Do you recognize an immense need to thoroughly understand the very heart of positive action?
Twelve years ago, in June of 2001, I sat down with a non-profit lawyer in the Caribou Coffee House on Coventry Road in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, to found an institute for high-level research and teaching on selfless love. Not any kind of love, mind you. Not giddy romantic love or love of chocolate or designer shoes. But the kind of love that affirms and finds joy in the flourishing of all others, engages in acts of care and service on their behalf, and that is unconditional, enduring, and universal. This is the kind of love—Unlimited Love—that is exhorted as the highest goal of moral and spiritual awareness. Within a few months 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 research entity. The Institute is also registered with the State of New York. It is now among the world’s leading scientific institutes focused on the expansion of our understanding of such love. This expanded understanding contributes to human flourishing in a world that sociologists describe as getting more spiritual rather than less so, and in which hopes for global well-being depend on spiritual progress.
The Institute offers the following definition of unlimited love: The essence of love is to affectively affirm as well as to gratefully delight in the well-being of others, and to engage in acts of care and service on their behalf. Unlimited Love extends to all people without exception, in an enduring and unconditional manner. Widely considered the highest form of virtue, Unlimited Love is often deemed a Creative Presence underlying and integral to all of reality, the participation in which constitutes the fullest experience of spirituality. Such love represents the greatest leap forward in moral and spiritual consciousness imaginable.
Our Institute mission is: We seek to investigate the lived experience and ultimate reality of Unlimited Love through high-level science (e.g., cosmology, mathematics, neuroscience, psychology, sociology and the health sciences) in dialogue with philosophical and spiritual thought in order to contribute to spiritual progress.
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 love of neighbor contribute to the happiness, health and resilience of those who give it, in addition to those who receive it?
(2) How does compassionate care improve clinical outcomes?
(3) How can parents and communities raise children who grow up with love for all people, and not just for the nearest and dearest?
(4) Can the self-reported spiritual experience of an Ultimate Reality of Unlimited Love increase benevolence and well-being, and if so, how widespread and effective is this experience?
(5) Do physics and cosmology point toward the same “Ground of Being” that the spiritual mystics and perennial philosophers describe in terms of an ineffable love?
(6) How can the major spiritualities and religions of the world elevate and abide by their various conceptualizations of Unlimited Love, and thereby bring out the best in their adherents?
The Scientific approach leads to concrete results. (Research 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 practical 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 the very heart of positive action. 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. Unlimited Love leads us to extraordinary enhancements of human potential. It must be understood and nurtured.
With initial funding from the John Templeton Foundation (2001-2005), the Institute, which was named by the philanthropist Sir John Templeton, moved quickly beginning in 2002 to provide support for the study of these questions—and ones like them—at more than 40 research universities across the United States from Stanford to Harvard, from Chicago to Princeton. Over the next decade the subsequent dialogue on the potential of Unlimited Love at the interface of science and spiritual thought that grew from that Caribou Coffee House meeting in Cleveland Heights has achieved worldwide recognition with significant events in Japan, Australia, Ireland, Germany, and Canada.
The Institute has achieved much:
Influential Books & Articles
Institute researchers published more than 80 books with such distinguished university presses as Harvard, Princeton, Oxford, and Johns Hopkins, along with popular publishers such as Random House. Several books have reached best-seller status and were translated into more than a dozen languages including Chinese, Japanese and Indonesian. These include Why Good Things Happen to Good People: How to Live a Longer, Healthier, Happier Life by the Simple Act of Giving (www.WhyGoodThingsHappen.com), The Hidden Gifts of Helping (www.StephenGPost.com/the-hidden-gifts-of-helping), and The Heart of Religion: Spiritual Empowerment, Benevolence, and the Experience of God’s Love (www.HeartofReligion.net). An estimated 40 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 to the Institute includes more than 400 radio shows, such as Talk of the Nation, Mehmet Oz, 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 25,000 including BigThink.com and Beliefnet.com.
International Speeches & Conferences
Institute researchers have delivered more than 500 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, 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 Bard College. 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 scholars from leading divinity schools across the United States to make important advances on how the love of God and neighbor contribute to psychological flourishing. 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 God’s love and their impact on those who report them. It also collaborates with psychologist Maria Pagano, whose research on the benefits of spirituality and helping behavior in the lives of adolescents with alcoholism is located at Case Western Reserve University (see www.HelpingOthersLiveSober.org).
Our seasoned leadership:
Stephen G. Post, Ph.D., Institute President (www.StephenGPost.com), is both 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), and a recipient of the Kama Book Award in Medical Humanities from World Literacy Canada (2008). He has taught at the University of Chicago, Fordham-Marymount, Case Western Reserve University and Stony Brook University. An elected member of the Philadelphia College of Physicians for “outstanding contributions to medicine,” he received the Pioneer Medal for “outstanding leadership in healthcare” from HealthCare Chaplaincy of New York in 2012. Institute Vice President Matthew T. Lee, PhD, is a leading sociologist involved in national scientific surveys on the self-reported experience of God’s love and its implications. Our board of directors is highly distinguished in philanthropy and leadership.
You are invited to become our partner: The Institute is changing our world 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, donate online or just mail your check 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
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.