“The meaning of love’ the very statement conjures an endless array of possible answers.
One might even question if love has a meaning.
Does love transcend meaning? Is it a feeling beyond our rational quest for knowledge. Can we know what the meaning is via an explanation of words or rather can we only know love through its experience. Love is ecstatic, blissful, benign and essentially good in nature. It is also “right” where hate is “wrong” and therefore entails a concept of ethics and morality. Love it might be put forward has many forms. Family love, Romantic love, Erotic love, even Universal and Filial love. These might be numbered amongst our first conceptions of what the meaning of love entails.
Family love, the love of a mother for her son, a father for his daughter, of parents for their children, is for the child, the very first instance of experiencing feelings of love from another human being. It encompasses nurturing & care which is generally but not always typical of the love that can be found within ones family. Older siblings will often care for the younger ones & children in there adult years will then reverse the care and nurture their parents in old age. Ones grandparents and ancestors often held in reverence and great esteem are all part of the long line of family tradition and Family love.
Romantic love, the love the majority of us are all searching for occurs when as young adults we first discover our attraction to and for others. It is in the form of a longing for the beloved, the object of our devotions. It stirs within the heart and often defies explanation. Romantic love is a service beyond that of a parent to child and it often occurs as one human beings selfless actions towards another (or others). In these instances one would do anything for the benefit of ones beloved, including the ultimate sacrifice of dying to protect ones love. Romantic love exists between people of opposite and the same sex or even both sexes and is boundless in forms of expression and fulfillment.
Erotic love on the other hand though intimately linked to romantic love has its fulfillment through physical expression touching, kissing, sexual arousal & action. It runs the gambit of experimentation and risk. It is passionate and lustful, beautiful and profound in its own right.
Then of course we have Universal love which could be regarded as the one and only true expression of love. It encompasses compassion and an empathy for all life, including the human, animal and natural worlds. This is a spiritual love or at the very least it is humanitarian in nature. Mercy, forgiveness, and philanthropy are all aspects of a this particular meaning for love.
Filial love is similar in nature to both Family and Universal Love. It is the love found between friends but also amongst siblings and in ones peer group. Comradery and companionship are its key components and it can often replace and be even more important then both Family & Romantic love if one is unfulfilled in these areas.
Finally we might have a love of things, like a love of food, sport, music, culture, knowledge, technology, business, adventure or travel. This is really a passion for something, a desire perhaps, but a form of love nevertheless. Love such a simple word yet with a thousand expressions and forms therefore has many meanings. The word love is multiple in nature an hence also rather complex.
From the above examples we gain an inkling into the essence of love, it is a starting point from which to move forward. Ultimately when we ask ourselves and each other, what is love? We must consider these various possibilities and place our own will, desires and understanding of who we are, into the greater context of our place within the world.