FEATURE - February 2018
The Highest Degree of Love
by Therese Inzerillo
Love. Do we really know what the true meaning of love is? We hear it uttered frequently in a variety of contexts: “I love this cappuccino!”, “I just loved that movie!”, “Love ya!” But what does that really mean? Has “love” become just an expression for “emphatically liking” something?
The tapestry of love is varied and complex. There are many layers to its meaning. The ancient Greeks used four words to describe the various meanings of love: “Agape” expresses unconditional love between God and man, and man and God; “Philos” speaks of brotherly love between friends; “Storage” denotes the love between parent, child, family; and “Eros” describes an “erotic, sexual love expressing passion and intimacy.”
In our society today, we are mesmerized by fairytale notions of romantic love. From the time of our youth, we are exposed to the whimsical fantasies of Disney princes and princesses, of damsels in distress being rescued by the handsome hero, of romantic comedies with unrealistic standards and happily ever-afters. Although we embrace these concepts as grand ideals, it often sets us up for disappointment and failure in our relationships. Too many couples sever their relationships once the passion wanes, not realizing that there are many more layers to love.
In romantic love, physical attraction and lustful longing initiates the relationship. The expectation is then created to maintain that intensity of passion throughout the duration of the relationship. In a healthy relationship, lustful longing transforms to a deeper, spiritual connection, which transcends physical attraction. There may still be physical attraction, but that is not the sole foundation of the connection. We come to learn that there are “seasons to our love,” and that love continues to evolve into deeper and deeper experiences of connection, ultimately uniting us on a soul level.
With the celebration of Valentine’s Day on February 14th, there is much emphasis on romantic love. Many people profess the holiday was created by the card and flower companies to capitalize on the concept of gift giving; however, Valentine’s Day has an interesting origin. In the third century A.D., the Roman Emperor, Claudius II, banned marriage for all soldiers, claiming that married men were too worried about their wives and families to be fierce warriors. A Catholic Bishop by the name of Valentine secretly married couples to encourage Christian marriage. When the Emperor learned of this defiance, Valentine was thrown into jail and sentenced to death. While in jail, Valentine befriended the jailor’s daughter, who was a young blind woman. He became quite fond of her, and their friendship blossomed. It was claimed that through his devout faith, he restored her eyesight. On the day of his execution, he requested a pen and paper to write a farewell letter to her, signing it, “Your Valentine”. Because of his dedication and support of love and marriage, St. Valentine came to be known as the Patron Saint of Lovers. Thus his Feast Day in the Catholic Church, February 14th, has evolved into a celebration of love eliciting devotional cards, gifts, candy and flowers to the person of one’s affection.
To most people devotional, romantic love is the antithesis of what love is meant to be. The quest to find your soul mate has become the primary goal in life. Although a noble and often fulfilling path in life, there is so much more to the purpose of love in our lives than what we have been taught. For those seeking a more spiritual approach to love, we come to know that our true purpose for existence is to learn to “expand our capacity to love” until we can love completely and unconditionally as we are loved by our Creator.
Esoteric spirituality teaches us that the Divine (aka the Source of Love) created Life as a means of experiencing Itself. This is also known as “The multiplicity of the One”. All life continually seeks greater and greater expressions of itself until it comes to know itself as the Source and loves completely and unconditionally. With each lifetime, we create scenarios for ourselves to have experiences that help us learn lessons to evolve our soul. Through these experiences, our wisdom and understanding guide us to deeper perspectives of reality and the Divine, thus deepening our commitment and ability to truly love. As we learn to love in deeper, more profound ways, we come to know that the highest expression of love is to make decisions based on “what is the highest degree of good for all concerned”. We choose this because we know that we are all connected. What affects one person, affects us all. So, before making any decision, the ultimate question we should ask ourselves is, “What is the greatest degree of love in this situation?” If it is beneficial to only you or a specific group, then it is not the greatest degree of love. If it is true and beneficial for all people, then it is the greatest degree of love. This is the ultimate law by which we are to live.
This principle is realized through our ability to give and receive love to others. Universal law tells us that as we give, we shall receive, creating opportunities to experience more love and joy in return. We do not give with the intention of getting back, but know that in our giving, the Universe will return it to us intensified. In the Christian tradition, Jesus taught that the most important message is to “love one another, as I have loved you.” In all major religions there is the foundational principle of the “Golden Rule” teaching us to “love our neighbor as ourselves.” Through this expression, we continue to evolve into more profound experiences of love until we realize that love itself is the sole reason for existence and our very purpose in all we do. We come to learn that love is the only true reality and that everything else is but an illusion.
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Therese Inzerillo specializes in energy work, counseling, speaking, teaching and writing to uplift, inspire and educate. She is a LMT, Holistic Healer, Interfaith Minister and Intuitive and offers massage, energy healing, counseling, classes, ceremonies, sacred journeys and retreats through her businesses “The Blooming Lotus” and “Namaste Journeys”. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 602-579-1994.