Suppose you had to explain what love is - as opposed to friendship,
sexuality, loyalty, romance, etc. Like most people, you would
probably be hard put to produce a satisfying characterization of love.
If you make a list of all the words you associate with love, - and, if
furthermore, you compare it with similar lists made by others -
paradoxes are likely to stand out. For example, love is sometimes
hailed as a love-hate tension, at other times as devoted surrender or
the ultimate freedom, then again as serene companionship; some
claim it to be a gift of heaven, others a goal to be strenuously worked

Contradictions and shallow opinions turn up all too frequently in
both casual and serious conversation. And yet love is deemed
absolutely necessary for a happy life. A common attitude is if you
haven's experienced love, you've missed the boat, you're nowhere, no
matter what else might grace your life. Apparently everybody longs
for love...though more likely they cannot tell you what it is they
actually long for.

Thus the question arises: how can we experience love if we are not clear about what it is? For if we do not know what it is, how can we recognize it when it is present or go about cultivating it when it is absent? It must be one of the most talked about but least understood topics of our lives. Even those who feel comfortable with their views of love might very well ask themselves: Do I really know what love is? Where has my knowledge, if it be such, come from? Is my view really open to future enlarging or does it restrict?

The concept and practice of love has evolved over time. This knowledge
can be used as a path of self-transformation. Plato, Aristotle and St. John show us that there has been an evolution of spiritual self conscious awareness that we can follow and from which we can benefit greatly.

Author's Bio: 

Andrew Flaxman, founder and director of Classic Insights, B.A., Princeton (cum laude); M.A., Business, Rutgers; author of Learning from History, (Gifted Education Press of Virginia, 1990), “The Open I" (Humanities Education, University of Minnesota, 1991), “The Extra Senses in Our Perception” (Thresholds Quarterly, May 1999), “The Bhagavad Gita and Self Education” (Thresholds Quarterly, Winter 2000-2001), and “The Open I” (revised, Chrysalis Reader, 2001).