To Love and Be Loved

To Love and Be Loved

by Sam Keen
     
 

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To Love and Be Loved is a spirited challenge to a culture obsessed with romance and intimacy but dangerously ignorant of the full range of human love. Like a fresh wind, Sam Keen sweeps away tired self-help nostrums and reams of "bad advice from Dr. Lonelyhearts" to reveal a stunningly new map of love in all its forms.

Love is not something we

Overview

To Love and Be Loved is a spirited challenge to a culture obsessed with romance and intimacy but dangerously ignorant of the full range of human love. Like a fresh wind, Sam Keen sweeps away tired self-help nostrums and reams of "bad advice from Dr. Lonelyhearts" to reveal a stunningly new map of love in all its forms.

Love is not something we "fall" into, claims Keen, but a complex art combining many skills and talents that take a lifetime to learn fully. At the center of his book are sixteen distinct "elements of love": ranging from attention—a precious gift we can bestow on co-worker, friend, child, and spouse alike—to more exclusive gifts like desire and sexuality. Combining stories, poems and quotes with insights from modern psychology and spiritual tradition, Keen brilliantly explores the elements of memory and solitude in love, the importance of both enjoyment and commitment, and how we can cultivate the essential qualities of empathy and compassion. Each piece ends with suggestions for strengthening our daily practice of the element, so that we constantly enlarge our ability to love in all our relationships.

The final section of the book is a soaring meditation on the claim that "those who love know God," an invitation to experience our place in the universe through the eyes of love.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"In the depths of our being, in body, mind and spirit, we know we are created to love and be loved," writes Keen (Hymns to an Unknown God) in this wise and inspiring reflection on love. "Fulfilling this imperative... is the central meaning of our life." There are many kinds of love besides romantic couplings, Keen affirms. All of them express our earliest needs to be held, and each of them can be a way to forge a meaningful link with the universal. Asserting that our culture's "narrow focus on romantic and dyadic intimacy warps our field of vision and produces a severe erotic stigmatism that distorts everything we see," Keen puts the focus on learning how to love. He urges readers to avoid both being cynical about love and hanging all their hopes on the response of a particular lover. He somewhat subjectively breaks down love into 16 elements (sensuality, compassion, etc.) that combine in different proportions in different kinds of love. Romance, for example, is "compounded of equal parts attention, erotic longing, sexual desire, and ersatz-adoration created by an idealizing imagination." Keen finds the love of parents for a young child closer to a full expression of love, combining "attention, empathy, compassion, commitment, unconditional acceptance." He interweaves stories with exercises (sometimes about "un-doing" and "dis-illusioning" stereotypes), gently urging people to come home to themselves through the practice of love. Throughout, Keen turns his laid-back erudition and ebullient prose to good use, offering a wide, inviting approach to an ancient subject. (July)
Kirkus Reviews
The prolific Keen (Hymns to an Unknown God: Awakening the Spirit in Everyday Life, 1994; Fire in the Belly, 1991; etc.) sets out to explore why we obstinately hide from the knowledge that love (of one's family, one's labors, and of some one significant other) "is the way, the truth, and the life," and to suggest how we may deal with those fears and find the kind of love that makes us feel "rooted" and secure in our lives. Mixing some frank autobiographical recollections with brief aphoristic explorations of love's nature and rewards, and mingling lists of questions for readers intent on analyzing their behavior with specific examples of those haplessly in pursuit of love in all the wrong places, Keen provides a deft review, often insightful (and even moving), flawed by its declamatory style and somewhat confused organization. More shrewdly self-aware than many self-help books, but still too dogmatic, too much of a fix-it manual, to provide a penetrating and original meditation on love.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780553375282
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/28/1999
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
547,926
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.60(d)

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