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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Eros?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Eros

Clarifying Conditioned Feelings about Love

In this territory we are exploring, we learn that love has more dimensions to it than we usually consider. We have already started to discuss some ways that love is more than the love we have known thus far—for example, that it is a presence with a textured, appealing quality. Emotionally, we can intuit that love is sweet and soft, but the more directly and immediately we feel and know that love, the more we are in touch with its palpable, textured reality. Then we are able to see that the essence of love is divine. However, because eros amplifies the force implicit in this love, it can bring up a lot of unconscious content for people. Many of you are already becoming aware of the ways that your ideas, thoughts, and conditioning have colored your feelings about love as well as about eros. Clarifying these, seeing through them, and understanding more clearly our relationship to love and eros will bring in more palpably the presence of love with the energetic power of eros. This will impact you in various ways. The expansion that results from going beyond your usual view and experience of love and the potent force of eros may bring a sense of liberation of heart energy or may rattle some of you a bit. But this will give you the opportunity to see the ways that your consciousness has been limited. Then, over time, as you understand that you are this liberated consciousness, you can learn to act from a new and freshly invigorated place.

Desire is More Fundamental than Who We Have Come to Know Ourselves to Be

Each individual has his or her unique story about desire and what prohibits fully experiencing it, but we all feel desire to some degree. Under the usual constraints of ego structure, however, our experience of desire is limited. We have all heard many admonitions against it: Desire needs to be under control. Desire could lead to bad behavior; it can make us do things we shouldn’t do. Desire shouldn’t be shown too much; it is socially unacceptable. Desire is scary or embarrassing. Desire is childish and immature. Some of us may even think, ”I don’t feel desire. I don’t even feel a desire to feel desire.” As you explore what is true for you about this, do not strive to have a “correct” experience of desire; don’t try to shape your desire in any way. You simply want to become aware of the relationship that you currently have with it. Desire is a natural force in us; it’s a natural condition. In the same way that love is a natural condition, desire is also natural. We have reactions, ideas, and beliefs about desire because somewhere within our consciousness we know it. Desire existed within our psyche long before we had a sense of who was desiring anything. It is more fundamental than who we have come to know ourselves to be. Eros is more than desire, but desire is an important expression of it. We can relate to desire in many different ways, but without desire, eros is dead. On the other hand, bringing the desire element into our love creates the feeling of erotic love, that robust feeling of juiciness that we enjoy and want. We may desire our desire to come forward when we see how it interfaces with love.

Differentiating Between the Erotic, the Sexual and the Divine Erotic

In the Diamond Approach we differentiate between the erotic, the sexual, and the divine erotic. Eros is an expression of our basic life force, arising from the pelvis and belly center and experienced as a pulsating, throbbing, sensual vitality. Normally we experience erotic energy as sexual, but it need not be. You can be turned on by someone or something without being genitally aroused. So erotic relationship is a larger category of relationship that includes the sexual. In this seminar we have been exploring divine eros, which is when the erotic force, the dynamism of passion and desire, is combined with the selfless love of our heart. This combination reveals more of the full potential of eros, the life force, as an expression of our true nature. As with the erotic, the divine erotic can be sexual or not. Though sexual relationships are always erotic, they are not always an expression of divine eros, for there can be sex without love or an inner sense of presence, and divine eros always includes love. More specifically, divine eros requires the presence of selfless love, which is unusual in relationships of any kind.

Distinguishing Between the Erotic and the Sexual

I am making a distinction between the erotic and the sexual that will be very useful for many of us. Most of the time, when people use the word “erotic,” they mean “sexual.” We are using the word “erotic” in this seminar to mean a heartfelt erotic in which there is love, there is sensuousness, there is enjoyment, there is desire and a desire for what is being enjoyed. The desire for enjoyment might mean a desire for intimacy, for contact, for communication, but since these ways of relating can be pleasurable and enjoyable without being sexual, they can happen even between friends. When erotic energy is present, you feel turned on, you feel alive; you really like the person and you like interacting with them. For example, you hear two friends talking about a subject they share a passion for. It feels as though they are making love, but they are actually talking about mathematics or a movie! I call that interaction “erotic” because it has a particular kind of aliveness, a pleasurable sense of a turn-on, but it doesn’t necessarily include or lead to a desire for sexual, physical consummation. When the erotic is sexual, it becomes more physical, it becomes more genitally oriented; you are interested in consummating in a physical interpenetration. The erotic involves interpenetration but not necessarily physical interpenetration; it is primarily on the soul level. “Erotic” means that the soul interaction—the communication, the looping and feedback—is very pleasurable, lively and enjoyable. That is not the same thing as sexual interaction. “Sexual” means that the erotic interaction is focused on the physical dimension, and maybe the genital, which will make the relationship explicitly sexual. This means the erotic can move into a sexual expression if it is appropriate.

Eros is the Inherent Energy of the Sparkle in Our Life Force

Eros is relevant for any human being who is interested in living a full human life, since it is the inherent energy of the zest and sparkle of our life force. Knowing the fundamental nature of our life force is of great importance for the serious spiritual student. And to lead a life of spiritual maturity and full participation in the world, both the knowledge and the embodiment of the nature and energy of life are needed. We have already seen that it is not necessary to choose between the two sides of our existence—that they are not as contradictory as you might have held them to be. It seems that some of you are now experiencing an opening to a new realm that includes these two sides of our humanness.

Erotic Qualities in the Traditions

I am making this distinction because many of our spiritual experiences are erotic but not sexual. If you read the works of Christian mysticism, especially by some female saints, you will see that some are written in highly erotic language. The Song of Songs in the Old Testament is a good example; some of the Sufi poetry of Ibn ‘Arabi and Rumi are others. The way these individuals talk about their experience with God is very sensual, voluptuous, full of desire and excitement, full of turn-on, but it is not physical and it is not sexual. This is true also in Indian mysticism. Many spiritual traditions have an erotic quality that embraces energy, desire, dynamism, pleasure, and blissfulness, but they are not exactly sexual. Discriminating the erotic from the sexual allows us to integrate a new dimension of our spirituality. When you are meditating, for instance, you can have a meditation experience with your true nature that has a very erotic quality. You feel as though you were making love with reality, but it is not really sexual, although sometimes it has many of those same pleasurable and exciting qualities that you can even experience at the same level of intensity. The more the erotic energy is liberated, the more it is free to infuse any area of life with sensual, vibrant, pleasurable presence. The erotic quality can manifest sometimes between good friends and frequently occurs in the dialectic inquiry practice that we do.

Love Unifies Desire with Selfless Giving

Eros is a god, and the true mission of eros is to bring us to the experience and realization of what real love can be in all its dimensions. Eros shows us how love unifies not only spirit and body, but also desire with selfless giving. In wanting your partner, lover, husband or wife, you are giving them your heart. But this is not the kind of wanting that most people know. When we feel wanting and desire, we experience it at the level of the first mountain, which most people call eros. But in our exploration, we want to know the true nature of divine eros, which is the same as seeing it from the perspective of the second mountain.

Our Intelligent Creative Potential

Erotic energy can become a force that animates our spiritual experiences and spiritual lives. We can live in the world with eros as part of the being that we are when the energy of eros is liberated as part of life and part of what we are, exhibiting itself in many areas of our experience. In effusive ways, expansive ways—but also in small and in the most delicate of ways—our life energy can express and fortify our developing consciousness in any of its qualities and dimensions. Just being who we are, whether we are in a very intimate relationship with one person or intimately involved in our friendships, we have companions on the path, on the journey with us. The beautiful thing about human beings is that we can face each other and have the kind of connection that echoes the connection with our inner nature. We are a species that can consciously know ourselves and engage in relationship as two sides of the same thing in a way that allows our inner world, our inner universe, to touch and to blend with another universe. The possibility of two consciousnesses creating an inimitable configuration while remaining authentically themselves is part of an intelligent creative potential for us. To be two as one field, grounded in the deep vastness of eternity, is a special and wonderful possibility.

Sexual and Aggressive Energies

And that is something we find when we start to be in touch with this energy: It brings out more of the unconscious. There is a lot to this energy. It has both sexual and aggressive energies in it that we have used for survival purposes. The ways we have expressed it in the world or kept it repressed will come up more because we are exploring this. It is also important to recognize that being in touch with our nature is what is necessary before we start considering expressing it. It is a double-edged sword. Becoming more present brings out issues that we need to work through. Eventually, we learn that we can express this energy in a positive way; we can learn to express it with sensitivity, tenderness, kindness, and consciousness, but also with power. What we realize is that the power of our erotic nature is not a destructive one. It always comes with love. The motivation for creation is love. Surrendering to this energy is not a passive thing. It is a melting into our true nature, which imbues us with creative capacity in a real way. We can then be courageous and be vulnerable at the same time, because that is what it means to be who we are.

That Which Makes Eros Divine

We have begun the inquiry into the question of what it means to be a person in relationship to another person in a real way. The expression of divine eros emerges most explicitly within this context, although it is not limited to that. In fact, much of the teaching about divine eros was initiated and opened up by our experiences of the erotic nature of love in relation to the divine as the Beloved. For eros to be divine, we must express the embodiment of life and love as one. Having the capacity to be in the world in a way that does not separate us from spirit, while also feeling the pleasure of our energy, our erotic nature, our aliveness and love, makes life complete. We want to experience our humanness, but we don’t want to divide ourselves to do it. We want to know more about both the spiritual and the worldly reality and how the two interrelate, because they are naturally a part of what it means to be human.

The Erotic is Divine

The erotic is divine. Divine eros is your birthright and it was present in its purity upon your entrance into this world. It was all there, coemergent—your naked body and the intense, bursting energetic life force of the divine. To awaken to this beauty and magnificence once again through the spiritual gate is one of the splendid blessings of this life.

Vulgar and Distorted Expressions of the Divine Eros

Unity sounds like a lofty and noble spiritual condition, but for the normal mind, it is very threatening. So if you are experiencing resistance, contraction, tension, trembling, anger, hurt, wounding, frustration, disappointment, or loss, that is absolutely fine. It is expected. These are the things that we need to metabolize, understand, and move through in order to activate within us—and to feel comfortable with—our eros in a divine way, in a way that expresses its essential nature. My understanding of eros is that its true essence is beautiful and wonderful. But when the erotic expresses itself in destructive ways, then it is not solely erotic. It is vulgar and distorted; something else has been added to it. True eros is not separate from love, and by studying it in this teaching as divine eros, we are attempting to demonstrate that. There is only one eros and it is always truly divine, but we do not always experience it in its purity. We experience it mixed with our frustration, with our history, with our dissociation, with our anger or revenge or hurt, and so it comes out unclear and twisted. That is why, for many people, it becomes abusive, it becomes destructive, it becomes insensitive.

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