Jun 05, 2013 | By admin
The Science of Love
According to Stephen Post (BQO June 3, 2013) the act of loving is profoundly transforming. Studies show that showering others with our love frees us from self-pre-occupation and related negative feelings, increases our depth and enjoyment of life and improves our physical and mental health! In response to the questions posed, I offered this response:
One aspect of love that seems to be missing from the definition is that of “self-love”. Love has two poles – it can be self-directed or other directed. This is not necessarily a bad thing. For example, as you point out, doing good things for others brings extraordinary satisfaction, the consequence of which is a higher sense of self-worth and a more rewarding life. In this sense we can be called to do for others as a matter of enlightened self-interest or self-love. Without this reciprocity from the act of loving others, it is hard to see how a person would ever feel a motivation to love others! On the other hand, love which is focused first on self-satisfaction can be exceedingly negative and manifest as impulses for mere gratification or dominion. This is the inherent human evil that St. Paul and Luther warned about, is it not?
On question 1, doing acts of charity from an initially selfish motive (to look good, for example) may yield an inward warmth that can change a person and lead them to greater acts of love to the neighbor.
On question 2, it may be more accurate to say that experiencing the reciprocity of love may engender a sense of divine presence and expectation. We are led to an appreciation of God through the experience of Love.
Finally, I hope that it does not take 100 years for physics to appreciate the dynamic creative and life-giving power of Divine Love. Emanuel Swedenborg wrote about this 300 years ago, and physicist Ian Thompson has recently shown (Starting Science from God: Rational Scientific Theories From Theism, 2011) the deep connections between what is known of modern physics and what Swedenborg had to say about Divine Love.
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