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Walking the Path: My Interfaith Journey

A Pagan seminarian's perspective on faith, theology, and facilitating interfaith dialogue.

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Ruminations on the Soul: Love

I've taken some of my group material I used as a Chaplain Fellow with my PTSD and substance abuse program veterans and modified it here as blog material. I feel the content and message of the material is universal enough that it needs to be shared, even if the context is different. I hope you enjoy.

Matthew 22:39 tells us to "Love your neighbor as yourself," but is not very specific as to what love looks like or how to go about loving either your neighbor or yourself. Luckily, the Greeks were helpful in providing eight types of love for us to examine to help us determine what type of relationship we are in with not just ourselves, but with others. Are our relationships healthy or unhealthy? Do they need to be adjusted? Do they need to be amended or cut off?

When we understand the different types of love out there, we can become conscious of how deep our connection is with ourselves and the other people in our lives.

8 DIFFERENT TYPES OF LOVE

1. “EROS” OR EROTIC LOVE

The first kind of love is Eros, which is named after the Greek god of love and fertility. Eros represents the idea of sexual passion and desire.

The ancient Greeks considered Eros to be dangerous and frightening as it involves a “loss of control” through the primal impulse to procreate. Eros is a passionate and intense form of love that arouses romantic and sexual feelings.

Eros is an exulted and beautifully idealistic love that in the hearts of the spiritually mature can be used to “recall knowledge of beauty” (as Socrates put it) through Tantra and spiritual sex. But when misguided, eros can be misused, abused and indulged in, leading to impulsive acts and broken hearts.

Eros is a primal and powerful fire that burns out quickly. It needs its flame to be fanned through one of the deeper forms of love below as it is centered around the selfish aspects of love, that is, personal infatuation and physical pleasure.

Love Catalyst: The physical body

2. “PHILIA” OR AFFECTIONATE LOVE

The second type of love is philia, or friendship. The ancient Greeks valued philia far above eros because it was considered a love between equals.

Plato felt that physical attraction was not a necessary part of love, hence the use of the word platonic to mean, “without physical attraction.” Philia is a type of love that is felt among friends who’ve endured hard times together.

As Aristotle put it, philia is a “dispassionate virtuous love” that is free from the intensity of sexual attraction. It often involves the feelings of loyalty among friends, camaraderie among team mates, and the sense of sacrifice for your pack.

Love Catalyst: The mind

3. “STORGE” OR FAMILIAR LOVE

Although storge closely resembles philia in that it is a love without physical attraction, storge is primarily to do with kinship and familiarity. Storge is a natural form of affection that often flows between parents and their children, and children for their parents.

Storge love can even be found among childhood friends that is later shared as adults. But although storge is a powerful form of love, it can also become an obstacle on our spiritual paths, especially when our family or friends don’t align with or support our journey.

Love Catalyst: Causal (Memories)

4. “LUDUS” OR PLAYFUL LOVE

Although ludus has a bit of the erotic eros in it, it is much more than that. The Greeks thought of ludus as a playful form of love, for example, the affection between young lovers.

Ludus is that feeling we have when we go through the early stages of falling in love with someone, e.g. the fluttering heart, flirting, teasing, and feelings of euphoria.

Playfulness in love is an essential ingredient that is often lost in long-term relationships. Yet playfulness is one of the secrets to keeping the childlike innocence of your love alive, interesting and exciting.

Love Catalyst: Astral (Emotional)

5. “MANIA” OR OBSESSIVE LOVE

Mania love is a type of love that leads a partner into a type of madness and obsessiveness. It occurs when there is an imbalance between eros and ludus.

To those who experience mania, love itself is a means of rescuing themselves; a reinforcement of their own value as the sufferer of poor self-esteem. This person wants to love and be loved to find a sense of self-value. Because of this, they can become possessive and jealous lovers, feeling as though they desperately “need” their partners.

If the other partner fails to reciprocate with the same kind of mania love, many issues prevail. This is why mania can often lead to issues such as codependency.

Love Catalyst: Survival instinct

6. “PRAGMA” OR ENDURING LOVE

Pragma is a love that has aged, matured and developed over time. It is beyond the physical, it has transcended the casual, and it is a unique harmony that has formed over time.

You can find pragma in married couples who’ve been together for a long time, or in friendships that have endured for decades. Unfortunately pragma is a type of love that is not easily found. We spend so much time and energy trying to find love and so little time in learning how to maintain it.

Unlike the other types of love, pragma is the result of effort on both sides. It’s the love between people who’ve learned to make compromises, have demonstrated patience and tolerance to make the relationship work.

Love Catalyst: Etheric (Unconscious)

7. “PHILAUTIA” OR SELF LOVE

The Greeks understood that in order to care for others, we must first learn to care for ourselves. This form of self-love is not the unhealthy vanity and self-obsession that is focused on personal fame, gain and fortune as is the case with Narcissism.

Instead, philautia is self-love in its healthiest form. It shares the Buddhist philosophy of “self-compassion” which is the deep understanding that only once you have the strength to love yourself and feel comfortable in your own skin, will you be able to provide love to others. As Aristotle put it, “All friendly feelings for others are an extension of a man’s feelings for himself.

You cannot share what you do not have. If you do not love yourself, you cannot love anyone else either. The only way to truly be happy is to find that unconditional love for yourself. Only once you learn to love and understand yourself, will you be ready to search for the spiritual freedom of the Self.

Love Catalyst: Soul

 8. “AGAPE” OR SELFLESS LOVE

The highest and most radical type of love according to the Greeks is agape, or selfless unconditional love.

This type of love is not the sentimental outpouring that often passes as love in our society. It has nothing to do with the condition-based type of love that our sex-obsessed culture tries to pass as love.

Agape is what some call spiritual love. It is an unconditional love, bigger than ourselves, a boundless compassion, an infinite empathy. It is what the Buddhists describe as “mettā” or “universal loving kindness.” It is the purest form of love that is free from desires and expectations, and loves regardless of the flaws and shortcomings of others.

Agape is the love that is felt for that which we intuitively know as the divine truth: the love that accepts, forgives and believes for our greater good.

Love Catalyst: Spirit

 

In the famous 1 Corinthians passage on Love, the Apostle Paul described 15 characteristics of love to the believers in the church at Corinth. With deep concern for the unity of the church, Paul focused on love between brothers and sisters in Christ:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

It is possible to expand this passage to include all forms and aspects of love--as an example of a Love we would strive to work toward in ourselves and our relationships with others.  

1 Corinthians 13:4–8a (New International Version)

Love Is Patient

This kind of patient love does not seek to repay or punish those who offend. However, it does not imply indifference, which would ignore an offense.

 Love Is Kind

Kindness is similar to patience but refers to how we treat others.

 Love Does Not Envy

This kind of love appreciates and rejoices when others are blessed with good things and does not allow jealousy and resentment to take root.

 Love Does Not Boast

The word "boast" here means "bragging without foundation." This kind of love does not exalt itself over others.

 Love Is Not Proud

This love is not characterized by a sense of self-importance or arrogance.

 Love Is Not Rude

This kind of love cares about others, their customs, likes and dislikes. It respects the concerns of others even when they are different from our own.

 Love Is Not Self-Seeking

This kind of love enters into dialogue with others about the needs and desires of all involved, rather than putting the desires of the individual over all others.

 Love Is Not Easily Angered

Like the characteristic of patience, this kind of love does not rush toward anger when others do wrong.

 Love Keeps No Record of Wrongs

This kind of love strives toward forgiveness and understanding.

 Love Does Not Delight in Evil But Rejoices With the Truth

This kind of love seeks to maintain balance in all things. It rejoices when loved ones live according to truth.

 Love Always Protects

This kind of love will not bring harm, shame or damage, but will restore and protect.

 Love Always Trusts

This love gives others the benefit of the doubt, trusting in their good intentions.

 Love Always Hopes

This kind of love hopes for the best where others are concerned. This hope encourages others to press forward to be their best self.

 Love Always Perseveres

This kind of love endures even through the most difficult trials.

 Love Never Fails

This kind of love goes beyond the boundaries of ordinary love. It is eternal, divine, and will never cease.

 

Reference: https://lonerwolf.com/different-types-of-love/

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Denora is currently a full-time wife, mother, and chaplain. She is an eight-year veteran of the United States Air Force, an avid writer and blogger, as well as a fire spinner. She is an active member of Circle Sanctuary's Military Ministries team and the Lady Liberty League Military Affairs Task Force. She is also the Ecumenical Program Director for Oak Spirit Sanctuary of Missouri.

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