What Is Love?

Spiritual author and teacher Andrew Cohen shares why love is so hard to define.

Read Part One of Andrew Cohen's series: Trust: Love's Sweetest Gift

Have you ever considered for yourself what love actually is?  Or do you assume you knowwhat love is, based on what others may have said about this all-important topic? Because I’m a spiritual teacher,  I’m asked about love all the time, and what I always find interesting is that people use the same word to mean so many different things. One thing I can say for sure is that we tend to use the word love for that which we feel strongly about. But we use it both to refer to personal preferences and to point to that which we consider to be the most meaningful in human experience.

Speaking personally, for example, I can honestly say: I love coffee. I love Chinese food. I really love corn on the cob. I love my new hybrid car. I love New York City, my place of birth. I love India, that land of magic and mystery. I love the Berkshire Mountains in Western Massachusetts where I live, especially in the fall when the leaves turn incandescent gold, orange, purple, and red. I love to travel and experience the freshness of impermanence and the freedom of movement. I love surrendering to overwhelming exhaustion and falling into deep sleep after returning home from long plane flights. I love my little dog and being woken up in the morning by his insistent affectionate kisses. I love my wife of 26 years and the deep trust born over time that we share. I love the powerful memory of my first serious romance when I was 16 years old. I love music. I love jazz and fusion and blues. I love to play the drums.


I love my students from all over the world, with whom I share a passion for the evolution of consciousness that enlivens, empowers, and inspires us all. I love Spirit, because I discovered its ungraspable nature to be my own True Face, the source of my freedom and all that I do. I love my Teacher, because he gave me everything. I love to teach, because it is then that I am most free. I love the life that I live, because I have been given an opportunity to make a contribution to the evolution of consciousness and culture.

So when we use the word “love,” what exactly are we talking about? Are we referring to our unique tastes and preferences? Are we referring to our experience of deep personal bonds and emotional attachments? Or are we referring to our connection to a higher spiritual Truth? Maybe we are referring to all three. These are distinctions that are not often made clearly enough.

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Andrew Cohen
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