God has a right hand and a left hand; Eros is the right, the Daemonic is the left.
Right: light, joy, height.
Left: dark, suffering, depth.
Right: desire of soul.
Left: passion of heart.
Right: the height comes down, generously. The music of the fountain, overflowing.
Left: the depth stands up, sacrificially. The music of the black pain which can give birth to the red flame.
Both Eros and the Daemonic are ways in which God reaches out to what divinity has created– on the Eros side, to indwell it, nurture it, bring its potentiality to realisation, and on the Daemonic side, to confront it, kick it hard to get it to go in a new direction as it heads for disaster, test and reforge it.
Eros bestows a gift. The Daemonic inflicts a wound. Both are a blessing, yet it is no surprise humans prefer the former to the latter.
We hope in Eros, whose visitation to the soul can become a permanent indwelling, but the Daemonic befalls us, like a fate we cannot escape.
Eros opens the soul, awakening its longing. The Daemonic breaks into the heart, exposing its brokenness.
Eros: love as Goodness– bottomless, infinitely outpouring, never ending.
‘God will be all in all.’
Daemonic: love as Truth– burning, cutting with a sharp edge, unrelenting.
‘It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.’
Eros draws our longing, and we grow toward it, like a plant facing the sun.
The Daemonic afflicts our passion, like Jacob locked in battle with an unknown adversary through a starless night, by a fast flowing river.
Eros: longing seeking light and love.
Daemonic: passion thrown into a struggle for truth in the depth.
The former journey must learn many lessons, and let go of much, to keep going; the latter battle will require increasing integrity, sincerity, honesty, to stand up to the opponent with whom it strives.
Passion is necessary for holiness. Holiness passes from God to those whom God wounds, to remake them fire; they are the ‘Spirit-Bearers’, when we understand that this means bearing the unbearable, and enduring the unendurable, because of the hardship involved in following this Holiness. It is a wound, a burden, even a curse. Holiness is ‘Other’ to us. Letting it ignite us has a cost.
Eros is the sacredness of all things created by God, and created to be ‘God-friendly’– inherently bathed in God’s Energies and translucent to God’s Presence, yet retaining their own freedom and identity; hence the created is neither cut off and separated from the divine, nor absorbed by and collapsed back into the divine. The ‘ten thousand things’ are the partner of God in creation’s dance.
Eros is a special kind of light, warm and penetrating; clarity and love combine– you see ‘in’ to things with love, and love reveals them as having inherent beauty, value, completeness in their own way of being. Eros is a light of love, a light that manifests and bestows love on all that it beholds. Then comes joining with the beloved. Eros gives life, and through union between Lover and Beloved, heals life’s tendency to split into divided fragments, rather than work together as a complex and integrated whole. Division and fragmentation prevents the free flow of life, making for sickness.
Eros is not only illuminative and unitive, uniting the inner being as well as uniting the inner with outer being, but is ecstatic. A musical evocation of the ecstaticness of Eros is Qaw’wali, the Pakistani style of Sufi music sung by Nusret Fateh Ali Khan. This ex-stasis welcomes any and all, has rumbustious joy, is loving rather than impersonal, yet keeps the balance and sacred geometry of an intricate dance where no one smashes into anyone else, but all interweave, seamlessly.
In Eros, things ‘go together’ for good. This is ontological= the way things are. It is ‘natural’ in the terms of Lao Tzu.
In the Daemonic, there is abrupt disjunction, violent clashing, which yet reveals what is true, and where we stand relative to truth. This is existential= the way things stand and fall, and the way we are faithful or unfaithful to them. It is ‘personal’ in the terms of Kierkegaard.
The love revealed by Eros is like finding water in a desert after a long drought. Julian of Norwich, to whom God said, “all will be well, all manner of things will be well”, also told Julian’s soul something further=
“And with this.. [God] also showed me a little thing, the size of a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand. It seemed to me as round as a ball. I gazed at it and thought, ‘What can this be?’ The answer came thus, ‘It is everything that is made.’ I marvelled how this could be, for it was so small it seemed it might fall suddenly into nothingness. Then I heard the answer, ‘It lasts, and ever shall last, because God loves it. All things have their being in this way… by God’.”
The love revealed by the Daemonic is hard to take. We suffer in the wound. We sorrow and we hurt. Yet we also are moved. If we were not moved, accidie would take over, and we would remain paralysed, immobilised, listless — as too many passionless people are.
Hafiz, the Persian Sufi poet, puts the impact of the Daemonic jokingly, but accurately [‘Tired of Speaking Sweetly’, in ‘The Gift, Poems By Hafiz’]=
Love wants to reach out and manhandle us,
break all our teacup talk of God.
If you had the courage and could give the Beloved his choice,
some nights He would just drag you around the room
by your hair,
ripping from your grip all those toys in the world that bring you no joy.
Love sometimes gets tired of speaking sweetly
and wants to rip to shreds
all your erroneous notions of truth
that make you contentious within yourself, dear one, and with others,
causing the world to weep
on too many fine days.
God wants to manhandle us,
lock us inside a tiny room with himself
and practice his dropkick.
The Beloved sometimes wants
to do us a great favour;
hold us upside down, and shake all the nonsense out.
But when we hear
He is in such a “playful drunken mood”,
most everyone I know
quickly packs their bags and hightails it
out of town.
Melanie Klein spoke of the way in which babies split ‘the good breast’ and ‘the bad breast.’ Many people perform a similar defensive act of primitive splitting in dealing with the contrast, even contradiction, between Eros and the Daemonic as both manifesting the one God, the God who ‘is’ Love. Whether this God gives or wounds, takes us up or plunges us down, delights or distresses us, saves us from drowning by dragging us out of the polluted water, or redeems the water by throwing us back in once we have some air in our lungs, it is all the same God. But people try to ‘pick and choose’ in regard to God, as they do in regard to existence, preferring one aspect, trying to evade another.
Thus Eros is embraced as the apotheosis of the God of Love, but is kept well clear of the Daemonic which is repudiated as the apotheosis of the God of Wrath– a deity of stringent moral demands who is profoundly angry with human transgression, and determined to punish us for it. This juridical deity keeps score, and lets nothing pass. There is a long tradition in East and West of asserting that the Old Testament God can be dismissed as nothing more than a primitive patriarchal bully, cruel and demanding, whose love is conditional, whilst by some magic sleight of hand, this father’s son is generous, brave, and unconditionally loving. According to such a scenario, the son redeems the father, in effect. Even William Blake fell for this sentimental drivel, as did Jung, and many others down to the present day.
The irony is that when Eros and the Daemonic are spiritually revealed in their respective fullness, it turns out that, though a paradox, the Daemonic is more loving than Eros. It is easier to give a gift, and perfect the gift in its full flowering. The wound that hurts us, yet changes us at the core, and enables us to take this change we have gone through to the world, to change it, is far more costly. Ironically, in the Daemonic, God pays more, God loses more, than we humans do. The price we pay, the loss we suffer, is so as to become the co-bearer with God of what God bears. He carries the weight, so that we can assume the load with him. Ironically, the Daemonic proves to be the more radical, unconditional love, for everyone and everything.
St Basil’s prayer [from his Liturgy] is totally right side, Eros oriented=
“Receive us all into thy Kingdom, having shown us to be children of the light and children of the day. Grant us thy peace and thy love, O Lord our God, for thou hast restored us to all things.”
No Daemonic in this prayer…
Bring us through hell, to become adults for the redemption of the world; let us not retreat into your kingdom while the world remains in hell; show us to be men and women forged through suffering to become deep, as deep as Christ on the Cross, and let us know his torment and his tumult, in order to win with him, the victory at the point of nadir.
God of the heartbreak, mend our heart only as you mend the world’s heart.
Let that war of hearts be our only comfort, until it is won.