(A. H. Almaas and Karen Johnson will be at Spirit Rock on January 5 for a workshop and book signing for The Power of Divine Eros. More information and registration here.)
What happens if you throw desire into the mix? Then you not only love each other, you want each other—which is usually experienced sexually: “I don’t just love you, I also find you quite yummy, very attractive. I am laying my eyes on you right now, but I would love to lay my hands on you!” And the other person says, “I was just feeling the same thing.” We have all had experiences like that. Desire in itself is a powerful force. It is an energetic, instinctual primal force. As we have seen, desire is an expression of the powerful dynamism and energy of our Being. It is an expression of the creative force of the divine. And when desire is an expression of mutual love, it becomes an intensifying eruption. The interactive field between two people not only becomes charged up, it begins to sparkle, to throb, to pulsate. That is what desire brings to the field—a pulsation, a throbbing, an energetic quality. Your experience of immediacy feels not only sweet and appreciative but also like a throbbing, pulsating force that wants to move toward, wants to get closer to the other person. This is divine eros!
Most people don’t consider the connection between the erotic and the divine aspects of the human being, because they conflate the erotic with the purely sexual, so it tends to remain hidden. We saw the need for people to understand the potential of bringing these two sides of our humanness together, for seeing the hidden connection between them.
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 teaching 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.
So we are saying that a loving relationship can be erotic without being sexual. A friendship can be erotic in this way, for example, when love includes the interest and desire to be together, to enjoy each other, to delight in each other’s presence and expressions. There is an erotic energy, a living, pulsating energy, in the interaction that makes the relationship dynamic and fun, playful and powerful in its disclosing of reality. Two people are turned on together to reality and turned on to each other’s excitement about the discovery of reality. The dialectic inquiry will then have an erotic dimension that is full of pleasure and mirth, enjoyment and excitement, without it being physical or sexual.
This is a type of relationship that society does not acknowledge clearly, even though many people experience erotic energy in some of their loving connections with others. We tend to think of eros as always being sexual because conventional understanding cannot differentiate the erotic (or the divine erotic) from the sexually erotic. The result is that people repress the living force of eros in most relationships in order for those relationships to fit the conventions of friendship or family. Or if they feel the eros in the relationship, they believe they must express it sexually, with all its potential complications, for they cannot imagine eros being other than sexual energy.
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.
From The Power of Divine Eros, by A. H. Almaas and Karen Johnson, © 2013 by A-Hameed Ali and Karen Johnson. Reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc., Boston, MA. www.shambhala.com