jueves, 7 de enero de 2010

THE ART OF LOVING (Erich Fromm) (English)

Lea la versión en Castellano


Man is blessed with reason, is life conscious of itself; Man is aware of himself, of his fellow men, of his past and of the possibilities of his future. This awareness of himself as an isolated being, the awareness of the brevity of his life, of the fact that Man is born without the participation of his will and that Man has to die against his will. The awareness that Man will die before those he love, or those he love before him, the awareness of his solitude, his vulnerability and his isolation makes of his isolated existence an distressing prison. Man would become mad if he couldn't escape of this prison to hold out his hand to join the rest of Men and the outside world.

Book The Art of Loving of Erich Fromm
Cover of the book The Art of Loving (Erich Fromm)


Love is this hand held out to the outside world. Love is what let Man join another person or join his fellow Men. This desire of fusion with other human beings, with the outside life is the most powerful instinct of Man. It's his most fundamental passion, the most powerful driving force of his will, the force which holds the human race and the whole society.

But the genuine love is only possible when two people speak each other from the center of their hearts, from the human essence itself. Only there life exists, only there the essence of love is. Pure love, like life itself, is a permanent challenge instead of something static. Pure love is to grow together, to work together for a better common life.


But this union with the loved person can never be at any price. It can't be achieved by renouncing the own liberty and the own essence. Mature love means union providing that the own integrity, individuality and liberty were preserved. Love is an active power of Man, a power which go through barriers which isolate Man of his fellow Men to link him to them. Love is an activity. Love isn't a passive affection because loving is to give instead of getting.

When I love, I feel alive, I feel my force and will, my richness, my immense power. Such feeling of vitality and power revitalize me and makes me feel absolutely alive.

As I give something of myself, I give my will, my capacity to make happy, my capacity to love. I give of myself, of what is more precious on me, of my life itself. I give what is alive on me - my happiness, my comprehension, my knowledge, my sadness- I give of whatever is alive on me. Giving of my life, this way, human being enrich his fellow Men, enhance the feeling of life of the other person at the same time he enhances his own feeling of life.

And, just when I give, something alive is born inside of me because I'm really grateful to the other person for letting fulfill myself, for letting me feel alive, for increasing all the life inside of me and for letting me know the beauty of generosity.


Loving is only possible from maturity. Only from maturity it's possible to develop the own capacity to generate love and to assume that to be loved involve the previous effort of loving. A person matures when he/she becomes humble and understands that loving is only possible from humility. When we love, we see in the loved person the beauty of his/her life and the beauty of all that is alive in him/her. Loving is to see that his/her life is more (or so) beautiful than the own life. Humility let us see what is beautiful in the other people. Without humility we are blind and absolutely unable to love.

Loving also makes us to evolve and to increase humanity because love powers our humility as a result of the beauty that love give us of the loved person. This need of improvement is a consequence of the own will of achieving the beauty and vitality seen in the loved person.


Love is the active worry about the life and the growth of what we love. If there isn't this active worry, there is no love. This worry leads to a responsability of acting before the needs of the other human being. The person who loves, responds voluntarily.

But the worry about the loved person must never cross the barrier of respect, the barrier of respecting the other person as he/she is, the barrier of respecting his/her liberty and being aware of its unique individuality. Respect means to worry and to struggle for the happiness of the loved person, for his/her growth, so as to he/she achieve his/her dreams and he/she grows like he/she is. For that you must have faith in the other person, you must be sure of his/her fundamental attitudes and you must trust his/her love.

If we don't trust the loved person, if we are afraid of not being loved, the real fear, although often unconscious, is to love. The real concern is the fear of not being able to generate love in the other person, is the fear of having to accept the own inability of committing oneself without guarantees. Loving is an act of faith and generosity and who hasn't much faith and generosity, also hasn't much love.

However, It's not possible to respect a person if we don't know him/her. Only if I know deeply the other person, I can know the reasons of his/her worries although he/she don't tell me anything. I must be sensitive to the other person, I must concentrate my energy on knowing objectively the other person to be able to see his/her reality. This way I will be aware of his/her needs. Who has not much ability for concentration, is unable to love.

Besides, Knowledge is also connected to a more fundamental issue, which is the matter of love. Loving is also a consequence of the need of Man of knowing the "secret of Man". Love makes grow inside me a need of knowing the loved person to find out all the beauty and life which, I think, exists inside him/her. Love is the one feeling that has, as a result, this need. Therefore, love let me know the other person and, at the same time, let me know myself because only when you love, you can know what you really are and how you really are.



The most fundamental kind of love, also essential in all kinds of love, is brotherly love. This kind of love is the desire of promoting, enhancing, intensifying, strengthen the life of any other human being. I have developped the capacity to love only if I able to love my fellow men. When I love my peers, I feel an experience of union with all of my fellow men, an experience of human solidarity.

Brotherly love is based on the experience that all of us are only one. Differences in talent, intelligence, knowledge, wisdom, are insignificant when compared with the human esence, common to every Man. If I perceive nothing but the superficial in the other person, I notice mainly the differences, what separates us. If I go through until the core, I perceive our identity, our humanity, the beauty of the life which exists inside all of us. Brotherly love is to love the life which exists inside the other person, is to love every human being, is to love the whole mankind.


The erotic love is the desire of total fusion , of union with only one person. But loving is not to fall in love. Falling in love is something physiological whereas loving is something spiritual. The effect of falling in love can evaporate because of the routine when we get to know the other person completely and there is nothing new to find out. If the knowledge of the other person was deeper, if I could experience the infinity of its personality, the other person would never be so familiar and the miracle of crossing barriers could be revitalized every day.

Sexual desire, which is what drives us to fall in love, can be stimulated by the anguish of solitude, by the desire of seducing or being seduced, by vanity,so much as by love. It would seem that any intense emotion, such as love, can stimulate the sexual desire. But sometimes people think that they love when they only desire physically. If the desire of physical union is not stimulated by love, if the erotic love is not at the same time brotherly love, this love never leads to an union except in a transitory sense. Sexual appeal generates, for a moment, the illusion of union but, without love, such union leave the two unknown as isolated as before.

Erotic love is exclusive, but it loves in the other person the whole mankind, all what is alive. It's exclusive only in the sense that I can join fully and intensely only with one person.


If loving one's neighbor so much as one-self is a virtue, loving one-self must be also a virtue because I'm also a human being.

Self-love is linked to the love of any living being. In any human being able to love the rest, we will find an attitude of self-love. Only if you love yourself, you are able to appreciate the miracle of life and to realize the beauty of what is alive. As a result, you love everybody so much as yourself, you love the life inside the other living beings so much as your own life, you love Man and the whole human race.


This book is one of the most beautiful and interesting books I have ever read. I absolutely agree with the author that love is the only bridge which lead human beings to happiness. Love is also an inner active power which has the capacity to make other people happy. Specially I will always remember the following ideas of this book: Love is will and what we really love when we love someone is the beauty of the live existing inside the loved person.

Finally, next you have links of other interesting book I have read:

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