Like Milk and Water Mixed

Love is not necessarily an easy subject to write about. Studies of the subject by philosophers, psychologists and sociologists usually focus on one or another of its forms, most commonly romantic or conjugal love, and often use the word “love” without making it clear what is meant by it. Popular writing and discourse on the subject characteristically get lost in flood of clichés and ecstatic claims that evoke uplifting feelings but do not necessarily encourage realistic thinking. I have tried to define love in a way that will be recognisable to most people and which encompasses most of the experiences usually thought of as love. I had originally intended to write mainly about universal or brotherly love, what the Buddha called mettā. But it soon became clear that this highest of loves is intimately connected with and perhaps necessarily preceded by other types. It is like pulling a thread out of a tapestry. As it comes it draws out so many other threads with it. Thus I was eventually led to explore six different loves. I could have included other types as well but decided to limit myself to those loves about which the Buddha had something to say or which are relevant to practising Buddhism.

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