One Love, Many Meanings

The Ancient Greeks, who excelled in verbosity, gave us at least four words to describe love. Agape, Eros, Phillia and Storge. Without going into too much detail, I’ll sum them up here:

Agape refers to the love of man to the infinite universal nature or cosmos, or between god and man. Eros, being the root of erotic, obviously pertains to sexual love or the kind of love from which sexuality springs forth. Phillia is the love that exists in friendships and Storge is a much more rare term that pertains to the love that exists within families or that of a parent to a child.

All separate meanings within one context: love. And this would suggest that love encompasses more than perhaps we even knew.

When we say love, it may come as no surprise that most people think about romantic love. Maybe, as a society, this is indicative of what we really want love to be. But it’s very limiting to think in just these terms. You may not want a relationship with the stranger you just shared a smile with in the Starbucks line this morning, but could you love them? Could you love your boss? Could you love a mere acquaintance? Could you love the person who really aggravates you? Could you love someone you’ve never even met or know about at all?

“I hardly know them,” you protest. “My boss and I have a very professional relationship, I wouldn’t call it love.” “I’m certainly incapable of having love for someone I don’t know about.” 

These comebacks would make sense only if love were conditional or if love existed solely within very definite terms and confines. But unconditional love IS possible when we awaken to the fact that love is universal. It is boundless and it is all-encompassing. 

The Greeks knew that love was simply too powerful and transformative to limit to a meaning or two. And so it is. As humans we have a surprising capacity for love, but we must first allow love to exist within ourselves. We must be the spring from which love bubbles forth within our own hearts and souls. 

And we’ve allowed unconditional love to grow within us, we will naturally begin to see how broad it is. Let go of the notion that love is something we only hold for certain people who have done specific things and truly open the tap on how much love we can allow into our hearts. We may be overcome by some emotions but I doubt we could every have too much love, in whatever form it comes.


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