Bikram Yoga AZ's Rev Up Workshops: Levels of Love

Love is a universal magnetic energy.  In the English language we have just one word for love.  When I say, "I love you", you don't know if I love you like I love chocolate, if I am IN love with you, or I love you like family.  There are many different levels and types of love that exist. The Greek language distinguishes at least four different ways as to how the word love is used. The ancient Greek words for love are: éros, storgē, philía, and agape.

  • Éros (ἔρως érōs) refers to love, mostly of the sexual passion. The Modern Greek word "erotas" means "intimate love."
  • Storge (στοργή storgē) means love, affection and especially of parents and children. It is natural affection, like that felt by parents for offspring. It is also known to express mere acceptance or putting up with situations, as in "loving" the tyrant.
  • Philia (φιλία philía) refers to brotherly love. It is an affectionate friendship usually between equals. Like Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. Philia is expressed variously as loyalty to friends, family, and community, and requires virtue, equality, and familiarity. It is a bond that is cultivated.
  • Agápe (ἀγάπη agápē) refers to unconditional love. Agape love is unique and is distinguished by its nature and character.  My teacher George Addair distinguished it as the ability to love the unlovable, give to the undeserving, and forgive the unforgivable. Agape love is peaceful, it is content, it is not possessive, it does not seek rewards and it is not seeking to be loved... it is seeking to GIVE love.

All the levels of love that exist are necessary and appropriate in their realm. Eros love keeps the human race alive by sparking chemistry and desire so that we continue to propagate the human race. Storge and Philia impact our relationships and help us to create bonds with one another. Agape love is universal, without conditions, often referred to as divine love.

Seeking love comes from a hunger to be loved. It often comes from a feeling of emptiness or inadequacy. The desire to give love comes from a place of adequacy, affirmation, and love fullness. Agape love is motivated by an attitude of “what can I give” instead of “what can I get”. I think of Agape love like sunshine. It gives without thought of return, equally to everyone.

"And still, after all this time, the Sun has never said to the Earth, "You owe me." Look what happens with love like that. It lights up the sky." ~Rumi.

Agape love comes from fullness. When you have your ‘love tank’ full, when your needs are met, when you are taking care of your physical needs, when you have an attitude of gratitude in your life, when there is time for calm reflection, enough sleep and exercise to recharge your batteries then you have access to love. When you seek for love outside of yourself in hopes of it filling your tank it becomes dependent, demanding and possessive.

“True love has no objective and no demands. It is a condition of love fullness that flows like rain and falls on everything without judgment. True love allows everything to fulfill itself in its own way. It has no need to control others or to withhold itself.” -George Addair

When we love from a place of fullness it becomes sharable and highly contagious. It isn’t limited to romantic or family relationships. We can smile at a stranger with pure love and start a ripple effect of goodness into the world. I believe that we are connected as human beings.  Your well-being affects the people around you and then they affect the people around them and this goes on and on.  One random act of kindness can change the course of someone's whole day.

Our greatest desire is to love and to be loved. Whatever it is that we want in our lives we have to first become a match for it. We have to be willing to give away the very thing that we want. If you want love in your life you must be willing to give love and to give first. To give agape love would be to give without conditions expecting nothing back in return.

Agape love is pure and perfect in nature. We are human, so we will fall short of this from time to time, but we can try. Conscious acts of Kindness and Secret Acts of Service can start to bring the practice of Agape Love into our lives. When you give…sometimes give in secret. When you practice this there will be no external recognition, no one to tell you good job, no one to say thank you, but you will have given for the pure joy of giving. Make it a habit to make another persons day everyday. In the morning you can think, “who’s day can I make to today?” “How can I make that persons day?” And then do it. In the happiness advantage they showed studies of people who do conscious acts of kindness for 21 days in a row become happier. These people were able to decrease stress levels and enhance mental health. To get the most benefit, acts of kindness should be deliberate and conscious.

We are programed to think there is not enough, there is a lack, there is scarcity and we have to get our share in order to survive. But this is an illusion of human animal. When we come from human spirit we realize that like a candle… we lose nothing by lighting another candle. It cost us nothing to love. Each act, each thought, each encounter creates a chain reaction in our world. When you create conscious kindness and conscious love it spreads through the world like wildfire. What better way to Change the World?

In theory it sounds good that love doesn’t cost us, but many of us have been hurt in love and have fear and sadness around loving again. Sign up for our next Rev Up Workshop on February 16th when we talk about barriers to love and how to overcome them. Looking forward to another workshop with you. -- ND