“Love and compassion are necessities not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.”
The Dalai Lama
February is the month of love.
Valentine’s Day falls mid-month and is the day which pays homage primarily to romantic love or Eros. When it comes to love, most people tend to focus on romantic love even though there are seven different kinds.
The love the Dalai Lama refers to is definitely not Eros. This is the love I love to focus on! It is more akin to Agape, Philia or Platonic love.
Most people have probably heard of Platonic love, typically thought of as the love between friends. However, that is a much watered-down concept. As devised by Plato, Platonic love is about “rising through levels of closeness to wisdom and true beauty – from carnal attraction to individual bodies to attraction to souls – and eventually, union with the Truth.”
Agape, a less familiar term to many, is universal love, the love for strangers, nature, all of life and God.
It embraces the notion of altruism or an unselfish concern for the welfare of others. While Philia, another unfamiliar term, also refers to friendship, more in the nature of shared goodwill. Aristotle was of the belief that a person can bear goodwill to another for one of three reasons: 1, that he is useful, 2, that he is pleasant, and 3, that he is good – meaning rational and virtuous.
I believe that as a culture we have lumped all forms of love together and give most credence to the romantic Eros.
I propose tearing them apart and giving more emphasis to one of the three I’ve mentioned. Turning away from the seductive Eros for a moment will not diminish that type of love one bit. But to contemplate the others and to look for ways to spread compassionate love in our individual lives could be the saving grace humanity needs for survival right now.