Love is any of a number of emotions and experiences related to a sense of strong affection and attachment. The word love can refer to a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes, ranging from generic pleasure to intense interpersonal attraction. The word love is both a verb and a noun. This diversity of uses and meanings, combined with the complexity of the feelings involved, makes love unusually difficult to consistently define, even compared to other emotional states.
As an abstract concept, love usually refers to a deep, ineffable feeling of tenderly caring for another person. Even this limited conception of love, however, encompasses a wealth of different feelings, from the passionate desire and intimacy of romantic love to the nonsexual emotional closeness of familial and platonic love (Renaissance Thought and the Arts: Collected Essays, ISBN 0691020108 to the profound oneness or devotion of spiritual love.(The Bhagavad Gita, ISBN 0140449183) Love in its various forms acts as a major facilitator of relationships and, owing to its central psychological importance, is one of the most common themes in all the arts.
The English word "love" can have a variety of related but distinct meanings in different contexts. Often, other languages use multiple words to express some of the different concepts that English relies mainly on "love" to encapsulate; one example is the plurality of Greek words for "love." Cultural differences in conceptualizing love thus make it doubly difficult to establish any universal definition.
Although the nature of love is a subject of frequent debate, different aspects of the word can be clarified by determining what isn't love. As a general expression of positive sentiment (a stronger form of like), love is commonly contrasted with hate (or neutral apathy); as a less sexual and more emotionally intimate form of romantic attachment, love is commonly contrasted with lust; and as an interpersonal relationship with romantic overtones, love is commonly contrasted with friendship, although other definitions of the word love may be applied to close friendships in certain contexts.
When discussed in the abstract, love usually refers to an experience felt by a person for another person. Love often involves caring for or identifying with a person or thing, including oneself.
In addition to cross-cultural differences in understanding love, ideas about love have also changed greatly over time. Some historians date modern conceptions of romantic love to courtly Europe during or after the Middle Ages, although the prior existence of romantic attachments is attested by ancient love poetry.
Because of the complex and abstract nature of love, discourse on love is commonly reduced to a thought-terminating cliché, and there are a number of common proverbs regarding love, from Virgil's "Love conquers all" to The Beatles' "All you need is love." Bertrand Russell describes love as a condition of "absolute value," as opposed to relative value. Theologian Thomas Jay Oord said that to love is to "act intentionally, in sympathetic response to others, to promote overall well-being."
As we mature in our spiritual progression, as we move from mortal understanding to morontial mota and gain greater insights, we are also learning that the word love denotes an ever-greater and expanding reality approaching cosmic manifestation. Indeed, we are beginning to understand that love is more a matter of the will than it is a matter of feelings. It is possible for us to choose to love. Our mortal flesh follows suit then with feelings that we would ordinarily call affection.
Love is an attitude, an intention of service toward our brothers and sisters. Love is the desire to do good to others, and when it is wholly sincere, it will result in actions. You see, if love was based upon feelings, it would be limited only to those we feel comfortable with and whom we approve of. When our Master entreated us to love our enemies, he transcended the realm of feeling in terms of a door of entrance. If we are commanded to love our enemies and love were based upon our feelings, this would be absurd and impossible, but we are indeed enjoined to love our enemies, therefore logically and truly, this love is not ultimately or even initially a matter of warm, fuzzy feelings. To love our enemies is to be God-like and to recognize that the status of 'enemy' is in large part a perceptive category. The reality of that other person is, in almost all cases, really as another son or daughter of God.
If our enemy should not be of normal mind then this is a different situation, and in that case these words do not apply. The matter of discernment as to whether another person whom we might term 'enemy' is in fact a faith son or daughter is not something that we can easily decide. Therefore it is recommended that we take the default position that this is so that our 'enemy' is in fact a brother or sister of the same Parents and worthy of love as we are kin. When we love an 'enemy', we think to ourselves, what good could I desire for this other person? What could I pray for, wish for, and even possibly help effect that would be in the best interest of this, my 'enemy'? To love another then is a matter of intention, a matter of attitude.
Love takes no account of worthiness before the bar of judgmental human nature. Love is patient and kind. It is not paranoid. It does not imagine evil about other people but always expects the best, and as Paul so beautifully stated, love never fails. Love is the attitude of God. It is the essence of God's nature. It was out of God's loving heart that he decided to create the worlds of time and space because he desired to share his nature, his existence, his joy, with other personalities. Love begets love. It creates new opportunities. Love rejoices in diversity and in the expansion of reality. Love is never self-centered, never scraping, stingy, rude or abrupt. Love expands to embrace all others therefore love is the greatest thing, the greatest reality in the universe.
Knowledge is constantly expanding, and that which is superseded falls away like scaffolding. Our expectations for the future are imperfect and will be fulfilled in ways greater than we can imagine, but love remains the staple, the foundation, the quest, and the eternal prize. (Ham)