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What is Love?
By Robert Elias Najemy
Part 1 of a 6 part series on the "The Stages of Love"

Love is our greatest need.

Is it our highest most fulfilling state.

Do we really love or are we simply attached to, identified with or dependent upon the persons we "love"?

Is our love free and unconditional, or is it mixed with various needs, conditions and demands?

What is unconditional love? Is it possible for us to cultivate it?

What is the difference between love and attachment?

How can we determine whether what we feel is love or attachment?

How can we purify our love and move into a higher level of consciousness?

These are some of the many questions that we need to answer in order to create happiness.

Defining Love

Love is a very difficult word to define, perhaps because its reality approaches spiritual dimensions, which are beyond time and space, and thus, our comprehension.

Love is perhaps more easily described by what it is not. Love is not fear, hurt, pain, jealousy, bitterness, hate, separateness, lust, attachment, aggressiveness, ego-centeredness, indifference, possessiveness, suppression - the list goes on.

Love, like God, peace and other spiritual realities, can be perceived more easily through the effects that it creates. We cannot see the wind, but we can see its effects, such as the leaves moving, branches swaying, or the sound of air rushing. We know wind exists by its various side effects. We know there is a Creator because we perceive its effect - creation itself.

What then are the effects of love? Love creates feelings of unity. We feel toward others as we feel towards ourselves. We are as interested in their welfare, happiness, success, health and spiritual growth as much as we are about our own.

Loving others means wanting them to be happy in whatever ways they are guided to their happiness. It breeds understanding, compassion, forgiveness, happiness, excitement, peace, joy, fulfillment and a desire to be helpful in any way we can.

Love is expansion beyond our ego limitations. It is the ability to identify with the other, to let go of our self-interest and personal needs enough to really hear and understand the other's needs and interests. It means caring enough to sacrifice, when necessary, our own pleasures and desires when the other's needs are obviously more important.

Love is the force that brings about unity and harmony. It is the "glue" of the universe. It helps persons with different egos, desires, programmings and needs to overcome all those potentially repelling forces and unite.

Love needs not so much to be learned or cultivated, but rather released or brought from within us to the surface. We are love. Our basic nature is love. However, our ignorance, fear and attachment have buried it so deeply within us that it is sometimes difficult to summon or maintain. Loving others steadily, independently of their behavior, is not an easy achievement.

Love versus Need

The power of attraction which we call love is expressed on many levels and in countless ways. The most basic level is that of need. We often use the word love when we really mean, "need".

We say, "I love you." But, if we analyze ourselves deeply, we will realize learn we really mean, "I need you." This is the basic message of most love songs. They lament with sadness, pain, agony and cry out "you left me, I cannot live without you. I need you."

This is not the highest form of love. It is love mixed with need, attachment and addiction. If it were pure love and the other was happier by leaving us or even happier with someone else, we would be happy for him or her, not full of sadness for ourselves. Loving others means wanting them to be happy, healthy and successful in the ways that they are guided to be.

Love does not create the pain we feel when someone leaves us or rejects us. That pain is generated by our dependency upon that person for our security, pleasure or affirmation.

Needs and attachments create fear, pain and suffering.

Love creates happiness, fulfillment and the experience of our True Selves.

Robert Elias Najemy is the Founder and director of the Center for Harmonious Living in Greece with 3700 members. His book The Psychology of Happiness is available at http://www.amazon.com/

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