To love is the most important thing in the universe.
In the unlikely event that one could exist without love, to put it lightly, such a life would be unpleasant. Love is the foremost emotion; it puts your energy in motion. Love is the action that creates the feeling known as love. This key point proves that love is sustainable. And yet Mother Teresa noted “There is more hunger in the world for love and appreciation than for bread.”
And she reminds us that there is no excuse for not loving:
“The success of love is in the loving – it is not in the result of loving. Of course it is natural in love to want the best for the other person, but whether it turns out that way or not does not determine the value of what we have done.”
In The Art of Loving, Fromm writes:
The most fundamental kind of love, basic in all types of love, is fraternal love. By this, one understands a sense of responsibility, care, respect and knowledge with respect to any other human being, the desire to promote his or her life… if I have developed the ability to love, I cannot avoid loving my brothers… this is based on the experience that we are all one. The differences in talent, intelligence and knowledge, are negligible compared with the identity of human essence that is common to all men.
Love is not essentially a relationship with a specific person; it is an attitude, an orientation of the character that determines the type of relationship that a person has with the entire world, not with a single “object” of love. If a person only loves one other person and is indifferent to the rest of his fellow men, his love is not true love, but rather a symbiotic relationship, or an amplified selfishness.
The Chemistry of Romantic Love
Helen Fisher of Rutgers University in New Jersey distinguishes three chemical stages of romantic love: lust, attraction and attachment.
Lust is driven by testosterone and oestrogen. Testosterone is important in both men and women.
Attraction brings an intoxicating cocktail of neurotransmitters called ‘monoamines’. In love, one prefers their partner over food, over sleep, over air. The most reserved individuals stay one step shy of mental madness. Dopamine is also activated by cocaine and nicotine. Norepinephrine, also known as adrenalin, turns up the heat to induce sweat and gets the heart throbbing. Serotonin induces a kind of temporary insanity.
Attachment is a bond that keeps couples together for the purpose of raising to have children. Two hormones, Vasopressin and Oxytocin are involved. Oxytocin is released by the hypothalamus gland during child birth and also helps the breast express milk. It helps bond mother and child. It is also released during orgasm and creates an intimate bond. More intercourse; deeper bond.
On Giving and Receiving
Fromm may have said it best:
Giving produces more happiness than receiving, not because of deprivation but rather because in the act of giving is the expression of my vitality… In the sphere of material things, giving signifies being rich. He that has a lot is not nearly as rich as he that gives a lot.
But Osho says we need to re-wire ourselves to love, because we all started as a needy baby. As he says in varying degrees it is the problem of everybody. Everybody wants to be loved, that is a wrong beginning.
The first experience that settles deep in his unconscious is that he has to get love… And everybody has the same urge to get love… So all are asking… and there is nobody to give because everyone was brought up in the same way. SO START GIVING LOVE. Forget about getting, simply give — and I guarantee you, you will get much. But you are not to think about getting. You are not even indirectly, by the side, to watch whether you are getting or not. That much will be enough disturbance. You simply give, because to give love is so beautiful that getting love is not so great. And this is one of the secrets.
Osho says ‘Be An Emperor, Not a Beggar’
GIVING LOVE IS THE REALLY BEAUTIFUL EXPERIENCE, because then you are an emperor. Getting love is very small experience, and it is the experience of a beggar: Don’t be a beggar! At least as far as love is concerned, be an emperor, because it is an inexhaustible quality in you. You can go on giving as much as you like. Don’t be worried that it will be exhausted, that one day you will suddenly find, “My God! I don’t have any love to give anymore.”
LOVE IS NOT A QUANTITY; IT IS A QUALITY — and a quality of a certain category that grows by giving and dies if you hoard it. If you are miserly about it, it dies. So be really spendthrift. Don’t bother to whom — that is really the idea of a miserly mind: “I will give love to certain persons with certain qualities.”
You don’t understand that you have so much… YOU ARE A RAIN CLOUD. The rain cloud does not bother where it rains — on the rocks, in the gardens, in the ocean — it doesn’t matter. It wants to unburden itself. And that unburdening is a tremendous relief. So the first secret is: Don’t ask for it, and don’t wait, thinking that you will give if somebody asks you. Give it!
For more of Fromm’s quotes from The Art of Loving, take a look here, and for a bit more on Osho, go here.
For more on the science of (romantic) love, watch Helen Fisher’s TED presentation.
To learn more about loving, get a copy of Mother Teresa’s book, Words to Love By or study the lives of saintly people.