Briefly is a regular column of this blog; its posts are published on Sundays. In this column an original essay or original short story is written by Edward Fagan.
The word “Love”is one of the most cherished and regularly used words in the world, in all languages. It also seems to be one of the least understood and most actively misused words.
We can get a clearer understanding of the meaning and nature of this word so that we might practise love more correctly.
We’ll start with the correct, though different, definition of the word. Love is outgoing care and concern for the other person. It is necessary to know that love exists through action. We give and receive love through the actions we perform toward each other.
Whenever outgoing care and concern for the other person are practised, this active practical love (the outward expression of the inner quality) will always indicate the presence in us, of love the inner quality.
In terms of language, love is both a verb and an abstract noun. Both love in action, expressed and practical, and love, the inner quality, are spiritually good. Love is a good spiritual quality which can be a permanent trait of our character during every moment of our existence.
When love, the inner quality, is present in us we practise love, the expressed action toward others. When this happens, our outgoing care and concern toward others will aim at helping their person, or their circumstances, or both.
Whenever love is practised, it builds where building is necessary or repairs that which is broken. Love helps, gives to, cherishes, protects, maintains and preserves the other person and their circumstances.
Love never leads to harm or destruction of the other person. It is therefore impossible for someone to truthfully claim that they killed or even harmed their spouse in the name of love.
We experience the presence of love, the good spiritual quality, when we practise it toward others, and when others practise it toward us.
Our response to our experience of the presence of love as givers or recipients may be accompanied by our experiencing a certain emotional state. This may result in the expression of one or another type of emotional behaviour. This happens, for example, in romance and marital situations.
Love is always permanent; emotional experience and expression are temporary, they come and go, they are not love.
They are, in a way, similar to sexual foreplay and sexual intercourse which, even though they are not love, are activities through which a husband and wife can express their love to each other.
There is a course of behaviour that can get in the way and prevent us from practising love. This course of behaviour can be avoided if we uphold certain practices that are opposite to it, in our daily living.
The practices we can uphold in our daily living to prevent behaviour that obstructs the practice of love include:
Honouring our parents, as well as others in authority over us, and our elderly
Avoiding to commit murder, and avoiding to harm the other person physically or otherwise
Practising faithfulness to the other person with whom we have a romantic or marital relationship
Refusing to steal from the other person
Speaking the truth or remaining silent about the other person, instead of telling lies against him or her
Refusing to covet that which belongs to the other person, and refusing to practise envy or jealousy toward him or her.
Love, or outgoing care and concern for the other person, whenever it is practised, always faithfully serves its intended purpose and bears fruit. The practice of love can be the backbone of all human relationships if we would allow this to happen; and it can be of great spiritual and other benefit to individuals and groups alike, wherever and whenever it is practised.
By Edward Fagan