All Love Is Expansion All Selfishness Is Contraction Essay Sample





All Love Is Expansion All Selfishness Is Contraction

"All love is expansion, all selfishness is contraction. Love is therefore the only law of life. He who loves lives, he who is selfish is dying. Therefore love for love's sake, because it is the only law of life, just as you breathe to live.” (Swami Vivekananda)

"It is love, not reason, that is stronger than death. ” (Thomas Mann)

East and West, as eternal and immovable ideological pillars of the world’s main political, cultural, and spiritual civilizations, stand opposite each other, re-emphasizing essential ideological differences whose most aggressive earthly-physical manifestations are the mindless celebrations of death in war or the abyss of separation in general misunderstanding: the fruits of alienation and selfishness.

What, however, looms beneath such a gloomily painted reality, so characteristic of melancholic pessimism in the contemplation of many modern thinkers, is the unique and unchanging idea of expansion in love, the idea of overcoming closed systems of thought and living in weight for the absolute and timeless; unambiguous and polyphonically parallel in seemingly contradictory and conflicting aspirations of the ideological poles of East and West.

Simultaneously with scientific and technological development as the main pursuits of the essential active human spirit in the pragmatic and materialistic intent of facilitating life, the spiritual aspirations of man also developed – those aspirations often beyond the reach of the rational method.

We can, taught by the ever-growing discourse on the subject of super-rational reality, identify and examine several different sources of knowledge available to human comprehension. These are the observable natural world that surrounds us, the accumulated and systematized philosophical knowledge of our predecessors, the elusive world of artistic creation and faith (either, or should we say – both in the form of collective religious systems or individual spirituality) that illuminates and permeates all spheres of human activity. We undertook the task of proving, following these fundamental sources of knowledge, the premise that the basic idea of human spirituality in both the East and the West, despite numerous and varied cultural and dogmatic differences, is the same simplistic idea of expansion in love.

The first basic source of human knowledge is also the most primordial, as we find it in the natural world that surrounds, and of which man is an integral part. The theory of aesthetics finds the beginning of every art in the human imitation of nature.  The case is similar to other aspects of human spiritual activity: the beginning of ancient philosophy, for example, before the Socratic development of ethics is found in the study of nature, while the most primitive forms of religion arise from the animistic worship of inexplicable natural phenomena.

Nature is seen as a mindless and cruel automatic force, and man, as its part and the most developed link in the evolutionary process, is supposedly rewarded in its closed system by contracting into his own individual being, placing himself in a hostile and selfish attitude towards his environment, and therefore taking a leading position in the eternal struggle for survival and progress. Contrary to such an inimical interpretation, religious teachers of the East and the West often found in natural phenomena something that we could call the signature of the Creator or the principle of divine love. Holistically viewed, the natural world becomes an image of unity and balance, and the cyclical movement of life and death gives way to the idea of love as integration, the expansion of the individual in union with the Absolute through self-sacrifice.

The central issue of all philosophy and theology is man as a spiritual being thrown from the heights of Eden into a state of absurdity and suffering. The common philosophical solution is the acceptance of man's nostalgia for the absolute, his return to the state that the Judeo-Christian tradition calls the state before ancestral, original sin, and which the East finds in meditative yogic practice. The monastic ascetic practices of Far Eastern civilizations such as India, China, or Japan are practically indistinguishable from similar traditions in the West. In both cases, we find the need to overcome our own individuality, either through asceticism and piety in prayer or meditation or, which is equally applicable in secular spheres - through art. More than anything else, art is inconceivable without the expansion of the essence of the human being in love. Through art, as the supreme form of imitation of nature, the divine-essential is manifested through the human individual; the archetype is revealed through the particular.

Man, with his longing for the Absolute, directs his spiritual efforts upwards in prayer or meditation with the aim not of destruction, but of a kind of overcoming of ego and self, thus nullifying the inevitable bitterness of human destiny which can equally well be represented by exile from paradise and by the karmic cycle of samsara. Overcoming the closed system of the individual, the man of the East and the West expands in the community, merging with the absolute on the foundations of love as the main principle. Leaving behind the individualistic and egoistic demands of matter and instinct, the competitive imperative of self-survival, man transcends the sensory-materialist sphere, liberating himself for the sake of the idyllic image of peace is universal and ubiquitous love; he renounces nature in order to fully return to it.



Andreopoulos, Andreas & Harper Demetrios. Christos Yannaras: Philosophy, Theology, Culture, Taylor and Francis Group, 2020.

Sheffield, C.C. Frisbee. Plato: The Symposium, Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Vivekananda, Swami. Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Partha Sinha, 2019.

Zhuangzi. Zhuangzi: The Essential Writings with Selections from Traditional Commentaries, Hackett Publishing, 2011.

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Graduate professor of Language and Literature currently attending Religious study masters program at the University of Belgrade. Experienced essay writer with interests in the fields of religion, philosophy, history, psychology, anthropology, and cultural studies.