"Love is desire for the eternal possession of The Good."|
In this essay, one of a series of studies of Platonic Forms 1 we're examining the Form Love. Love has a reality that humankind has been attempting to understand and achieve since its beginning: with Hermes, Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, and later, by the
Perennialist teacher, Jesus of Nazareth.
"To you whom I love I say, let us go on loving one another, for love comes from God. Every man who truly loves is God's son and has some knowledge of him. But the man who does not love cannot know him at all, for God is love."
(1 John: 4: 8)
"Lord, I know not what to ask of thee. Thou only knowest what I need. Thou lovest me better than I know how to love myself."|
Love is one of the most fundamental aspects of God, so much so, that from a very important perspective it is said that God is Love.
The Deity is the creator of being and existence, as of the female/male human gender distinctions. The female aspect of the Deity was earlier represented by goddesses during the matriarchal period, prior to the rise to power of the exclusive masculine imperium.
The male conception of and relationship with the female has evolved over
many centuries, and is continuing to develop at present.
"Aphrodite is by no means purely Greek. She has counterparts in Sumerian Inanna, Babylonian Ishtar, Syrian Astarte and, of course Roman Venus. She has parallels with Indo-European dawn-goddesses such as Sanskrit Ushas (Greek Eos/Roman Aurora) who in early patriarchal and pre-patriarchal times were worshipped as very fundamental forms of God. In the first place, then, there is no doubt that Aphrodite is our Mother God, worshipped as Supreme Deity in pre-patriarchal times, and so fundamental that She crosses the great human language-groups, being found in both Indo-European and Semitic cultures. 3|
In Plato's dialogue The Symposium, Socrates says that he was initiated into the Greater Mystery of Love by Diotima, "a wise woman" or sage. This Greater Mystery is essentially a procedure for ascending to the supersensible realm where we experience "eternal possession of the good" and "engage in dialectical interchange with Higher Souls and know of ourselves the clear light everywhere, the light of Truth."
Plato and the later neo-Platonists divided the concept of Aphrodite into Aphrodite Ourania (Spiritual Aphrodite) and Aphrodite Pandemos (Terrestrial Aphrodite). This constituted an effort to rescue the concept and reality of Aphrodite from the primarily sensuous nature she had assumed over the centuries. The spiritual and maternal aspects of the Deity as represented in Aphrodite were reinvigorated, while the sensual aspect was given full scope as well.
The Greek language refers to Love through the use of three different words:
- Eros (ερωσ): romantic or sensual love
The Perennial Tradition views sexual energy and activity as an essential factor in mundane and spiritual activity. This appraisal stands in sharp contrast to the orthodox Christian, Jewish, and Islamic religions which view sex as essentially negative or evil, to be tolerated merely for the purposes of procreation.
Sexual desire can act as one of the basic evolutionary impulses, along with Higher Intellectual forces. The dormant capability and need for positive orgasmic experiences is biologically and psychically rooted. Sexual experience within the context of genuine love involves experience of spiritual transcendence, foreshadowing ecstatic union with the One. The "little death" or petite morte of the sexual orgasm, is a forerunner of the "big death" as we let go and experience divine oblivion.
- Philia (φιλία) intimate affection between personal friends
Love between friends provides an essential form of moral and personal guidance essential for effective human living.
"There is a certain guidance each person needs for his whole life, if he is to live well; and nothing imparts this guidance--not high kinship, not public honor, nor wealth--nothing imparts this guidance as well as Love. What guidance do I mean? I mean a sense of shame at acting shamefully, and a sense of pride in acting well." |
Plato, The Symposium
One's affection is to be based on the moral, spiritual, and intellectual characteristics the other person attains in his life. A person, that is, can become so debased that he is no longer worthy of love. As Socrates says to Alcibiades: "I shall continue to love you unless the Athenian people make you corrupt and ugly."
Personal love was the theme of the Medieval Troubador tradition, which led to men treating women with chivalry and deep respect.
"Thus love transfigures ev'ry deed we do,
And love gives everything a deeper sense.
Love is the teaching of all genuine worth.
So base is no man's heart on this wide earth,
Love could not guide it to great excellence."
Guirot Riquier, (1230-1294 CE),
one of the last of the French troubadours
- Agape (άγάπη) philosophical and spiritual love
". . . The secret of transformation . . . was in earlier times seen as the consciousness of our unity or linking with one another and all else in the universe. Great seers and mystics have continued to express this vision, describing it as the transformative power of what early Christian called agape. This is the elemental linking between humans that in the distortion characteristic of androcracy 4 is called 'brotherly" love. In essence, it is the kind of selfless love a mother has for her children, once mythically expressed as the divine love of the Great Mother for her human children. In this sense, our reconnection with the earlier spiritual tradition of Goddess worship linked to the partnership model of society 5 is more than a reaffirmation of the dignity and worth of half of humanity. Nor is it only a far more comforting and reassuring way of imaging the powers that rule the universe. It also offers us a positive replacement for the myths and images that have for so long blatantly falsified the most elementary principles of human relations by valuing killing and exploiting more than giving birth and nurturing." Source|
This conception of love as "consciousness of our unity of linking with one another and all else in the universe" was echoed by F. W. H. Myers (1843-1901) in his Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death, 1906:
"Love is a kind of exalted but unspecialised telepathy;--the simplest and most universal expression of that mutual gravitation or kinship of spirits which is the foundation of the telepathic law."
This is in keeping with the conception of creative inspiration in Perennialist thought. Perennialist savants are able to reach out through physical and extra-physical frequency waves to communicate meanings and energy to and elicit similar elements from another entity (person, object, event). They receive and transmit using resonating frequencies which are "invisible" or "inaudible" to ordinary persons. What is called "receiving inspiration" is actually the ability of a seeker to register frequencies of thought, sound, and energy from Perennialist teachers--carnate and discarnate--which are indiscernible to untrained persons.
'God is love.' we repeat glibly, and that we must 'love our neighbours as ourselves'; but 'love,' unfortunately, stands for everything from
what happens when, on the screen, two close-ups rapturously
collide to what happens when a John Woolman or a Peter
Claver feels a concern about Negro slaves, because they are temples of the Holy Spirit from what happens when crowds
shout and sing and wave flags in the Sport-Palast or the Red
Square to what happens when a solitary contemplative becomes
absorbed in the prayer of simple regard. Ambiguity in vocabulary
leads to confusion of thought; and, in this matter of love,
confusion of thought admirably serves the purpose of an unregenerate
and divided human nature that is determined to
make the best of both worlds to say that it is serving God,
while in fact it is serving Mammon, Mars or Priapus."|
Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy
Dialectical Interpersonal Relationships
Interaction and communication within dialectical relationships evince an uncommon, supernormal openness, considerateness, and honesty which can be experienced in no other atmosphere. Once a person has experienced this kind of loving relationship, the "small talk" and inanity of ordinary relationships seems unrewarding and repugnant.
Participants in dialectical relationships are better able to "see" and "listen to" others--in the interchange environment and otherwise. Ego distractions no longer blind and deafen us, and we suddenly discern deeper meanings within persons, events and objects, enabling new, more potent responses.
|"Love is an art; if we want to learn how to love we must proceed in the same way we have to proceed if we want to learn any other art."|
"The ability to love as an act of giving depends on the character development of the person. It presupposes the attainment of a predominantly productive orientation; in this orientation the person has overcome dependency, narcissistic omnipotence, the wish to exploit others, or to hoard, and has acquired faith in his own human powers, courage to rely on his powers in the attainment of his goals."
Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving
1 Previous studies of Platonic forms:
I select J.B. Phillips' translation of many New Testament passages, because I consider him one of the most astute interpreter-translators of Koine Greek.
4 The domination of society by males
5 Partnership model of society:
"Even in the nineteenth century, when archaeology was still in its infancy, scholars found evidence of societies where women were not subordinate to men. But their interpretation of this evidence was that if these societies were not patriarchies, they must have been matriarchies. In other words, if men did not dominate women, then women must have dominated men. However, this conclusion is not borne out by the evidence. Rather, it is a function of what I have called a dominator society worldview. The real alternative to patriarchy is not matriarchy, which is only the other side of the dominator coin. The alternative, now revealed to be the original direction of our cultural evolution, is what I call a partnership society: a way of organizing human relations in which beginning with the most fundamental difference in our species the difference between female and male diversity is not equated with inferiority or superiority . . . What we have until now been taught as history is only the history of dominator species--the record of the male dominant, authoritarian, and highly violent civilizations that began about 5,000 years ago." Source
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