Love Alchemy: and Why New Age Love is Basically BullshitStephen Farah
Love is not abstract it is particular. I hate to shatter your illusions, but when Michael Jackson shouted out I LOVE YOU on stage, as he was want to do, he wasn’t referring to you in particular, so I hope you didn’t take it too seriously
Love is not something you give to your community, it is not something you give to mankind, it is not something for the poor, or even for God.
This is an illusion perpetrated by Holy Men and Conmen alike. Love does not generalise, it singles out. Love differentiates; love loves you or me, love is not generic.
Let’s start at the beginning.
The Archetype of Love
C. G. Jung’s archetypal theory states that all forms in the known universe are particular instances of abstract ideas or archetypes.
‘An archetype is a universally understood symbol or pattern of behavior, a prototype upon which others are copied, patterned, or emulated,’ (Wikipedia).
The idea (or archetype) of a rose is not based on any particular rose, it is rather an abstraction of every rose past, present, and future.
Love is an archetypal idea. It has been with us as far back in time as history takes us, and extends as far into the future as our vision allows. When Oedipus slay his father Laius and married his mother Jocasta, he did so because he loved her. And so it is with you. Growing up you loved your mother, not mothers in general, and so it will be with you children, and your children’s children.
That there exists love between mother and child is archetypal, it is a universal human truth. But this unfeeling abstraction only comes to life in your actual love of your mother. It is not the idea of love which launched a thousand ships and unleashed the Trojan War, it was the actual love that Paris had for Helen.
To say you love mankind does not impress me. Who of mankind do you love, and how is it that you love them? To say you love God is the same thing. God is an idea, not a person or a thing. God is the ultimate archetype, the most abstract of abstractions. It is sometimes said that God is love. Well if this is true who do you love, and how do you love them?
It is in the particular instance of you love for another human being that you know God and love God.
God is not your Father in Heaven. God is simply your father- whether he is heaven, hell, or on earth. In knowing your father you know God. In loving your father you know love.
Knowing love is not in loving the idea of love, but in actually loving.
It is amusing to observe the New Age and their declarations of love. They love the planet, they love mankind, they love goodwill etc.
But who is it they really love? In my experience no one. The sensation of being amongst a group of New Agers and a den of vipers is not dissimilar. It is the depersonalisation of love. No actual person, god, system, belief, is loved; it is the idea only of love that is held aloft. This is the reason for the weekend workshop syndrome, I don’t actually love you, all I’m looking for is the next high of feeling love.
Love becomes a medium of remaining self absorbed, self centred and unchanged. In other words it is basically bullshit. True love is an alchemical agent, it changes the status quo. Sometimes it creates, sometimes it destroys but nothing is the same after it, as before it arrived.
Types of Love
Let us consider the three classic forms agape, eros, and philia.
Agape; (spiritual love), the love between a parent and child, brother and sister, or husband and wife. For whom do you experience the deepest and most profound sense of spiritual love? Who is it that defines your soul life and your image of the divine?
Eros; (passionate love), the love between lovers. For Freud of course this was the true source of all love, the unsublimated, raw, instinctive libido. Certainly a defining characteristic of your humanity. Even the spiritual love of the saints for God when intense enough could take on the erotic form. Think of the Ecstasy of Saint Theresa, or even of the image of Mary Magdalene washing Christ’s feet. It is in the passionate embrace that you commune with the divine, that the mass in its purest form is celebrated. But once again I stress, it is only in the embrace with your lover- that you know the lover.
Philia; (friendship, brotherly love), in a sense the purest form of love, because it is not based on the satisfaction of your sexual desires or the perpetuation of your genes. Although I have noticed that frequently the best friendships are a form of narcissism. We tend to love the friends that are most like us best.
The Alchemy of Love
What does this love move you to do?
Love is not passive; it is an agent of radical change.
What do you do for the one you love? How does this love affect you? How far are you willing to go for someone that you truly love?
Are you willing to change?
Are you willing to live with courage?
Are you willing to learn more about life, about being human?
Are you willing to be the best person you can be? And I don’t mean the best person you can pretend to be- I mean the best person you can be.
Are you willing to love yourself? For surely you cannot love another more than you love yourself.
Are you willing to live a life which is an example to the one you love, which will make them proud to say they were loved by you?
These are a few of the questions which I think gauge how real your love is. How deep it is. For to say you love another, and not be profoundly changed and challenged by that love…well I’m not too sure its love then. Love is an alchemical process, taking you from the dark night of the soul to the realisation of your own divinity.
Love challenges, love refines, and love transforms.
With that I leave you, hopeful that you love and are loved.
And that you live a life of love.
Until we meet again.