If you’re expecting a romantic, pseudo spiritual breakdown of love then this may not be for you. If you are like me and are looking for a refreshing yet useful barometer for true love, this may be of interest to you.
To me love is something that is so prominent and yet so under analysed. I’ve searched for definitions to adopt and to my amazement…I found nothing. Then, typically, I turned to philosophy and who else but Plato. After reading his symposium I found myself not only with an agreeable definition, but with a new purpose for life. I had finally found my intellectual place within the world, my philosophy.
So this blog post will share my definition of love. It is in no way an essay on the Symposium but a reflection of how the book spoke to me at this particular stage of my life. As always I’ll try to make it as clear as possible. Forgive me if I don’t.
What love means to me
I believe that true love is the means to an end and not the end in itself. Love is a kind of energy that carries us through life’s journey to something that truly justifies our existence. For dramatic effect I’ll explain what that special something is a little later.
What I’d like you to do is to imagine a metaphorical ladder. This ladder has, like all ladders, rungs or steps. Each rung must be climbed in order to get to the next. Now the motivation to continue climbing is true love. Not any sort of love but I mean the love where you know it’s meant to be.
Let’s begin…I will describe each step in detail and you can decide if it sounds familiar or not. Obviously the higher you climb, the more abstract or strange the ideas may become for you. But this is true love and it’s not supposed to be straightforward.
The first step is the obvious one. The physical attraction. You’re enticed by either the physical genetics or style of a person. The length of time on this stage depends on the nature of the attraction.
Then you start to find other bodies attractive, perhaps something completely different. This step teaches us that you are in some way attracted by all manners of the physical form. Therefore this step is no longer sufficient in keeping you interested in your partner. If you’re on your way to true love, you naturally want more so you move on to the next step.
This is love for the intellectual or the soul. So now your partners body is not as much of a physical stimulation, you’re looking for more. Here we enter the intellect and the soul. We want to know what makes this person tick, what their views are on life, how they read and behave in certain situations. Basically, you want to know if you respect them. If so, you start to crave their company. You will drive that extra mile just to be with them. You stay up until 4:00am talking to them on the phone, hoping to learn more. Your heart skips a beat when you see the little red 1 sign on your whatsapp icon. You’re walking around with a huge smile on your face because, well you’re in love. You want to share all of your day with them and you’re sad if you cannot do so. Been there before?
Interestingly, you then develop empathy. You feel sad when they feel sad, you’re hurt when they are and try your best to help them fulfil their ambitions. You become humanistic.
Once you realise you have the ability to empathise with one person, you start to empathise with others (not limited to family). You become willing to help and support others. You feel the sadness for strangers and develop a love for all. You start to become interested in other people’s opinions not just that of your partner. You may meet someone with another philosophy and because you’re now open, you may switch views. Different types of personalities begin to intrigue you and when you encounter them, you may be enticed to jump off the ladder. But if after experiencing other intellects you’re still interested in those of your original partner’s, you’re ready for the next step.
Once you develop a love for more souls you begin to wonder about the institution and laws that have helped shape them. For example, their family could interest you even more because you can see a link between your partner and them. You make an effort to respect them for having provided you with a person you love.
And who shaped these parents? Well the community. And how do communities stay constant? The adaptation of good laws that protect the majority. Therefore, you develop an interest in these laws. Virtues such as justice and freedom become important to you. You can’t bare injustices around the world and you turn to your leaders for help. You start to distinguish between the good and the bad and hope for change. You may even find flaws in your own ruling system such as governments. You start to question those in power in order to provide justice to the soul you now have a love for. Basically you become the protector of the unjustly treated and your sole motivation is love.
This puts you on the verge of the final and most important step…
Step 5 – The Promised Land
In order to protect the one you love, you must create fair institutions and communities. The way to achieve this is through good leadership, and what underpins good leadership?…Wisdom (the something special I mentioned earlier).
For me wisdom is closely linked to leading a virtuous life. It’s you in your beautiful form. You are fair, kind and empathetic to all. You demonstrate effective leadership through the mantra of justice to all. The ladder has taken you to your best self and true love has been your energy, motivation and main desire to get you there. With your wisdom you start to help others on their ladders and you encourage the feeling of true love. Not only do you truly love your partner, but also yourself and the strangers you share the world with.
True Love is the energy that takes you from your most superficial, looks-based self, to your most wise and virtuous state. This explains why there are so many troubled souls. In my opinion, the lack of love in the world contributes to the injustice experienced everywhere. Yes it’s incredibly hard to find and it could take several attempts, but the end goal is what I believe we are all innately striving for…virtuous wisdom.
I hope you found this take on love interesting. I can tell you that it has already changed the way I act in many situations. I feel calm, helpful and more positive about my true ambitions. I hope you can too.
As always, thanks for reading.
The Young Philosopher BCN