A person once asked me about the difference between what they called the personal love that we have for friends and family, and the impersonal love that we have for everyone.
In reality, there is no difference—love is love. It’s either love or it is not love. It’s not ‘personal’ or ‘impersonal’.
Love for our family is beautiful and it is our first opportunity to experience and express love for another, so in that sense it’s divine. Starting from that point, we need to expand it.
Most people don’t find it very difficult to love their family—it feels beautiful to express love. To go beyond that into loving strangers that we don’t know and—let’s move beyond even that—loving strangers that we don’t know and who don’t like us—now we are moving into what you may call impersonal love. But there is no difference in love.
My mother died when I was very young, around three years old, and my father’s way was ‘old school’ or macho. His love was like a John Wayne type of love. He never said, “I love you,” and as a matter of fact the most physical love he ever showed me is once when he tapped me gently on the head.
But does that mean he doesn’t love me? Do we need to hear someone say, “I love you, I love you,” and if they say that very often does that mean they love us more? No.
When I was young I actually thought my father didn’t love me. Then one day we were eating fish at the dining table and he took the best part of the fish and put it on my plate. When I saw that I thought, “Wow, he actually loves me.” But he didn’t say, “I love you,” he just did it.
So to experience another human being loving us is beautiful, and to express our love to another human being is beautiful. That’s actually what we live for. But we need to expand it beyond our family. Why? Because our life, naturally, is made up of interactions with many people who are not our family.
It is a beautiful feeling to express our love for friends and family, so when we expand to express our love to others beyond that it is just another opportunity to feel beautiful. If our love is restricted to our friends and family only, then we are not making the most of the opportunity to express love and to feel beautiful. Our experience of that beautiful feeling becomes just a fraction of what it could be.
So we can say personal love or impersonal love, but I don’t see it like that. I just see it as love and more love.