Happy Valentine’s Day!
Actually, Happy St. Valentine’s Day.
Our present United States culture forgets the spiritual dimensions of Valentine’s Day. Whether there was an historical figure, called Valentine (bishop or monk), who was beheaded for advocating for marriage, when Claudius II outlawed it in the Roman Empire because he wanted stronger, more dedicated soldiers, doesn’t really matter. Historical confusion abounds around this Saint, even in the Catholic Church. That is not the “spiritual dimension” of St. Valentine’s Day to which I refer.
Today, Valentine’s Day is the Commercialization of Love which focuses on the emotional and physical aspects of love, not the spiritual aspects. The culture has focused on the attraction feeling of love, not the true essence of love which is selflessness. Love is not the romantic, gushy feelings of erotic desire deeply united with someone. The Greeks called that kind of love, “eros.” Nor is love the physical, compulsive drive of the body to unite with another. The Greeks called that “libido,” usually translated as “sex.” When we see love as the friendship that one has for another and all the good that one gives and gets from a true friend, that again is not pure love. The Greeks call that type of love “philia.”
No, love in the spiritual and truest sense is selflessness, selfless action. We truly are loving another when we are going out of our way to be or act for another’s welfare and not our own. The Greeks called this “agape’.” This is the spiritual meaning of LOVE. The yoga tradition calls this kind of love, selfless service or karma yoga.
We see this kind of love throughout much of our lives, but we don’t pay much attention to it. Certainly, we don’t give “selfless service” the recognition and honor that we give the “red heart” “sweetness and pleasure” type of love that a Valentine’s Day affords. This selfless love is expressed constantly by parents who sacrifice their own needs for their children’s. Or we see it when we watch someone give $10 to a street person in trouble or sad, even when that person doesn’t ask for the money.
Selfless love is the spiritual meaning of St. Valentine’s Day.
Happy Selfless Service Day!