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Soul Life
Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.)


  by John Van Auken

Saint Paul says that it is “the greatest.” Jesus lists it as the top commandment, summing up the works and teachings of all the laws and prophets. More songs are written about it than any other aspect of human experience. Let’s explore love -- scientifically, philosophically, spiritually, including some of Edgar Cayce’s insights from the Universal Consciousness.

From a scientific point of view, love is a combination of evolutionary forces and biochemistry. Evolution’s unswerving drive for survival of the species has grabbed onto human bonding because the weaving of pairs of individuals into interdependent units increases the reproductive success of the parents and the survival rate of their infants. The evolved body is also loaded with powerful chemicals to help ensure the success of the bonding. The “love chemical” is phenylethylamine (PEA).

When this is released in the brain of any human, he or she will feel uncontrollably amorous, romantic, and “turned on” by the person who is the object of these feelings. Follow this up with a little oxytocin (often called “the cuddle chemical”), and you have the lovemaking sensations of relaxed satisfaction and attachment. For the relationship to endure, however, endorphins must be released in the brain. If they are, then the love relationship endures.

Psychologically, love is dependent upon childhood caregiving. Much research has documented three bonding orientations in children that carry over into adulthood. Using their terms, the three orientations are: secure bonding, ambivalent, and avoidant. If childhood care is consistent, comforting, and offers a safe base from which to explore the world, then the child grows into an adult that has a secure orientation toward bonding, which results in trust, lasting relationships, shared intimacy, and the ability to work out conflicts through compromise. If the childhood care is inconsistent, creating doubts about the caregiver’s availability and the safety of the base from which to explore, then the child grows up to view him- or herself poorly and be-comes preoccupied with keeping his or her romantic partners close at hand and firmly committed. If the childhood care needs are repeatedly rejected or the caregiver is frequently upset or violent, then the child develops avoid-ant patterns and grows up to either look down upon or dread any hints of emotional intimacy.

From a philosophical perspective, love can be categorized into three major types, using the Greek words eros, philia, and agape. Eros refers to love that is passionate, intense, and sexual, even erotic. However, Plato held that eros really seeks transcendental beauty, but human beauty reminds one of that transcendent beauty. Philia love is fondness and appreciation of the other, beyond self. It is friendship, family loyalty, community ties, love for one’s work, and the like. Agape love refers to God’s love for His/Her children and to humani-ty’s love for one another. Agape love does not seek anything in return for its expression. However, agape love has an ethical standard and may therefore impartially determine another’s warranting love -- something we acknowledge today as tough love, meaning a love that calls the other to higher levels of behavior. In the New Testament, written in Greek, many of the “love” statements use the word agape.

Throughout the Bible, love is most important and powerful. When we think of power, even spiritual power, we rarely think of love. Yet, from Genesis to the Revelation, the Bible indicates that love evokes the highest, most godly of powers and actually is the nature of God. Love brings us closest to our true, divine nature -- our angelic nature. Many biblical passages teach that of all the things a person can learn and do in this world, nothing reflects Godliness more than love. (Love’s power is developed further on page 4, Giving of Ourselves.)

The two greatest commandments are found in the Old and New Testaments. The first is found in Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:37:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”

The second commandment is found in Leviticus 19:18 and Matthew 22:39:

“You shall love your neighbor [plesion, meaning a ‘close-by person’] as yourself.”

The disciple Paul’s famous love statement is found in 1 Corinthians 13:13:

“Now abide faith, hope, and love [agape], these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

Paul describes love beautifully: “Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”

Peter’s love advice is in 1 Peter 4:8: “Above all things, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”

John wrote in 1 John 4:7-12: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love .... If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.”

Edgar Cayce gave over two thousand readings teaching spiritual seekers to live, think, speak, and abide in love. Here are his comments to four different people:

“Let the beauty of your joy, in manifesting the light and love as shown in the Christ-Spirit, that makes for the new song in your heart, keep you in your daily walks of life.”

“Let others do as they may, but as for you and your house, you will love the living God. Know His love is sufficient to keep you. No matter what may be the trial, His love abides, and He is not unmindful of your prayers.”

“The beauty of your life rises as a sweet incense before the altar of mercy. Yet it is not sacrifice but peace, grace, and mercy that we would manifest among the children of men. For God is love.”

“Keep your paths straight. Know in whom you have believed, as well as in what you believe. For the love as passes understanding can, does, and will make your pathway brighter. Keep in that way.”

Jesus presented love on levels, identifying the highest love in this often quoted passage: “No greater love has a person, than to give up his or her life for another” -- not literal death, but giving up self’s desires for another’s. It is thinking more of what another may need than what self may want. Cayce said that Jesus had a secret prayer that he repeated to himself, “Others, Lord, others.” This kept the Father’s power that flowed through Jesus on the right track -- not glorifying himself but revealing the Light and Love that flowed through him -- God’s love, our Father’s and Mother’s love. Selfless loving is the ideal -- giving, caring without expectation of getting something in return. Yet, this must not be self-destructive. No one could accuse Jesus of being a doormat of self-deprecating love. He often radiated a tough love. Those around Him often needed truth, justice, and a clear position on God’s ways, not pampering. Jesus cared so much for others that he would not let them remain in their darkness or misunderstandings. Yet he never condemned them. Rather, He called their mistakes to their attention. He also showed a remarkable sense of their inability to handle the full truth, choosing to be patient: “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now,” John 16:12.

A mature love requires that we “rightly divine and divide the truth.” Cayce often referred to this teaching, as in this example:

“First, study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman not ashamed, rightly divining - or dividing - the words of truth; that is, giving proper evaluations to the material, the mental, and the spiritual relation-ships, the economic, the social, the orders of things in their proper form. Be not hasty in decisions but know that the answers may come from within,” 189-3.

In our personal search for spiritual understanding, nothing will empower and illuminate us more than love. But its way is subtle, gentle, choosing to work in the background, quietly. Its workshop is our own hearts and minds; its testing grounds, everyday life and everyday relationships. Prayer and meditation can enhance our ability to understand and practice love in daily life. Supplicant prayer followed by a rising sense of entering into God’s presence, and abiding there in loving at-onement, will yield our better self. This loving presence will be in little things throughout the day -- little things that usually only God and our individual soul know.

These loving experiences often leave us humbled but happy and content. Marriage, parenting, friend-ship, work, and self-esteem all improve when love is carried in one’s heart and mind.

God truly is love. And abiding in God’s love is transcending, lifting us beyond our normal perspective. “Seek ye first His kingdom (Love), and all else will be added to you.”


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