Love… The concept contemplated by philosophers, poets, and ordinary people from the beginning of time. Something we all strive to grasp, get close to, and ultimately experience. Are there really so many different definitions of love or have we actually strayed so far that we are not able to acknowledge the meaning of it?
What is Platonic Love?
The term platonic love originally comes from philosopher Plato who described his notion of love in his famous text ‘The Symposium”.
According to Plato, there are different stages of appreciation and love that a person must go through if he feels inclined to experience the ultimate and divine love, named ‘The Beautiful’. These different stages are represented by ‘The Ladder of Love – The Ascent to the Beautiful’.
So, don’t let this scare you, each step of the way is important and beautiful in its own way.
All the steps are necessary and we need to climb up this ladder of love to the very top, and then enjoy the view.
The Ladder of Love:
- The Beautiful
- The beauty of Laws and Institutions;
- The beauty of the Soul
- The beauty of the Body
So, contrary to a popular belief, platonic love is not this non-bodily and non-physical love. It is not this beautiful exchange of emotions that excludes physical and erotic attraction. On the contrary, it is the inclusion of all. I am sure that you have heard people talking about platonic love in their everyday conversations, it is now a mainstream concept, however, poorly understood. Let me explain what I mean by this.
What Plato actually wanted to say is that the appreciation of a beautiful body, this physical attraction, the love of one beautiful person is just the very first step of the way. But it is not all. It is just how it all starts. When you feel all these positive emotions towards a man or a woman, you feel attracted to him or her the moment you see him/her, that is just the love of a beautiful body.
However, what is crucial to understand is that it is how it always begins, and what happens after that, when you start climbing the ladder, that physical attraction becomes less and less important. The love of one beautiful person should never be the whole story.
Now, you should not stop there. That is just an invitation to keep climbing, and if you answer it, it may lead you to the appreciation of bigger things.
What we normally experience in the next step is a rich conversation with another person, we start to admire other people due to their qualities, desires, attitudes – this is the beauty of the soul. However, this is where it all becomes interesting. When you move beyond a single relationship, you are ascending to the level of beauty and appreciation of more than one person. This is beyond singularity, this is something that affects all of us, collective rules that affect our system. This is an even deeper level of beauty.
You start to appreciate nature, the appliances in your home, and all people in general. Let’s climb up a step higher so that you will be able to appreciate courage, wisdom, and justice. This is where you might experience the thrill of a nice word and a deeper understanding of the world. Furthermore, Plato’s idea of love does not exclude sexual desires, he just emphasizes the fact that there are deeper emotions and ecstatic feelings that are experienced once the physical beauty is appreciated.
Plato is calling you to perceive something that is beyond what meets the human eye, will you answer?
Finally, we have reached the ultimate ‘The Beautiful’ – the form of beauty itself. This is synonymous with good, the beauty itself, everlasting, never-changing, and never-fleeting love. Because, when you love something you include it as a part of yourself, there is no need for attachment because no separation is perceived. The ultimate love perceives all as one, the unity of all.
How to Reach Platonic Love?
It is important to understand that your subconsciousness is extremely important, it plays a far greater role in your life than consciousness. If your wish is to reach this ultimate type of love, the love in which all is one, start questioning yourself by doing the following:
- Make sure to dive deep into your subconsciousness;
- What are the traits that you admire about the other person?
- What are the traits that you despise about the other person?
In order to perceive other people as a part of yourself, you must be ready to first understand that your subconsciousness has a far greater role in deciding who you feel attracted to than your consciousness. That is why we so often cannot explain it. This attraction actually mirrors our childhood perception of love.
In other words, if our parents made us feel lonely, that is what our subconscious mind adapted as a definition of love. Love=loneliness. As a result, when we grow up, we feel attracted to people who trigger that emotion, and we feel that it must be love. Just understanding this, and trying to remember our childhood relationships is a great start. When you see your subconscious definition of love, you are then able to change it, and in time replace it with a new one, which includes wholeness.
The fact is that there are some specific traits that we always admire in other people, and that is an easy way to find out what are the traits that we unwillingly disowned in our childhoods. Those are the positive qualities not acceptable in our family we grew up in. When we grow up we will glorify these traits in other people, cherish, and idealize them.
For example, we might glorify a person for his ability to stand up for himself and fearlessly speak his mind. Our subconsciousness will want to become whole again by entering the relationship. This is how the need can be satisfied externally, it feels like becoming whole again. One of the ways to achieve this complete feeling of love is to love a person that exhibits that trait.
Finally, be ready to look at the traits that you despise about other people, that you absolutely hate and cannot stand. These are the traits that you rejected about yourself in your childhood, didn’t know how to deal with them, and more importantly, your caretakers didn’t.
For example, if your parents could not deal with your anger, for the sake of their love you rejected it and denied it, and have become this peaceful person. Of course, this all happened without much of your conscious awareness, so that you completely suppressed it and it became unconscious.
The person that you will be attracted to is a very angry person. This is your subconscious mind at work, trying to satisfy its own needs. You together will feel more whole but will experience a lot of pain because each will be a reminder of what is lost.
You here again have a chance to start finding the ways to honestly approve of that trait you hate, which will lead you to greater wholeness, and ultimately love of all.