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Summary of World Views about Love

Alan Murray's picture

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    What is Love?
    What does love mean in practice?
    Are  there limits to love? Can you really love your enemy?
    Can any kinds of love be wrong?
    Why do we sometimes love and hate the same people?

All the worldviews represented here have the view that love is somehow totally fundamental to our nature as human beings: whether it is deriving from God or from our common humanity.
    •    Love is the basis for all relationships, families, societies and for all humanity
    •    Love involves putting others before oneself - doing acts of loving kindness
    •    True love may involve setting boundaries, but is not limited by conditions: no-one is excluded
    •    Fear limits us, drives out love (so does excess, eg lust)
    •    Love has many aspects: friendship, acceptance, compassion, beauty, creativity, romantic love, self-sacrifice

The Hindu contribution emphasises:
    •    Love is giving expression to the link between all living things
    •    Love can be best expressed through poetry, not reason
    •    Love is not experienced through material things, but through the spirit
    •    The best way to express love is through the love of God

The Humanist contribution emphasises:
    •    The interdependence of humans as essentially social animals is underpinned by love
    •    The emotional aspect of life is one of the most important things which make us human
    •    Love makes sex more than reproduction, family life more than just raising offspring
    •    Love binds society and the whole of humanity
    •    But love is closely related to hate, and can make much trouble in our lives and the world

The Jewish contribution emphasises:
    •    Loving your neighbour as yourself (with the Law and Worship) is one of the foundations of Judaism
    •    Acts of loving kindness are what binds societies together: hatred destroys
    •    Love’s physical and erotic aspects are celebrated in the Song of Solomon
    •    For Rabbi Hillel, “Love is the whole of the law, the rest is just commentary”

The Muslim contribution emphasises:
    •    Love of God, family, others, etc is the subject of much of the Qur’an
    •    Allah’s love illuminates all our relationships, most powerfully modelled in mother’s love
    •    Allah also challenges us: he loves those who do good, but withholds love from evil-doers
    •    Love knows no hierarchies or boundaries: so gender and class - equality in all relationships

The Sikh contribution emphasises:
    •    Love is the most common topic in the holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib
    •    We have to be in love to see God in all
    •    Love is a relationship with the universe, no boundaries or limits
    •    Love means giving oneself totally (first to the Guru)
    •    Sikhs should live with partners, in families bonded by love - but without attachment or conditions, allowing others to blossom and be fulfilled

The Buddhist contribution starts from the original Metta meaning of unconditional love:
    •    Love creates real families, communities and brings peace
    •    The Four Immeasurables can help us to be and understand loving; unconditional love, sympathetic joy, equanimity and compassion
    •    Love can be seen as life-energy, the sensing/feeling realm, art, beauty, creativity
    •    To love we need to accept the way things are, love must have boundaries otherwise it can cause suffering; we can abuse (lust) or be used

The Christian contribution emphasises:
    •    Loving all of the people, all of the time, is hard
    •    The Christian writer C.S.Lewis (Narnia) explores four aspects of love: affectionate, erotic, friendship and self-sacrificing
    •    Love is about making space for others and their needs over our own
    •    Jesus uses the word Abba (Daddy) to describe God’s all-including, all-forgiving love
    •    Fear is the enemy of love, but “Perfect love casts out fear”