Module 1.11 Idolized Love

Science Of Freedom Workbook
Text: "The Philosophy of Freedom" by Rudolf Steiner
Topic 1.11 Chapter 1 Conscious Human Action

1.11 Idolized Love
Love is no exception. Whenever love is not merely the expression of the sexual drive, it depends on the thoughts we form of the beloved.

The more idealistic these thoughts are, the more blissful is our love.

Here, too, thought is the father of feeling.

Worldview Of Phenomenalism
"I can say of the world spread out before me only that it ‘appears’ to me. I have no right to say more about it."
"I am clear that there is a world which appears to me; I cannot speak of anything more. I am not saying that this world of colors and sounds, which arises only because certain processes in my eyes present themselves to me as colors, while processes in my ears present themselves to me as sounds—I am not saying that this world is the true world. It is a world of phenomena."
“The world of phenomena we certainly have around us, but all that we believe we have in these phenomena is what we have ourselves added to them, what we have thought into them."
Rudolf Steiner, Human And Cosmic Thought lectures

"Love is no exception. Whenever love is not merely the expression of the sexual drive, it depends on the thoughts we form of the beloved."

According to the worldview of phenomenalism, what we perceive is a result of our own processes and not necessarily an objective truth. This aligns with the statement that love is dependent on the thoughts we form of the person we love. Essentially, the love we feel is an emotional reaction to our subjective interpretation or "phenomenon" of who the person is. It's not about the person per se, but our thoughts about them, thus aligning with the phenomenalist idea that we never encounter the "true world" but only the one we perceive or interpret.

"The more idealistic these thoughts are, the more blissful is our love."

Phenomenalism argues that all we believe we know about phenomena is what we have thought into them. Similarly, the statement implies that our emotional experience of love is shaped by the idealism of our thoughts. If we think idealistically about our beloved, we project those qualities onto them, which in turn makes our love more blissful. Our thoughts act as a frame that colors our emotional experience. In this way, it’s not the inherent characteristics of the loved one that make love blissful but our subjective thoughts about them.

"Here, too, thought is the father of feeling."

This phrase encapsulates the essence of both topics 1.10 and 1.11—our emotional reality is built on the foundation of our thoughts. Just as phenomenalism suggests that our reality is not the 'true' reality but one constructed by our senses and thoughts, this statement suggests that our feelings, like love, are not independent entities but are shaped, created, or even 'fathered' by our thoughts. Just as we only have a world of phenomena because of what we've thought into it, our feelings are constructs based on our thinking patterns.

Thus, each part of topic 1.11 "Idolized Love" serves as an expression of the worldview of phenomenalism, where what is 'real' to us in both thought and emotion is fundamentally a subjective interpretation of phenomena.

MODULE 1.11 Idolized Love

□ STEP 1.11 From act out of love, to idealistic idolizing thought.

The journey towards freedom is marked by critical landmarks, and here we arrive at a pivotal one: the step to freedom 1.11, becoming aware of the idealistic idolizing thought that is causing the feeling of love. This crucial advancement takes us from what may appear as the freedom of acting out of love to the more nuanced, questioning freedom that arises when we understand that our feelings of love are shaped by the idealized thoughts we form about the beloved.

Many consider love the epitome of free will, a realm where the heart knows no rules and is guided solely by an uncontainable feeling. In this viewpoint, love becomes an act of ultimate freedom, seemingly unconstrained by any deliberative processes. However, this overlooks a crucial insight: even love is framed by our thoughts, especially when it transcends mere sexual attraction. It is not just an organic reaction but is instead formed and fueled by the idealistic, sometimes idolizing, thoughts we cultivate. This is where the concept of "known action" comes into play. Understanding the relationship between our thoughts and our feelings, such as love, allows us to make choices that are better informed and, in a sense, freer because they are based on self-awareness.

When people are unaware that their feelings of love are essentially the children of their idealized thoughts, both they and the society they are part of pay a steep price.

At the individual level, the gap between the idolized image and the real person can lead to feelings of disappointment and even resentment. This idealization can become a form of emotional dependence, filling an inner void that collapses when reality punctures the fantasy. Moreover, in trying to sustain this emotional high, people can compromise their values, needs, or desires, leading to a profound loss of personal integrity and self-worth.

For society, the implications are equally daunting. The illusion of idealized love contributes to a destabilizing cycle of relationship break-ups or divorces, as the search for an elusive "ideal" never seems to end. This love idealization also fuels a materialistic culture, replacing genuine emotional connection with external symbols of affection. The societal emphasis on the 'perfect love story' perpetuates these issues, leading people astray in their understanding of what a fulfilling relationship truly entails.

As we explore the nuances of "Idolized Love," we will discover how cultivating an awareness of the relationship between thought and feelings can not only elevate our understanding of love but also free us to experience it in a way that brings genuine satisfaction and stability, both for the individual and for society.

Act out of Love: Refers to actions driven by strong emotional affection or attachment toward another person, animal, or even an idea or object.

Idealistic Idolizing Thought: These are overly optimistic, romanticized, or exaggerated thoughts about a person or thing that shape or arouse the feeling of love.

Known Action
Understanding that love is not just an unfettered feeling but is influenced by "idealistic idolizing thoughts" is crucial for known action. Known action involves making choices based on full awareness of what drives you, including your thoughts, motives, and underlying emotional triggers. If you aren't aware that your love is shaped by such idealistic thoughts, you may mistakenly believe that your actions spring from an unbiased, pure emotion, leading you to make choices you might later regret. Becoming aware of this dynamic gives you the freedom to critically evaluate your motives and the wisdom to act in a way that aligns more closely with your authentic self and values.

2. Life Examples
Scenario: Pet Toy
Stage 1 - Act Out of Love: The pet owner buys a specific, expensive toy for their dog, thinking it will be the one to finally keep their pet entertained for hours.
Stage 2 - Idealistic Idolizing Thought: A TV commercial convinces them this special toy will magically solve their dog's boredom and restlessness, even though the dog might be just as happy with simpler toys.

Scenario: Vintage Film Reel
Stage 1 - Act Out of Love: The cinephile tirelessly hunts for and ultimately purchases a rare vintage film reel, driven by a deep affection for classic cinema.
Stage 2 - Idealistic Idolizing Thought: This love is informed by the idea that owning this specific reel connects them to a golden era of film-making and makes them a guardian of cinematic history, even if the reel's actual content is rather mundane.

Scenario: Child's Artwork
Stage 1 - Act Out of Love: A parent prominently displays their young child's drawing on the refrigerator, moved by love for their child's creativity.
Stage 2 - Idealistic Idolizing Thought: This act is also motivated by the idealized thought that the child is an artistic prodigy whose every doodle is a masterpiece, even though the artwork might be typical for a child that age.

Scenario: Kitchen Knife
Stage 1 - Act Out of Love: The chef diligently maintains a specific kitchen knife, sharpening and cleaning it after each use, inspired by love for their craft.
Stage 2 - Idealistic Idolizing Thought: The love for this knife comes from an idealized belief that it's a unique hand-forged tool that elevates their culinary skills to an art form, even if similar results could be obtained with other high-quality knives.

Scenario: Custom-Made Bat
Stage 1 - Act Out of Love: The baseball player saves up money for months to buy a custom-made bat from a famous bat craftsman, believing it will significantly improve his game.
Stage 2 - Idealistic Idolizing Thought: He thinks that this particular bat, with its unique wood and balance, will be the secret to his success on the field, even though practice and skill are the primary factors in his performance.

Scenario: First Edition
Stage 1 - Act Out of Love: The book lover travels to multiple antique shops to find a first edition of their favorite novel.
Stage 2 - Idealistic Idolizing Thought: They think owning this first edition will bring them closer to the true essence of the story, as if they're part of its original audience, even though the text is the same as in later editions.

"Whenever love is not merely the expression of the sexual drive, it depends on the thoughts we form of the beloved."

This quote encapsulates the complexity and nuanced nature of love. On one end, you have love that is fundamentally propelled by sexual drive, which is more or less anchored in the domain of physical attraction and biological urges. Such love often serves as kindling; it sparks quickly but might fizzle out just as fast. For example, think of a whirlwind romance where the couple is instantly attracted to each other. The passion is intense but short-lived, and over time the relationship starts to show cracks, especially when faced with challenges. Eventually, the likelihood of ongoing affairs from one or both partners leads to the end of the relationship.

On the other hand, love that "depends on the thoughts we form of the beloved" goes beyond just physical attraction. It has an intellectual or emotional facet, driven by mutual respect, shared values, or deep emotional bonds. This is the kind of love that doesn't just survive but thrives during hardships because it's based on a more holistic understanding of the other person. In such a relationship, even if physical attraction fades or challenges arise, the emotional and intellectual connection serves as the bedrock that keeps the relationship intact. Because this love stems from deeply rooted feelings and experiences, it is not easily transferred to another person, making the relationship more exclusive and less prone to promiscuity.

So while love rooted in sexual attraction may provide an exhilarating but unstable ride, love that is nurtured by our thoughts of the beloved offers a journey that is both exciting and enduring, one that can weather storms and stand the test of time.

Objective: Experience the joy of soaring into the realm of concepts.
Can idealistic thoughts distort the reality of a relationship? If so, in what ways? Is there a difference between appreciating someone's good qualities and idealizing them? What responsibilities come with the realization that idealistic thoughts are the 'father' of feelings of love? Do idealistic thoughts about a loved one serve a necessary function?

He first saw her on a chilly autumn evening, her voice filling the university coffee shop with melodies that tugged at the soul. She was beautiful and sexy, her presence commanding attention. Her voice was a siren's call he couldn't resist. He was enchanted and ensnared. This was attraction—pure and simple.

Weeks went by. He became a fixture in the coffee shop, always sitting at the back, hidden in the dim lighting, nursing a cup of coffee that went cold too quickly. Every performance she gave, he was there, listening intently. And every night, when he was sure she wasn’t looking, he left generous tips in her tip jar. Slowly, his thoughts about her became more elaborate, more embellished. She sang songs about love and heartbreak, and he believed he understood her on a profound level. He idolized her.

He started doing more for her, anonymously sending flowers to her during performances, envisioning her surprise and delight. His love grew, nurtured by the idealistic narrative he created in his mind. One night, a drunk man heckled her during her performance. He couldn't bear it. Quickly, but anonymously, he dragged the man out of the coffee shop.

Then, it all became real. She appeared in his classroom, but something was different. The lights of the coffee shop had been forgiving; the fluorescent bulbs of the classroom were not. Without her stage makeup, without the flattering lights and costumes, she looked...ordinary, even unattractive.

But it didn't matter. His love had already transcended the physical realm; it was now fueled by the idealistic thoughts he had been nurturing. His anonymous acts of love continued; little gifts left at her desk, kind gestures he knew she’d appreciate.

One day, he overheard her talking to a friend. "I have a secret admirer," she giggled. "He's amazing. So romantic, so thoughtful, so much like me!"

His heart soared. Until the day he saw her walk into the classroom with another guy. He watched as she leaned in and kissed him. "Meet my secret admirer," she announced to her friend.

His heart sank. He was shattered. How could she? How could he? The love he had nurtured for weeks, all the idealistic thoughts—he had been wrong.

That's when he decided to kill his love for her. Slowly, he began forming critical thoughts about her, each one a tiny dagger into the image he had created. He forced himself to imagine her flaws, her humanity. And as he did, the love he felt began to wither, each critical thought poisoning the well of his affection. His love died a slow, painful death, a tragedy of his own making, born from thoughts that had never connected with reality.

Objective: Adopt an individualistic attitude aligned with principles of freedom.

  • Reality Check: Whenever you find yourself infatuated or deeply in love, take a moment for a reality check, juxtapose your idealistic thoughts about your beloved with verifiable facts or actions that support those thoughts. This practice helps ground your feelings and allows you to consciously recognize where your feelings are coming from.
  • Affirmation Boards: Create a board where you post affirmations, quotes, or characteristics that represent the ideal qualities you love or would love in someone. By daily revisiting these, it reminds you to manifest your ideals in your actions.
  • Appreciation Time: Designate a time each week to consciously focus on the positive qualities of the person you are in a relationship with.

As we conclude this module on Idolized Love, it becomes evident that the freedom to act out of love is both a beautiful yet complex experience. While love might feel like an intuitive, emotional response, it's crucial to understand that it is often shaped—sometimes even dictated—by the thoughts we form about the beloved. This is a perfect illustration of how known action, the theme of this chapter, plays a vital role in our emotional lives.

Love can offer us a profound sense of freedom. It's a liberating feeling to give and receive love, to commit acts of kindness and sacrifice for someone we deeply care about. However, this freedom should be questioned and examined. Why? Because love isn't just an instinctual, impulsive force; it's a feeling deeply rooted in the thoughts we form—many of which can be idolizing. Becoming aware of this aspect of love moves us into a space of known action. In this space, we're not just reacting to our emotions; we're consciously navigating them, understanding their origins, and questioning their sustainability.

Awareness of how our thoughts shape our love life doesn't just enrich our personal experiences; it has wide-reaching implications for society as a whole. If people grasp that love isn't merely an emotional roller coaster but a thoughtful process, the stability of relationships and family units can improve. Stable families are the building blocks of any society. With this stability, social harmony emerges naturally. When individuals are emotionally mature enough to understand the complexities of love, they are less prone to engage in impulsive actions that result in unnecessary drama and emotional upheaval, thus contributing to a stable, peaceful community.