The most elementary and limited form of love is desire, or Eros, to use a suggestive form. We all have desire or passion. At the most basic level it is animal desire - desire of desirable, love of the lovable. Eros is attached to what it finds desirable or beautiful. Its power is valuable as long as we are not enslaved by it, bur often Eros knows no limits in its desire. The domain of Eros is attraction and pleasure. Eros is the power of the universe as it is reflected at the level of our natural, animal self. From the spiritual point of view, Eros is derivative, metaphoric love. It searches without satisfaction. Sufis refer to it as "donkey love", because the donkey brays - not a very pleasant sound - when it is aroused.
Philos is a form of love characterized by sharing or participation. It is a form of more comprehensive love, wider, less self-centred than desire. It brings people into relationships. Philos engenders all forms of sharing: family life, social clubs and political organisations, brotherhoods, sisterhoods, cultural bonds.
The highest, most comprehensive form of love is agape - a spiritual, objective unconditional love. Immature love needs to be loved; mature love simply loves. Agape, or unconditional love, can dissolve the false self. By removing the obstacles we put in the way for agape, by being with those who love Spirit, we may come to live within the reality of agape. Eventually agape will refine and expand our senses of who we are to infinite dimensions. We will dissolve our separate existence. Then, instead of seeking the security and consolation of the ego, instead of seeking to be loved, we will be love itself.
I once asked someone whose spiritual maturity I trusted, "is there ever a time when you no longer need others’ love?" "Yes, when you are love." When you are love. When there is no difference between you and what you love. Once a certain man knocked at a friend's door. His friend asked him, "Who's there?" "it's me," he answered. "Go away. This is not the time. There's no room for the two at this table."
Only the fire of separation can cook the raw, Only loneliness can heal hypocrisy. The poor man went away and for a whole year burned with longing to be with his friend. Eventually, his rawness was cooked, and he returned to the door of his friend, but no longer as he had been. He walked back and forth, in humility and respect, cautious lest the wrong word should fall from his mouth. Finally he knocked. "Who is there?" the friend called. "It's only you here at the door." "At, last, since you are I, come right in, O myself, since there isn't room for two I's in this house. The double end of the thread is not for the needle. If you are single, come though the eye of the needle."
Intimate conversation is one of the most important practices of the way of Love. Without a spiritual friend/teacher/guide our possibilities of advancement are very limited. The spiritual friend should be a humble human being who has melted in God. The implicit call of such a person is: "Fall in love with me, just as I fall in love with you; then in our mutual nonexistence we will be complete." The phrase "to fall in love" is not to be confused with romance or any form of possessiveness, bur it strongly suggests a kind of intimacy and mutual devotion that is necessary in this spiritual relationship. A sufi of the twentieth century, Ishmael Emre has Said: " The compassionate and perfect human beings kill the seekers of Truth with humility and the sword of love." Yet despite these high-minded thoughts on love, we must acknowledge that we all have failed in love. This is our starting point. We have all been broken and disappointed in love because our love have been identified with our egoism, when it was meant to dissolve that egoism. We can love when we expect to get something. We can love when we have the perfect person to love. But there is no such perfect person, and even if there were, we would not know it unless we too were perfect, because we should inevitably project our own imperfection onto the other, as the masses have always done to the prophets. God's messengers where not loved, they where more often hated. Hatred is frustrated love, the shadow of love. It implies the presence of love corrupted by egoism. Egoism can turn beauty into ugliness, generosity into selfishness, love into hatred.