Friday, June 27, 2014

The Theory of Love

Any theory of love must begin with a theory of man, of human existence. While we find love, or rather, the equivalent of love, in animals, their attachments are mainly part of their instinctual equipment; only remnants of this instinctual equipment can be seen operating on man. What is essential in the existence of man is the fact that he has emerged from the animal kingdom, from instinctive adaptation, that he has transcended nature--although he never leaves it; he is part of it--and yet once torn away from nature, he cannot return to it; once thrown out of paradise--a state of original oneness with nature--cherubim with flaming swords block his way, if he should try to return. Man can only go forward by developing his reason, by finding a new harmony, a human one, instead of the prehuman harmony which is irretrievably lost. - Erich Fromm

Each of us must learn how to find love otherwise we run the unpleasant risk of becoming lost to separateness which we will eventual come to discover is not our true nature.
The awareness of human separation, without reunion by love--is the source of shame. It is at the same time the source of guilt and anxiety. - Erich Fromm

According to Fromm, "The deepest need of man, ..., is the need to overcome his separateness, to leave the prison of his aloneness. The absolute failure to achieve this aim means insanity, because the panic of complete isolation can be overcome only by such a radical withdrawal from the world outside that the feeling of separation disappears--because the world outside, from which one is separated, has disappeared." Chances are that we have all found ourselves surrounded at one time or another by a hoard of other people and yet still experienced the sense of being alone in the world.  
Man--of all ages and cultures--is confronted with the solution of one and the same question: the question of how to overcome separateness, how to achieve union, how to transcend one's own individual life and find at-onement. The question is the same for primitive man living in caves, for nomadic man taking care of flocks, for the peasant in Egypt, the Phoenician trader, the Roman soldier, the medieval monk, the Japanese samurai, the modern clerk and factory hand. The question is the same, for it springs from the same ground: the human situation, the conditions of human existence. The answer varies. - Erich Fromm
The question I believe, first surfaced in my life as a fatherless child, later as a youth in foster care. Looking back into my past, it appears to have been present in some of my most intimate relationships and more recently in a long-held career where I could no longer identify my true self or the pain and suffering that this was causing me and quite likely others.
The question can be answered by animal worship, by human sacrifice or military conquest, by indulgence in luxury, by ascetic renunciation, by obsessional work, by artistic creation, by the love of God, and by the love of Man. While there are many answers--the record of which is human history--they are nevertheless not innumerable. On the contrary, as soon as one ignores smaller differences which belong more to the periphery than to the center, one discovers that there is only a limited number of answers which have been given, and only could have been given by man in the various cultures in which he has lived. The history of religion and philosophy is the history of these answers, of the diversity, as well as of their limitation in number.

The answer at this time, for your life, all depends on whether you choose the path of internal or external exploration for escaping any separateness.