People may be confused about a lot of different things, but most of us are somewhat confused about love and sex. And then there’s that erotic spark. What gives? The forces of love, eros and sex are actually three distinct forces, or principles. And they show up, or don’t, differently on all the various levels. Let’s see if we can sort them out.

The minute we think, “That’s all there is, folks,” it’s game over. It’s as simple as that with eros.
The minute we think, “That’s all there is, folks,” it’s game over. It’s as simple as that with eros.

When it comes to bang for the buck, the erotic force is the most potent. It’s got momentum on its side and it creates impact. If we have done a lot of spiritual development work already, the erotic force will carry us from the short-lived erotic experience into the mighty and permanent state of pure love. So it’s supposed to be the bridge that takes us from sex to love. But it rarely does. After all, the erotic force can only do so much.

Its momentum will carry a soul just so far and no further. It’s up to the personality to learn how to love. Without this, eros is destined to dissolve. But if one has learned to love, then voilà, the spark of the erotic force lives on. Left all on its own, however, without love to keep it company, it will burn itself out. Pffft. So goes the way of so many marriages.

In many ways, eros looks a lot like love. It conjures up impulses in people that might not surface otherwise. Bursts of unselfishness and affection surge into existence that were unrealized before. So we get confused. Isn’t this love? But eros also looks a lot like the great urge of the sex instinct. Yet it’s not quite the same thing.

Let’s dig a little deeper into the purpose and spiritual meaning of the erotic force. For surely, without it, many of us would not get a taste of the marvelous feeling and beauty contained in real love. Fear would trump desire and down we’d go in flames.

Eros is what lifts us up out of our sluggishness, our settling for contentment. It causes our soul to surge. We get out of our own way and go outside ourselves. Even the most undeveloped soul will rise to the occasion when eros strikes, bringing such a soul the closest to love they may be able to get. One may find themselves temporarily feeling, at least towards one person, a goodness they have never known before.

While feelings of eros last, the utterly selfish person may genuinely care about another. They may even gladly make sacrifices for someone else. Lazy people will pull it together and overcome their own inertia. The rigid, rut-loving person will naturally break free of worn out habits. The erotic force does all this, lifting people out of their self-created separateness. But when its time is up, it can do no more.

It offers a sampling of unity and teaches the timid soul to long for it. After one gets a foretaste, it’s hard to go back to the old ways and feel content. But one also can’t hang out in eros and call it love. Because similar as it may seem, it’s not the same thing.

So what’s the situation? How are they different? Love, simply put, is a permanent state in the soul. And it can only exist if we have laid the groundwork for it to land. We create such a foundation through the hard work of personal growth, or spiritual development.

Love doesn’t come and go, willy-nilly. Eros does. Eros lands with a bang, often whopping a person upside the head, even if they’re not willing to go through the experience. But love won’t land unless the person is prepared for it. They have to have built the foundation, brick by brick, so that eros can act as a bridge that lands on solid footings.

It’s not hard to see the importance of the erotic force. Without it, many people wouldn’t ever be ready to consciously begin dismantling their own walls of separation. Eros, in fact, plants the seeds of longing for unity, which is what underpins the whole Plan of Salvation.

As long as we remain separate, we’re going to stay a sad and sorry lot. But add that sparkle of eros, and now we’ve got game. Sure, we often misuse it, and often even enjoy for its own sake. But it’s good while it lasts. And it leaves a lasting impression in the soul. When it peters out, which it will if it doesn’t launch us into real love, we’ll go looking for it again. And again.

Eros shows up, even when we least look for it. Even when we’re afraid of the risk that it entails. Further, if we’re afraid of our feelings, or afraid of life for that matter, we’ll do anything to avoid—ignorantly and subconsciously—experiencing union with another. But all eros needs is a tiny little crack to get in. Few indeed have not found this to be true.

Some are so fear-ridden, they spend their lives running from the threat of eros. Sorrow and loss may be good medicine for such a soul who fears annihilation from painful feelings. Others may be over-emotional, running from pillar to post, hunting greedily for it. However, when we misunderstand the deeper meaning of eros, using it for our pleasure and then hunting elsewhere when it’s worn out, we perpetuate an abuse that can’t not have ill effects. Done out of ignorance or not, such a soul is going to have to pay the piper at some point for this behavior.

But then so too will the love-avoiding coward have to make up for trying to cheat life by hiding from eros. It’s like a medicine that this soul needed has been refused, and if used properly, it could have served a great value. Fortunately, most of us have a weak spot somewhere. And sneaky eros will find a way to get in.

The arc of this type of healing spiritual help can span many lifetimes. Let’s say, in a former life, a person felt eros totally dropped them on their head. Or maybe they greedily abused the beauty of the erotic force, never building it into love. Either way, this person decided to be more careful. But being a tad rigid and stringent, they went about things in a too extreme way.

In their next incarnation, circumstances are going to need to balance things out. The goal here is harmony. Building a tight wall of fear and pride around one’s soul will not protect one from difficult life experiences. It will only add to them. Consequently, we shortchange our own development. It is only by finding the proper balance between reason, will and emotion that we work our way out of the corners we find ourselves stuck in.

The Pull: Relationships & Their Spiritual Significance

The erotic force often cozies up to the sexual urge. But it doesn’t always have to go that way. The three forces of love, eros and sex can appear independently, or maybe two will co-mingle. Like eros might mix it up with sex, or eros may combine together with love—to the extent the soul is able to love. Or maybe there’s sex and some semblance of love. It’s only in the ideal situation that all three forces play well together in the sandbox.

On any level of existence, the sex force is the creative agent. In the highest spheres, the sex force gets the credit for creating spiritual life and spiritual ideas. On lower planes, like the one we’re living on here on Earth, the sex force creates the shell or vehicle for a being to live in, you know, while we’re passing through.

The pure sex force is entirely selfish. Without eros or love nearby, it’s downright animalistic. And it exists in everything that lives: animals, plants and even minerals. So sex precedes our existence on planet Earth. Eros arrives at the point when we are incarnate as human beings. Pure love is what we find in the higher spiritual realms. There, all three blend in a lovely union. They are refined and become less and less selfish. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t shoot for some love-eros-sex harmony here at home, but there will be challenges.

Having the three forces remaining separate is a sign of an unhealthy soul. Sometimes though they join up in pairs. So what are some common love-eros-sex combos? It can happen, on rare occasion, that eros can hang out alone for a limited time, such as in platonic love. But sooner or later, in a somewhat healthy person, sex will worm its way in. Rather than suppressing it, the sex force will get taken up by the erotic force and they’ll flow in one current.

Note, it is possible for friendship, which is brotherly love, to exist between a man and a woman. Eros may want to sneak in, but people can use discretion to direct their reason and their will to determine the way in which their feelings take their course. This will keep things on the straight and narrow, and not slipping into an improper channel.

Another frequent medley, especially in long-standing relationships, is the mixture of genuine love with sex, but eros is nowhere to be found. Although love can’t be perfect without three-part harmony, there can be affection, companionship, fondness and mutual respect. And all this can co-exist with a crudely sexual relationship, even if eros has slipped the ship. But eventually, if eros has gone, the sexual relationship is soon to suffer.

Such is the current state of so many marriages. This is a conundrum for most. How does one maintain the spark in a relationship, which dries up once habit and familiarity set in? What went out that was there at the beginning? Well, it’s that spark—the force of eros. Marriage may then seem a hopeless proposition. No, it’s not, even if we can’t maintain the delicate balance as of yet.

In a perfect world, all three forces will be present in a loving partnership. So let’s break this down. We’ll assume there must be at least some love, or two people wouldn’t have gotten married. At the beginning, the sex force was likely also present. Although it may have begun to fade—especially for the woman—once eros left the scene. The man may then have gone looking for eros somewhere else. For the sexual relationship is going to falter if eros flees.

Now here is the nut of the problem: how do we hang onto eros? The bottom line is, we can only maintain eros if we use it as a bridge to a true loving partnership. How then do we do that?

Consider that the main element driving the erotic force is adventure, the search to know another soul. This desire lives in every single soul that’s ever been created. Our life force must, by its nature, pull us out of our separated state, marshaling us in the direction of union. Eros is what supercharges our inherent curiosity to know the other. As long as there is more to discover, and as long as there is more to reveal, eros will live on.

But the minute we think “that’s all there is, folks,” game over. It’s as simple as that with eros. The big error is that we think there’s a limit to the revealing of one soul to another. So when we reach a certain point of revealing, which is usually fairly superficial, we think we’re done. Then we settle in for the long haul, and stop looking any further.

Eros has carried us to the edge of the beginning by boosting us in the tail with some much-needed oomph. But after this point, our willingness to continue to plumb the depths of the other or to reveal riskier aspects of our inner landscape is what determines if eros will become a bridge to love. And that’s basically up to us. How badly do we want to learn to love? This, and only this, is what’s we need to keep the eros alive within our love.

This is how we find the other and allow ourselves continually to be found. There is no end. Every soul is limitless and eternal. A whole lifetime could never suffice to know another soul. Never will there come a point when we know all there is to know. Never will there come a time when we are known entirely. Our souls are alive, and nothing that lives remains unchanging. We can always reveal even deeper layers, which already exist.

We’re constantly changing, renewing and moving. As such, marriage can be a marvelous journey of discovery and adventure, as it is supposed to be. We can forever find new vistas, instead of falling flat as soon as the first momentum of eros fades. We need to use its thrust to push us over our walls, and then soldier on further under our own steam. That’s how we can bring eros into true love in marriage.

The Pull: Relationships & Their Spiritual Significance

Marriage is not some manmade contrivance. It is something that God intends for us, and not just so we will chunk out more baby beings. That’s one aspect, but only one aspect. From a spiritual perspective, the intention behind marriage is for a soul to reveal itself while constantly exploring new frontiers in the beloved. The more this happens, the happier the couple. The more firmly and safely a marriage is rooted in such intimacy, the less danger there will be for an unhappy ending. Then the marriage will fulfill its reason for being.

In practice, though, it hardly ever works out that way. We get so far down the road and then we coast. It escapes us to think about how little the other knows us. They’ve seen a few facets, but that’s all. Sometimes we’ll even kick the level of outer activity into overdrive, trying to overcompensate for our lackadaisical inner activity. We let ourselves be lured into a state of restfulness, cherishing our precious delusion that we know all we need to know. What a pervasive pitfall.

This is the beginning of the end. Or at best, a crappy compromise that leaves one with a gnawing sense of unfulfilled longing. The relationship turns static, no longer alive, even if it still sports some pleasant features. Habit is a worthy adversary, pulling us into the pit of apathy where we think we shouldn’t have to try so hard any more.

As the marriage rolls along, the two people may come to an agreement, as it were, that seems reasonably satisfactory. But somewhere along the way, one of two things will occur. One possibility is that one, or both, is going to shift into being aware that they are unsatisfied. Then the jig is up. For the soul needs to surge ahead. It needs to seek and be found. No matter how fearful or lazy one is, our destiny is to dissolve our separateness. That’s why we’re here.

This awareness may be open and on the conscious level—although often, the real reason will be ignored—or it might lurk below the surface, hiding in the weeds of the unconscious. Either way, it’s going to tip the scales against the temptation to not rock the boat. And then someone will get the brilliant idea that maybe with someone new, things would be different. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Especially if eros makes a new appearance. And so we hop from one to next, not understanding what just happened but hoping like heck that eros is going to stick around this time.

The second possibility is that the soul-sucking vortex of “peace” is too strong. Then the couple sticks it out, possibly fulfilling something together but leaving a great unfulfilled void of need in the soul.

Since the male is by nature the more active and adventurous of the duo, they may be more tempted to step out into infidelity than the woman. So this is what underpins many a man’s motives for being unfaithful. Women, on the other hand, tend toward the sluggish side, leaning nicely in the direction of compromise. So she may tend to remain monogamous. As always, there are going to be exceptions on both sides.

When infidelity hits, it is often as puzzling to the one who acts out as it is to the “victim.” They both lack understanding about what they are doing. And the unfaithful one may suffer just as much as the one whose trust was betrayed.

When compromise is the winning choice, with the couple settling for stagnation, both people lose regarding an important aspect of their soul’s development. We take refuge in the steady comfort of being in a relationship. And we believe we are happy enough, which may even be true to a certain degree. We favor the pleasure of friendship, companionship and mutual respect, tidily packaged in a well-established routine, over the unrest in our soul. And we may have enough discipline to hang in there and stay true. But a big puzzle piece is missing: that part about the revealing of one soul to another as much as possible.

Only when we make the effort and take the risk to do this can two people become purified together, each helping the other out. This path and the various steps outlined in these teachings can make it easier to sidestep the dangers of the marital relationship. They offer perspectives for seeing more truth, and tips for repairing damage that unwittingly occurs.

But we don’t need rulebooks or a mountain of therapy sessions to do this. Two souls, especially ones who feel called to living a more spiritual existence, can fulfill one another by opening themselves up and at the same time searching the depths of the other. This alone will pull unconscious crud up to the surface where it can be explored, transformed and healed. Then the life-spark will stay alive. For then the relationship will never stagnate. Then marriage won’t become a dead-end street.

The Pull: Relationships & Their Spiritual Significance

So that’s the way to keep the spark alive. That’s how to maintain eros—that elusive, vibrating life force—and transform it into true love. We have to put away our pride and let ourselves be naked—really naked—in the eyes of the other. We have to take off our masks. Then our love will flourish. We’ll have no desire to look elsewhere. We’ll be continually amazed by what we find. Our marriage, in its truest sense, will be the glory it’s intended to be.

We’re going to have to step outside the four walls of our separateness to have this. We’re also often torn inside. Because for many, we’re going to need to look at marriage as more than a means to avoid being alone. But such is life. We can face ourselves now, or wait for another lifetime. The view will be the same.

If we find ourselves alone at this point in time, we may want to consider how our wrong concepts have brought us here. We can repair the damage by using the light of truth. Like maybe we’re too afraid to embark on such a journey. By being with this realization, our fears may lessen so we become willing to take on such a great adventurous journey with another. It all depends on us.

As we become ready to share the gift of ourselves with another, so will we be ready to receive such a gift from our partner. This is going to require a certain level of maturity. If it’s there, we’re going to intuitively choose the right partner—one who is also ready and willing. Winner winner chicken dinner. If we pick an unwilling partner, we’re choosing from our own hidden fears about heading down this road. We’re like magnets, attracting what meets us right where we’re at. At some level, we know this.

Whether or not people are ready to pony up for all this doesn’t change the idea here, or the ideal. Until then, we have to make the best of it. Maybe the best we can do today is understand why we don’t have what our heart yearns for. That alone may take us a giant step closer to the truth. Keep in mind, the truth lives inside us. Answers come from within, even if what we discover tells us more about our fears, unwillingness or ignorance of the facts. If we search, we will know.

Also know this: the erotic principle is on our side. It gives us a boost if we’re feeling unprepared for the love experience. We call it “falling in love,” or “romance.” But true love is going to demand a bit more from us. Let’s not fall short at physical revelation, which is easy for many. After that, we often clam up emotionally, and then when eros leaves, we lock and bolt the door. That’s when our troubles begin.

So it’s up to us whether we will use eros as a bridge to the goal of a soul: living in love. It all depends on our courage, our humility and our willingness to reveal ourselves. Nothing is being withheld from us. It’s all right there for the taking.

The Pull: Relationships & Their Spiritual Significance

Communication is an all-important aspect of any marriage. But let’s clearly understand that women and men are wired a little differently. Women tend to be, by nature, more emotionally inclined. Men tend to be, painting with a broad brushstroke here, more oriented to reasoning. So for the man, revealing his emotions may be difficult. This is where the woman can help him. The man will help the woman in other ways.

The mistake we make is in thinking the only way to reveal ourselves is by talking. Yes, that’s one means for expressing certain facets. But that’s all it is. It’s not by talking that we find and reveal ourselves, although this is included. Moreover, it’s in the way we show up, in our being. It’s in our whole basic attitude.

By being stronger emotionally, it may be easier for the woman to muster the courage to reach in and touch the deepest core of longing that also exists in the man. Using her intuition, she can reach that part of her partner. And if he is mature, he will respond. He must respond. Which means there may be a conversation. Or not. But the ability to speak about things is not the determining factor. We want to become flexible enough to use all of the faculties God has given us.

Once a mutual willingness is established, it doesn’t matter who takes the lead. Whoever starts, a time will come when the other also leads and helps. In a healthy relationship, there will be alternation and constant change. At any given time, the stronger one will help the other find liberation. One shouldn’t wait for the other to start. Whoever is more mature and courageous at a particular instant should dive in. This will help raise the maturity of the other, which may then surpass their own. The helper becomes the helped. The liberator becomes the one who is freed.

We may believe the pinnacle of all revelation is to reveal ourselves to God. And it is sort of the same the thing. But before we can let God see us, we have to figure out how to let another human being see us. And when we do this, God sees us too.

Many people think: “Yes, I want you’re talking about, but I think I’ll start by revealing myself to God.” Knock yourself out. But know that what you’re doing is abstract and remote. And it’s a deception. Because no one else—no human being—sees what you’re up to. You’re still alone. And you’re not doing the one thing that would seem risky and require a dose of humility—and which threatens to be humiliating. In truth, when we reveal ourselves to another human being, we get two birds with one stone. But then, God already knows who we are anyway. He doesn’t need our revelation.

When we find another soul, we are finding another particle of God. When we reveal our soul, we reveal a particle of God. We give something divine to each other. So we need to not avoid eros when in appears. We want to use it wisely.

Then God will guide us, allowing us to make the best of helping each other along the way. That’s what true love is about. And that’s how being in a relationship can become a spiritual path—a path within a spiritual path, if you will.

The Pull: Relationships & Their Spiritual Significance

So does this relationship stuff, by definition, need to be a one-on-one proposition? Indeed it does. And when we think otherwise, we’re kidding ourselves. Because if we haven’t found the “right partner,” there is some immaturity in our own soul that we overlook. Maybe fickle eros, which tends to come hither and thither, has struck again. An adventurous person might take the bait, thinking they are able to love more than one person.

In cases like this, what’s going on is that a person is always revealing themselves, but only going so far. No further. With each person, a different facet might be exposed. Or the same stuff is shown over and over again. The more partners we have, the less we share with each. But the inner core? That door shut tight and locked. So then eros flits away and the flame of the raw sexual attraction goes out. This is inevitable. It cannot be otherwise. Sorry.

How about we pitch this whole mess over and just live for our love of humanity. That sounds noble, right? Perhaps. And it may in fact be possible, but it’s neither healthy nor honest. Maybe one person in ten million has such a task. Odds are not good that this includes you. But for such a soul, who has already gone through a true partnership experience, it may be their karma. That person has come here this time around then with a specific mission.

For all the rest of us, avoiding partnership is an unhealthy move. It’s an escape. The real reason is fear of love, but we masquerade under the rationalization of sacrifice. We’re choosing the comfort of a difficulty-free existence, claiming our great humanitarian work is for a worthy cause. But do we really believe one must exclude the other? Wouldn’t it be more likely that we could better serve the world if we learned personal love too?

In most cases, personal love and fulfillment is a man and woman’s destiny. There is so much we can learn that can’t be attained any other way. Creating a solid, durable marriage is the greatest victory we can hope to achieve. It is also one of the most difficult things there is. Mastering it will bring us way closer to God than a hole in one on a lukewarm good deed.

The Pull: Relationships & Their Spiritual Significance
Maybe it was a mistake and it’s not working, but don’t ever let a good problem go to waste.
Maybe it was a mistake and it’s not working, but don’t ever let a good problem go to waste.

Celibacy is another strategy that gets some positive press in some religions. But as with everything else, there is human error in every religion. One common misnomer is that anything pertaining to sex is sinful. It’s true that when sexuality is separated from love, it is more selfish. But it’s also true that the sex instinct is present in the infant.

So we can use the word “sinful” to describe anything that arises without love. But nothing that is coupled with love is wrong—or sinful. In fact, no such thing as a force, principle or idea can in itself be sinful, including sex.

For the child then, who is naturally immature, the sex drive will at first manifest selfishly. As the personality harmoniously grows and matures, the sexual forces will merge with the love forces. Until this happens, sex may be viewed as sinful. This is why we have so often kept it in hiding. As such, this part of a person’s being can’t grow up. Because nothing that is kept hidden can grow.

As a result, there are a lot of adults walking around for whom sex remains childish and separated from love. Sex then is selfish, raw and animalistic. So that confirms it—sex is sinful. See the error? So then the belief that a truly spiritual person should abstain from sex is equally off base. This is one of those vicious circles that has people in certain religions chasing their tails.

This split between sex and love can have people suffering from a bad conscience whenever the sexual urge arises. But then such a person is in a pickle, unable to handle sexual feelings with the one they really love. Extrapolate this out a bit, and we can see where the notion stems from that says you can’t find and love God when you respond to the urge for sex. But this is all wrong.

We can’t kill off something that is alive. We can only hide it, but then it is going to come out sideways in more hurtful ways. Rarely does the sublimation of the sex force make the creative force unfold in another area. More often, there’s just garden-variety fear and escape going on. Same as what happens all day long with everyone.

How about divorce—how does that square with spiritual law? In truth, there are no fixed rules. Sometimes, divorce is chosen as an easy way out. It’s used as an escape. Other times, divorce is a reasonable option because the decision to marry was made in immaturity and neither partner is up to the true task of marriage. Or maybe one party is in for the long haul but the other has already checked out. If both people aren’t in it to win it, it’s better to make a clean break than to let one hold the other down. That, of course, happens. Then divorce is better than staying together and making a farce out of marriage. Better to cut one’s losses and end a mistake than linger on in a situation without finding an effective remedy.

But don’t go too lightly. OK, maybe it was a mistake and it’s not working. But try to find out the reasons why and see if it might be possible to clear the hurdles. Don’t ever let a good problem go to waste. They are always due to inner mistakes that can be unearthed and often overcome. Make the best of it. There is always so much one can learn from whatever is going on.

To generalize then and say divorce is always wrong is just as misguided as saying it’s always right. So one’s marriage may be far from ideal, but you know, few of us are actually ready and mature enough for that. We become more and more ready by learning from our mistakes.

The Pull: Relationships & Their Spiritual Significance

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Read Original Pathwork® Lecture: #44 The Forces of Love, Eros, and Sex