Love is a word so incredibly overused and inflated today that it has almost totally lost the greatness of its meaning.
Yet it wasn't always like that. Today we talk about love with a variety of meanings ranging from sexuality to spirituality and the function of love has almost been forgotten, that function that was well known in antiquity.
There are many forms of love but all necessarily find their foundation in a transcendent principle.
In the film Interstellar, allow me the "profane" digression, it is said that love is the only force that transcends space and time and perhaps it really is.
In the Christian tradition, God is Love and the whole universe, in a certain sense, obeys the law of love.
The Christian tradition, however, met and clashed with the tradition, especially the Greek one, which interpreted spiritual love in a way that may appear similar to most but is, in reality, profoundly different.
This distinction between love as it was understood in ancient Greece and as it was understood after the advent of the Judeo-Christian tradition was highlighted by Anders Nygren in his monumental study “Eros and Agape”.
Those who face a path of spiritual research, even today, are confronted with these two interpretations of love which, even without realizing it, characterize, willy-nilly, the path undertaken.
Eros is often confused with carnal love, in some way contrasting it with platonic love.
In truth there is a great confusion between the terms but the continuous distinctions would take us much, too far.
We should also introduce the concepts of "high" spirituality and popular spirituality, concepts which are also only apparently in antithesis.
Already Plato, in the Symposium, gave an interpretation quite different from that which the people knew about the god Eros.
In the Symposium, the character of Socrates argues that Eros is not at all that beautiful and desired god that many imagine but that he is indeed a bristly god, poor and perpetually in search of something.
Already here we introduce, albeit in a literary way, a fundamental concept of Greek religion, namely that spirituality, spiritual love, is something that must be sought, pursued and obtained.
Man, endowed with the divine spark, can find within himself the means to return to union with the One from which he was originally separated .
The symbol of the ladder , in this type of spirituality, is fundamental because the path is an elevation that occurs by climbing the various steps of the ladder, freeing oneself with effort from one's vices and earthly constraints to reach, at the end of the ladder itself, the union with the divine.
On the contrary, in the Christian tradition, love is understood as a gratuitous act of the divine which, almost not requested, is lowered and calls the faithful to itself .
Strictly speaking, there is nothing that the individual can do to approach the divine if the divine, with a gratuitous act, does not manifest itself.
The duty of the faithful, in the Christian tradition, is therefore mainly to know how to listen to and accept the call.
The distinction made by Nygren regarding the two types of love was in some way revolutionary, the only pity that, in the desire to explore the question more and more, he perhaps gave examples that are not always suitable.
What is certain is that the two types of love have crossed the centuries like two karst rivers, sometimes uniting, sometimes dividing, re-emerging sometimes distinct and sometimes united.
The most interesting thing that anyone who is facing a path of spiritual development should notice is how almost all mysticism of a Christian matrix refers, in an not so veiled way, to Platonism and neo-Platonism, therefore to the Greek conception of love.
Almost all Christian mystics have expressed their mystical doctrine, in itself inexpressible, just as a hierarchy of levels at the apex of which is the fusion with the divine.
Any type of spirituality that refers to practices to be followed to progress on the path of the sacred implicitly refers to the concept of Eros , to the somewhat Promethean will to reach the divine with one's own means, although the divine spark has always been embedded in our soul. .
Ok, having said that practically all mystics are based on the concept of Eros, it must also be said that anyone who has embarked on a path has done so on the basis of an inexpressible feeling, a subtle call, a vocation, whatever we want to call it.
The distinction between Eros and Agape, between ascending love and descending love therefore becomes subtle again, much more indistinct than Nygren's study might lead us to believe.
Deciding to follow one path rather than another is often given by a feeling within us that we are unable to express.
Think about it: when and how did you feel the need for spirituality ? Was there a trigger event?
In my opinion when we decide to do something we do it because we have been called to do it, we feel within ourselves what could be the destination but we still do not know the stages of the journey.
It is an unfathomable event which, in a sometimes sudden and sometimes gradual way, opens up perspectives of new horizons yet to be explored and perhaps, before, even denied.