Erich Fromm’s 1950 masterpiece, The Art of Loving, is a timeless work on the critical element that fuels every aspect of our existence. Without the energetic force of Love, nothing in our world would survive as it is the Light that illuminates the Dark. Fromm, as a psychotherapist, intimately knew the human psyche’s need for love, and his work as a sociologist helped him make the connection of how love is the creative force that drives humanity’s only worthwhile and enduring achievements.
As the title states, Fromm recognized that one does not easily acquire Love Mastery, rather it is an Art that must be mastered. Right from the onset, Fromm leaves not doubt for the reader of the investment required :
The reading of this book would be a disappointing experience for anyone who expects easy instruction in the art of loving. This book, on the contrary, wants to show that love is not a sentiment which can be easily indulged in by anyone, regardless of the level of maturity reached by him. It wants to convince the reader that his attempts for love are bound to fail, unless he tries most actively to develop his total personality, so as to achieve a productive orientation; that satisfaction in individual love cannot be attained without the capacity to love one’s neighbor, without true humility, courage, faith, and discipline. In a culture in which these qualities are a rare achievement. Or -anyone can ask himself how many truly loving persons he has known.
And that sentence is truly the crux of our problem – we instinctively recognize the importance of love, but in looking around, we don’t really see many great examples of it in our daily lives. Our actions and intentions don’t reflect our aspirations. Taking appropriate action (giving rather than receiving) for Fromm, is in fact a key aspect of mastering the art of love:
Most people see the problem of love primarily as that of being loved, rather than that of loving, of one’s capacity to love. Hence the problem to them is how to be loved, how to be lovable.
And, maybe, here lies the answer to the question of why people in our culture try so rarely to learn this art, in spite of their obvious failures: in spite of the deep-seated craving for love, almost everything else is considered to be more important than love: success, prestige, money, power – almost all our energy is used for the learning of how to achieve these aims, and almost none to learn the art of loving.
If love is so critical to our very existence, then you would think we would be teaching it everywhere. But the reality is far from that:
- Our k-12 school systems don’t teach love and definitely not unconditional love. In fact, everything in schools is “conditional” – our children are taught early on that their “worth” is determined by test scores, achievement in sports, and following rigid rules and regulations. The love-light that each child is born with is slowly dimmed as they are taught to compete with their classmates, not love them. They are also taught, that what they “loved” to do as young children has no “marketable value” and therefore must be abandoned. Most of these children will then grow to be adults and search for years for the love that was taken from them.
- Our traditional religious institutions are rarely teaching unconditional love – at least based upon the words and actions of their congregations. In fact, by separating god into many sects, we end up ensuring a divided humanity. Where is the “unity” in that?
- If true love is displaying deep unconditional caring for others, then our corporations on a daily basis violate the spirit of this objective. “Profit Maximization” – which is the “legal requirement” of a for-profit corporation’s board of directors means you do whatever is necessary to realize that profit, even if it means you will be treating others un-lovingly or even hurting them in unseen ways. You may not treat them in an “illegal” fashion, but that’s a far cry from love. So with so much of our population spending most of their waking hours at work, we drill into the human consciousness that to “not-love” is good for business.
- Many say that love is meant to be experienced at home, with the family. But at least in America, the health of the family has been under sustained attack for the last 100 years. 75% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck and 25% of children live in poverty in the world’s wealthiest nation. Persistent economic stress does not breed a loving family environment. Yet, in this tense climate, media and the government promote a consumerist culture (in the guise that its the only way to keep the economy going) along with a continuous war mentality that keeps the population on the edge. Add in the 80,000 chemicals added to the food and water supply and you have weaponized the living conditions for a large part of humanity. How did we let it happen?
Divide and Conquer
In each of the cases above, the institutions in question end up promoting separation among people rather than unity and interconnectedness. This of course is not by accident – “divide and conquer” is an ancient strategy. For Fromm, separation is the destructive force present within the human condition:
The experience of separatene ss arouses anxiety; it is, indeed the source of all anxiety. Being separate means being cut-off, without any capacity to use my human powers. Hence to be separate means to be helpless, unable to grasp the world – things and people – actively; it means that world can invade me without my ability to react. Thus separateness is the source of intense anxiety. Beyond that, it arouses shame and the feeling of guilt. This experience of guilt and shame in separateness is expressed in the Biblical story of Adam and Eve. After Adam and Eve have eaten of the ‘tree of knowledge of good and evil’, after they have disobeyed (there is no good and evil unless there is freedom to disobey), after they have become human by having emancipated themselves from the original animal harmony with nature, ie., after their birth as human beings – they saw ‘that they were naked – and they were ashamed.’ Should we assume that a myth as old and elementary as this has the prudish morals of the nineteenth century outlook, and that the important point the story wants to convey to us is the embarrassment that their genitals were visible? This can hardly be so, and by understanding the story in a Victorian spirit, we miss the main point, which seems to be the following: after man and woman have become aware of themselves and of each other, they are aware of their separateness, and of their difference, inasmuch as they belong to different sexes. But while recognizing their separateness they remain strangers, because they have not yet learned to love each other (as is also made very clear by the fact that Adam defends himself by blaming Eve, rather than by trying to defend her). The awareness of human separation, without reunion by love – is the source of shame. It is at the same time the source of guilt and anxiety. The deepest need of man, then, is the need to overcome his separateness, to leave the prison of his aloneness. Man 0f of all ages and cultures – is confronted with the solution of one and the same question: the question of how to overcome separateness, how to achieve union, how to transcend one’s own individual life and find at-onement.
With such a strong internal, instinctive desire, you would think that Man would be running full steam ahead into Unity and Oneness. But something is getting in the way. Some form of manipulation that creates fear in a person that makes separation appear as normal, necessary, and even a good-thing. In fact, since the instinctive drive towards unity is so powerful, this manipulative force must be even greater than all of Man’s intellectual and technological powers and one that understands how to use use man’s mind and heart against himself. In fact, to get man to do the dirty work himself, almost willingly. This manipulative force is ‘hidden’ to the naked eye, but you can see it working through visible institutions, structures, and systems in society. We’ve spoken about some of them above, but Fromm points out that is is in fact because of man’s desire to avoid separateness which leads him to voluntarily conform to society in order to avoid it:
…In contemporary Western society the union with the group is the prevalent way of overcoming separateness. It is a union in which the individual self disappears to a large extent, and where the aim is to belong to the herd. If I am like everybody else, if I have no feelings or thoughts which make me different, if I conform in custom, dress, ideas, to the pattern of the group, I am saved; saved from the frightening experience of aloneness. The dictatorial systems use threats and terror to induce this conformity; the democratic countries, suggestion and propaganda. There is indeed, one great difference between the two systems. In the democracies non-conformity is possible and, in fact, by no means entirely absent; in the totalitarian systems, only a few unusual heroes and martyrs can be expected to refuse obedience. But in spirt of this difference the democratic societies show an overwhelming degree of conformity. The reason lies in the fact that there has to be an answer to the quest for union, and if there is no other or better way, then the union of herd conformity becomes the predominant one.
Fromm writing in 1950, after two world wars, recognized that those who wished to control humanity achieved their “divide and conquer” objectives by exploiting this conformity and herd instinct by keeping people in perpetual conflict. Which in turn, people would further increase their conformity to various sub-groups in order to reduce their separation. That division into sub-groups then causes further separation anxiety and so the cycle feeds on itself in a perpetual fashion. The irony is that as people are caught in this cycle, they actually believe and feel that they are experiencing great levels of freedom and individual choice. Sadly, a mere illusion.
Most people are not even aware of their need to conform. They live under the illusion that they follow their own ideas and inclinations, that they are individuals, that they have arrived at their opinions as the result of their own thinking – and that it just happens that their ideas are the same as those of the majority. The consensus of all serves as a proof for the ‘correctness’ of their ideas. Since there is still a need to feel some individuality , such need is satisfied with regard to minor differences; the initials on a handbag or the sweater, the name plate of the bank teller, the belonging to the Democratic as against the Republican party, to the Elks instead of the Shriners become the expression of individual differences.
So through the appearance of individuality and equality which conformity provides us, we lose our unique integrity. We move the focus of our inherent divine power from within to those things that exist outside of us as is dictated by various control mechanisms such as modern media, advertising, and economic and educational institutions. In an effort to reunite with others and embrace our inherent power of love, we ironically let it be taken away from us and with our willing acquiescence to boot.
Given this, Fromm realizes love requires conscious, proactive action on the part of man in order to truly thrive and not let love be stolen from us:
…Mature love is union under the condition of preserving one’s integrity, one’s individuality. Love is an active power in man; a power which breaks through the walls which separate man from his fellow men, which unites him with others; love makes him overcome the sense of isolation and separateness, yet it permits himself, to retain his integrity. In love the paradox occurs that two beings become one and yet remain two…In the most general way, the active character of love can be described by stating that love is primarily giving, not receiving. For the productive character, giving has an entirely different meaning. Giving is the highest degree of potency. In the very act of giving, I experience my strength, my wealth, my power. The experience of heightened vitality and potency fills me with joy. I experience myself as overflowing, spending, alive, hence as joyous. Giving is more joyous than receiving, not because it is a deprivation, but because in the act of giving lies the expression of my aliveness….Love is the active concern for the life and growth of that which we love. Where this active concern is lacking, there is no love. Care and concern imply another aspect of love; that of responsibility. Today responsibility is often meant to denote duty, something imposed upon one from the outside. But responsibility in its true sense, is an entirely voluntary act; its is my response to the needs, expressed or unexpressed, of another human being. The be ‘responsible’ means to be able and ready to ‘respond’.
If someone or entity can keep people from being responsible through their need for conformity to “group principles or norms” and abdicate their loving ability to respond, it becomes a perfect way to control a planet. But hopefully there are enough of us now that recognize the game for what it is and are ready to take back our inherent power of divine consciousness breathing through the highest love frequency and eliminate the separation that has periled us for so long. Each person who steps forward in their day to day lives and takes unconditional loving action towards another, breaks the spell of separation and begins the process of exiting from the matrix. It is the road back to re-connecting with the Creative Source of All that works through and animates everything. By experiencing that inherent connectedness with others, we migrate back to the core truth of our existence – that we are one human family – each one of us is at our core the same spark of the divine as everyone else. That realization leads to the Unity Consciousness which the planet so dearly yearns for:
The most fundamental kind of love, which underlies all types of love, is brotherly love. By this I mean the sense of responsibility, care, respect, knowledge of any other human being, the wish to further his life. This is the kind of love the Bible speaks of when it says: love thy neighbor as thyself. Brother love is love for all human beings; it is characterized by its very lack of exclusiveness. If I have developed the capacity for love, then I cannot help loving my brothers. In brotherly love, there is the union with all men, of human solidarity, of human at-onement. Brotherly love is based on the experience that we all are one. The differences in talents, intelligence, knowledge are negligible in comparison with the identity of the human core common to all men. In order to experience this identity it is necessary to penetrate from the periphery to the core. If I perceive in another person mainly the surface, I perceive mainly the differences, that which separate us. If I penetrate to the core, I perceive our identity, the fact of our brotherhood. [moreover] …Only in the love of those who do not serve a purpose, love begins to unfold.
The Divine Power of Love
Uncovering this unconditional love, love without a purpose as Fromm says, naturally takes him into the search for God. Love and God have been synonymous for eternity as most spiritual traditions have voiced their viewpoint on this subject in limitless ways. But unfortunately, the hijacking of most religious traditions by the “controller group” or cabal as some call it, has infused the philosophy of separation into the very area where Love should be in complete control. Just the fact that there are many different “religions” by its very nature “separates God into pieces”. Add in the bias towards conformity and the thought systems that says God is separate from you along with a “middleman” that you must go through or believe in in order to “be in the club” and religions inadvertently end up being perfect vehicles to separate humans and take them further away from the quest for Unity, Love, and the Divine:
The truly religious person, if he follows the essence of the monotheistic idea, does not pray for anything, does not expect anything from God; he does not love God as a child loves his father or his mother, he has acquired the humility of sensing his limitations, to the degree of knowing that he knows nothing about God. God becomes to him a symbol in which man, at an earlier stage of his evolutions, has expressed the totality of that which man is striving for, the realm of the spiritual world, of love, truth, and justice. He has faith in the principles which “God” represents; he thinks truth, lives love and justice, and considers all of his life only valuable inasmuch as it gives him the chance to arrive at an ever fuller unfolding of his human powers – as the only reality that matters, as the only object of “ultimate concern”; and eventually, he does not speak about God – nor even mention his name. To love God, if he were going to use this word , would mean, then, to long for the attainment of the full capacity to Love, for the realization of that which “God” stands for in oneself.
Fromm has made the connection that to Love is to know the power of God moving through you. As various greats have said – “Go within, or go without…”, or “The Kingdom of Heaven is Within You”. And in the last century Quantum Science showed that all material reality is governed by the equation E=mCˆ2. Energy Frequency Vibration converts into matter and vice versa. Everything has an energetic frequency in our world, as do our thoughts and emotions. Thus if you are vibrating at a high energy level, with love being pretty close to the top, then your ability to create your material reality is very high. But if your thoughts are governed by concepts of separation, the opposite of Love, then your ability to create and your channeling of the Divine Power of Love is very low. You are then at the mercy of external material forces. Which is exactly what the controller group, the cabal, have architected so as to be able to control and manipulate humanity for their un-holy purposes.
Reuniting Love and Humanity
Has the time come (or more correctly, are we now ready to move into a post-time, Love-in-the-Present Moment reality)? Hopefully the answer is a resounding yes, for if Humanity is to ascend to a higher level of existence, there is no substitute for Love as the vehicle to get it to its destination. The type of Love that flows through someone who has decided to be more “Service to Others”, rather than “Service to Self”.
Fromm in his closing summary stated the situation beautifully and it is as or more true today as it was more than sixty years ago when he wrote it. We have arrived at a great inflection point in Earth History, one that if managed correctly, will take us to great heights. But it will require a major upgrade to our Consciousness which will then allow us the ability to fundamentally reconstruct our societal systems in a way which places Love back at the center of everything we do:
People capable of love, under the present system, are necessarily the exceptions; love is by necessity a marginal phenomenon in present day Western society. Not so much because many occupations would not permit of a loving attitude, but because the spirit of a production centered, commodity greedy society is such that only the nonconformist can defend himself successfully against it. Those who are seriously concerned with love as the only rational answer to the problem of human existence must , then, arrive at the conclusion that important and radical changes in our social structure are necessary, if love is to become a social and not a highly individualistic, marginal phenomenon. The direction of such changes can, with the scope of this book, only be hinted at. Our society is run by a managerial bureaucracy, by professional politicians; people are motivated by mass suggestion, their aim is producing more and consuming more, as purposes themselves. All activities are subordinated to economic goals, means have become ends; man is an automaton – well fed, well clad, but without any ultimate concern for that which is his peculiarly human quality and function. If man is to able to love, he must be put in his supreme place. The economic machine must serve him, rather than he serve it. He must be enabled to share experience, to share work, rather than, at best, share in profits. Society must be organized in such a way that man’s social, loving nature is not separated from his social existence, but becomes one with it. If it is true, as I have tried to show, that love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence, then any society which excludes, relatively, the development of love, must in the long run perish of its contradiction with the basic necessities of human nature. Indeed, to speak of love is not ‘preaching’ for the simple reason that it means to speak of the ultimate and and real need in every human being. That this need has been obscured does not mean that it does not exist. To analyze the nature of Love is to discover its general absence today and to criticize the social conditions which are responsible for this absence. To have faith in the possibility of love as a social and not only exceptional individual phenomenon, is a rational faith based on the insight into the very nature of man.
Here’s to the Victory of the Light and the Liberation of Love on Planet Earth in the very near future…Hopefully you’ll be one of the victorious Love Warriors:
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