(Short notes and excerpts from the Road Less Traveled" by Scot Peck)Love is too large, too deep ever to be truly understood or measured or limited within the framework of words. "A timid young man reported to a psychiatrist: "My mother loved me so much she wouldn't let me take the school bus to school until my senior year in high school...."
We are incapable of loving another unless we love ourselves just as we are incapable of teaching self discipline to our children unless we ourselves are self disciplined.
Scot Peck believes that - "Not only do self love and love of others go hand in hand but that ultimately they are indistinguishable.
Love is not effortless- when we love someone we take an extra step or walk an extra mile - which indeed is effort.
Love is an act of will, namely both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love.
Falling in 'Love'Falling in love is specifically a sex linked erotic experience. We do not fall in love with our children, though we love them very dearly and care for them greatly. The feeling of ecstatic lovingness that characterizes the experience of falling in love always passes. When we fall in love we collapse our individual boundaries to make it one boundary. Sooner or later, in response to the difficulties of daily living individuals begin to reassert themselves. She wants to go shopping, he wants to watch a movie, he wants to put money in the bank, she wants to buy a washing machine, she doesn't like his friends, he doesn't like hers. So both in privacy of their hearts, begin to come to the sickening realization that they are not one with their beloved.The beloved has and will continue to have his/her own desires, wishes, tastes, prejudices, and timing different from others. One by one gradually or sometimes suddenly, the boundaries snap back into place gradually or suddenly they sometimes fall out of love. Once again they are two separate individuals. At this time they begin to either dissolve the ties of their relationship or to initiate the work of "REAL LOVING". Real love is a permanently self-enlarging experience. We falll in love primarily to terminate our loneliness and perhaps ensure this result through marriage. While we have fallen in love we perceive faults of our beloved as insignificant little quirks or darling eccentricities that only add color and charm.
Couples must know that even when they are no longer romantically in love with each other, they are still capable of remaining committed to their relationship. Couples must also learn that a true acceptance of their own and others individuality and separateness is only the foundation upon which a mature marriage can be based and real love can grow.
Falling in love is in fact very close to real love. Real love involves an extension of ones limits (boundaries) when we extend our limits through love, we do so by reaching out, so to speak, towards the beloved, whose growth we wish to nurture. In the first place hence, we must be attracted toward, invested in and committed to the other. When we go beyond the boundary of the self we also incorporate a representation of the other in ourselves. What transpires then is the course of many years of loving, extending our boundaries is a gradual but progressive enhancement of the self, a growth and stretching leading to the thinning of the boundaries.
The more we extend or thin our boundaries, the more blurred becomes the distinction between the self and our partner. We become identified with our partner and hence we begin more and more to experience the same sort of ecstasy and relive the "falling in love" experience. This feeling of ecstasy or bliss associated with this union, while perhaps a more gentle and less dramatic than that associated with the initial falling in love, is nonetheless much more stable and lasting and ultimately satisfying. There will be times when we may forget who we are, lose track of self, be lost in space and time, be outside of ourselves and be transported. This can be termed as "mystical union". Boundaries must therefore be first understood, appreciated and strengthened or hardened before it can be softened.An identity must be established before it can be transcended. Find oneself before you can loose it. Spiritual growth can be achieved only through the persistent exercise of real love. Therefore falling in love is not love itself, yet it is a part of the great and mysterious scheme of love.
A very common misconception about love is the idea that dependency is love. Dependency may be defined as the inability to experience wholeness or to function adequately without certainity that one is being actively cared for by one another.We all as human beings have dependency needs and feelings. No matter how strong we are, now matter how carng and responsible and adult, if we look ourselves we will find that we wish to be taken care of for a change. We will at times like to have a satisfying mother and father figure. But we need to be know that as long as it is not the predominant theme of our existence it is perfectly normal to nurture these feelings. So it is OK to be dependent as long as a sence of wholeness and identity are in place. People who lack this will define themselves solely by their relationships and never feel "full-filled" or have a sence of completeness. In marriage there is normally a differentiation of the roles of the two spoces, a normally efficient division of labour, between them. Healthy couples instinctively will switch roles from time to time. This process will in actuality diminish the dependency and increase the freedom of the other. The goal should be spiritual growth of both.
To nourish the spirit, the body must also be nourished. We need food and shelter, we also need rest and relaxation, excercise and distraction.
Self Sacrifice: We have to learn that expressing one's own needs, anger resentment and expectations in every bit as necessary to the mental health of the family as self sacrifice, and therefore love must be manifested in confrontation as much as in beatific acceptance.
Surely love involves a change in the self, but it is an extension of the self rather than a sacrifice of the self. Love enlarges rather than diminish the self, it fills rather than depletes the self. There is a paradox in love - it is both selfish and unselfish at the same time. It is not the selfishness or unselfishness that distinguishes love from non-love; it is the aim of the action. In the case of genuine love, the aim is always growth of both the persons involved.
Genuine love implies commitment, and the excercise of wisdom. In a constructive marriage, the partners must regularly, routinely and predictably, attend to each other and their relationship no matter how they feel. Like mentioned earlier, couples will sooner or later fall out of love, at this time that the opportunity for genuine love begins. It is when the spouces no longer feel like being in each other's company always, it is when they would rather be elsewhere some of the time, that their love begins to be tested.
Love is therefore:- The will to extend oneself for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth. The person who truly loves does so because of a decision to love.
True love is not a feeling by which we are overwhelmed. It is a committed, thoughtful decision. Love is a two way street, whereby the reciever also gives and the giver also recieves. Love is a free excercise of choice. Two people love each other only when they are quite capable of living without each other, but choose to live with each other.