call that love or godliness. I’m very impressed with most of Osho’s work that I’ve seen. I think he’s great at breaking boundaries. But what he describes here is loss of self or a narrow view of unity.

Love as ‘oneness’? Ego as ‘separateness’? Ego thus as opposed to ‘love’?

Sheesh people…

Unity means that in some way in some experience you recognise some kind of unity or ‘oneness’. A couple makes a relationship. The relationship is the unity. A couple has sex. Sex is a unification. But come on now, there are still 2 separate individual people (referring to your average relationship or sexual experience that is)…

Consider the yin yang dynamics. They are necessary energies in co-creation and life experience. They also represent the left-brain and right-brain hemispheres.

Separateness is a vital component of our nature and of the creative / sexual energies of the universe… and in harmonious relationships.

The goal is to reach harmony within diversity. To recognise and relish in the polar energies. Not to unify as some kind of abstract ‘oneness’.

Love is not oneness. To be identified with oneness is more akin to ‘ego’ because to be one with something means to identify with it.. to experience it as the same, as you. Doesn’t that speak to ‘ego’? Of course.

  • Real Ego is about sense of self.
  • Oneness suggests togetherness, bound by a common principle, theme or experience…

That’s not what ‘love’ means and infact conflicts with it.

Romantic love comes from the good will between polar energies, yin and yang, masculine and feminine.

Being compelled towards something that has similarities to you but is not ‘you’, yet compliments you. Like a magnet, opposite poles attract.

The stronger is your feeling of ‘good will towards’ your romantic partner… the further along the polarity of good will… means the stronger experience of love. Just the same as with any type of love, i.e. philos (of friendship) or agape (of all things).

  • Good will is the essence of love.
  • Oneness is the essence of ego. I.e. Identity. To see one’s self as the same as something else.

And we all know it takes two to Tango…

We often don’t feel good will towards someone unless there is a sharing of similarities. But there are necessary differences too.

Love requires:

  • the identity of separation because we are separate individuals with different needs, capacities and focuses
  • combined with the experience of oneness of certain similarities, shared values, shared experience, shared energies

When complete ‘oneness’ is seen as the height of love and the goal, relationship problems will erupt.

Relationships must honour differences.

Indeed, the yin yang contrast is the spice of co-creation and polar (magnetic) attraction.

“Love is the absence of Anxiety.” ? Wilhelm Reich

Some notes from a conversation on Love:

He said:

…support from the very person that said * I love you *….if we as productive creatures…. are constantly battered by criticism and plain old rejection and fear…. we are on our own….and i make this realization

Gav:

do you think love is automatic, eternal and unconditional?

He said:

Yes
not automatic…..but love exists like gravity….it is always present

Gav:

are you feeling love right now?

He said:

In my heart……and in my soul….love is there….right now……I have not been loving….so I am not feeling it NO
I am lost

Gav:

so is love automatic, eternal and unconditional?

He said:

No
my heart just skipped a beat

Notes from another conversation on Love

She said:

Love is a 4 letter word that cannot be separated. Love is free, for LOVE to be defined keeps it confined. That confinement cause fears and result in tears. ? !!!!!

I was given a homework by a friend, to define “unconditional love, conditional love, romantic love” and I just couldn’t do it. Something inside me refuse to separate and define love. So I’m sitting here and I started writing…. and that’s what I came up with.

I am not defining LOVE and whoever asks me to do it shall get a hug. **Gav…. I owe you a hug 🙂 ? haha

I replied:

Ok. Bottom Line. Unconditional Love does not exist, can not exist, never has existed and never will. When we can accept that there are conditions of love, then more of us will be able to define, own and experience real love. That’s from my heart. Hug.

Her:

Love has no expectations… days like these… I wish I were in the company of Socrates, Plato, Rumi, Yogananda, Krishnamurti, Jesus…. but, Gav and Adam is just as good ?

Gav:

Gav is better than those other folks, he just might not speak so eloquently or with so much fluff but he has the sweeping integrations of history. (Side note: Krishnamurti… I was not impressed with. Gurdjieff resonates for me much more.)

Love has no expectations, agreed.
Expectations is irrelevant to Love.
When thinking about love, why think of expectations?
Only because of undeveloped ego. We all have that problem.

Love means good will. Nothing more nothing less. The degree of good will for a particular person is the degree of love for that person in that moment.

However, relationships can and do have expectations.

Her:

I agree with good will, but u mentioned that there is such thing as conditional love. Conditions = expectations.

Gav:

I can have love (good will) towards something or someone without having expectations of them.
Conditions are not necessarily expectations.
That’s too complex for a quick Facebook chat I realise.

Her:

LOVE is a big topic… it can’t be defined, it can’t be expected… it can’t be proven.
Just shown, shared… through respect and understanding…

Gav:

Conditions must exist to experience good will towards something or someone.
It doesn’t mean I have expectations of that thing or person.

Her:

no, haha, apparently LOVE is the TOPIC of this lifetime.
So…. we can talk about it our whole entire lives.
You give it your own meaning. ya know?!

Gav

It can not be defined?
And yes it can be expected.
The proof is in your personal experience.

I have an expectation of good will (love) from various people that I have different types of relationship with.

Sometimes it doesn’t work out. Sometimes it doesn’t have the form I want or expect, but that’s still a narrow view of the nature of good will. We all have distractions, challenges etc.

But I can still have an expectation of good will from various people just as I have the expectation of the sun rise on the morrow.

So final point for now perhaps…

Love is not defined by expectations.
But relationships with people do include expectations.
Everything has conditions.

<h3>One Final Quote of Osho on Love</h3>

Life is a continuous flux; everything is changing, moving. Nothing is static, nothing is permanent. You have been given the idea of a permanent love which is going to destroy your whole life!! You can have plastic flowers; that’s what ppl have, marriage, their family, their children, their relatives, everything is plastic.
Plastic has one very spiritual thing: it is permanent. REAL LOVE is as uncertain as your life is uncertain. You can not say you will be here tomorrow. Your life is continuously changing….REAL LOVE will also change. – Osho

I agree.

Rather than accept the conditions of good will that may change, they hope for some eternal experience without the responsibility of conditions that in one moment may exist and in another may change.

Even plastic can be transformed.

Love is a dynamic process in ‘continuous flux’ just as is Life as Osho identifies.

Of course, that does not change the nature of love any more than it changes the nature of life, or plastic.

Love is the experience of good will that depends on many things.

Share your thoughts on love in the comments below…

Check out the Romantic Love page