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Kosmic Concepts: Eros

Here’s a sneak peek from the new issue of EnlightenNext — our definition of a term that every evolutionary should know:

ErosEROS n.
The creative energy and intelligence that drives the evolutionary process at all levels of existence.

In the mythical pantheon of ancient Greek gods, Eros was commonly portrayed as a young winged archer whose golden arrows struck the hearts of gods and mortals alike, causing them to be overcome by sexual passion. “Once again,” wrote Sappho of Lesbos, “Eros drives me on, that loosener of limbs, bittersweet creature against which nothing can be done.”

Today he is better known by his Roman name, Cupid. But beneath the erotic and cherubic exterior, Eros has always possessed a deeper mystical significance as the primordial power of creation itself. The Pythagorean and Orphic mystery schools invoked him as Eleutherios, “the liberator,” and Protogonos, the luminous and genderless “first born” of the gods, who arose out of the empty void of Khaos to create the harmonious order and beauty of the Kosmos. In The Passion of the Western Mind, Richard Tarnas describes this subtler conception of Eros—espoused most eloquently by Plato—as “a complex and multidimensional archetype which at the physical level expresses itself in the sexual instinct, but at higher levels impels the philosopher’s passion for intellectual beauty and wisdom, and culminates in the mystical vision of the eternal, the ultimate source of all beauty.”

When we use the term “Eros” in EnlightenNext magazine, we’re continuing in the lineage of the ancient Greeks but reinterpreting it in a context of cosmic evolution. And while some early Greek works hint at the idea of evolution, it wasn’t until the emergence of post-Darwinian philosophers in the twentieth century, such as Charles Sanders Peirce and Alfred North Whitehead, that Eros began to be seen as the creative force that drives the evolutionary process. “We have to ask,” wrote Whitehead, “whether nature does not contain within itself a tendency to be in tune, an Eros urging towards perfection.”

Whitehead’s ideas were a primary influence on the contemporary integral philosopher Ken Wilber, who defines Eros as “the drive that takes you beyond yourself.” EnlightenNext editor in chief Andrew Cohen calls that drive the “evolutionary impulse,” explaining that when one begins to consciously identify with that impulse in oneself, a powerful new recognition begins to emerge. “Each one of us, at our highest level,” he writes, “is actually not separate from the energy and intelligence that originally inspired the entire creative process. You begin to intuit, and feel directly connected to, the very impulse that initiated this whole event fourteen billion years ago and is driving it right now.”

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Filed Under: Best of the BlogConsciousnessCosmologyEnlightenNext Editors’ BlogEvolutionariesEvolutionary EnlightenmentEvolutionary SpiritualityIntegral PhilosophyPhilosophySpirituality

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About the Author

Tom Huston is the Senior Online Editor of EnlightenNext magazine. Follow him on Twitter @KosmicTom.

Comments (3)

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  1. Dawn says:

    I love the evolving view of mythology. I have been interested in studying mythology and the deeper meanings of these energetic archetypes. Now I can see that the one layered view of Eros as sexual really has to do with profound creativity and the impulse we all have to create.

  2. Gwen says:

    Why Eros?

    Dear Megan, Thank you for putting forth your piece on Eros. Please excuse the delayed response as I was inclined more toward contemplation of it rather than comment but am compelled this morning to invite more investigation into this ‘Kosmic Concept’ as you have so named it.

    So, if I may, once again Why Eros?

    Regarded as the oldest of all world religions Hinduism first named & carried forth, thru the millenia, the Identity of Primordial Cosmic Energy as Shakti.
    Referencing “the power inherent in Cause to produce it’s necessary Effects” Shakti was realized as that which set in motion the wheel of manifestation.
    All Cosmic Energy was held in Her womb
    All Cosmic Existence was related to & equated with the Deeply Informative Naming of It as Shakti
    “Just as Divinity is symbolized in Hindu India as a lingam surrounded by a Yoni the Goddess is seen as surrounding and animating the Form of the Energy of God.” Invigorating Sublime Being by Empowering Becoming, if you Will.
    Carl Jung renamed this primal force as “My Lady Soul” …” the ageless image”…..”which corresponds to the deepest reality in a man.”
    In referencing Shakti, Merlin Stone wrote “she is purest consciousness & bliss inherent in the manifestation of all being. The Maha Devi of the 1000 petaled lotus.”
    Now all of this is not put forth to satisfy an intellectual exercise on my part but to pry open a deeper inquiry into the myth making stories we create and to share an ecstatic urgency that I feel when coming out of my own deep immersion and that is this; in the Heart of my Humanity as SpiritTruth arises to inform this empty vessel that IAm there is the experience of an ecstatic inextinguishable intense labor of love ceaselessly surging forth, Immanently taking form in All Things but as a direct outgoing expression of that which is Sublimely Still. This I can only relate to as The Mother of All Creation Birthing Forth Divine (Father) Inspiration.
    In so naming this experience as such it seems to me that not only do I as evolve spiritually by offering up a new context within which a Transcendent God is realized once more but one where a living truth of divine feminine form is Revealed & reclaimed which in turn may have the true power to revolutionize all previous paradigmatic notions of man/woman that clearly are in need of a new Story.
    In The Passion of Western Mind Richard Tarnas was also very clear about the context of the hero’s quest in that males were disembedding from the matrix in order to realize themselves as unique & distinct from the great mother and in that we have an entire history of male naming of most all experience. He also suggests that it will be in the Arising of a New Feminine Order where the most serious adjustments to the great imbalances in life will be made.
    So I ask you does it feel any different to name the power of primordial creation Shakti, does it inform human nature differently to relate to it as Shakti, is there a Living Truth in naming the embodiment of Source Shakti(Goddess) and Source itself God? Knowing the 2 are 1 yet somehow reconciling the vastly unique forms of man & woman, the inherent truth function in each of them?
    This is where I would begin…………

  3. [...] of philosophy itself. One notable early connection is found in Plato’s understanding of Eros as not only sexual love, but a universal force of attraction to higher beauty and wisdom. However, [...]