Love is not always what it seems. We do not love everyone in the same way and not everyone wants to be loved in the same way. There are many nuances of love and many different ways of describing it. It is worth taking time to understand the different types of love, or what may appear to us as being love. All of us want to love and be loved. Not all of us aspire to the highest form of love, but it is attainable, for everyone – we just have to know how to find it. There are seven ways of looking at love… and looking for love.
The first is, love for the flesh, the skin, the body. It is totally based on physical attraction. This is carnal love. The temporary nature of physical attributes means that once the beauty fades, then a relationship based on this kind of love, will also fade.
The second kind of love is love for the personality. Attraction to another’s way of being, of speaking and acting. This creates a desire to be with them and share in the aspects of personality. Then we become influenced by the personality and this creates a dependence and a strong attachment. We are no longer free.
The third kind of love is the love for how the other makes us feel. This is emotional love. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what the feeling is. But it is a feeling of being secure, loved, and respected. Sometimes, we just love being the person we are around the person they are. It feels like something special.
The fourth kind of love is based on relationships, mostly familial. My nephew, my niece – I love them more than the nephew or the niece of the neighbour because I have that special relationship and sense of belonging. Very often there is an ever-present undercurrent of love for the members of our family.
The fifth kind of love is that born of admiration. The admiration we feel for sports stars, high achievers, artists of one kind or another. Those who do what we wish we could do.
The five kinds of love above are all based on body consciousness. They are all based on the physical appearance, talents, attributes, and emotions that we perceive when we see the roles that they play. And they all have the power to make us feel very high, but also very low.
However, the last two are the kinds of love that are unbreakable, deeply fulfilling, and worth exploring and investing in.
So, the sixth kind of love is spiritual love. This requires me to go beyond the other five types of love, to see the soul that inhabits the physical body, and is eternal. It is a pure love, a love that recognises that we are all the same, we are beings of spiritual energy, and we play different roles at different times. No matter what the exterior packaging, no matter how the role plays out, the soul is worthy of our love.
To love in this way, I must become aware of who I really am. That I too am a spiritual being and my qualities are of peace, joy and love. In this way, I can emanate love to all, and it matters not if others return the love.
In this awareness, I am able to connect to the final love. This is the most powerful and beautiful love of all, that of the Divine, the love of God. It is not a love that I can produce, but I can be a conduit for this love. It is this love that brings peace and love and the sense of belonging, to others.
This is the love that can be experienced in meditation. It is a love that once tasted can never be forgotten. It is the highest form of love in the universe.
Eric Le Reste is a journalist and producer for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and coordinates the activities of Brahma Kumaris centres in Canada.