‘Eros’ arouses ‘Desire’, as the Daemonic sparks Passion
A Greek friend says many scholars translate the Greek ‘Eros’ as ‘passion.’ This is lazy, and a huge mistake.
Eros engenders desire for the Erotic Object, Erotic Being, Erotic Reality. ‘Eros’ is the Mysterious Source of all eroticized reality; the mother in the eyes of the baby, the beloved in the eyes of the lover, God in the eyes of the mystic. Eros evokes ‘desire, yearning, longing’, for the plenitude of its being. Whatever we love ‘erotically’ is seen by us as a source of the goodness, beauty, life, which we desire: thus we are ‘drawn’ toward it. This desirous state and being attracted to and drawn toward its source, is the precise nature of the energetics involved. Desire is born in the soul, not in the mind nor in the heart [though they may give assent and augment it].
The dictionary is never very subtle in discerning, but under ‘erotic’ [Greek= erotikos] it says, ‘pertaining or prompted by sexual love’, or ‘increasing sexual desire’, or ‘moved by sexual desire.’ Not all desire, or desirous love, is sexual, of course, and that very terminology reflects the Western bias of centuries, when ‘erotic’ degenerated into ‘sexual.’ Eros is a Presence, an Energy, a Power, an Overflowing Gift.
Eros is not just modernity’s absurd ‘sex-object’, but is always seen by the Greek Christians as a Source or Well-spring of Love, Light, Life, that is given freely, that is given ‘gratuitously’ and ‘graciously’ [the sun shines on just and unjust alike, and so does the rain fall on good and bad no different]. Eros loves those who respond to its ‘draw’ and equally loves those who block it off, to try to be a separate ego. Eros is All-Embracing and All-Inclusive. Eros can indwell a human person, nature, and cultural creations, all of which exert a pull of desire upon us. God is the ultimate Source of all Eros= everything we desire, including sexuality, reflects God, shares God, manifests God, in some degree and in some way. Thus St Maximos will say [a] that many different spiritual and physical realities can be Eros-ic [‘erotic’] to us, [b] but wherever we love erotically or desire erotically, we are ‘really’ [without realising it] loving God. Even a drug addict desirous of sweet oblivion from the fix is really seeking God, Maximos would say. Even false erotic desire, and its deceiving phantasies, are a distortion of the Goodness of God revealed in the genuine Eros.
“He or she who loves is loved.” Aristotle added to this, “we only learn from those who love us, and whom we love in return.” Eros is a Divine Love so generous, so alive, so full of light and beauty, so ‘naturally’ [inherently] giving of itself, all creatures who behold and feel it are desirous of being Joined to it. Union is the goal of that in us ‘moved’ by Eros. Sharing, participation, communing, are all by the gift of Eros. Sexual orgasm, if truly erotic and ecstatic, is not so different from other forms of mystical ecstasy. When sex is loveless and mechanical, it has nothing erotic and nothing ecstatic about it; that is why so many people are sad after they make love.
By Eros all beings have being.
By Eros all beings grow from ill being — depletion or loss of being — to well-being, and from well-being to eternal being.
When Buddha said attachment is the cause of our suffering, he was speaking of desire. Desire has to grow up, and be schooled by, loss, acceptance, letting go. We cannot possess Eros, or own it or ‘have’ it; we can only ‘be’ it. Learning its true nature, finding the love in it that is not egoic, is very hard. From Japan to the Danube, people have always known ‘pruning the plant’ is needed to ‘free’ our relation to Eros. We ‘fast’ from deadly poison so as to eventually come to be able to ‘feast’ on living goodness.. What dies in us to reach the real Eros is our ego, our sense of separation, with all its plotting and planning, conniving and scheming, against others, and ultimately against the Ultimate Reality of Eros.
We do not have to grab at Eros; the very grabbing at it is what prevents it giving itself freely to us. When we stop the grabbing, we discover it was always available, filling us and by moving through us, linking our being to all other beings who are, like us, benefited and fulfilled by its giving.
When we try to ‘cling’ on, or cling to, Eros, we lose it. Our clinging insists that the world and people be such and such.. We re-arrange reality in our ‘phantasy-wishing’ to be what it must be so we can cling to it.. But reality is not like that. Thus we suffer because we resist the way reality is. Such suffering can cease when we accept that we cannot cling to all the people, things, activities, that embody Eros for us.
Consequently, the kind of ‘in-static identity’ we fall into blocks off Eros. We no longer can open to and dance in the energy of Eros, because we are self-enclosed, our permeable body becoming ‘armoured’ [as the body therapist Wilhelm Reich puts it].
Blocking off Eros makes us Ignorant [what I want is unreal], Grasping [I must have that], Hateful [I must oppose you because you grab away from me what I must have].
The description of the three-fold human personality imprisoned in ‘delusive craving’ is the same in Buddhism and in St Maximos. Both are wrestling with Eros, discerning the difference between the genuine vs. the fantasy or bogus..
It can be concluded that instead of using the phrase ‘sexual passion’ or ‘erotic passion’, it is necessary to stay with ‘Erotic desire’ and distinguish it from ‘Daemonic passion.’