On A Return to Eros
In this translineage conversation, Sianna Sherman, Sally Kempton, and Dr. Marc Gafni talk about how they each view Eros, Shakti, radical aliveness and how we can go about embodying this sense of allurement in our lives.
Sianna Sherman is an internationally celebrated yoga teacher, evocative storyteller, and passionate speaker at conferences and festivals throughout the world. She is the founder of Rasa Yoga, Mythic Yoga Flow®, and co-founder of Urban Priestess® – a platform that serves the empowerment of women. She was featured in Yoga Journal as one of the 21 top teachers shaping the future of yoga. Sianna has a unique ability to touch the human heart through story, transmission and devotional practice. As a globetrotting yogini, she leads high-vibration gatherings, teacher trainings, workshops, sacred site retreats and pilgrimages as an offering of Love. Sianna is an innovative, visionary spirit with a deep devotion to Soul Alchemy, and her teachings are a true convergence of science, mysticism, art and yoga. Her vision is to serve for the Benefit of All Beings & awaken magic into the world!
Sally Kempton teaches meditation as a process of inner exploration, in which we learn to integrate heart, mind and body in order to experience our natural state of wisdom and love. Sally also offers a wide variety of classes on yogic wisdom texts, as well as hands-on, contemplative practices for moving through psychological obstructions, understanding the intricacies of inner life, and how to apply spiritual principles to relationships, work, and life in our time. Students say that her classes create an atmosphere of support and joy that allows deep exploration. “Sally’s classes are deeply transformative,” a student says. “Her guidance is gentle and loving, yet challenging in all the right ways. She brings yogic teachings out of the books, and into real life in a way that makes it totally practical.” Though Sally offers many courses for beginning meditation students, she is also regarded as a ‘teacher’s teacher’, whose approach inspires long-time practitioners to free themselves from routine meditation practice, and move deeper.
Dr. Marc Gafni is a visionary thinker, social activist, passionate philosopher, and author of ten books, including the award-winning Your Unique Self: The Radical Path to Personal Enlightenment, the two-volume Radical Kabbalah, the recently-published Self in Integral Evolutionary Mysticism: Two Models and Why They Matter, and Tears: Reclaiming Ritual, Integral Religion, and Rosh Hashana. Marc Gafni holds his doctorate in philosophy from Oxford University. He teaches on the cutting- edge of philosophy in the West, helping to evolve a new “dharma,” or meta-theory of Integral meaning that is helping to re-shape key pivoting points in consciousness and culture. Together with Dr. Kristina Kincaid he authored the recently published book A Return to Eros that is the topic of this dialogue.
Oh, my God, welcome, it is so good to be here with you Sally, Sally Kempton and Sianna, Sianna Sherman. Two goddesses incarnate, and teachers and transmitters and what an absolute delight to be with you. We’re here to talk about Return to Eros, which is so critically crucial exciting, delighted, honored to be with you. Sally, I turn to you.
Okay, so the first thing I think we need to establish is exactly what is Eros? Maybe Marc you could give us any definition of Eros that really goes to the heart of it, just so everyone will be on the same page in this conversation.
Fantastic. Thank you, Sally. When we speak of Eros, we’re talking about something which is core to reality. Eros existed for at least 12 billion years before there was sexuality. We know that. Eros is the experience of radical aliveness, moving towards ever greater contact, and ever larger wholes. That sentence, which is birthed over 20 years is the nature of reality, the experience of radical aliveness, moving towards ever greater contact and ever larger wholes. That basic movement is the nature of reality itself. One could actually say, since God is reality and reality is God, God is Eros. Reality is Eros. God’s not only Eros, God’s Eros, right? That actually shifts everything.[Read more…]
by Dr. Marc Gafni & Dr. Kristina Kincaid
It was the sensual Persian poet Hafiz who understood the full power of erotic surrender in every arena of life. The ecstatic poem “Tripping Over Joy” transmits something about the power of surrender:
Between your experience of Existence
And that of a saint?
The saint knows
That the spiritual path
Is a sublime chess game with God
And that the Beloved
Has just made such a Fantastic Move
That the saint is now continually
Tripping over Joy
And bursting out in Laughter
And saying, “I Surrender!”
Whereas, my dear,
I am afraid you still think
You have a thousand serious moves.
Loosening the Reins
The one master who saw it as his role to reclaim the erotic at the core of life was the Baal Shem Tov, Master of the Good Name. We have already met this master of Eros in this book, and we will encounter him many more times along the way. The Baal Shem Tov was an eighteenth-century magician, mystic, and healer who founded the movement of spiritual renewal, Hasidic Judaism, that swept Eastern Europe in the 1700s. The story is told of a fateful meeting between Jacob Joseph of Polnoye, a well-known religious master of the time, and the Baal Shem.
The master from Polnoye had apparently heard of the Baal Shem before but had refused to join his ecstatic movement. Then Jacob Joseph heard that there was a lone individual in the marketplace telling stories. His stories were preventing people from coming to the prayer house for morning prayers. He had his attendant summon the renegade storyteller with the intention of severely reprimanding him. The Baal Shem came to him, smoking his pipe.
Watch this teaching by Dr. Marc Gafni as our special gift from our Online Course on Reclaiming Eros:
Some of the themes Marc Gafni covers in this video:
- The lineage of the “Einstein’s of Consciousness”
- King Solomon, his wives, and the Temple in Jerusalem
- The Raiders of the Lost Ark – The Ark of the Covenant
- The Practice of Jewish Yoga
- The Talmudic Story of the Poisoned Cookies
- Temple Consciousness and Sexuality
- Eros in Exile
- Reclaiming Eros = Reclaiming Temple Consciousness
Imagine being fully expressed with an unstoppable life force that aligned you with the will, the desire, the knowledge and the creative impulse to engage ALL areas of your life full-on; without fear or shame stopping you from moving forward. Imagine the transformative power and positive impact you’d have on your personal relationships and potentially be a major influence in the world.
This is what you will learn and become through taking this 9-week video course, professionally filmed on location during the First Festival of Love in Holland.
Eros is the principle of aliveness and magic inherent in all of reality. Something infinitely real animates everything. Reality is realness, which is another way of saying Eros or aliveness. Everything radiates an intense aliveness. The intensification of aliveness is the natural result of living an erotic life. Most people have had the experience of visiting a place and finding it vibrating with aliveness, color, and immediacy. Some years later they may visit the same place again and find it drab and dreary. Most likely it is not the place that has changed, but the person. Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder. When your eyes are alive, then the hills are alive. When your eyes are asleep, then even the most beautiful vista is deadened.
Our lives are a search for passionate aliveness. Our lives are a search for Eros. We remember well Eros lost. Until we are able to recover Eros, we are filled with an inconsolable longing that can be healed by no external balm.
We hunger for the depths of aliveness, for it is only from those depths that we are capable of love. It is only in the quivering of aliveness that we are capable of being all we can be. That is what it means to be holy. The opposite of holy is not unholy. The opposite of holy is superficial. The holy is the real. We long for what is real. That is why we yearn with all of our being to return to Eros.
When we talk about Eros or the erotic, we suffer from any number of confusions. There’s an important relationship between the erotic and the sexual, but as we said above, they’re not the same thing. Eros is the essential aliveness of reality—it’s the experience of being on the inside. Like when you’re running and at some point you break through and you’re in the zone or the inside of experience.
There is a fullness of presence in Eros and a feeling that your yearning participates in the evolutionary yearning of being. In Eros you have a felt experience that you are not separate; you experience your own interconnectivity with the larger context, with the wholeness of it all. All blessings flow from Eros. The goodness of life, the color in a black-and-white world, and all ethics flow through the channels of Eros. The loss of Eros is the failure of ethics. Creativity, intimacy and relationship, politics, economics—nothing moves without the erotic. When there’s a disconnect from Eros, systems begin to break down both in the world of the personal and in the world of the collective.
When you feel fully alive, when you are in Eros, there is no question about the meaning of life. When you are in Eros, there is no question about the essential goodness of life. When you live in Eros, life is self-evidently meaningful and obviously good. Here is an example of how sex models Eros: when you are on the edge of orgasm, you are on the inside of life—yearning, totally present, ultimately connected, lost in the experience, and yet most radically your unique self. When you are in Eros, you have no questions about the meaning of life. You are life.
At the edge of sexual explosion, you do not stop in the middle to contemplate philosophical issues or life’s meaning, nor do you question the natural goodness of life. You are fully alive and fully in. In fact, those five qualities—living on the inside, fullness of presence, yearning, wholeness and interconnectivity, and the experience of your unique identity—are the first five of the twelve faces of Eros that we will be exploring in this book. “Sex models Eros” means that sex models the experience of being on the inside, fully present and connected, deeply yearning, and ultimately yourself, in every facet of your life.
From an unedited draft of the forthcoming book A Return to Eros by Dr. Marc Gafni and Dr. Kristina Kincaid
Align with the evolutionary impulse that is the inherent Eros of reality and become part of your evolutionary community at Evolutionary Church.
By Marc Gafni
Artist Claudia Kleefeld is not the first person to see the symbol of the spiral as being a portal to a vision of a coherent cosmos. She is original in that she is a first-rate, old-master-style artist with thirty years of training, who paints the spiral as an expression of an Eros of certainty that asserts the utter meaningfulness, depth, and order of the cosmos. Kleefeld’s paintings emerge from her own opened eye of the spirit and speak directly to the higher spiritual intuition of her viewers. Finally, Kleefeld is unusual in that she is part of an emergent form of art, which seeks to reveal the enchantment of a cosmos ”” a cosmos that is good, true, and beautiful.
I am delighted to present an article which celebrates the work of Claudia Kleefeld, one of the brightest shining lights in the universe of art today. My new article, “Post-postmodern Art: A Return to Belonging,” is now published in the latest issue of Parabola Magazine.
By Dr. Marc Gafni
Summary: The four faces of eros, described by Marc Gafni in this excerpt from Mystery of Love (2003), are 1.) being on the inside, 2.) fullness of presence, 3.) desire, and 4.) interconnectivity of being. As Marc describes, with its mystical role in these four expressions, the face itself is the truest reflection of the erotic. In the flow of eros, we access the experience of being on the inside of God's face, which Marc explores here through the Temple mystery of the sexually entwined cherubs atop the Ark who are positioned face to face; the Hebrew word “panim,” which means “inside, face, and before;” and the erotic experience of having a true face-to-face conversation. This significant passage from Mystery of Love invites you to embody the erotic””which is modeled but not exhausted by the sexual””more deeply in your own life.
Eros has many expressions. Each expression is hinted at in the temple mysteries. There are four faces of eros which, when taken together, form the essence of the Shechina experience. In this essay, we will explore the erotic understanding which forms the matrix of the secret of the cherubs and informs every arena of our existence. As we shall see, at the very heart of Hebrew tantra was a very precise and provocative understanding of the relationship between love, sex, and eros. This will open us up to a whole new understanding of our sexuality and will show us the way to erotically reweave the very fabric of our lives in more vivid patterns, sensual textures, and brilliant hues.
The First Face of Eros: On the Inside
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
The cherubs in the magical mystery of Temple myth were not stationary fixtures. No, these statues were expressive, emotive. They moved. When integrity and goodness ruled the land, the cherubs were face to face. In these times, the focal point of Shechina energy rested erotically, ecstatically, between the cherubs. When discord and evil held sway in the kingdom, the cherubs turned from each other, appearing back to back instead of face to face.1 Back to back, the world was amiss, alienated, ruptured. Face to face, the world was harmonized, hopeful, embraced. Thus, face to face in biblical myth2 is the most highly desirable state. It is the gem stone state of being, the jeweled summit of all creation. Face to face, to be fully explicit, is a state of eros.