When we think of love, we often think of what is known as eros, or passionate love, which we feel in a romantic relationship. However, this is just one example of love. Another form of love called agape love is a purer form of love that elevates those involved to a higher level. The term agape love was originally coined by the Greeks and later adopted by Christianity. Examples of this type of love can be found in historical documents including Greek philosophy and the New Testament. To find out how agape love can enhance our lives, we must look more deeply into its meaning.
What is Agape Love?
At its core, agape love is universal love for everyone, including strangers, and for the spirit that guides us all. It is not limited by family bonds or romantic entanglements. Instead, it reflects the universal themes of altruism and self-sacrifice, which encourages us to meet people where they are instead of judging or wondering what they can offer in return for our love. When we feel agape love, we feel connected to everyone on the planet as well as to nature and spirit. It is truly the purest form of love and one that has a positive effect on everyone it touches.
How to Practice Agape Love
Practicing agape love in our current society is not always easy, but it is worth it. Here are some ways we can incorporate it into our relationships with others and with the universe.
Set aside selfishness. When we love others with no expectation of receiving anything in return, we are practicing agape love. This means the focus is on the giving, rather than on receiving love, affection, or positive regard in return for our own loving thoughts and actions. We give from the heart, simply for the purpose of giving.
Appreciate others for who they are. So often we can regard others through a lens of who we want them to be and not for who they actually are. This is a form of selfishness that leaves both us and the other person feeling let down, bitter, or not good enough. Agape love encourages us to accept others and understand they are on their own unique path in life.
Practice forgiveness. No one is perfect, and agape love reminds us that holding onto any resentment or anger is harmful and erodes the foundation of love. When we practice forgiveness whether or not an apology was offered, we lighten our burden and extend to others the principle that is at the root of agape love.
Use loving kindness meditation. Extending love to all those in our universe, human and non-human alike, is a key part of agape love. A great way to do this is through a loving kindness meditation. Send goodwill and kindness out through your heart to all the beings in the universe.
Agape love is a gift both for us and for all those touched by it. When we set aside our concept of self and understand we are connected to everything in the universe, we can better use agape love to improve our earthly experience.