Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom
Excerpts about Divine Eros
Divine Eros Arises Mostly Between Two in Interaction
If we are to learn about divine eros, we need to see that it arises mostly between two in interaction. It can arise between the soul and her true nature, as love that has a pleasurable, enjoyable, erotic quality—in the sense that it is an energy with desire and pleasure and sensuousness in it. But when divine eros arises between two people, we understand how human relationship is a form in which those qualities can arise most fully and completely. In general, humanity is not well developed in its capacity for personal relating. We have a lot of trouble with violence, aggression, misunderstanding, disappointment, pain, wounding, and so on—all of it because we are not good at relationships. It is very easy to misunderstand somebody and get angry and become aggressive, or feel hurt, withdraw, and run away. But to remain in a relationship, to be real and interact in a way that not only avoids contraction or pain but that opens things up, that generates more richness, creates more openness and more freedom, is something that human beings are just beginning to learn. Throughout history, some people have been very good at that, but as a race, we are still immature. Humanity is just beginning to wake up to the importance of relationship and its amazing potential. This potential is immense, both for creating peace in the world and for personal actualization of human completeness.
The Power of Divine Eros, pg. 98
Divine Eros is a Particular Energy
Divine eros refers to a particular quality, a particular energy, a particular way of experiencing the nature of our consciousness. At the same time, it is a way of experiencing, feeling, and knowing our consciousness that becomes significant for being open to the depth of our nature.
The Power of Divine Eros, pg. 13
Eroticism in Flux
Part of the difficulty of erotic relationships, especially the sexual ones, is that they can get into a rut. Habitual patterns become established: who is the pursuer and who is the pursued; who is active and who is passive; which one is the giver and which is the receiver; who initiates and who follows. When eroticism is free, when it is divine, it is not fixed; it is always in flux. Sometimes one of you is the active party, pursuing and initiating, and the next day it is the other person. And this can change even in the same interaction. Most people tend to stay in one role, and the other person takes on the opposite role. That is fine and can work for a while, but if it continues that way for too long, desire begins to die away. For erotic love to remain alive and renew itself, a mutual openness that opens the field is needed so that neither person assumes a particular role all the time. Who the active partner is and who is passive; which of you is powerful while the other is vulnerable; who is sweet and who is passionate . . . these roles can shift from one person to the other or you could be both the same way at the same time, at least occasionally.
The Power of Divine Eros, pg. 145
Expanding the Range of Possible Experience
If you really love one another, you have that openness and are interested in knowing the other, so communication is immediate. It just happens. This is a simpatico kind of love. I am not saying that sexually erotic love can’t be soft, gentle, romantic, intimate and sweet; I don’t mean that it can’t include tender kissing, whispering in his ear, nibbling on her neck. In fact, all these things are important expressions of erotic love. But divine eros expands the interaction in this sphere to the entire range of experience—from delicate, tender, and open to voluptuous, strong, and intense—all the way to powerful currents of passionate desire, powerful currents of erotic movement. After a while, you don’t even know whether it is desire, love, or a rushing river of energy. They are all the same thing. True erotic interaction goes back and forth between all of these. It also is open to both sides—the active and the receptive, giving and taking.
The Power of Divine Eros, pg. 144
Explicitly Sexual Eros
One way divine eros expresses itself is the desire for intimacy—a loving desire to be intimate, close, to be as much in contact and in communication as possible. Love tends to bring out this type of desire. When we love somebody, we want to be intimate with that person; the movement toward intimacy is natural. We enjoy and we like being with him or her. It is natural for there to be dynamism, a flow toward being close and intimate, and to express the love together. And this intimacy can go a step further. Let’s consider the situation in which an erotic relationship includes both the divine and the sexual dimensions. Here, desire within the love relationship is for sexual intimacy, and eros becomes explicitly sexual: “I want to be close and intimate, but I also want to interact physically. And I want to interact physically in a very particular way. We may start with a hug, but that is only the beginning. And I don’t want to just wrestle!” Sexuality adds another dimension to the interaction. One wants to express pleasure in the other person in a physically intimate way. There is a desire to experience pleasure together, giving pleasure and receiving pleasure in return, but including the body in addition to all that we have described divine eros to be.
The Power of Divine Eros, pg. 141
Expression of Life Rather than of Need
Usually, we think of excitement as similar to electric energy, but think here of electricity that has been liquefied so that it is more palpable, more substantial. The substantiality is a more condensed excitement. It is the presence of aliveness. It is life in its purest quality. Our consciousness attains a vigorous quality, as a pure sense of excitation, of aliveness. This pure sense of vital presence can infuse the love, can infuse the desire, and we can then feel that our Being is ablaze. We become a big flame, a fluid flame, a flame of liquid, a liquid that is so excited that it combusts into consciousness ablaze. It shines and radiates but the heat is comfortable; it feels wonderful. You feel that you are alive with an excitement that doesn’t agitate you; instead, it makes you feel good and happy. This type of strong energy, this intensity of aliveness, this fiery quality, is a quality of our Being that needs to be liberated so that we can experience a desire that is powerful, uncontrollable, and that expresses life instead of expressing need. That is when the divine and the instinctual become one. This quality makes it possible for the divine—which is selfless, which is pure—and the instinctual—which is animal, powerful, and more sensuous—to combine and become completely inseparable. You can no longer distinguish between “Do I love?” and “Do I want?” They are the same thing. “Do I want to give pleasure or do I want to receive pleasure?” The mind can’t even think about it. That is divine eros.
The Power of Divine Eros, pg. 147
Inherently Selfless Love
Divine eros has inherent in it a selfless love; the desire is not just to experience pleasure, it is also to give pleasure. When you love somebody, you want her to feel good, you want her to be happy, you want her to experience enjoyment, happiness, satisfaction. In divine eros, experiencing satisfaction is also giving satisfaction. And by giving satisfaction, we experience satisfaction. The love is so dynamic that there is no difference between giving and taking, between love and desire. This is what true divine love means. This giving and receiving of pleasure can happen in all relationships. When you love someone, you always have some desire for the other to have a good time and to be happy. In the intimacy of a love partnership, however, the erotic usually becomes more explicitly sexual. This is divine eros with the added richness of the sexual dimension.
The Power of Divine Eros, pg. 142
Losing Control and Expressing Yourself More Completely
One characteristic of divine eros that makes it a more complete expression of yourself is that you lose control. In a sexual encounter, there is a sense of surrender, of release, throughout the whole interaction, not only during orgasm. The absence of control, the release and surrender, is present all the way from the beginning. You lose control over your love, you lose control over your desire, and you lose control over your enjoyment, which makes the love, desire, and enjoyment arise more spontaneously and makes you less self-conscious and more at ease with each other.
The Power of Divine Eros, pg. 145
Seeing that Passion and Selfless Love are the Same
I use words that sometimes are difficult to understand, such as “primordial” or “eternal”; but they have very specific, clear, definite meanings. “Eternally” doesn’t mean “a long time in the future.” It means “all time” because it is the now of all time. It is the source of time, before we think of time; it is what is now. In that primordial place—the fundamental condition of our awareness that is beyond our history, beyond our thinking of time in terms of past and future—when we go to the essence of our consciousness (which we can know only right now, in the very moment of our being), it is possible to see and to experience that passion and selfless love are the same. But there is a great deal of stuff in the way. Many things in our mind, in our experience, stand in the way. One is the belief of many people on the spiritual path, who take these to be two separate forces, two opposite experiences: “I have a lot of conflict in my life because I want to be realized, I want to be free, and I don’t understand how this realm of wanting and desires, needs, passion, and intensity fits with that.” The erotic is but one of these manifestations of instinctual energy. “Divine eros” means that there is a pleasurable experience that has desire, wanting, and passion in it and, at the same time, is totally loving—it is completely love, selflessness, and purity.
The Power of Divine Eros, pg. 18
Selfless Tenderness and Egoless Sweetness
Something happens in the course of doing spiritual work that is very important on any path: The more we are connected with our spirituality, and the more we are aware of and in touch with our spiritual nature and the spiritual nature of reality and existence, the more our heart manifests what it can be in its true nature. Our heart feels the purity of love, a love that is big, unrestricted, and not self-centered. It is a love that is completely generous, totally giving. That is why divine eros brings out a selfless tenderness in us, an egoless sweetness, a generosity and appreciation that is not limited by anything. When I use the word “divine,” I am implying all of that.
The Power of Divine Eros, pg. 15
The Need for Authenticity in the Contact Between Two People
The sense of connectedness and contact and the sense of personalness are what characterize a true relationship. These qualities of personalness, contact, and connection are necessary for divine eros to emerge in the interactive field. Divine eros is deep and subtle and requires a great deal of authenticity in the contact between two people; otherwise, it says, “Not interested! This is not a hospitable environment . . . this consciousness is too crude for me . . .” In addition, to have a relationship of true personalness, true contact—whether you have eye contact, physical contact, or just consciousness contact—both the quality of presence and the communication need to also have an openness. I mean an openness in which neither person is trying to defend himself or herself, or selfishly trying to gain an advantage; instead, each person is committed to being authentic and allowing both parties to find out what is possible for the relationship.
The Power of Divine Eros, pg. 100
Understanding What the Divine Eros Is
On the other hand, some spiritual teachings specifically encourage engagement with practice rather than adherence to belief. When these practices are engaged separate from the demands of daily life, they enable one to get in touch with the presence of freedom to one degree or another, and to experience and feel in a fundamental way the spaciousness and presence of one’s nature. But to authentically become who and what we are, to know the presence of that spiritual nature, and at the same time to walk in the world, have our relationships, and enjoy our lives—all as one unified experience—is rare. Still, it is possible. Throughout this book, we will be investigating and understanding for ourselves these areas of our experience—our spiritual and secular sides—which appear as polarities upon first reflection, to help us identify the common elements in them. To aid in our discovery of what divine eros is, it will be useful to understand the interrelationship of these elements. And ultimately to recognize that love is both the bridge and the entryway into the center point where these polarities meet.
The Power of Divine Eros, pg. 42
What is Needed for Experiencing Divine Eros
So if we want to be ourselves completely—to know our nature at its depth and be fully in the world—this requires being alive and being in touch with that energy. And that brings the erotic into love. In other words, to be able to experience divine eros, we need the purity of love, the ground of lovingness and goodness, the experience of the presence of love, plus this scintillating, erupting, explosive quality that has an energy to it. Such energetic dynamic love can be very, very fine—like very gentle bubbles or a gentle vibration—or it can be explosive. This love has an erotic quality to it, and we can feel it draw us toward the divine, toward the truth, toward our inner nature. We can have the experience of desiring to penetrate the mystery, to know the spirit. A deep understanding of reality can follow from such a realization of desire. We can see that dualism arises when we are separated from our nature, for it is then that we experience the desire to fill ourselves. We believe there is something external that we need to have, and we deeply believe that we don’t have that something. However, with the energy of desire, when we feel it as the blissful wanting of another—but with a sense a sufficiency, not from lack—we don’t feel the same kind of otherness we do when we have a dualistic perspective. We feel that the other is arising from same ground as we are. There is a sharing of a blissful communion, and that communion is a recognition that both of you are one reality.