This may seem like a small question, yet it has massive consequences on the purpose of life and our place in the world as humans. If love is an emotion, it is a chemical response to conditions in our environments. If love is instead a force which permeates the universe, then life would have evolved in the rhythm of love, and not ‘love’ as a chemical, mechanical response to life.

The dominant worldview of the past 300 years has been scientific materialism – that of a reduction of man and matter to its component parts in order to understand the working of the whole.

Let’s look into the nature of emotions, starting with a neurophysiological standpoint, and comparing that with a

Scientists have recently simplified emotions into four basic categories: are fear/surprise, sadness, anger/disgust, and happiness. Their permutation and interpenetration intertwine in an endless array of emotional color, like the pixels which make up your screen. Fear/surprise protects us from threats to our lives, sadness conditions us for social success and heightens missed opportunities, anger/disgust guards against outside incursion or wrong situations – an invading army or spoiled meat, and happiness conditions us to pursue pleasure. When we experience an emotion, we are basically reacting to a specific object in our environments which causes a response – typically one of attachment or aversion, a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ to our current situation. Emotions can feel excellent or awful, spurring us to tense up or to open wildly into bliss.

From a purely scientific perspective emotions have this power because, like any stimulus, they are chemical in nature, based on our need to reproduce, raise children, and ensure our personal survival. We become angry at a rival tribe encroaching on our foraging grounds, triggering the release of adrenaline. We become frightened caught outside during a thunderstorm, triggering the release of cortisol. We experience happiness at the smile of our lover, the birth of our infant, the hug or our child, triggering a flush of oxytocin. We feel disgust when we see that the meat has spoiled, and maggots are breeding in the inedible husk. All of these reactions are chemically triggered in nature, internal to the physical body. All are a release of an endorphin – whether dopamine, serotonin, or oxytocin in the brain, or adrenaline or cortisol in the adrenal glands.

Every square is a rectangle, yet every rectangle is not a square. Is ‘love’ a product of a chemical reaction in the brain, or are chemical reactions in the brain products of ‘love?’ In order to answer that question, we’d have to examine, in detail, ‘what is love?’ But before we do so, let’s dive a bit deeper into the neurological hardware of the emotional brain.

The connections and chemical reactions which trigger emotions occur in the midbrain, in a horseshoe-shaped organ called the thalamus. This organ is surrounded above and on all sides by the neocortex, the brain segment which bestows our conscious, ‘human’ cognition. The thalamus first rose to prominence in mammals, who come together in packs and must unite to protect one another from danger and seek out food and shelter. Mammals have pronounced and intricate dopamine, serotonin, and adrenaline reactions, which establish pack behavior and fight in groups against predators and for resources[1].

Yet there is another chemical even more essential for the partner bonding and child rearing which are a hallmark of mammals relative to other species, and what so many have deemed essential to ‘being human.’ Mammalian infants, with their large brains and hairless, squirming bodies, take a long time to reach maturity and thus require extra parental assistance to reach adulthood. Mammals have evolved to release oxytocin in order to create long-term bonds with their offspring and lovers in order to perpetuate the species. The question remains, is ‘love’ just a four-letter word to mystify the intoxication of brain chemicals or is it something beyond the current bounds of particle-focused scientific reasoning?

Scientists have famously singled out oxytocin as the ‘love drug.’ Indeed, this chemical is triggered for up to two years in new relationships – enough time for all but the most barren couple to produce a child. Oxytocin release gets retriggered for 18 months during and after pregnancy – enough time for a mother to create a stable bond with her child, yet short enough that a young mother wants another ‘hit’ of pleasure – and another child to go with it.   Without sufficient oxytocin release, such bonds, from partner to partner, and from mother to child, are neglected, or even fail to appear. All this supports the notion of ‘love’ as a chemically driven, mechanical response to external stimuli for the purpose of our multiplication.

If love is truly so mechanical, then why do spiritual seekers around the world place ‘love’ as such an importance, stressing ‘heart opening’ and a relationship to love, God, and community? If ‘love’ is just a chemical, produced by a mid-range stage of the brain, then what religions and sages rapturously speak of as love is merely a halfway-house in the evolution of human awareness. Such a love would be a useful tool to ensure our reproduction, a balm to nourish and motivate humanity to drive further in its path towards progress, but little more than the icing on the cake of reproduction and survival. In such a system, an excess of love, like an excess of any input, could likely be a hindrance to the rational discourse of the mind. This system implies that love is a byproduct of awareness and not its prerequisite.

The narrative of scientific materialism has largely been funded to render life more efficient and productive. Scientific materialism leads to noteworthy gains in understanding, functionality, and utility in the past four centuries. Yet this mode of consciousness has its limitations. It tends to perceive reality as a minute particle, and not as a living, interconnected wave. While the rational mind perceives and arranges particles, the feeling brain perceives interconnected states. The root of ‘religion’ – a re-aligning with nature, is rooted in our capacity for cognition. The ability to feel into reality is tied to an electromagnetic perception of life, located in the heart.

For the last 6,000 years our civilization has been polarized towards particle-specific consciousness, with a perception of life as an interpenetrated wave pushed to the margins of existence. This has accelerated over the last four hundred years, with the scientific consciousness replacing priesthoods, seers, and alchemists as the arbiters of what is true and real. This cultural narrative seeks to reduce every instance of life into understandable particles.

Remember, particle-focused perception is about understanding, breaking life down into perceptible chunks and utilizing those chunks for a discrete, productive purpose. Wave-focused perception is about seeing and feeling in an interconnected relationship. The union of male consciousness and female consciousness is a merger of particle and wave-centric awareness. As society has been dominated by male consciousness, it is little wonder that we have been obsessed with the action of breaking life down to its smallest particles, the masculine ‘hunt’ for understanding, rather than the feminine ‘gathering’ of the different frequencies into a cohesive waveform union. Fortunately, quantum physics is leading the charge for the superposition of multi-point focus which has been women’s forte, honoring the masculine single point focus while evolving beyond it.

And what drives this multi-point focus, this ability to blend reality together as one? Relationship. The union that joins seemingly separate ‘particles’ in a waveform of a unified whole. In a word: Love.

Women have an enhanced capacity for relationship, for holding separate objects in union, and yes, for love, due to the myriad responsibilities of creating and caring for life. Women have enhanced capacity for multi-point focus, communication, and emotional intuition feeling relative to men because of the necessity of women to bear children and raise them to adolescence. The male psyche focused on the hunt, on tracking specific objects, acquiring mates, and defending the tribe. This leads to less communication and with its emphasis on conceptual, visual cognition and spatial reasoning, the desire to find order in the world and to procure the resources which ensure survival. These are two different psyches, particle and wave based consciousness.

While both are necessary to create the container for existence as separate beings and to fill it with connection, relationships, and the stuff of life, an imbalance to particle consciousness without waveform renders life brittle, agitated, continually hunting for a boon or defending against threats. A life with only waveform consciousness without particle consciousness could drift away from purpose, from provision of the basic necessities for survival or the enactment of long-term goals.

So long as reproduction is necessary for the survival of consciousness, such chemical love is necessary – though it at times may be an inconvenience for the logical processing of those in the throes of passion.

Where does this brave new world lead? With machine learning technology, we can indeed have reproduction without love – through in vitro fertilization on the biological level, and the reproduction of machines and self-replicating computer code on the cognitive level. The mind of man is indeed evolving towards this destination, with the replication of our cognition and its gradual outsourcing to machines. In the process, partner bonds are becoming less common, relationships more geared towards short-term physical pleasure, and even the longer-term spasms of oxytocin release shortened into night long spurts. Love’s chemical connotation – less than a century old itself – has already been reduced to the mechanical.

Yet that which most call ‘love’ is only one side of the story. Just like the nebulous word ‘god,’ love loses specificity when confined by definition. Science demands specificity, creating entire vocabularies for each scientific discipline. Yet in discussing the spiritual, science kills that which it seeks to understand. Is light a particle or a wave? Is God immanent or transcendent? What is the answer? In the search for quantum particles, for God, or for the emanation of love, what you find is largely determined by what you’re looking for.

Yet – here’s the tricky, beautiful part – that in no way makes love or God subjective. That light is both a particle and a wave does not make either state, wave or particle, unreal. It is likewise with love, which I propose is a living verb, a quantum superposition of creative, abundant, caring energy which is compressed in the human mind into the noun-form ‘God.’. If matter is comprised of vibration, love is a vibrating state of matter which the noun ‘god’ walks, breathes, dreams, and lives as its active representation – the original muon which exploded into the multiplicity of our universe: God is love’s reconstruction, it’s symbolic actor in this plane, the noun which our concrete minds abstract in order to hold a reference point for the living love all around us. God is a Newtonian, clockwork universe, and love is the flow itself, of which time and space only our relative mode of measure. God is a noun, a gift and a monument for our finite selves to hold the infinite in our minds. Love is an action which predates our fixed, relative perception of time and space which bounds matter, a basic state of matter which can never end.

It has only taken us a hundred years, but we as a society are beginning to receive the lessons of the high priesthood of quantum mechanics:

“I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as a derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.” – Max Planck, originator of Quantum Theory, Nobel Laureate 1918

If we breathe into the nature of quantum theory – that everything is interconnected, that at the subatomic level, the entire world is in a superposition, pregnant on the cusp of creation. When we realize at the fundamental level that we are recreated every moment, every choice, brought back into being by the persistence of memory and the subatomic choice to be, we can see that this life is a gift that continually dances through us, that we continue to create our worlds with every breath.

Through this understanding, I hold that love is the basic resting state of all matter, a state which we can never be without. Such a conception makes space for creation in this moment, and an escape valve for a world of entropy, of decline and decay of matter. Our smallest particles never stop creating, and the universe is a canvas for our creative exploration. On the quantum level, creation does not end with the ‘big bang’ and spin out predictably into a clockwork universe with a finite end and a fixed trajectory. Our creation, and the choices within it, continue in every moment. All particles are inter-related and flexible through the waveform superposition of the quantum field. And their inter-relationship of continual creation, of abundant overflow, and of will to become and to nourish matter with continued existence, I will call ‘love.’

 

[1] This could be a reason the burning man tribe has strong substance usage – these substances stimulate neurochemical cascades beyond the brain’s normal ability to activate them, and thus allow for bonding on broader, deeper levels than were intended by nature, but are useful in the new community structures and aptitudes of the tech and new age communities.