A brief debut primer on love that asks readers to proceed with both caution and bravery.
In 1924, English intellectual A. R. Orage wrote an essay, “On Love: Freely Adapted from the Tibetan,” in which he explored the esoteric teachings of his friend and spiritual mentor, G. I. Gurdjieff, as well as his own complex relationship with the writer Katherine Mansfield and, later, with his wife, Jessie Dwight. In it, Orage outlined three kinds of love, which correspond to three spiritual levels of development: instinctual, emotional, and conscious. According to Orage, the highest form of love, conscious love, requires a person to help bring about the beloved’s perfection without selfishness, obsession, or succumbing to the influence of the chemical high of the first stages of attraction. Because “On Love” is steeped in metaphysical Tibetan philosophy, Cooley endeavors to distill the essay into 13 “rules” of love. Beginning with the first, an advisory that “you will physically wig out,” and ending with the 13th, an assertion that “the duty of love is to let go,” Cooley traces Orage’s argument in what one might call a cheat sheet to the original essay. Most of Cooley’s advice, via Orage, is illuminating: “To practice love is to contemplate the needs and desires of the beloved; to study and watch, gently anticipating and offering. Over time and with great effort, a lover may come to know something of what will make his beloved more perfectly herself.” Other elements of Cooley’s work, however, may be too heteronormative and procreation-focused to appeal to a wider audience (“From a woman’s physical point of view, sex means ‘I accept you as someone with the biological and personal traits I would approve of in my children’ ”). Overall, however, those who find that love is more of a battlefield than a privilege will appreciate this alternative perspective.
Although this short work has its limits, it provides a view of love that just might be what the world needs now.