I Define Love Like This…

I define love thus: The will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.

One of the major distinguishing features between acts of love and non-love seemed to be the conscious or unconscious purpose in the mind of the lover or non-lover.

Love is a strangely circular process. For the process of extending one’s self is an evolutionary process. When one has successfully extended one’s limits, one has ten grown into a larger state of being. Thus the act of loving is an act of self-evolution even when the purpose of the act is someone else’s growth. It is through reaching toward evolution that we evolve.

  • Third, this unitary definition of love includes self-love with love for the pother. Since I am human and you are human, to love humans means to love myself as well as you. To be dedicated to human spiritual development is to be dedicated to the race of which are a part, and this therefore means dedication to our own development as well as “theirs”… It is actually impossible to forsake our own spiritual development in favor of someone else’s…
  • Fourth, the act of extending one’s limits implies effort. One extends one’s limits only by exceeding them, and exceeding limits requires effort. When we love someone our love becomes demonstrable or real only through our exertion—through the fact that for that someone (or for yourself) we take an extra step or walk an extra mile. Love is not effortless…
  • Finally, by use of the word “will” I have attempted to transcend the distinction between desire and action… Will is desire of sufficient intensity that it is translated into action… Love is an act of will—namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love. No matter how much we may think we are loving, if we are in fact not loving, it is because we have chosen not to love and therefore do not love despite our good intentions…
  • One’s limits are one’s ego boundaries. When we extend our limits through love, we do so by reaching out, so to speak, toward the beloved, whose growth we wish to nurture. For us to be able to do this, the beloved object must first become beloved to us; in other words, we must be attracted toward, invested in and committed to an object outside of ourselves, beyond the boundaries of self… Despite the fact the object of love exists outside him, through his catharsis it has also come to exist within him. His knowledge for it and the meaning it has for him are part of him, part of his identity, part of his history, part of his wisdom. By loving and catheterizing his garden he has in quite a real way incorporated the garden within him, and by this incorporation his self has become enlarged and his ego boundaries extended.
  • What transpires then in the course of many years of loving, of extending our limits for our catheters, is a gradual but progressive enlargement of the self, an incorporation within of the world without, and a growth, a stretching and a thinning of our ego boundaries. In this way the more and longer we extend ourselves, the more we love, the more blurred becomes the distinction between the self and the world. We become identified with the world. And as our ego boundaries become blurred and thinned, we begin more and more to experience the same sort of feeling of ecstasy that we have when our ego boundaries partially collapse and we “fall in love.” Only instead of having merged temporarily and unrealistically with a single beloved object, we have merged realistically and more permanently with much of the world.

Mysticism is essentially a belief that reality is oneness. The most literal of mystics believe that our common perception of the universe as containing multitudes of discrete objects—stars, planets, birds, trees, houses, ourselves—all separated from one another by boundaries is a misconception an illusion… mystics hold that true reality can be known only by experiencing the oneness through a giving up of ego boundaries. It is impossible to really see the unity of the universe as long as one continues to see oneself as a discrete object, separate and distinguishable from the rest of the universe in any way, shape or form…