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Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own…. Jealousy is a disease, love is a healthy condition. The immature mind often mistakes one for the other, or assumes that the greater the love the greater the jealousy.
– Robert Heinlein
I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love.
– Mother Teresa
Though Mother Teresa and Robert Heinlein may have been speaking of different kinds of love (though not necessarily), I believe these two quotations fit together well.
Love may be the most mysterious of emotions. All emotions are mysterious to us because we know so little about them. Imagine trying to explain to a non-homo sapiens sapiens (the double use of sapiens is correct, as neanderthalensis is also a homo sapiens) our emotion of fear, or melancholy, or joy. The word love, however, often requires the most space of any definition in an English dictionary.
Heinlein says that love is a healthy condition, yet many people who feel they have been betrayed in love believe that love is a risky condition because it involves trust and trust can be betrayed. If you can’t trust, then you can’t love fully, so you can’t offer the kind of commitment that most love partners seek in a relationship.
Jealousy is not a malformed version of love, as many believe. Beneath the surface mistrust of a jealous person lurks the dark secret belief that he or she is either not worthy of the love of the other person or that the other does not love them fully, completely, only. Jealousy is not so much a badly formed kind of love but rather is a form of self hate. A person who dislikes or hates themself is incapable of forming a healthy kind of love relationship with another.
Living with a person who dislikes themself and is jealous of another they purport to love will inevitably develop a sour, if not hateful, relationship.
Mother Teresa had the solution. She was under no misconceptions about humans and their love being perfect. She harboured no resentment toward those who could not return the level or kind of love she offered. She didn’t forgive people their defects and limited kinds of love, she disregarded these completely.
The Mother cast all limitations aside and told us to love without reservation, without restriction, without bounds of any kind. She was so busy loving others that the fact they could not return it the same way was unimportant to her. She gave so much love without any hesitation that others could not help but love her in return. She was loved, to varying degrees, not by one, but by millions, people who would have done anything she asked of them. Indeed, many still do what she asked of them, years after her death.
Love has a most peculiar characteristic: the more you give it away, the more you get of it in return. It’s impossible to become impoverished of love because you gave yours all away. You can only become rich with love by giving it.
True, some people will mistrust, some will betray, some will hold their own love in reserve. That will only matter to you if you love only one person. That doesn’t mean that you should have sex with as many people as possible. Sex is entirely a separate issue from love. You may have sex with someone you love, but having sex with someone you don’t love or about whom you have reservations is far less satisfying. The latter is more of a “sex for pleasure” thing, based on the “sex for reproduction” commandment of our hormones.
Love with restrictions or reservations is not the kind of healthy love spoken about by either Heinlein or Mother Teresa. A person who gives away true love freely to everyone is never without support when one of the recipients betrays their love and trust. There are always others to fill the void.
Giving anything away to excess is something most societies teach is wrong, even immoral. That condition has never applied to love, to the best of my knowledge and from my studies of many societies and religions.
Learning how to cast aside all inhibitions and self imposed limitations in order to love everyone freely, now that’s a challenge. No one can teach that.
However, here’s a hint. You have to love and respect yourself first before you can love and respect others freely. And you would be well advised to ignore the imperfections and faults of others you hope to give your love to. After all, you expect them to ignore or forgive yours.
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a book about how to teach children the knowledge and skills of love and other topics that will allow them to grow into competent, confident and loving adults.
Learn more at http://billallin.com