“Love. You were created through love ​and you were born wired to love. That is what makes the human experience worthwhile.”

How to Combat Suffering

​Buddhism was the first philosophy/religion to appeal to me, despite being raised catholic. I was in high school when I purchased a copy of Herman Hesse’s “Siddhartha”. Later, when the emotional upheaval of transitioning from high school to college overwhelmed me, my father suggested I read the writings of the Dalai Lama.

Buddhism is such an honest and helpful philosophy: life is suffering, but there is a path to avoid suffering. Human suffering is universal. Recently, I was captivated by a fascinating article about a boy trying to sue his parents for being born. The young man claims that he never gave his consent to be born.

He compellingly explains his case. Life is suffering but death brings more suffering; why even be born. Even his parents, both lawyers in India, thought he brought up legitimate points. However, they also correctly note the impossibility of seeking a soul’s permission before conception. (See article below)

I imagined my future child asking me that question: “why did you bring me into this world?”. I know immediately what I would say. ‘Love. You were created through love and you were born wired to love.’ That is what makes the human experience worthwhile.

​Love is Greek to Me

Of course love comes in many forms and degrees. The Ancient Greeks believed there were 8 different forms of love. In defining them, they also wisely cautioned about a few of the types while encouraging others.

​Much of society is driven by the desires of the body. For this reason, sex and lust, flirting and romance, Eros and Ludus respectively, are the most prominent examples of love we see. We are bombarded with images and acclimated to the idea that these are the definitions of love. It’s reinforced by the messages in music, movies, novels, and advertising. Ancient Greeks, however, advised that these two forms of love are tumultuously dangerous (along with “Mania”, a jealous and possessive form of love).

The five remaining forms of love are more stable and fulfilling. The type of love I will have for my child will initially be “Storge” the love shared between family members. I also want to cultivate “Philia” between my child and I; that is the affectionate form of love and loyalty usually shared between friends. In the long-term, it’s only natural that we will try each other’s patience at times, this is when love becomes effortful and requires understanding. This patient form of love is known as “Pragma”.

The last two types of love I’ll be explaining, encouraging, and demonstrating for my child. Self-compassion, self-love, or “Philautia” as the Ancient Greeks named it, is not only a good practice but essential for giving and receiving the other forms of love. Unless you truly love and respect yourself, with compassion, you aren’t fully able to love another. Self-love, therefore, is fundamentally the most important of the eight forms of love.

The last is the most generous form of love. Like empathy, it should be taught and reinforced from a young age. “Agape”, or selfless love, is love as a service to others. It is love that you extend to people who haven’t earned it or maybe don’t necessarily deserve it. Agape is the spiritual form of love. It is given unconditionally.

Poetic Empiricist’s “Our Loving Chemistry”

Chemical Love

Through the magic of Chemistry, humans are wired for love. From an Evolutionary Social Psych perspective, humans, like all living things, desire to create offspring before they perish. This explains why we have chemicals, neurotransmitters and hormones, that both enhance sexual pleasure and help us bond with our offspring.

Love is exciting and can feel addicting, thanks to dopamine. Serotonin also plays a role, squirting into our synapses to enhance the pleasurable feeling of being “in love”.

The hormone oxytocin, however, is the star of the love, sex, and procreation chemicals. Oxytocin is synthesized in the hypothalamus, an area of the limbic system. The limbic system is a set of dynamic brain structures associated with emotion, memory, and learning. Amongst its many functions, oxytocin is released to increase emotional and sexual bonding.

Oxytocin plays a huge role before, during, and after childbirth. Oxytocin triggers production at mammary glands. It also triggers the onset of labor and contractions. In a cycle of positive feedback, oxytocin maintains and strengthens uterine contractions until the baby is born.

A high level of oxytocin is found in breastmilk and has been shown to be absorbed through babies’ stomachs. Breastfeeding mothers are feeding their babies this love hormone. The bond between mother and infant are increased through this exchange.

Things break, memories fade, bodies age, ​mountains crumble, but love is different.

Love Breaks Laws

Love is like a supernatural force, in that it doesn’t adhere to the Law of Entropy. It resists breaking down and survives death. The Law of Entropy states that everything, in its own time frame, will degrade to a chaotic and disorganized state. Things break, memories fade, bodies age, mountains crumble, but love is different. Love, real love, Storge, Philia, Pragma, Philautia, and Agape, grow stronger over time and outlive death.

Of course we must remember that loving and liking are not the same thing. We can dislike something about another person and still love them. When we accept what we don’t like, accepting a person for who they are, our love has the capacity to grow.

I’ve already formed a loving connection with this baby I’m carrying. I can’t imagine the depths and different types of love we will share between us. I am excited to witness my capacity for love increasing and enveloping this miraculous child.