The paradox of learning to love

“Love isn’t something natural. Rather it requires discipline, concentration, patience, faith, and the overcoming of narcissism. It isn’t a feeling, it is a practice.” 

“Love is a decision, it is a judgment, it is a promise. If love were only a feeling, there would be no basis for the promise to love each other forever. A feeling comes and it may go. How can I judge that it will stay forever, when my act does not involve judgment and decision.” 

“Paradoxically, the ability to be alone is the condition for the ability to love.”

“The main condition for the achievement of love is the overcoming of one’s narcissism. The narcissistic orientation is one in which one experiences as real only that which exists within oneself, while the phenomena in the outside world have no reality in themselves, but are experienced only from the viewpoint of their being useful or dangerous to one. The opposite pole to narcissism is objectivity; it is the faculty to see other people and things as they are, objectively, and to be able to separate this objective picture from a picture which is formed by one’s desires and fears.” 

“The faculty to think objectively is reason; the emotional attitude behind reason is that of humility. To be objective, to use one’s reason, is possible only if one has achieved an attitude of humility, if one has emerged from the dreams of omniscience and omnipotence which one has as a child. Love, being dependent on the relative absence of narcissism, requires the developement of humility, objectivity and reason. 

“The mature response to the problem of existence is love.” 

“To have faith requires courage, the ability to take a risk, the readiness even to accept pain and disappointment. Whoever insists on safety and security as primary conditions of life cannot have faith; whoever shuts himself off in a system of defense, where distance and possession are his means of security, makes himself a prisoner. To be loved, and to love, need courage, the courage to judge certain values as of ultimate concern – and to take the jump and to stake everything on these values.” 

One of the best books I’ve ever read, while also the most challenging to grasp its significance in our modern society, from The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm,

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Love this post, beautiful job, em!! And love the book excerpts; I need to check it out.

    How are you?! Been too long since we talked; miss you!!! I just got back from VN, was thinking of you! Send me an email; we need to catch up! 🙂

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Chi!

      I miss you too. I think of you sometimes. I wish I had known that you were in Vietnam. I told my parents a lot about you. Your passion for art and cuisine has always been an inspiration to me, chi!

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