Cynthia Bourgeault
Conscious Love and Conscious Presence
2-23 May 2001 St. Philip Anglican Church

Love wants the other’s becoming.

Increased neediness in a relationship is always a sign we are heading in the wrong direction.

At the heart of this love is divine presence and fullness.

We need to learn to be content and completely at home with the inner.

When we move to a deeper place, we discover that we can’t be hurt, just as the other can’t give us what we most want.

The ego is the thing that gets hurt the most. Wanting, craving, needing – always lead to hurt.

You may still feel suffering from tragedy, but you will not be destroyed by it. You will not lose your fullness or your true identity. This cannot be worked out in the mind. It comes with greater trusting at a different level.

Deep pain and joy are joined in the heart of God. When we feel pain we have the opportunity to shift our sense of identity to a deeper level.

16 May 2001 – Healing the Eros/Agape Split

The core dogmas of Christian faith were almost exclusively formed by celibate men talking to other celibate men. By the 4c. if you wanted to enter the power structures of the church you were required to be celibate. Marriage was increasingly viewed as impure. This is the era that formed our doctrines of love and our views on marriage.

We need to find a way to get “desiring” back into the category of “the good.”

The idea of giving different names to love goes back at least to Plato: agape = selfless giving love, eros = desiring love, philos = friendship

Anders Nygren (15 November 1890- 20 October 1978 Swedish Lutheran theologian) in 1930 and 1936 published his two-part Agape and Eros in which he argued that “agape is God’s way to man and eros is man’s way to God” – ie. our eros is contaminated with passion, desire and need. God’s way of loving is not contaminated and is therefore pure. This is the most damaging statement ever made about love.

To divide the energy of love into one love which is divine and another which is human is to blur the essential nature of love and to make human love a second class citizen. This supported a view of marriage as a second class path.

When celibacy is seen as the way of giving oneself fully to God, it leads to a flawed concept of love:

We need to understand that divine love is also passionate and full of desire. The mystical tradition has always seen an element of desiring that launched God into the creation business. The Kabbalah and Sufism talk of a holy desiring which is the power that launched creation. Sufi saying about God: “I was a treasure and I wished to be known.”

Love does not exist in the abstract. It exists only as it is given. It is a quality that only exists as it is manifested. God can’t exist as love without creating.

We are made in the image of God in our desiring. We and God share desire as the drive shaft of creativity.

The core element in erotic love (ie. sexual energy) is defined as the highest, most subtle energy which can be worked with in the flesh. It is the energy of intimacy. Eros is involved in every aspect of love; it is not just sexual.

It is the energy which is seen in creativity, worship and aliveness. This is the energy of transformation.

It is the nature of love to form yin and yang out of eros/agape.

Eros if it runs its course properly will transmute into agape. Eros is a valid starting point to be carried into self-giving.

Kabir Helminski – “the soul-tamer of the ego is love”, especially erotic love.

If we cut off eros, we lose the ability to be kicked out of the ego. If we de-sex our being, we get trapped in our ego and can’t get out.

The good old boys knew this. In classic monastic practice the monk takes the power of eros and redirects it to a different object. Take eros as the starting point and direct it to God. This was monastic technology for the first 1,000 years. Starting with Origen, it was understood that human eros has its source from above; it is implanted in us by God, but has become misdirected.

By our refusal to engage this dimension of love, we create an agape close which becomes a tool of the ego. We love out of ego needs. We have the patina of love, the external behaviour that appears as love but actually comes from the ego. We love out of our agendas.