Valentine’s Day and True Love

Valentines Day is an appropriate time to consider the meaning of love. What is love? How do I know if I’m in love? Are there different types of love? These questions can be addressed by exploring the differences between false love and true love.

False Love and True Love

False love is self-centered and the primary concern is “what’s in it for me?” It seeks to possess a person because he or she will provide security, pleasure, prestige, status or money. False love is indifferent to the growth of a relationship and instead simply reacts to the events, situations, nuances and issues in a relationship in a way that is self-serving. False love is solely based on feelings and emotions, which are inherently unstable, and the relationship, and the qualities of it, are evaluated simply on whether it is liked or disliked.

In contrast, true love is other-centered and the primary concern is “how can I support you?” True love is devoid of any sense of possessiveness, rather there is a “letting go” that allows the other a freedom to be the best they can be. Coupled with this is a true desire to see the other person grow, mature and accomplish, which in turn provides deep pleasure. True love actively looks for ways to improve a relationship including by bettering himself/herself and learning how to be more loving, mature and kind. True love is expressed through the emotions but has a foundation at the mental level through mutual values and a deep respect. The relationship is evaluated by a deep understanding of the shared values and goals.

Divine Love

These descriptions of false love and true love apply to romantic relationships but can you see how they also reflect the perspective of the “lower” self and “higher” self, respectively? The lower self is the human ego that is immature, petty and self-centered. The higher self is the divine being that is so “other-centered” that it invested itself into creating and sustaining a life on earth (that’s you) so it could express God’s Noble Ideals through it. This true self expresses true love. God is love and God immanent in you, the soul, is also love. As you read the following familiar passage from Paul, think of it as how you should love another but also think of it in a new way by substituting the word love with soul and realize that this is how you are loved by your soul.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-7)

Similarly, read the following love poem titled “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” written by Christopher Marlowe, the 16th century, English dramatist and poet, with both a romantic perspective and a divine (i.e. spirit to flesh, God to humanity) perspective. A young lover wants the best for his beloved, just so, your immanent, divine, true self wants the best for you. Also note that the shepherd symbolizes the soul and the sheep symbolizes the personality or lower, human self.  The shepherd guides and loves the sheep and the sheep are suppose to be responsive to the shepherd, not the other way around. (Read the poem a few times, aloud also, and here are the definitions of some of the words that I didn’t know; madrigals - short pastoral or love poems suitable for singing, kirtle - a long gown or skirt worn by women, myrtle - a commonly cultivated evergreen bush with blue-black fruit and swains - young men who live in the country.)

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love
Christopher Marlowe

Come live with me and be my Love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That hills and valleys, dale and field,
And all the craggy mountains yield.

There will we sit upon the rocks
And see the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers, to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.

There will I make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroider’d all with leaves of myrtle.

A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull,
Fair linèd slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold.

A belt of straw and ivy buds
With coral clasps and amber studs:
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me and be my Love.

Thy silver dishes for thy meat
As precious as the gods do eat,
Shall on an ivory table be
Prepared each day for thee and me.

The shepherd swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May-morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my Love.

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3 Responses to “Valentine’s Day and True Love”  

  1. 1 Jim McPhillips

    Excellent Brendan - everyone should read this

  2. 2 janet

    Brendan, enjoyed reading your Valentine’s Day essay!!! Great description of Divine Love and the soul’s purpose. Thanks



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