Sunday, April 7, 2013

Shakti: "Love"

“There are as many forms of love as there are moments in time.”
- Jane Austen

 This article outlines 15 different types of love, and countless other essays, speeches, books and articles have explored this topic, since the beginning of human history.
We are fascinated with Love because it's powerful stuff.  The thrilling temporary insanity of new romantic love, the heart-melting (and ferocious) bond of maternal love, the sometimes suicidal love for tribe, faith or country.  Love has the power to inspire us to behave in ways that may seem extreme or irrational - with great enthusiasm!

There have been many studies and writings that explain the biological and evolutionary motivations for love. There are even more artistic explorations of the topic.  Sociology studies have found that about 60% of contemporary pop songs are about love.  The vast majority of films include some kind of love story, a trend in popular entertainment stretching back to the days of the ancient Greeks.  Countless books have been written about it, from love stories to philosophical treatises to "how to" manuals.

It's a topic that's near and dear to our hearts, and the heart has long been associated with love.  In earlier times, the bowels or loins were thought to generate feeling of lust and strong emotion, but by biblical times, the heart was commonly considered the source of such feelings. These days, this notion is largely considered a poetic contrivance, but new scientific studies suggests that the heart does indeed play a role in emotional processing, communicating with the brain neurologically (through the transmission of nerve impulses), biochemically (via hormones and neurotransmitters), biophysically (through pressure waves) and energetically (through electromagnetic field interactions), which significantly effects the brain's activities.

The Dalai Lama said: "Compassion and love are not mere luxuries. As the source both of inner and external peace, they are fundamental to the continued survival of our species."
Compassion is the "understanding or empathy for the suffering of others. It is regarded as a fundamental part of human love, and a cornerstone of greater social interconnection and humanism —foundational to the highest principles in philosophy, society, and personhood."
Practicing compassion has been a cornerstone of every major religion for thousands of years, and science has produced plenty of reasons for the wisdom of this.  
Compassion has been proven to make us feel good.  Empathy and altruism increases production of oxytocin, which has been linked to feelings of well-being, stress reduction, improved would healing, overcoming fears, increased generosity, emotional bonding and improved memory function.
Developing and practicing a compassionate attitude is a surefire way to increase your level of happiness and reduce suffering.
 While the ego-centric concept "every man for himself" was celebrated during the Industrial Revolution, seemingly supported by Darwin's astonishing new theories of Natural Selection, a huge amount of data collected since then has shown that altruism and cooperative behaviors are important factors in evolution and the survival of both individuals, species, and ecosystems. 

However we define or experience love in it's many forms, it is unquestionably an important aspect of our existence.  For many, it is the essential ingredient that makes life worth living.

I've expressed many aspects of love in this work from my Shakti Series.
The figure embraces herself, symbolizing self love and acceptance.
Her outstretched arms offer Compassion to her fellow human beings, and she gently reaches out to the flowers below, showing love for Nature and the global ecosystem.
The red roses are a symbol of romantic love.
Universal love is represented by a winged mandala depicting the Buddhist concept of the Universe, featuring the Ohm emblem of Universal Harmony.
On her headdress is a symbol that combines the heart and the infinity sign, expressing Eternal Love.

High quality fine art prints of this piece are available here:

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