When we speak of Love, we typically employ it to define a relationship between two individuals.
But Love is more like a state of being; it’s a capacity.
Typically, when we think we love another, our love is conditional; it depends upon certain qualities that the individual possesses , and if they ceased to posses these qualities, we wouldn’t love them anymore. Otherwise, why do we love them?
Let’s be honest: most of us have a limit. Our love is not unconditional. Not only do we deceive ourselves when we say we love unconditionally, but unconditional Love in an exclusive relationship is actually unhealthy. If you have a healthy sense of self-esteem, you’ll leave if a relationship isn’t serving you.
But only unconditional Love is the Love most of us romanticize about; we dream of being loved regardless of faults or qualities. We want to be loved for ourselves, for who we are on a fundamental level.
The ancient Greeks had six separate words for Love, and only “agape” refers to unconditional Love.
And his makes sense, because “agape” is unlike the others in such a categorical way that it really deserves to be thought of as a different concept altogether.
To Love unconditionally is not only to have no conditions for Loving, but to have no preferences either. Love can only be Love of all of existence, then, because otherwise you’d be choosing some quality–condition–over others.
Furthermore, Love is a state of self-expansion. It involves taking your Love of Self, which is virtually axiomatic, and recognizing that Self in others.
To Love unconditionally is to see no difference between yourself and all of existence.
Agape is probably out of reach for most of us; we love conditionally, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But then, we need to admit that we love because of certain qualities, and this makes our Love selfish.
These are difficult ideas, because they upend our view of a romanticized love between individuals that “endures all things.”
If you disagree with me, I’d love (ha!) to hear about why in the comments below! I think the cultivation of Love starts within, and is a process of self growth. Furthermore, I think it is imperative that we at least attempt to cultivate a Love for our world, because old tribal loyalties like race, nation, religion and geographical location are at odds with a world that is increasingly connected. A cultivated Love of the world is probably the best way to combat the environmental destruction we are wreaking on the planet, because real Love sees the Self in every molecule of existence.