Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Person and Love

There is much thought given to "love." Much is written about it both in secular and spiritual works. Some will say that love may be described in a variety of forms such as spiritual, amity, familial, romantic, altruistic and more. And perhaps surprisingly, not all religious traditions give primary emphasis on it, partly due to the prevailing cultural practices of that place. For example, in places where marriage is clearly seen as a contract and a promise between not only the proposed couple, but their families as well, love may be desirable, but it is not necessary. The agreements and contracts of the parties take precedent at least initially.
In an increasingly interconnected world through technology, more and more cultures are coming into contact with other values, ideas and norms. Thus today much pondering occurs over love as a result of the most widely distributed religion worldwide, that of Christianity.

Christ exhorted his disciples to "love one another; the highest commandment is that you love one another. The rest is all commentary." However as in previous discussion, there is, we will see, one love, one world all contained within. In our efforts to describe and learn about this experience, we may become caught by these truths as merely notions or ideas. T.N. Hanh, a Buddhist monk and writer has declared that the "Buddha and Jesus are brothers." Moreover, Christian philosopher and theologian, Karol Wojtyla, writes, "the richness of the reality denoted by the word love, is a complex reality with many aspects."

"Take as our starting point, the fact that love is always a mutual relationship between persons. This relationship in turn is based on particular attitudes to the good, adopted by each of them individually and by both jointly... These elements are found in any love: there is in every love attraction and goodwill, desire, sympathy and friendship."

"The love of a man and a woman is a mutual relationship between persons, and possesses a personal character." This love begins in attraction, their liking for one another. To attract means to be more than less regarded as 'a good.' Attraction is the result of the view of one to another as a good; its result is the natural force of human nature, raised to the personal level."

Liking a person is very closely connected with knowledge. The base of attraction is an impression, a disposition to regard the other as a value; it is the developed commitment to think of that person as a certain good. Such commitment can only be enacted by the will. 'I want,' is implicit in 'I like.' Thus the will is committed by attraction, and attraction commits the will. This may be difficult to grasp intellectually; however through interpenetration or interbeing, there permits this to be so.

"Every person is indescribably complex, and so to speak, an uneven good," writes Wojtyla. "Man and woman alike are by nature bodily and spiritual beings; they are such a being, seen by one another; in this way, each attracts the other. All the potential goods or values that a given person may respond to derive from the object of the attraction. Each, then, attracts the other. For example, in y's attraction to x the value most strongly in evidence is one which y finds in x, and to which y reacts most strongly."

Also the fact that y is particularly sensitive to it, particularly quick to perceive and respond to it. The mind, the thinking process, plays a part in attraction, combined together with the emotions, a potent guide emerges in the mix as an important feature, strikingly evident in attraction. "But this fact creates a certain internal difficulty in the sexual lives of persons. This difficulty is inherent in the relationship of experience to truth." Feelings often arise spontaneously. Where feelings are functioning naturally, they are unconcerned about truth. This is lust. Truth for a man is a task of both his experience and his reason. This is why in any attraction, especially one of a sexual nature, the question of the truth about the person towards whom attraction is felt for, is so important.

Often people "generally believe that love can largely be reduced to a question of genuineness of feelings; although this is impossible to completely deny, we must still insist, if we are concerned about the quality of the attraction and the love of which it is part, that the truth about the person who is its object, must play a part at least as important as the truth of the sentiment.'

"These two truths, properly integrated, give to an attraction [wholeness], the elements of a genuinely good, and genuinely cultivated love. Thus the object of attraction is seen whole, as a good, as a thing of beauty. A human being is beautiful and may be revealed as beautiful to another human being." Love is a commitment to the good of each other.

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