Do you recognize an immense need to thoroughly understand the very heart of positive action?
In June of 2001, I sat down with a lawyer in the old Caribou Coffee House on Coventry Road in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, to discuss founding an institute that would nurture new scientific research and spiritual-philosophical reflection on the topic of love. Not any kind of love, mind you. Not giddy romantic love or love of chocolate or designer shoes. But the kind of love in which the security, well-being and happiness of others feels as meaningful and real to us as our own. The Institute for Research on Unlimited Love (www.unlimitedloveinstitute.com), so named by our initial benefactor, Sir John Templeton, was incorporated as a non-profit 501(c)3 public charity several months later.
It is now recognized worldwide.
The Institute’s first goal is to greatly increase awareness of the emotional and health benefits of such love, both for those who give it and receive it, through innovative scientific investigations in lively dialogue with the many spiritual and moral traditions that at their best converge on this universal law of life - our individual flourishing is inextricably connected with our contributing to the lives of others. This law is the focus of our first best-selling book, Why Good Things Happen to Good People: How to Live a Longer, Healthier, Happier Life by the Simple Act of Giving (Random House’s Broadway Books, 2007), which brought together uplifting stories, leading edge science, perennial wisdom, and a self-assessment scale. Why Good Things Happen was translated into a dozen languages and continues to be read and discussed around the world.
Our second goal is to encourage all cultures and spiritual traditions to abide in this universal law centered on our shared humanity – and not just on some fragment thereof. As a medical school professor for 25 years, it is clear to me as it is to everyone that love can help prevent or heal a great deal of the mental and physical illness across the globe, and correct so many social problems.
About Us PDF Brochure
The Institute offers the following definition of Unlimited Love:
Back to a definition - when the happiness, security, and well-being of another feels as meaningful and real to us as our own, or perhaps more so, we love that person. Unlimited Love includes but extends beyond our nearest and dearest to all humanity based on our shared dignity and interdependence with one another and with nature. For those of us who are secular, this ideal can be rationally defended. For those who are spiritually or religiously inclined, Unlimited Love is deemed to be a Creative Presence or Ultimate Reality underlying the universe, the participation in which leads to inner peace and expanded benevolence. Whether we define ourselves as secular, religious, or spiritual, we can generally agree that such love constitutes the greatest imaginable leap forward in human consciousness and behaviour.
Our Institute mission is:
We seek to increase public awareness of the growing dialogue on Unlimited Love that is taking place at the interface of (1) new scientific investigations (e.g., in the health sciences, psychology, sociology, neuroscience, physics, and mathematics); (2) insights of the world’s great philosophical, spiritual and theological traditions; and (3) inspiring works of love by exemplars across the world.
Our guiding questions are these:
You have read this far because you are asking the same kinds of questions that the Institute has become known for, such as:
(1) Does the unselfish love of others contribute to the happiness, health and resilience of those who give it?
(2) How does such love prevent illness and contribute to the art of healing?
(3) How can parents and communities raise children who flourish in such love?
(4) What do people mean when they self-report a spiritual experience of Unlimited Love, how common is this, and is this experience objectively associated with emotional healing and expanded benevolence?
(5) Do physics and mathematics point to an “Ultimate Reality” or “Ground of Being” that underlies reality (that is, the laws and constants of the universe, as well as energy and matter), and if so, might this be described in terms of creative mind and love, as the mystics and perennial philosophers have suggested, and as some leading quantum theorists and cosmologists assert is at least plausible?
(6) How can the major spiritualities and religions of the world come to abide in their various conceptualizations of Unlimited Love, and practice love for all humanity rather than merely for those who adhere to a particular set of beliefs?
The scientific approach leads to concrete results:
Many people inaccurately think of love as something that cannot be defined, something so “soft” or personal that it defies description. Not true. The Institute studies the ways in which love shapes human health, development, motivations and actions. When we consider the daunting challenges faced globally due to increased social fragmentation and the spread of fear-based human behaviors, there is an immense need to thoroughly understand love as the root of human flourishing. The Institute seeks this point of convergence—where evolution, religions, neurology, social science, biomedicine, spirituality and human development become a gateway to the moral vision of a shared humanity.
With initial funding from the John Templeton Foundation (2001-2005), the Institute moved quickly beginning in 2001 to provide support for the study of the six questions above – and ones like them – at more than 50 research universities across the United States from Stanford to Harvard, from Chicago to Princeton. Based on significant results the dialogue on Unlimited Love at the interface of science and spiritual thought has grown dramatically and achieved recognition with significant events not just in the United States, but in England, Germany, Japan, Australia, and Canada.
The Institute has achieved much:
Influential Books & Articles
Institute researchers have published more than 80 books with such distinguished university presses as Harvard, Princeton, Oxford, and Johns Hopkins, along with popular publishers like Random House. Some books have reached best-seller status and have been widely translated. These include Why Good Things Happen to Good People (www.WhyGoodThingsHappen.com), and The Hidden Gifts of Helping (www.stephengpost.com/the-hidden-gifts-of-helping). Institute researchers from leading universities have published more than 200 scientific articles, many in leading journals such as the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Annals of Internal Medicine, and Science.
News and Media
Media attention is our measure of cultural impact. The Institute has been covered in more than 600 radio shows, such as Talk of the Nation, Mehmet Oz, the BBC, and the Dennis Prager Show. Television features include the John Stossel Show, 20/20, The Daily Show, and Nightline. More than 2000 print articles have appeared in venues such as Parade, New York Times, “O” Magazine, USA Today, and US News & World Report. Blog coverage exceeds 500,000 sites including BigThink.com, WebMD.com, BigQuestionsOnLine.com, and Beliefnet.com.
International Speeches & Conferences
Institute researchers have delivered innumerable national and international presentations, including venues such as the U.S. Congress, the 4th Annual Happiness and Its Causes Conference in Sydney, Oxford University, The Great Hall of the University of Heidelberg in Germany, the Australian Parliament, and Westminster Cathedral. The Institute has convened a dozen major international conferences. One of these, Works of Love, held at the University Pennsylvania, drew 800 practitioners, scientific researchers and religion scholars from more than 40 different countries representing all major faith traditions.
The Institute has collaborated with dozens of universities and other organizations, including the John Templeton Foundation, the Fetzer Institute, the Ford Foundation, the University of Pennsylvania, and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. In 2007 the Institute moved forward with a co-sponsored three-year project at the Center for Law and Religion at Emory University School of Law on the topic of Love and the Pursuit of Happiness, which regularly brought together 25 happiness researchers in the social sciences with leading philosophers and spiritual thinkers. The Institute worked closely with the Flame of Love Project and sociologists Margaret Poloma and Matthew T. Lee (see www.GodlyLoveProject.org) on a nationwide scientific survey of spiritual experiences of divine love and their impact on those who report them. It collaborates with researchers focused on the benefits of spirituality and helping behavior in the lives of individuals with alcoholism both at Case Western Reserve University (see www.helpingotherslivesober.org), and at Bellevue Hospital of New York University.
Stephen G. Post, Ph.D., Institute President (www.stephengpost.com), is a researcher and scholar in the health and social sciences, philosophy and religion. He is a best-selling author whose work was included in Best American Spiritual Writing (2005). He has taught at the University of Chicago, Fordham-Marymount, Case Western Reserve University and Stony Brook University. Post is an elected member of the Philadelphia College of Physicians for “outstanding contributions to medicine,” as well as of the New York Academy of Medicine. He received the Pioneer Medal for “outstanding leadership in healthcare” from HealthCare Chaplaincy of New York in 2012.
Matthew T. Lee, PhD, Institute Vice President, is Professor and Chair of Sociology at the University of Akron. He is President-Elect of the North Central Sociological Association and Chair of the Altruism, Morality, and Social Solidarity Section of the American Sociological Association. His latest book (with Margaret M. Poloma and Stephen G. Post) is titled The Heart of Religion: Spiritual Empowerment, Benevolence, and the Experience of God’s Love (www.heartofreligion.net).
Our board of directors is highly distinguished in philanthropy and non-profit leadership.
You are invited to become our partner:
The Institute is impacting world cultures through research, publication, media, education, and leadership. Will you consider a gift of $1,000, $500, $250, $100, or whatever your means allow to help us continue our work? The Institute is a non-profit 501(c)3 public charity incorporated in the State of Ohio in 2001. All donations are tax-deductable as allowed by law. We are required by the IRS to have support from a wide number of individuals due to our “public charity” status. Work this vital requires a constant influx of support from an ever-growing circle of supporters — will you be one of them? Contact us for more information on how you can help chart a new course for progress, and consider mailing a check (or make on online contribution) written out to the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love to:
Institute for Research on Unlimited Love
PO Box 1516
Stony Brook, New York 11790
Thank you very much. It is a pleasure to have you as a supporting partner in the Institute’s work.
You are leading one of the most significant initiatives of this generation. The connection between research and application cannot be over-emphasized. Thank you!”
—Pastor Otis Moss, Jr., Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Trustees, Morehouse College
“I am a great admirer of Stephen Post’s work on the science of love, altruism, health, and longevity. This connection can touch us all. This work is pioneering, inspiring and could change people’s lives.”
—George E. Vaillant, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
“Stephen Post has contributed more than anyone else to the dialogue concerning the scientific and health implications of altruistic and generous behavior. His leadership has spearheaded an exciting new area of research. The field has the strong potential to change people’s lives in a healthy way.”
—Gregory L. Fricchione, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School and Director of the Benson-Henry Mind-Body Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital
In an effort to further enhance the rapidly growing network of researchers focusing on topics such as altruism, altruistic love, kindness, compassion, and unlimited love, the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love has established Works of Love, a high-quality electronic newsletter. The newsletter is written by Stephen G. Post, President of the Institute, and sent monthly.