How do you define love? Not the romantic love in the form of intense physical and emotional attraction between couples “in love”. But rather as a “Universal Love of Mankind”. That’s the gist of Attribute Number 11 in this series of articles on the 12 Attributes of Human Functioning described in the book The Future of the Body, published in 1992 by Michael Murphy, Co-Founder of the Esalen Institute. The Esalen Institute was one of the first cradles of the Human Potential Movement in the United States, and is located on the Big Sur bluffs of Northern California south of San Francisco. The Subtitle of the book is Explorations Into the Future Evolution of Human Nature. It is about the evolution of these 12 Attributes from the beginning of humanity, along with a projection of the evolution of these attributes into the future.
So what does love have to do with it. As I wrote above, it’s not solely about romantic love between individuals, but embraces the Universal Love of Mankind. Webster includes as part of it’s definition: “A feeling of Brotherhood and Good Will. It also includes “God’s benevolent concern for mankind, and Man’s devout attachment to God”. Michael Murphy refers to all religions but speaks mostly to the Universal love expressed by Christian and Hindu Religions, and the beliefs of the Buddhists.
Murphy says that “love” has gone through a long, evolving process beginning with the love animals have for their young which developed at the beginning of the living evolutionary process, and that we are still only at the beginning of a “transformative evolution”, with humans loving society as a whole being a goal still ahead of us. The concept of Universal Love seems to be continuing to evolve, even though there seems to be a “pause” in that evolutionary process right now.
On a “local” level I would suggest that “love” refers to “a strong or intense compassion for all things, for life and what life is all about”. That is a quote from me. And that is how I would apply it to active older adults: “We will get the most out of our older adult years if we can maintain a strong compassion, or love, for life and the people, places and things that are all a part of that life.” And you can quote me on that too.
On that note, I will end this post in the hopes that we all absorb something positive from it. It’s our life to live and I trust we will all live it with love and compassion for those people, places and things that make up our own lives, and that somewhere down the line, Universal Love for all Mankind and Mankind’s living environment, will become a reality for all.
Thank you for reading.