Self-Transformation Series:
Issue No. 12


Table of Contents

  1. Why Important
  2. The Nature of Love
  3. How to Express Your Love
  4. Teaching children how to love

I. Why Important

There is universal agreement that love is perhaps the most important value in life. First, it makes us happy to love and be loved. Second, the capacity for genuine love is the mark of spirituality. Third, love is ultimately the key to social and global harmony. But it appears that so many people do not experience love in its true sense. They say they love someone, but the behaviors do not indicate love, for they often cause unhappiness. Hence when people talk about love, it seems that they are really talking about something else. Therefore it is important that we clarify what love is not, and what true love is. How do we develop the capacity to love? How do we teach children to love?

Giving and receiving love clears the nervous system of its muck and
mire. You feel strong when you give love and worthy when you receive
it. You can't be distressed, confused and unhappy in an atmosphere
of love.

                                            Dr. David Goodman

II. The Nature of Love

  1. Love should not be confused with need, desire or attraction --

    Need: "I love you because I need you. I love you because you make me happy." This is self-love and not really love of the other person. Suppose I no longer need you, or you no longer make me happy, do I cease to love you?

    Desire or attraction: "I love you because you are beautiful and intelligent." What happens when you're no longer beautiful or intelligent? Does that love disappear?

    These therefore are not really love, but needs or desires of people. If these are the foundations of a relationship, then they are neither deep nor long-lasting.

  2. Love is not selfish or self-centered -- Love that is centered on oneself is not really love for the other person. It is merely the satisfaction of one's own need. Therefore, when a relationship is focused on what one can get, then it is doubtful whether it is love at all.

  3. Love is unconditional -- Love means unselfish appreciation of, and benevolence to, another person or being, regardless of whether we derive any benefit from him or it. Love means we appreciate and accept another as he or she is, not for what we can get. This is unconditional love.

    Examples: Happily taking care of an invalid or comatose person; loving another person and wanting him or he to be happy even if the other person does not reciprocate that love.

  4. Love means not deliberately hurting another person -- This seems an obvious guideline, but when we look deeper we find that it is not that simple. When a father angrily spanks a child, or locks him up in the bathroom, and he says that he is doing this because he loves the child, is this really love? When we punish someone in anger, is there really love? Or are we carried away by the emotion of anger, resulting in the tendency to harm or injure the child or wife or "loved one"?

    There is a mistaken notion prevailing almong some parents that
    discipline is the same thing as punishment. It is not. Discipline
    comes from a Latin word meaning "teach." The best discipline is
    that which teaches, not the kind that hurts.
                                             J. C. Wynn
    How do we combine love and discipline?

    Criticize the act but don't condemn the person. Show you care for the person even if you strongly disapprove of the action. If you need to penalize a child, do it without exhibiting rejection of the child. Avoid such threats as: "If you do not eat your dinner, Mama does not love you anymore."

  5. Love means patience and understanding -- When a child is not behaving well, do we easily become impatient and angry? Or shall we take the time and patience to teach the child? When a friend or a loved one is late for an appointment, do we immediately get irritated and angry? Or do we consider that perhaps our friend met an accident or a problem?

    Example: A mother is a nagger, and she does not realize that it is an unhealthy habit despite suggestions to her. Can we still love her with this imperfection?

  6. Love is sensitive and listens deeply -- When we talk to someone, do we really listen not only to the words but also to the feelings and concerns of the person?

  7. Love is the essence of spirituality -- Love is a state of being rather than an emotion like desire or attraction. It is a state or experience of unity with another, resulting in compassion.

    Example: Love does not discriminate whether one is a Catholic or Hindu, whether one is black or brown, whether one is an American or Filipino. Such distinctions are really but larger forms of selfishness.

III. How to Express Your Love

  1. Say so (Express your love by saying "I love you" to the person, or writing a letter, a note, or a card).

  2. Hug and touch them (Frequent hugs to our children is one of the most reassuring gestures to show that we care. Physical gestures are important messages that people understand and appreciate).

  3. Be thoughtful about their needs (It tells people that you remember them and that you deliberately spent time to think about their needs). It may be a special book that you bought for them, or get for them something that they particularly like. Be always ready to serve. The highest spirituality means love and service to all without distinction.

  4. Spend time talking to them and listening to them (We should not be too busy that we have no time for those whom we say we love. And when we talk to them, we must be sensitive to things that will make them genuinely happy and fulfilled).

IV. Teaching children how to love (from Teaching Your Children Values)

All rights reserved. Peace Center, Theosophical Society in the Philippines, 1 Iba Street, Quezon City, Philippines. This outline may be reproduced provided this notice appears.
[Back to Menu][Your Comments]

Copyright 1995. Permission to reprint is granted provided acknowledgment is made to:
Peace Center
Theosophical Society in the Philippines, 1 Iba St., Quezon City, Philippines

"If five percent of the people work for peace, there will be peace."