If Music be the Food of Love, Play on…

“And still, after all this time,

The sun never says to the earth,

“You owe Me.”

Look what happens with

A love like that,

It lights the Whole Sky.” ~ Hafez

Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope you are able to share it with someone who loves and respects you.  Not everyone is involved in a romantic, intimate relationship when the 14th February rolls around, but you will almost certainly have friends or family who will show you that you’re in their hearts and minds.

love-osho

There are as many shades and facets of love as there are surfaces on a finely cut diamond, and each touches us and lights up our life in a unique and special way. The most important thing is that somewhere in your life you give and feel love, even if it’s for yourself. Traditionally Valentine’s Day focuses on romantic attachments, but love is too all-encompassing to be identified as purely a romantic attachment.

Love kept even our best philosophers busy identifying its purpose and meaning;  but probably the most beautiful words used to express it came from the Sufi poet Rumi.

love-rumi-soul

However, that being said, the voice of a lover is music to savour, as are the notes that spring from a composer’s quill onto lined parchment in a fever pitch of delirium. Their passions and desires, those deep feelings for the object of their affection that would make their heart explode if they weren’t cathartically hauled and wrung from their chest cavity, bursting with love and in some cases, anguish.

The most beautiful, exquisite and soul piercing music has arisen from heartbreak. Unrequited love is such agony, even as it is for two people who long to be together but must live apart. Sometimes being in an unhappy relationship is worse than being alone.

love-rumi-heart

For those in the early stages of romantic love it is like nothing you’ve ever felt. But you are not in control. Those crazy, heady sensations that take over your mind and body whenever that someone special is near is disconcerting. Even if they are far, they are always there, by proxy in your heart. It is like being at sea with no compass and no sails, at the mercy of the elements. Even after the heat of the initial infatuation has cooled a bit, there will be something you cherish from that bond. You can never truly erase such a powerful connection.

And nor should we, because the highs and lows and everything in between make us who we are. We suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and we survived.  If you were a composer, a songwriter or writer, you cleansed the pain by creative force of will. But you first had to be consumed by the searing flames to do it.

love-rumi-quote-light-up-the-fire-of-love-inside-and-blaze-the-thoughts

There must be more music and songs written in the name of love than any other subject. Those souls caught in the throws of passion or the depths of despair can relate to what someone else once lived through, what they transmuted into art and culture for the benefit of others.

Is it possible to define this emotion that dominates us so? The lack of it in childhood can cause untold misery, or betrayal turn love into hate. For we cannot have one without the other, the constant companions of our duality. But what if love is more than a feeling? Feelings and emotions are fleeting, by their nature temporary.

‘It struck me tonight how music mirrors life. Fleeting ephemeral moments, made up of beauty, sadness, joy, hope and despair. The melodies are created in both major and minor keys. Flowing and fleeting. You can’t hold onto it, or keep it from changing. Our emotions possess the evanescence of a note.’ ~ The Virtuoso

Real, true love is transcendent and unconditional; a state of being in the world. It’s treating all beings with kindness, compassion, benevolence and lovingness.

love-rumii-will-be-waiting-here

Lust is too destructive and romantic love without a deeper regard will never blossom into a more lasting relationship. It would be hard to cope with everyday life if one were permanently in a state of euphoria and ecstasy. Although some historical figures gave it their best shot, such as the infamous Marquis de Sade. He took something divine in nature and used it for his own perverted pleasure and hedonistic impulses.

Intoxication and rapture by their very nature can be addictive…

love-rumi-journeys

Let’s not beat about the bush, we’re all here because two people once loved each other and physically embraced their love. It’s a miracle and not to be treated lightly. However, the Garden of Eden has many thorns and stinging nettles growing in its pristine beds. As Shakespeare so perfectly put it, the course of true love never did run smooth…

So let’s celebrate this invisible force called love, this ethereal yet palpable potion that is strong enough to make men kill and women weep. It can bring untold joy, or pain like no other. Blessed are we who have basked in its magnificent rays, for however long.

love-rumi-in-your-light-i-learn-how-to-love

I have often pondered how and why two people are attracted to each other and at what point that becomes love. Perhaps each possessed an energy field that the other needed? Their coming together fulfilled the yin and yang of each other’s energy. But there’s also alignment – of one’s values, interests and outlook. We each speak a different archetypal language, so there are many twists and turns for us to navigate to our happy ever afters!

The concept that Plato suggested that we each have a twin soul is an intriguing one. The other half of our soul…

And if you did ever feel like your heart had been ripped out and stomped on, that person gave you the opportunity and reason to love yourself again.

love-rumi-universe

Maybe the closest definition I can come to is that love’s purpose is to put us in-touch with our higher selves, to imbue us with soul stamina, to evolve and grow our capacity to love.  We are all worthy of love, and when we give love there is never any shortage from this infinite well. It keeps us in tune with our heart.

Now to poetry and music. I’m merely following Shakespeare’s advice because I’m an inveterate romantic and glutton when it comes to love!

Rumi’s eternal love verses are succour for the soul….

Byron:

Shakespeare, from one of my all-time favourite films!

Percy Bysshe Shelley:

There is nothing more powerful than music to capture feelings and as a portal to our emotions, to a time, a place or a person…

Baroque Beauties:

Thomas Tallis – If ye love me:

 Purcell – ‘My dearest, my fairest’ (Jaroussky & Scholl):

The Fairy Queen – If love’s a sweet passion by Veronique Gens:

Handel – Semele ‘Endless Pleasure, Endless Love’ by Kathleen Battle:

In 1852 the young Richard Wagner became infatuated with a beautiful writer, poet and song composer, Mathilde Wesendonck, also the wife of the wealthy businessman who had bestowed his generous patronage on Wagner.

Mathilde Wesendonck by Karl Ferdinand Sohn c. 1850

Mathilde Wesendonck by Karl Ferdinand Sohn c. 1850

Their love affair seems to have been intense, (at least from Wagner’s perspective), occurring at the same time he was working on his Tristan poem. The final consummation of Tristan’s hopeless love for Isolde, the wife of his liege lord, could only be achieved in death. Wagner also set his beloved’s poetry to music, in his Wesendonck Lieder. Their relationship was hastily ended when Wagner’s first wife Minna discovered a love letter and threatened to show it to Mathilde’s husband Otto.

There can be no doubt that Mathilde was Wagner’s Isolde…

In Tristan and Isolde he perfectly expresses the hopeless, languid longing that was clearly pulling at his own heart strings:

 Tchaikovsky’s immortal Rome and Juliet Fantasy Overture:

Beethoven – Violin Romance No. 2 in F major, Op. 50 with Christian Ferras:

Beethoven – Romance Cantabile in E Minor for piano, flute, bassoon and orchestra:

Brahms – Violin Concerto in D Major, ‘Adagio’, with love oozing from Itzhak Perlman:

Dvořák – Romance for Violin and Orchestra in F minor, Op. 11 with Jodef Suk:

Kriesler – ‘Liebeslied’ (love’s sorrow) with Yo-Yo ma and patricia Zander:

Liszt – Romance oubliée with Guido Schiefen and Eric Le Van:

Liszt – ‘Liebestraume’ No. 3 in E-Flat Major (Love Dream) Harpist unknown:

Liszt – Consolation No. 3 with Nathan Milstein and Georges Pludermacher:

Mozart – Piano Concerto No. 20 K. 466, 2nd movement ‘Romance’ with Friedrich Gulda:

Chopin – Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11, 2nd movement ‘Romance’:

Rachmaninoff – Piano Concerto No. 2, the romantic, dreamy 2nd movement:

Contemporary Classical:

Paul de Senneville – Mariage d’Amour with Richard Clayderman:

Nino Rota gets the sax treatment with Kenny G:

Adam Hurst – Longing:

Jazz:

My Funny Valentine:

A Kiss to Build a Dream on:

Opera:

Opera arias are in a league of their own when it comes to love!

‘O sink hernieder, Nacht der Liebe’ (‘Descend, o night of love’) from Act II of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. Tristan and Isolde rapturously hail their ‘night of love’ to an exquisite melody drawn from ‘Träume’ (‘Dreams’) of Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder:

Mozart – Voi che sapete with Cecilia Bartoli and Jean-Yves Thibaudet:

Bellini – A Te, O Cara from I Puritiani – Pavarotti & Sutherland:

Berlioz – Les Troyens ‘Nuit d’ivresse et d’extase infinie’ (‘O night of intoxication and infinite ecstasy’) from Act IV. Dido and Aeneas finally admit their love in this exquisite duet:

Saint-Saens – ‘Mon coeur s’ouvre a ta voix’ from Samson et Delilah:

Bizet – Carmen ‘La Fleur Que Tu M’avais Jetée’ by Plácido Domingo:

Puccini – Tosca ‘E lucevan le stelle’ (and the the stars were shining), Pavarotti:

Beethoven’s beautiful aria of wedded love, ‘O namenlose Freude’ from Fidelio:

Verdi – La Traviata (the fallen one) – Maria Callas is supreme in this heart-rending performance of E strano! E strano!

Duke Orsino:

If music be the food of love, play on,

Give me excess of it; that surfeiting,

The appetite may sicken, and so die.

~ William Shakespeare (Twelfth Night Act 1, scene 1, 1–3)

Purcell and the King’s Singers:

Until the next time, with all my love!

Heart Matters: Secrets of the Heart in Culture and Life

My heartfelt thanks go to French mathematician and philosopher, Blaise Pascal, for elucidating such profound observations about the human heart.

Blaise Pascal2

He provides the perfect context for the subject matter of this first, in-depth exploration of the human heart in my ‘Heart Matters’ blog trilogy.

In this first post I wanted to explore the fundamental questions about the function of the heart in our everyday lives as well as looking specifically at heart health challenges and well-being in later posts.

Mysteries of the Human Heart

Is the heart merely a muscle, a complex pump that powers blood, oxygen and nutrients around our body, or does it actually have a mind of its own, as Blaise Pascal suggests it does? Is it the seat of our emotions and the source of love? Perhaps it serves in both capacities?

David Malone explores the human heart, juxtaposing the modern scientific view of the heart as a mere pump, versus its long history as a symbol of love and the centre of innate wisdom and human character:

The heart has been written about in every age and culture. It is the subject of poetry, prose, stories and parables. For the romantics it is an ‘organ of fire’.

“When the heart speaks, the mind finds it indecent to object.” ~ Milan Kundera (The Unbearable Lightness of Being)

The immense use of the word ‘heart’ in language reveals our long-held obsession with its mysteries. Here are more than a few references to the heart, covering the whole spectrum of human emotion:

Heartfelt, heartbroken, heartache, bleeding heart, heartless, purple heart, kind hearted, soft hearted, cold hearted, black heart, heartless, heartthrob, heartbeat, sweetheart, weak hearted, big hearted, disheartened, heartily, hearty, heart of the matter, open hearted, half hearted, down hearted, free hearted, lion heart, heart centred, heart burn, a heart of stone, sickness of the heart, bless your heart, a change of heart, absence makes the heart grow fonder, after my own heart, be still my heart, eat one’s heart out, by heart, cry heart out, follow heart, faint of heart, give someone heart-failure,  heart of gold, have a heart-to-heart, follow your heart, heart in the right place, heart in mouth, heart sinks,  heavy hearted, heart skips a beat, heart flutter, home is where the heart is, heart’s not in it, with all one’s heart, young at heart, with a light heart, set heart on, take to heart, steal heart, out of the goodness of heart, pour heart out, to one’s heart’s content, lose heart, have heart in mouth, let heart rule head, in one’s heart of hearts, wear heart on sleeve, close to one’s heart, win heart, have a heart!

Perhaps to describe a person as heartless is the worst insult you could level at them, it implies that the very essence of what makes a human being is absent…

heart-quotes-and-sayings - Evander Holyfield

Shakespeare’s references to the heart:

The very instant I saw you, did My heart fly to your service.  (The Tempest, Ferdinand to Miranda) ~ You draw me, you hard-hearted adamant (Midsummer Night’s Dream, Helena to Demetrius) ~ My five wits, nor my five senses, can Dissuade one foolish heart from serving thee. (Sonnet 141, 9-10) Tell me thou lov’st elsewhere; but in my sight, Dear heart, forbear to glance thine eye aside (Sonnet 139, 5-6) ~ JAQUES What stature is she of? ORLANDO Just as high as my heart (As You Like It) ~ A heart to love, and in that heart Courage, to make love’s known (Macbeth, Macbeth to Macduff) ~ Tell me where is fancy bred, Or in the heart, or in the head? (Merchant of Venice, song) ~ What infinite heart’s ease Must kings neglect that private men enjoy! (Henry V) ~ My old heart is cracked, it’s cracked (King Lear, Gloucester to Regan) ~ If thou ever didst hold me in thy heart, Absent thee from felicity a while, And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain To tell my story. (Hamlet, Hamlet to Horatio) ~ Go to your bosom; Knock there, and ask your heart what it doth know…  (Measure for Measure, Isabella)

Shakespeare as you’ve never heard him before! I think the Bard would dig this jazzy interpretation:

Definitions of heart

  1. A hollow, muscular organ, which, by contracting rhythmically, keeps up the circulation of the blood.
  2. The seat of the affections or sensibilities, collectively or separately, as love, hate, joy, grief, courage, and the like; rarely, the seat of the understanding or will; — usually in a good sense, when no epithet is expressed; the better or lovelier part of our nature; the spring of all our actions and purposes; the seat of moral life and character; the moral affections and character itself; the individual disposition and character; as, a good, tender, loving, bad, hard, or selfish heart.
  3. The nearest the middle or centre; the part most hidden and within; the inmost or most essential part of any body or system; the source of life and motion in any organization; the chief or vital portion; the centre of activity, or of energetic or efficient action; as, the heart of a country, of a tree, etc.
  4. Courage; courageous purpose; spirit.
  5. Vigorous and efficient activity; power of fertile production; condition of the soil, whether good or bad.
  6. That which resembles a heart in shape; especially, a roundish or oval figure or object having an obtuse point at one end, and at the other a corresponding indentation, – used as a symbol or representative of the heart.
  7. One of a series of playing cards, distinguished by the figure or figures of a heart; as, hearts are trumps.
  8. Vital part; secret meaning; real intention.
  9. A term of affectionate or kindly and familiar address.
  10. t. To give heart to; to hearten; to encourage; to inspirit.
  11. i. To form a compact centre or heart; as, a hearting cabbage.

All emotion emanates from the heart. It is the first organ that develops in a growing foetus, even before the brain.

“It is in the heart that the values lie. I wish I could make him understand that a loving heart is riches, and riches enough, and that without it intellect is poverty.” ~ Mark Twain

It makes sense to me that emotional intelligence comes from the heart and intellectual intelligence comes from the mind. The two are separate yet cannot exist without the other, the yin and yang of our physical existence. It seems that our creator trapped us in a biological duality of heart and mind, where our challenge lies in finding balance within the dichotomy of reason and passion.

It is a question pondered by greater poets than me.

Heart and Mind

SAID the Lion to the Lioness – ‘When you are amber dust, –

No more a raging fire like the heat of the Sun

(No liking but all lust) –

Remember still the flowering of the amber blood and bone,

The rippling of bright muscles like a sea,

Remember the rose-prickles of bright paws

 

Though we shall mate no more

Till the fire of that sun the heart and the moon-cold bone are one.’

 

Said the Skeleton lying upon the sands of Time –

‘The great gold planet that is the mourning heat of the Sun

Is greater than all gold, more powerful

Than the tawny body of a Lion that fire consumes

Like all that grows or leaps…so is the heart

 

More powerful than all dust. Once I was Hercules

Or Samson, strong as the pillars of the seas:

But the flames of the heart consumed me, and the mind

Is but a foolish wind.’

 

Said the Sun to the Moon – ‘When you are but a lonely white crone,

And I, a dead King in my golden armour somewhere in a dark wood,

Remember only this of our hopeless love

That never till Time is done

Will the fire of the heart and the fire of the mind be one.’

~ Edith Sitwell (1944)

The heart and its mysteries will always be at the root of popular culture. I don’t recall Elton John singing, “Don’t go breaking my brain.” It doesn’t sound right and it doesn’t feel right…

breakup quotes5jpg

“If my heart could do my thinking, and my head begin to feel, I would look upon the world anew, and know what’s truly real.” ~ Van Morrison

So how do we attain the ideal marriage between the heart and mind? That state of alignment and inner peace, which promotes optimal health and a feeling of good will to all man, of spiritual connection?

“It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Aristotle - Educating-the-mind-without-educating-the-heart-is-no-education-at-all.

Increasing one’s intellect is sometimes an arduous task, and for some of us, there’s only so far our grey matter will take us (thanks genes). I’m all for constant learning. I’m a learning junkie. But the heart’s capacity to love knows no limits and is not dependent on knowledge.

The Heart — an organ of truth and emotion

It turns out that living a heart centred life isn’t a sound bite of new-age mumbo jumbo, it’s based on hard science. Positive emotions and living in alignment with our strengths, virtues, passions and purpose creates coherence with the mind. Scientists have discovered that the heart has its own neurons which communicate with the brain more than the brain communicates with the heart. It’s a symbiotic relationship.

HEART-PPT

HEAD-PPT

Heart-head-cred

“I think… if it is true that

there are as many minds as there

are heads, then there are as many

kinds of love as there are hearts.” ~ Leo Tolstoy (Anna Karenina)

History of the heart

The ancient Egyptians recognised that the heart represents truth. The heart knows when we are in love, it gives us that ecstatic yet unsettling fluttering sensation which is beyond our control. The swelling and warmth we feel when we think of those we love. Whether we are being true to ourselves, or being less than truthful, it beats steadily or erratically accordingly. We may be able to fool others, but we can’t fool our heart.

if-you-want-to-know-where-your-heart-is-look-where-your-mind-goes-when-it-wanders-quote-1

“Alas! there is no instinct like the heart…” ~ Lord Byron

That’s why many organisations use Polygraph tests when questioning suspects and witnesses, so they can measure potential physiological changes that take place during questioning. The lie detector tests measure pulse, blood pressure, respiration and skin conductivity, all of which are controlled by the heart and cardio vascular system.

“The heart is the perfection of the whole organism. Therefore the principles of the power of perception and the soul’s ability to nourish itself must lie in the heart.” ~ Aristotle

Could it be that the voice of conscience we hear in our head actually has its Head Office located in our heart?

Heart quote

“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” ~ Kahlil Gibran

It has been discovered that the heart emits its own powerful electro-magnetic field, and that our hearts are linked energetically to those we love regardless of distance. Science tells us that we are all connected at the quantum level.

Mysteries of the Heart:

The Heart’s Intuitive Intelligence: A path to personal, social and global coherence:

An interesting and enlightening TED Talk from Howard Martin, one of the original leaders who helped Doc Childre found the HeartMath Institute. I think he eloquently answers my questions!

When he talks about how human heart energy interacts and affects the planet’s ionosphere; it’s quite fitting that an anagram of HEART is EARTH.

To bear malice is ultimately affecting us more adversely than the person or thing we are scornful of. A Happy heart is a healthy heart.

Daisy shaped heart

Until the next time, from the bottom of my heart!

“It is our heart working in tandem with our brain that allows us to feel for others … It is ultimately what makes us human… Compassion is the heart’s gift to the rational mind.” ~ David Malone

#SundayBlogShare – Hearing the Heart 💗

Heartfelt verses to sweeten your Sunday!

Hearing the Heart

The Heart and the Head are sometimes at odds,

But the Heart wields the ultimate power.

It is the Heart that has a mind of its own; not in my control,

My Heart: a field of pure love than emanates towards you.

The Golden Hours - Lord Frederick Leighton c. 1864

The Golden Hours – Lord Frederick Leighton c. 1864

All housed in a squidgy mass of pulsating muscle,

Keeping me alive, yet drawing me to you, like a magnet,

Encompassing everything it means to be human.

An eternal passion pumps and swirls within its red chambers,

Heart - Alie Ward

Heart – Alie Ward

Forcing blood through my veins; expressing my soul,

Its true purpose is giving meaning to the biology of existence.

Without a heart we would be mere machines,

Alive, but not living, not in love with life.

Lawrence Alma-Tadema - An earthly Paradise c. 1891

Lawrence Alma-Tadema – An earthly Paradise c. 1891

And in giving new hearts life, it burgeons with joy,

Connected hearts are the music of the cosmos.

My Heart is strong and resilient, driving gallons of crimson fuel,

But the paradox remains: it is also fragile.

Sir Frank Bernard Dicksee - Romeo & Juliet c. 1884

Sir Frank Bernard Dicksee – Romeo & Juliet c. 1884

It can shatter into a million pieces and still breathe life,

But the shards stab with a pain not of this world.

I listen, but I must also hear…

The message is clear. Without love, I cannot live.

By Virginia Burges

Variations on a Theme of Love

“The more we give love, the greater our capacity to do so.” ~ Dr. David R Hawkins

Gustav_Klimt_The KissAs Valentine’s Day is approaching, I thought I might as well jump on the love bandwagon!

I probably should have written this post in French; étant le vrai langage de l’amour.

In terms of the arts, nothing captures the many facets of love like music. Just as a single ray of light dances through the prisms of a diamond, casting a beautiful, ethereal spectrum; so can the notes of a captivating romance, passionate rhapsodie, reflective nocturne or a soulful sonata evoke certain emotional states in the listener. States that can place you into a poignant memory or an ardent fantasy, or the many moods in between.

And now for the scientific part:

A musical tone makes physical objects vibrate at its frequency, the phenomenon of sympathetic reverberation. A soprano breaks a wineglass with the right note as she makes unbending glass quiver along with her voice. Emotional tones in the brain establish a living harmony with the past in a similar way. The brain is not composed of string, and there are no oscillating fibers within the cranium. But in the nervous system, information echoes down the filaments that join harmonious neural networks. When an emotional chord is struck, it stirs to life past memories of the same feeling.

(A general Theory of Love)

Over to you Ludwig!

Now, us ladies love to be romanced (generally speaking), and I’m sure it’s true for most women that being desired by your sweetheart is somewhat of a potent aphrodisiac, and makes us every bit as enthusiastic about amatory pursuits as lovers, partners or husbands.

Frank Dicksee - Romeo-and-Juliet-ArtworkBut there’s more than one type of love, although it’s usually the romantic and erotic type of love that society pays the most attention to.  Even more so, at this time of year, thoughts turn to the intimate relationship between a man and a woman. Hall & Oates captured the sentiment in the lyrics of their song, Kiss On My List. 

Come the 14th not everyone will be fortunate enough to be with a loving partner, and Valentine’s Day can be quite depressing if you believe your happiness solely rests on a romantic connection. It’s an endless commercial love-fest of adverts, romcoms, red roses and card sales. I would never berate a man for giving me roses, (quite the opposite), but the expectation it puts on people means the true meaning of love can get distorted and exploited on Valentine’s Day.

It’s as much about friendship, companionship, kindness, sharing, trusting and understanding as it is about pleasures of the flesh; although who wouldn’t enjoy a night of unbridled lovemaking with their sweetheart? Moving on swiftly…

Even without love, the pleasure part can be addictive. I’m sure the sexual exploits of Giacoma Casanova left a trail of devastated hearts in women across 18th century Europe. Perhaps he was the first celebrity womaniser?

Love, or the lack of, affects everyone. In 450 B.C., Hippocrates stated that emotions emanate from the brain.  You and I are mammals, and as such we’re subject to limbic resonance and limbic regulation.

Love is, without doubt, the most powerful force on the planet. It can heal, sooth, excite, placate, reassure, create new life and put one into a state of ecstacy. However, those moments can be relatively short lived. For constant happiness to abide in your heart, you have to be able to extend love and forgiveness to yourself first.

The basis of all love is self-love. If you love and respect yourself, you will be able to pass on that energy to others. There’s nothing selfish or unhealthy about that. Self-loathing, guilt and repressed emotions are all blocks to giving and receiving such love.

“Immature love says: ‘I love you because I need you.’ Mature love says ‘I need you because I love you.” ~ Erich Fromm (The Art of Loving).

The Jewish Bride, 1665 by Rembrandt van RijnThe immature love is a dependency. You love that person because of the way they make you feel, and when that feeling has gone you will feel bereft and perhaps then look for someone else who can provide those emotions. But the mature love means you love someone for who they are.

You are tender, kind and passionate, but do not depend on them for your own happiness. Instead, you treasure each moment with them, appreciating and respecting them for who they are, for their unique personality, talents, endearing qualities and flaws, wanting their happiness as much as your own.

That’s where the ‘variations’ come in. The basic ‘theme’ is the person you become by your lovingness towards your kin and the wider world, and with that comes the capacity to truly appreciate love in all its glorious forms: the sensual, the passionate, the platonic, the maternal, the highs, the lows and the middle ground.

vigee_lebrun_self_portrait_c1789Maternal love is so strong that nothing can break it, (perhaps with the exception of mental illness). Whilst your offspring may drive you crazy and push you to the limit on occasion, you know that no matter what, you will always love and protect them. Part of that love is knowing when to nurture, and when to promote independence and foster self-reliance. The love of parents plays a huge role in a child’s self-esteem and development. Never criticize the person, only cite the action.

And just as the unwavering love children are shown promotes harmony in families, so can the loving behaviour we all show to each other, to friends, aquaintances and even to total strangers, promote a healthy global community.

To be able to suspend our judgements of others and love unconditionally is no easy task, but it comes from the standpoint of compassion and understanding. We are all at different points in our spiritual evolution.

nelson-mandela-quote

I’ve long been a student of the late Dr. David R Hawkins, founder of the Institute for Advanced Spiritual Research, and author of many illuminating books. He also gave many brilliant lectures and interviews during his life. His book Power vs. Force totally changed my perspective on life (see Veritas Publishing).

He often cited instances where the caring and loving attitude of a doctor towards both the patient and their recovery would have a beneficial impact on their healing. An advocate of animals, he believed that the unconditional love shown by dogs to their human companions could add as much as 10 years to their life. Especially if that person was elderly, isolated and lonely.

“Love is misunderstood to be an emotion; actually, it is a state of awareness, a way of being in the world, a way of seeing oneself and others.” ~ David R. Hawkins

Here is a wonderful talk he gave on unconditional love:

There is so much mesmerising art and beautiful prose written about love, and that is what I will leave you with.

“I loved you first: but afterwards your love”

Poca favilla gran fiamma seconda. – Dante

Ogni altra cosa, ogni pensier va fore,

E sol ivi con voi rimansi amore. – Petrarca

I loved you first: but afterwards your love

Outsoaring mine, sang such a loftier song

As drowned the friendly cooings of my dove.

Which owes the other most? my love was long,

And yours one moment seemed to wax more strong;

I loved and guessed at you, you construed me

And loved me for what might or might not be –

Nay, weights and measures do us both a wrong.

For verily love knows not ‘mine’ or ‘thine;’

With separate ‘I’ and ‘thou’ free love has done,

For one is both and both are one in love:

Rich love knows nought of ‘thine that is not mine;’

Both have the strength and both the length thereof,

Both of us, of the love which makes us one.

Christina Rossetti

JW Waterhouse - the-awakening-of-adonis-1899

“Love one another, but make not a bond of love:

Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.”

Kahlil Gibran, (The Prophet)

Cupid_in_a_Landscape_by Sodoma

As for me, Cupid has pierced my heart, his arrow is well and truly lodged!

Cupid, draw back your bow… The dulcet tones of the ‘king of soul’ Sam Cooke:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove:

O no! it is an ever-fixed mark

That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wandering bark,

Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.

Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickle’s compass come:

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,

But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me proved,

I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

William Shakespeare (Sonnet 116)

Percy Bysshe Shelley – Love’s Philosophy:

C’est tous mes chéris, Je t’aime!

Thomas Tallis – If Ye Love Me:

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.” ~ Jimi Hendrix