The rule "Love thy friend as thyself," encompasses all of the 612 Mitzvot. This means that by keeping the 612 Mitzvot we will be inevitably rewarded with the rule, "Love thy friend," and following, the love of God.
Hence, what does love of friends give us? It is written that by assembling together, since each one has no more than a little power of love of others, meaning that he can carry out the love of others only in potential. When he implements that, he remembers that he has decided to relinquish self-love in favor of the love of others. But in fact, he sees that he cannot relinquish any pleasure of the will to receive in favor of another, not even the slightest bit.
However, by assembling with a single thought to achieve love of others, and annulling themselves before one another, they are all intermingled and they will have one great force, according to the size of the society. Then he has the strength to execute the love of others.
Thus, what do the 612 Mitzvot add to us, which are said to be needed in order to practice the rule? For the rule is practiced by love of friends. And we see that love of friends exists among the secular as well. So what is the difference?
Prohibitions in society: slander, idle words, seat of the scornful. "Seat of the scornful" means that when the society sees others laughing and mocking regarding practicing the love of friends for the purpose of bestowal, for each to work for the others' benefit, then "Disperse the wicked; better for them and better for the world." It is better that they do not exist.
However, "Assemble the righteous; better for them and better for the world" when they desire to execute the rule of "Love thy neighbor," whose sole intention is to exit self-love and assume a different nature of love of others.
For one to force oneself to love others, man was given the 612 Mitzvot, in order to induce a sensation in the heart. However, since it is against nature, that sensation is too small to have the ability to keep love of friends de facto, even though he has a need for it.
The advice for one to be able to increase his strength in the rule, "Love thy friend," so he may actually execute it, is by love of friends. If every one is nullified before his friend and mingles with him, they become one mass, where all the little parts that want the love of others unite in a collective force that consists of many parts. And when he has great strength, he can execute the love of others.
And then, on the condition that each will annul before the other, he can achieve the love of God. However, when he is separated from his friend, he cannot receive the share he should receive from his friend.
Thus, everyone should say that he is nothing compared to his friend. It is like writing numbers: If you first write "1" and then "0" it is ten times more. And when you write "00" it is a hundred times more. In other words, if his friend is number one, and the zero follows it, it is considered that he receives from his friend ten (10) times more. And if he says that he is double zero compared to his friend, he receives from his friend a hundred (100) times more.
However, if it is to the contrary, and he says that his friend is zero and he is one, then he is ten times less than his friend 0.1. And if he can say that he is one and he has two friends who are both zeros compared to him, then he is considered a hundred times less than them, meaning he is 0.01. Thus, his degree lessens according to the number of zeros he has from his friends.
Even once he acquires that strength and can keep the love of others in actual fact, and feels his own gratification as bad for him, still, he should not believe in himself. There must be fear of falling into self-love in the middle of the work. In other words, should he be given a greater pleasure than he is used to receiving, although he can already work in order to bestow with small pleasures, and is willing to relinquish them, he lives in fear of great pleasures.
This is called "fear," and this is the gate to receive the Light of faith, called "the inspiration of Divinity," as it is written in the Sulam, "by the measure fear is the measure of faith."
Hence, we must remember that the matter of "Love thy friend as thyself" should be kept because it is a Mitzva, since the Creator commanded to engage in love of friends. And Rabbi Akiva only interprets this Mitzva that the Creator commanded. He intended to make this Mitzva into a rule by which all the Mitzvot would be kept because of the commandment of the Creator, and for self-gratification.
It is not that the Mitzvot should expand our will to receive, meaning that by keeping the Mitzvot we would be generously rewarded. Quite the contrary, by keeping the Mitzvot we will reach the reward of being able to annul our self-love and achieve the love of others, and subsequently the love of God.