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What is love

Upon examination of the vast amounts of theories on love I can only find myself in a more convoluted state. Love is in fact a great mystery to me, and I have only achieved frustration in trying to explicate it. In Scott Peck's book The Roadless Traveled there are a conglomerate of avenues that are explored within the topic of love. It is here that some insight is expressed to me about this perplexing subject. Although I do feel that actual life experiences that I have been involved in recently have attributed to a better understanding of this love phenomena, some of the ideas that are expressed in this book were of tremendous merit. I find it almost prophetic that this assignment happens to fall into the same time frame as when I am at a point of heightened curiosity on this subject of Love. Why at this very moment I find myself questioning my current status with a newfound relationship. I can't help but to assume that I have found "Genuine Love" because of an overwhelming feeling of vivacious content upon finding a seemingly perfect union. Peck's views on love in this respect differ from what my thoughts have conjured up as such. And I can only infer that the words of a reputable author and doctor are more legitimate than mine. It is here that I must stop to apologize to you, Louis, for making this part of the paper far too personal than necessary.

"Falling in Love" is a common myth in this society. The actual act of falling in love, according to Peck, is a misconception. There is a differentiation to be made between what is termed "falling in love" and the act of real loving. Peck describes exactly what it is that we experience when We think we have fallen in love. Much of what Peck describes as falling in love has to do with what he calls "ego boundaries". These ego boundaries are established during infancy and continue to develop throughout the person's life. These boundaries represent an individual's limits with their mental and physical power, as they are perceived by the individual. With these ego boundaries many people feel confined into their own personal identity which generally creates a feeling of loneliness. A need to form a cathexis is then developed. Peck describes it thus, "The essence of the phenomenon of falling in love is a sudden collapse of a section of an individual's ego boundaries, permitting one to merge his or her identity with that of another person. The Sudden release of oneself from oneself, the explosive pouring out of oneself into the beloved, and the dramatic surcease of loneliness accompanying this collapse of ego boundaries is experienced by most of us as ecstatic. We and the beloved are one! Loneliness is no more!" Pg.87

Now it is not to say that the feeling of having fallen in love means that there in no hope for true love to grow from it. Many loving relationships do form on these grounds. However, It is after the inevitable diminishing of this fervent emotional overload that true love is put to the test, and the result of the relationship will either fail or prosper. It has been said that the "magic" of any romance dies, a statement to which I can only accede to. Genuine love therefore will be established and continue to mature long after this feeling has ceased.

What then is true love? I suppose I should know what it is if I intend to have it grow out of a simple cathexis. As Peck describes it, love is "The will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth." Pg 81.

Love then seems to fall into place as one of the key elements involved in enlightenment. To fully reach an individual's peak of spiritual potential, it seems imperative for a person to form a loving relationship with another person. There is so much to be gained from a bond between two individuals, which is most commonly the underlying motive for finding someone to connect with. Whether they are conscious of it or not, many people have a desire to find a companion from whom they can grow, whether it be intellectually, romantically, spiritually, or any other means of progression that is to be gained from that experience. Moreover, It is an integral part of any relationship to have the same desire to provide the stimulation that is necessary to inspire the other person's spiritual growth. For true love to succeed it must be as much of a giving experience as a receiving one.=)

There is a tremendous amount of effort involved with making love last, despite what Hollywood and television would like you to believe. I have been led to incorrect assumptions regarding this; that to be in love is an effortless affair which requires little rational action. Quite the contrary, as Peck puts it. "a good deal more is required to develop a healthy, creative marriage, raise a healthy, spiritually growing child or contribute to the evolution of humanity...nurturing spiritual growth is an infinitely more complicated process than can be directed by any requires thoughtful and often painful decision making."(pg 110-111)

As with much of life's endeavors, the effort that is invested into a loving relationship will be rewarded in some way. However, what is put in may not be what comes back in return. Which is to say, the method of giving or nurturing the other could quite possibly have negative connotations. Which leads me to an all the more perplexed state. I have come to realize that consistently cherishing the loved one may work better in pushing that person away. This statement by Peck helps to put things into perspective. "Love must be manifested in confrontation as much as in beatific acceptance."(pg.113)

A successful relationship is not without it's conflicts. This is where the problem of confrontation inevitably comes into play. In today's culture many people arrive at a dispute with an aggressive demeanor, thus engaging, more often than not, in a destructive manner. This does little to encourage the other, nor does it rarely resolve the problem. What many people need to learn is a better method of confronting the loved one. There's is no doubt that during the course of a relationship, the couple will require guidance from one another. It is how that guidance is expressed and received that will determine if it will be of positive affect. The outcome depends largely on how the criticism is delivered, and subsequently, how one responds to the criticism of the other. It is generally asserted by many that such acts of criticism are displays of one's superiority over the other, thereby arriving at a conflict. Nobody likes to be told that they are wrong, especially from a person they love. It is to be understood that the motives of criticism are not to weaken the pride of the other, but merely to offer advice, at which point it should be acted upon or not, depending on the receiver's volition. Such criticism should be met with gratitude, rather than to take offense to it. Peck puts it best by saying this, "The loving person is frequently in a dilemma, caught between a loving respect for the beloved's own path in life and a responsibility to exercise loving leadership when the beloved appears to need such leadership."(pg. 151)

Alas, I must reach a conclusion on love. To me this is still a seemingly impossible task, as there is so much more for me to learn. I understand that to love means to respect and nurture the beloved, with the intention for both involved to grow spiritually. It entails the will to commit, and devote most of oneself into the loving relationship. It invariably requires a lot of effort. I know that it is something that I want very badly. I have learned that love is not that fiery sensation that erupts in my chest when I think about her. It is much more than that. I love my friends and family unconditionally, which I believe is the only condition in which love will persevere. I still seek to find that kind of love in some one else, with whom I can build a life with. And yet somehow I know that I will stumble upon her without even looking. That, perhaps, is the beauty of it all.

What is Love?

why are you asking me?

Justin Hori

Peace Studies

Louis Silverstein

Source: Essay UK -

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