In Volumes I & II of this treatise on Love, we discussed the facets, or definitions, and the actions associated with Love. Now that we have an understanding of what Love means and how we can show it, we can discuss the pitfalls of Love, or what to look out for as we attempt to follow the path of Love.
In this volume I will discuss the paths we may go down that would lead us away from Virtuous Love. Some of these dangerous paths may be obviously leading you away from Love, others may be more obscure. These paths may seem as if you are on the way to Love, but lead you away.
Love is meant to be shared with others. When it begins to be shared with ones self above others the Virtue of Love is being mislaid. This is very different from the Personal Love discussed in Volume II. When one speaks highly of one's self, when one strives to become the best, or when one strives to be the most beautiful - these actions are directed only to ones self and benefit no one.
This is Vanity and can cause people to only Love themselves. They care more about themselves: how they look and how their actions are perceived by others. Those who end up not being able to turn Personal Love into a shared experience become Vain and are no longer on the Path of Love. A Vain person Loves themselves and themselves alone. They believe that Love is based on perceptions and not actions. If a Vain person looks the best and can show people they are the best, then they feel they are deserving of Love.
Some may say that when they spend time on themselves they are better prepared to help others. This is true, unless they hoard their abilities and what they have gained through their own Love. As seen in Volume II, Personal Love is only true Love when shared with others. It is the lowest tier of Love and is not the entirety of Love.
Indeed the fable, "The Most Beautiful Heart" exemplifies this fact. The young man in the fable who has the most beautiful heart, worked to ensure it was the most beautiful. He did not share parts of his heart, like the old man, and therefore did not fully understand Sacrifice and the Compassion of others. His heart did not hold Love, only Vanity. The same can be said of those who work to become the best shot with a bow, or work to craft the finest goods. Unless they share with others, Love is lost. Unless Love is shared, it becomes Pride.
Pride is the Love of yourself and what you can do. Pride is showing off your abilities, for recognition, not to help others. Pride is also showing off your abilities because you know you are better than those you are helping - even if you are helping, or end up helping, others. It does not help others if you are Prideful. The end result of Pride is to show off, and to take Love from others.
Pride is very similar to Vanity. The difference is quite subtle. A Prideful person wants love, they act to show off and await recognition and love. They may not Love themselves at all. A Vain person Loves themselves above all others. They believe that others should love them because of their abilities, looks or actions. They expect love from others.
Pride and Vanity can lead to Arrogance: the belief that you are better than others. It is the belief that whatever you know, can do, or think is inherently better than others or what others can do. Whether the Arrogant person desires (Pride) Love or Loves themselves (Vanity) they act only to make themselves fell better, not to share Love.
I will give myself as an example. I am greatly interested in the quest for Knowledge and Truth. As part of this quest I have written this Treatise on Love and want to share it with any who wish to read it. I do this because I Love learning.
If I were to guard this knowledge and not share it because it is too good for others to read, or my thoughts are better than any argument that would come, that would be Arrogance. It also would be Arrogant to believe that I am, because of my quest for knowledge better in any way than anyone because of the knowledge I have. If I did this, I would be far from the Path of Love.
Arrogance can lead to Jealousy a very deep and dangerous antithesis of Love. Jealousy is the belief that others are better than you, or what others have is better or more important than what you have.
Jealousy is the opposite of Extra-Personal Love and its common antithesis. When someone wishes to Love another, yet they love a third, Jealousy is the feeling that overwhelms us. That third, in our hearts and minds, become better in every way. Whatever they do differently than us is the reason why our affection has been scorned.
If we are in a relationship with someone, Jealously makes others look like they are better and will 'steal' who we are in a relationship with.
The same can be said of items. If we are living in a small house (or, like me, without a house) we may see other, larger houses as being better. We may wish to break into those houses and stay there, or if we are far too Jealous, destroy that house in covetous rage. Instead we must learn to Love what we have.
Jealously can make us thieves if we desire what others have. It may make us destroyers, if we work to obtain things others have. Theft and destruction are the direct opposite to Love. Love is sharing and giving everything we have.
Love requires patience, Compassion, Sacrifice and a sense of Justice. Your actions should benefit others, take something of yourself and be fair and right for all. If not, then they require some change to realign them to the Virtues.
No one is perfect. The Path of the Virtues is never-ending and not easy. Perfection is not the goal if you walk the Path of the Virtues. Instead, simple self-reflection and understanding of your actions are preferred.
Hopefully this Treatise that speaks on Love can assist you in reflecting on your actions to align them towards Love. No matter what choice you make, no matter what action you take, do it for others and you will be starting on the right path.