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On A Return to Eros

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In this dialogue, John Friend & Desi Springer, Founders of the Bowspring Yoga Method discuss with the co-authors of our Think Tank Book A Return to Eros, Dr. Marc Gafni and Dr. Kristina Kincaid, the importance of frameworks for a new sexual narrative and the embodiment of Eros.


Marc Gafni:

Welcome, it is delightful to be here with you all. This is Marc Gafni. I’m here with Desi Springer, and John Friend, and Kristina Kincaid, and we are here to do a conversation on the Return to Eros, the new book that Kristina and I are delighted to have just put into the world through our Center for Integral Wisdom, where John, you’re been a board member for a number of years. And, John, you and Desi, Desi, you and John, are now doing this international global community built around this next leading age innovation in embodiment and yoga, the Bowspring Method.

So, maybe, let’s just start. Tell us, Desi, John, John, Desi, kind of a word about it.

John Friend:

Very good. We’re excited about the Bowspring Method as part of an emerging new modeling, a new paradigm that at first, it came out of the modern postural yoga world where four, literally, the last century, in the various styles, it came out of India, and spread through the West, have held a certain modeling, we consider quite patriarchal, very linear, based even on certain bio-mechanical ideas that the skeleton of the human hold the body up, and therefore to make it more upright, and you try to align your spine straight up and down. You pull your tailbone down and pull the top of your head up. This general alignment idea is all over the world.

Well, it was Desi, when I started working with her five years ago and collaborating, she said, “John, you know, have you really considered making the body more curvy?”

I said, “Well, if you do that, you’re gonna get compression in the spine. Believe me I’m an expert of so many years.”

She was very respectful and didn’t really push the argument, but in some time I started to see her point, and through certain evidence that we don’t need to get into right now, that it was, literally, helping my own body and many of our students and clients, not to follow into this modeling of just linearity and straight up and down, and the curviness, what Desi said, when you’re really in this state of true openness, when you are in a state of pure eros, in love, the body is gonna take a natural ecstatic form. If you look at it, it’s not straight up and down. It’s not this linear, like a military position. It’s a curvy, open position, and not just on the front. It’s on all sides so this has been a huge shift for us. We’ve been putting it out. Now, a large part of the modern postural yoga world is even shifting toward curvy, dynamic, functional movement. This is the really rage right now. We’re offering a very organized, systemized method, the Bowspring. That’s what we’re calling it.

Marc Gafni:

Gorgeous. Gorgeous. Gorgeous. Desi. Thank you, John. Desi, give us your take just to introduce you all.

Desi Springer:

Thank you first, for having me here. I’m delighted to share in this conversation. The shape, the posture, that we’re referencing is applicable to any movements of daily life. If we were to say, “What does it look like? How would you describe it?”

It’s the natural form that we take when we’re most happy, when we’re elated, when we witness beauty, when we are falling in love as John said. It’s the shape of openness, of being dilated, and receptive, and perceptive of the world around you. It’s the shape of being awake. We’re basically on a high experiencing this and learning ourselves, both student of life. We’re learning ourselves and the world around us through a new lens, and it delights and inspires us, and I think is really relevant in the topic that we are discussing today.

Marc Gafni:

Fantastic. Well, it’s gorgeous to have you both. Kristina, it’s delightful to introduce you. We’ll do a last introduction. We’ll dive in. Kristina is both a board member at the Center for Integral Wisdom, and has spent her life both in the world of aesthetics and the world of wisdom. Right in this kind of confluence. Kristina is a student in the tradition of Wilhelm Reich. She did her Doctoral research work in Somatics. Just give us a work KK on your work in the world.

Kristina Kincaid:

In alignment with what you’re talking about, Wilhelm Reich had many brilliant ideas, in the way of looking at the shape and structure of human beings, and he characterized them into five different character structures. He saw our bodies as a manifestation of our consciousness and the physical is a reflection of that consciousness. Part of what Reich talked about was this armoring of man. The layers of emotional history that form an armor in the body.

It sounds like what you all are talking about is this dis-armoring of man that liberates the life energy, that liberates love, that liberates the life force.  It gives me joy, to hear about your work and the possibilities  of embodying the liberation of love, the liberation of  the Shakti, the life energy, so we, actually have an embodied knowing of being lived as love. There’s a beautiful teaching in our book A Return To Eros. We’ll talk about that a little bit later, but it is the place where are our aliveness and our sexuality become ethical. You can do no harm from this place. Everything is in right alignment.

Marc Gafni:  

Beautiful. That’s two, three gorgeous introductions, and so let me, with your permission, holy trinity, let’s kind of dive in. What we want to try and do here is we’re going to be very circles and very lines together. We actually have another book that we’re now completing on Luria’s teachings on circles and lines from the 16th Century.

John Friend: 


Marc Gafni:  

I’ve been teaching that intensely for the last two, three years. You know, it’s been part of the last 30 years of work. He talks about all of reality being circles and lines, and every moment in reality is a precise inter-penetration of circles and lines in a particular way that creates the unique configuration of a moment.

Of course, what that means is that we’re not boy or girl, but neither are we transgender. Right? And actually, we’re what we call … It’s a new term we use. There’s actually a section on this in Return to Eros, we’re what I call unique gender. Unique gender means that underneath Desi-ness, underneath John-ness, underneath KK-ness, there’s something deeper than boy or girl. In some sense, the reason the transgender movement is such a rage is because they’re asking the right question. The answer sucks, but the question’s really good.

The question is: there’s something deeper than man. There’s something different than woman. Deeper than girl/boy. There’s a deeper identity. That’s the intuition. Whenever a movement asks a great question, it actually catches on even if the answer is not as good as the question. The deeper answer’s not that there’s no boy, no girl. There obviously is. Just look at John’s energy. Just look at Desi’s energy. Look at KK. Look at Marc. There’s obviously boy/girl. But deeper than boy/girl, Desi is unique gender. She’s a unique combination of lines and circles synergistically emerging into a larger whole, which is reality having a Desi experience. That’s unique gender, which is the piece you were to KK.

As four unique genders creating a new quadrinity, a new larger whole, let’s enter into this space, and we’ll try both to flow in the circle sense and to be precise and rigorous in the line sense, to create a terminastic screen, to create a field of words. We’re going to be actually careful with words. We’re going to try and define them.

We’re trying to re-introduce a word. It’s A Return To Eros. We’re trying to engage in what we’d call the tantric exercise. As we know the tantric text that exists in every culture are not about sexuality, but 99% of the text have, of course, nothing to do with sexuality. They’re about the framework of life, about the nature of life. It’s a narrative of identity. It’s a narrative of power. It’s a universe story, and from those emerges a sexual narrative.

What we’ve done, of course, in the West, is we’ve taken that 1% of text. We’ve de-contextualized it and tried to articulate kind of a sexual story, but there is no sexual narrative without a larger narrative of identity, a larger narrative of power. Right? Sex without frameworks isn’t sexy. Frameworks are the best foreplay. That is to say frameworks create the context in which we’re engaging. So, what Return to Eros is about is about articulating a new narrative of sexuality based on a larger narrative of Eros. Right? What’s the larger narrative or Eros, which is the universe story.

So, I’m going to just introduce, put one idea on the table, then toss it back. We’ll try and maybe move through four, five rounds and see how we play together with that idea. Let’s just start with Eros. What is Eros? What do we mean by Eros? Eros means something particular, and of course, the way I would say it simply is: there’s no evolution without Eros. There’s no reality without Eros. There’s Eros for a really long time without sex.

Let’s try and put that together. What does Eros mean. This is something that, Desi, I am articulating in my kind of flow here, but it took me 30 years of flowing to say a couple of rigorous sentences. Eros is the drive of reality, all the way up and all the way down, towards higher and higher levels of contact and deeper and larger wholes that yields in its wake more depth, more creativity, and more transformation. That’s Eros.

That’s it. That’s the whole thing. Eros is the movement towards larger wholes through greater contact, which yields ever greater depth, creativity, and transformation, and Eros is pleasurable. The opposite of Eros, that which is not erotic is painful, the fragmentation, the breaking apart. That movement towards larger wholes is when quarks come towards each other. Quarks are allured to each other, and then they form something larger, at a hadron. Then you have an atom, and the atoms come together. They’re allured to each other. There’s a dance of allurement. Then, you have a molecule. You have cells. You’ve got this movement of parts coming together, drawn together by allurement, forming larger wholes, which is electromagnetic attraction. It’s actually the basis of matter, is allurement, the movement of Eros towards the formation of larger wholes. That process ends at the very, very base of evolution and steps into reality and moves all the way up the evolutionary chain and all the way down.

We could say reality is Eros, or you could say God is Eros. Or, you could say God is allurement. Or, reality is allurement. God’s more than allurement, but not less. Reality is allurement, all the way up and all the way down.

Then, I do one more piece, then we’re done,  in Eros, you have two dimensions. the larger Eros of reality,  we have beauty. It opens us up. When it’s disconnected, we have degradation, but those two qualities, the fierce quality, which is one quality, which exists both in the masculine and the feminine. It’s not a masculine/feminine split. The holding quality, the love quality, those together form Eros. Those together form the movement towards greater contact, larger wholes. That’s what it means to live an erotic life, to live erotically in every dimension of reality. Not erotic life is disaster, is breakdown.

That’s kind of our overall, overarching vision, a return to eros, and I’ll start, maybe, John, we’ll start with you and go to Desi, and go to Kristina, and work our way around. Our proposition is is that the new tantra has to be about re-eroticising reality in every dimension of life, and that the breakdown of ethics is always the failure of Eros. Eros and ethics are always related. All the rules in the world aren’t going to get us there. Whenever Eros breaks down, ethics collapse. The way to recreate a world of goodness, truth, and beauty is to re-eroticise reality. Over to you, John, brother. It’s great to see you.

John Friend:  

It’s great to see you. Yeah, of course, it’s only probably the biggest subject possible, but the very important point, I think, you make in the beginning is that we’re looking from a universal context to the individual context.

We’re putting sexuality and the way you’re defining it, even here, this individual sexual relationship in terms of universal energy that is inherent at the very essence of everything, the essence of God, the universe. That it has these absolute qualities you mentioned, that there is a will. There is a force of movement. This energy that is moving, and then you brought up physics. The basic physical principles of even angular momentum has to derive from polarities so you only can get movement and spin if you have polarity. There is an intrinsic polarity to the universe. There is a teleology. There is a movement towards something, and it is this allurement. There is a unification that is occurring that then creates even further development and evolution. There is this never-ending spin between the polarities, that in their dance is joy at the highest, this highest level of ecstasy, the Sanskrit word of Ananda. Every language has these very high words that can hardly really describe this type of connecting.

Then, we bring it down into the physical, and to the individual, and to the human, and we have this inherent energy, that we have these polar drives within us so that our sexual drive’s right from the time we’re hardly even self-aware. We have these. Then, through the course of the development and evolution of a human life, we start to wake you more that we all have this intrinsic power and the power can be even fueled when there is, in terms of the polarity. We seek this other side of it, the gender side of it, if you will, or this, the other side of the sexual polarity.

Marc Gafni:

Let’s then, gorgeous, so we’ve got this description, we’re going over to Desi, of us living in a Cosmo-erotic universe. We live in a Cosmo-erotic universe. So, awesome, take it away.

Desi Springer: 

When you spoke to the idea of circles and lines, I kept on seeing bulls eyes and arrow, and eggs and sperm, and the penetration of the threads, the weaves of consciousness, and how they travel in waves, and how the idea … how you talked about the new eroticising. Was that your term?

Marc Gafni:

Right. Right, right.

Desi Springer: 

I wanted to make sure I got that right. The new eroticising, it is a path of vulnerability, and of the dilation of the sphere or the circle, the fullness, the wholeness, that opens itself to be fully penetrated by the recognition that we’re all this pulse of life’s energy, and that to try to avoid it, or deny it, or even to make it less so because of our fears. It’s just a tragedy. I think of the times that we’re facing.

Marc Gafni: 

Right. Beautiful. Right, and KK will … thank you so much. Just to see the images and to feel … It’s almost you describe a diminishment of reality in such a core way, and just for everyone listening, just feel into this conversation as we move to Kristina. We’re talking about this Eros that moves through all of reality. It’s neither a spiritual force nor a physical force. It’s the inner nature of all that is. From electromagnetic attraction to gravity. What is gravity? Gravity’s just a word. We think gravity’s a scientific formula. Gravity just means allurement. It’s in celestial bodies, and we didn’t want to call it allurement so we called it gravity, but gravity is allurement. Gravity is fuck. [inaudible 00:19:14] we want to bypass the fierceness of the word, and we want to make it into tender love, but actually it’s both. It has both qualities.

This is really important, and KK, maybe you’ll speak to this. When we bypass both of the qualities, the fierce quality and the tender quality, we bypass either, the vulnerable quality, and that gorgeous, ecstatic urgency that’s fierce and demanding, when we bypass that aliveness, when we bypass Eros, then we try and cover up the emptiness that that creates through what we call pseudo Eros. All breakdown, all addiction, all acting out, all that stuff that happens that’s non-loving and non-yogic as it were, happens because it’s pseudo Eros trying to cover up the failure of Eros.

Again, Eros is not this funny topic. Actually, we’re not going to solve any existential threat facing us, whether it’s rogue nuclear weapons or climate change, or the over fishing of the seas, or the currency issues, without a return to Eros. So, KK, take us in to wherever draws you. Where should we go to deepen this?

Kristina Kincaid:         

I was actually feeling, in terms of what each of  you are all saying, the being and the becoming, of reality, you are speaking to the absence. Then there’s a fullness of presence in Eros. The feeling that your own yearning participates in the evolutionary yearning of being. It’s like, Oh my God, I am the embodied knowing of the great koan.” I am that I am.” It is the realization that I am being lived as love! In Eros, you have this self-experience of knowing that you’re not separate, that you’re experiencing your own inner connectivity in a larger kind of context. From there, you feel all blessings come from Eros, all the goodness of life. It’s palpable. Right? You realize, as one of the things that Marc says, is I’m a good child of the universe. You realize the inherent goodness in your flesh, in your total being, and when, as Marc was saying, when there’s a disconnect from Eros, all systems break down, both in our personal world, and then the world of the collective.

Marc Gafni: 

Beautiful. Beautiful, KK. Let me pick up on one sentence. Then we’ll mix it up. We’ll kind of go our second round where we’re try and deepen each time as we peel back the layers so really, John, you picked up on it so gorgeously, as you always do.

What sex is is cosmic Eros performed in the flesh. Cosmic Eros performed in the flesh. Anything less than that is actually trite, boring, and slightly annoying. Why would you want to be doing that? When you actually feel underneath. As long as sexing is not an expression of Eros, then generally it’s a violation of our social identity. We’re supposed to be in charge. We’re supposed to be in control. We’re supposed to be rational beings, and all of a sudden, you’ve got this force of allurement that steps in, and undermines our kind of sense of self, and invites us either to a disintegration that shames us, or we actually find the deeper allurement, and we realize this is actually reality coming alive in me.

Without this narrative, without this new narrative of sexuality. I’ll tee this up for you, John, we have basically four sexual narratives out there. We’ve got the sex negative. We know that narrative. [inaudible 00:23:02] bad for a whole series of reasons. Churches do real well on that one. Sex is problematic. It’s dangerous. That’s certainly true, but partial.

We’ve got sex positive. Sex is positive. It’s wonderful. It’s a panacea. We know that narrative: sex positive. We’ve got Kinsey: sex neutral. It’s basically like having lunch. Then, we have sex sacred because it creates babies.

But actually none of those four narratives actually address our sexuality. Negative: yeah, but doesn’t quite cover it, obviously. Positive: a little bland. Neutral: it’s not really like dinner. Having babies: well most people, at least in the Western world, aren’t having sex to have babies, and we’re dealing with an overpopulation problem. Where’s our narrative? We need a new sexual narrative.

Let’s talk about what we call sex erotic. Right? Sex erotic. Sexuality models the erotic and doesn’t exhaust the erotic. Like wow. All of a sudden, sexuality becomes the only sexual narrative that can actually get us beyond shame. And, shame not guilt. Guilt means I did something wrong. I’m accountable. Shame means my essential being is shamed, not I did something wrong, I am wrong. I did something bad, I am bad. I came from the factory broken, and they don’t make that part any more so you can’t get … That’s shame. Shame is the root of all evil.

The root of shame, as in old sexual narratives, doesn’t address who we are, but we need sexual ethics is an absolute given. We all stand for sexual ethics in every possible way. That’s a given for all of us in the conversation. That’s the beginning of the conversation. But, sexual ethics break down when you don’t have a sexual ethos. So, we went from ethics to ethos. What would that look like? What would an ethos look like, John? Based on a Cosmoerotic universe, on this vision of a return to Eros. Take us wherever you’d like to go.

John Friend:   

Yeah, it’s profound because right now we’re speaking in the beginning of 2018, and we look around, we have some of the big subjects of the dis-function of our society are really rising to the surface, when we talk about pedophilia, when we talk about child trafficking, the sex industry even, the degree of how rampant it is now. When you think about the level of what is going on in the minds of these abusive people that they can look at another human, and they put them into their own world view at such a lesser level, that they are in terms of like a slave, or that they can be expired, that they’re used for the other’s individual pleasures, and for their power.

This is the first thing. The view: that you can look at another and put them in a category so much below that it’s irrelevant to that person how they might feel, that they can be enslaved and because the individual, the master is gaining more power and pleasure, that’s their priority and their ethos. This is, I think, where we need to start, and look at, and discuss. How can we even take this type of a higher ethic into the world now? Can we affect? How can we influence the minds of these people? That it is so widespread.

When I grew up in the ’60s and ’70s, you think of pedophiles and sex perverts as such a small part of the society, but now we see it in a deeply prevalent way, where it’s in government officials, in Hollywood, where we have people in power, the elites, that this is almost common, in so many regards, and it’s deep. This is where I’m just questioning, maybe going to you or Kristina, to even answer. What are your thoughts on that? In terms of this return to Eros. What do we do?

Marc Gafni:

Let me say two sentences, then turn to Desi and Kristina for sure. I’ll just be the en-capsulator of what emerges from your beautiful words and from Return to Eros

Any sexual violation, any sexual acting out, any lack of ethics in sexuality is paradoxically a failure of Eros. That’s really the essence of it. What happens is … KK, let’s bring it to the goddesses, to you and Desi, whenever we don’t have a narrative of desire, where desire is an expression of Eros … Desire is the core structure of reality. Therefore, we hold it in its beauty. Of course, we clarify desire. Buddha didn’t say not to have desires. In the original Pali Canon, Buddha said, “Have few desires, but have great ones.” It’s a clarification of desire.

As you know, John, I spent quite a lot of time in the Oxford library, about 18 hours a day, for quite a while, writing a couple of volumes on the clarification of desire in Aramaic texts. When I get to my deepest desire, desire and holiness are one. When we have a narrative of desire, which shames desire, which problemitizes male desire per se, and which splits off female desire … Women’s desire is split off and male desire is problematized in its essential nature. Then, we basically create a culture in which desire at its core is shamed, and so we have a culture drenched in shame. So, if I can think provocative, just to tee it up for Desi and Kristina, let me take it out of the pedophile/sex trafficking world, which is an obvious kind of, in other words … Those dudes, that’s really problematic.

Let’s go, John, to the second debate. United States of America, Second Presidential Debate 2016. You’ve got Donald Trump, whose just been accused in the Access Hollywood tape so he’s got his set of accusations. There’s that happening. Then, Donald Trump brings four women who accused Bill Clinton, who sit in the front row. So, Bill Clinton doesn’t look at the four women that have accused him. Hillary doesn’t look at the women. The women are looking at Bill. They’re talking about Donald’s accusation. While that’s happening, you’ve got a set of articles about Huma Abedin and Hillary and their kind of dalliance in Vanity Fair. In the meantime, Huma and Anthony Weiner aren’t doing so well because he’s sexting someone else, and Trump is talking about his attraction to Ivanka. Nice! In other words, this is a scene, not from the periphery of culture. This is a scene in the mainstream of culture a year and a half ago broadcast to 90,000,000 people around the world.

I sat and watched this waiting … I was at Terry Nelson’s house where you came once to a board meeting, watching this, and I’m waiting for someone to comment on this. You’ve got this vision of a planet drenched in shame. Sex is weaponized. Shame is prevalent, and [inaudible 00:30:38] commenting on the veracity of the accusations. Hillary Clinton said they weren’t true. Bill said they weren’t. Donald said they weren’t. The women said they were. Who knows? We can’t even comment.

There’s no judgment here. We have no way to evaluate veracity without careful checking. What we know is is that there’s this intense shame downloaded into culture from the very center of culture, a planet drenched in shame because desire at its core has been shamed. Let’s turn to Kristina, to Desi, to kind of start us off. Maybe Desi, you tee it up, and then Kristina, you take the next step. How do we engage this? How do we begin to Bowspring our way into the next level?

Desi Springer:

The first word that comes to mind is accountability, and a relationship to wholeness, a recognition of wholeness, and a recognition of even our biology, from the animal aspects all the way to the highest spiritual vibration and consciousness that we’re capable of. To see all sides of self, to have understanding of who we are, and who we wish to be, and that the models of the past that were socialized are broken. They’re broken across the board. To me, we’ve dissolved into this human soup of muck, and shame, and mud, and lust, and just not respect for the ethos or the Eros, or just the possibilities for each of us in this, with what we’ve been given, the tools that we have at our hands.

So, it’s to me, we’re at this dark hour, this place where we see that what our ancestors did, it doesn’t work. That’s broken, and that a lot of people are not even engaging because they don’t know how to. They don’t know how to in a way that is hopeful and inspiring. The relationships that we see in every corner are not inspiring. If they’re stagnant, that’s one extreme. Or, maybe they’re so rageful or fearful. It’s this living oneness, and this living love, I think the only way that we can go there is through self-awareness and accountability and recognition of our most [inaudible 00:33:31].

Marc Gafni: 

Gorgeous. Right. Self-awareness, accountability, and Kristina, Desi talks about this much of shame and mud if I can borrow your term, this muck of shame and mud, which comes from, as Desi, so beautifully pointed to, a failure of frameworks, a failure of frameworks. What Tantra, John, we’ve talked about Tantra before, when yourself, myself and Swami Chetananda began that conversation.

We need to resurrect frameworks. To resurrect frameworks means we can’t just go backwards. We can’t just say, let’s go backwards 1,000 or 2,000 years. We’ve got to take the best of the traditional world with the best of the modern world, the insights of psychology science with the best of post-modernity, which realized false narratives, and reconstruct, after all the deconstruction, begin this grand erotic reconstructive project because we all live in inescapable frameworks. We all live in inescapable frameworks. We live in our framework, and at this moment that, Desi, you point to, that we’re at this tipping point. We’re at this place of, between the chasm and the abyss on one side and the ability to create heaven on earth, through nanotech and biotech et cetera on the other side in this place, in this yawning chasm. We’re going to erect new frameworks, evolve the source code, which is the tantric move. The tantric move is to erect new frameworks out of which all narratives emerge.

Bowspring is a piece, the way I look at Bowspring, it’s this piece of the emergent new framework, the emergent new source code. The embodied piece of it. Kristina, take us into this, if you will, wherever you’d like to go, this [inaudible 00:35:16] of what it means to evolve the source code and create the new frameworks, which is the great call of the hour. KK?

Kristina Kincaid:

Amen. Yes! I think what we’re all sort of articulating, we’re born into this sex negative culture. We’re bombarded by all these pejorative and critical messages around our sexuality. We’re shamed. We’re disconnected from our bodies and our pleasure. What else could it create in us but confusion and narrative of a violence of our time. It’s like you look out into the zeitgeist and you see the whole MeToo Movement and the vision of the degraded narrative of what Marc was talking about in terms of the debate.

From this particular point of view, it makes it really hard for both women and me to reclaim their sexual identity and sexual agency… We’re asking the question. How do you actually do this? In order to take back our full agency, our full power, we have to actually, what we talk about in A Return to Eros is taking responsibility for our own arousal. When we reclaim our own arousal, when we reclaim our own desire through embodied ways, just like your work and even Reich’s work. I think it’s two phases. It’s what Marc’s talking about in terms of resurrecting and articulating a new set of frameworks and also bringing the embodiment piece in because you need it from both ends, from the energetic template of the set of distinctions and meems, the frameworks, and actually models of embodiment- these in the deepest ways.

Marc Gafni: 

Beautiful. Beautiful. Let’s go, fantastic. We’re talking about the embodiment. We’re talking about resurrecting frameworks, and we’re talking about moving beyond shame. God is shameless. Even when we say the word shameless, we have a hard time [inaudible 00:37:45] of it. For us, shameless means immoral, without guilt, without accountability. I think what Desi said plays with what you said, Kristina, we’re always about accountability. Accountability is part of eros. There is no Eros. Eros is, by definition, accountability because what Eros means is I’m taking everything into account. No one’s outside the circle. Accountability means everyone counts. Everyone’s inside.

The failure of eros always means … Because I can’t get inside the circle, which is Eros, I’ve have to place someone else outside the circle, the image that you talked about, John, to give myself the illusion that I’m on the inside, when I’m not really on the inside. When I’m really on the inside, there’s room for everyone on the inside. That’s the nature of being on the inside. When you’re on the inside, it’s infinite expanse.

Shame is when sexuality, when pleasure stops short of infinity. Shame is when pleasure stops short of infinity. It’s the contracted vision. When I’m in Eros, when I’m in the inside, no one’s on the outside. The idea that you talked about, John, of kind of objectifying or de-humanizing a person’s impossible. It’s non-erotic.

Maybe, let’s move toward closing. We’re just giving people an invitation to the structure of this book, A Return to Eros, which is, it’s a new reality map. I’ll just maybe say one word and move towards a closing question. In the history of Eros, in kind of the modern world, there’s been two great works. There’s Marcuse, who talks about Eros in terms of Marxism. In our college days, you know, it was someone we all studied, and then Norman O. Brown, who talks about eros in terms of psychoanalysis.

We’re actually taking the next step, and place  in the lineage. We’re saying no, Marcuse or Brown, it’s not Marxism, it’s not psychoanalysis. Those are important lenses, but let’s actually take the best of pre-modern, meaning the best of that philosophy, the deepest understanding of Ananda. We’ve got being on the inside, which is consciousness. Inside of consciousness, you have Ananda, and you begin to realize that Ananda, Eros is the inside of the inside. It’s the deepest of the deep. It’s the holies of the holies. You begin to actually feel the deepest lineages come together with castes they’re in, systems they’re in, complexity they’re in, sociology, and the best of anthropology. We weave together a new narrative that’s seamless and simple and that you could tell someone at a truck stop in four sentences.

That’s what we need. We need a new narrative, a new framework, a new story. Every great emergent tradition, you can teach it in a kindergarten, then you can go to the cloistered monastery and study it forever. We need to write new works that are both profoundly academic, profoundly popular. We need to scale it all the way up and all the way down. We need to tell a new story.

Da Vinci was sitting there in Florence. Right? Pre-modernity has wrecked the world. What is he going to do? He can’t solve all the problems. Da Vinci was a big problem solver so what Da Vinci does is he tells a new story. In Venice, in Florence, at the dawn of modernity, modernity tells a new story. We’re at this new moment where post-modernity has deconstructed all the frameworks. Modernity deconstructed pre-modernity’s frameworks but created new ones, new visions. Post-modernity deconstructed everything, but didn’t reconstruct anything in its wake, which is why you get a President who’s basically a pre-modern throwback.

Trump actually articulates the worst of pre-modernity, the worst of modernity, the worst of post-modernity. The worst of pre-modernity: he aligns with kind of a regressive fundamentalism. The worst of modernity: corrupt business. The worst of post-modernity: no truth, fake news. Right? Post truth. It’s actually the shadow of all three that synergized in a negative frame. Kind of shocking.

We need to do the exact opposite. We need to actually take the best of all three and synergize it in a new emergent narrative so let’s close with a last question kind of because KK, you said something, maybe we’ll pick up on that, and invite Desi first, and then John and KK, and I’ll just take the last 10-second word. You talked about yearning, KK, and one of the core … In the book, A Return to Eros, we define Eros, we articulate a sexual narrative, then we talk about the 12 faces of Eros. We talk about each one of those faces of Eros. One of the faces of Eros is yearning. The yearning face of me, the idea that, John, you said that used the word teleology. We live not just in a world of Eros, but of telos, helos and Eros. We live in a tel-erotic universe. It’s going somewhere. It’s a big deal. It’s going somewhere.

All’s evolution means is that reality has direction, story. Reality is a plot. It’s a story. It’s going somewhere, and it’s a love story. What Return to Eros is about in one sentence is that the universe is a love story. It’s reality is not a fact, it’s a story. It’s not an ordinary story. It’s a love story. It’s not an ordinary love story. It’s an evolutionary love story. It’s an outrageous love story. Our love story participates in the love story of reality.

So, John, I remember when you met Desi. Actually Sally Kempton told me that John met this fantastic woman from Denver. That’s a love story. It’s allurement. There’s an allurement. People finding. How do people find each other in the world? We find each other. Allurement. All the qualities of reality allure us together, but then we realize it’s not our story just, it’s our love story participates … Marc and Kristina somehow find each other. Our love story participates. It’ a chapter in the love story of reality, and it’s a necessary chapter. Without that chapter, there’s something missing in the plot line of reality itself.

KK, you introduced this that our yearning is the yearning of evolution. When I feel yearning in me, when I feel unrest in me, I can feel there’s a blessedness to the unrest. It’s a divine unrest. Reality’s not just eternal being. It’s actually ecstatic urgency that arises in us. Maybe, we could close with each of us sharing a yearning, a yearning that we have for the world. So, Desi, right, take us into yearning, if that’s good for you.

Desi Springer: 


Marc Gafni:  


Desi Springer:

It’s something that we experience. If we go from the old model, even to yearn and to want from war is shameful on any level. This idea of accountability and vulnerability, of recognition of even our biology, then the yearning comes from a wholeness to begin. It’s like a circle that then can expand a line, an arrow out and be more out in the world and more a desire for relationship, as opposed to having a lacking that yearns because if a yearning comes from a lacking, then that feels not as sustainable. Whereas, if the yearning stems from wholeness and the desire to connect wholeness and for living oneness and living in this ecstatic, euphoric, open, loving way in our everyday lives, that has to come from wholeness and that wholeness has to be borne of full recognition and understanding of ourselves and the accountability and the ownership for every aspect of self.

Marc Gafni:

Gorgeous. Right. Gorgeous in so many levels. Just take out the distinction and turn it to John. The distinction between yearning that comes from lack and yearning that arises from wholeness.

John Friend:

Yeah, that yearning is a never-ending expansion, and that never-ending direction of opening division, opening the feeling to get more and more the knowing of our interconnectedness. That’s the real key. The more that we tighten down on our individuality, the harder we get, the smaller we get in our vision. That we start to create these separations, of course. The more that we can yearn to open our eyes, to open our hearts, to open the feeling that we’re really, we are truly connected, to know that, and not just say, “Hey, it’s all one, and we’re all connected,” really open yourself to feel that, to literally become more psychically connected to life itself and let eros flow through us on every level, let the true, the highest form of love, be our expression in everything we do.

Marc Gafni:  

Amen. Amen. Beautiful. To feel that flowing through and into you. Flowing through from John, right to you. KK, take us into that last piece of yearning.

Kristina Kincaid:

My yearning, my prayer is for A Return To Eros, when outrageous love becomes alive and courses through our bodies and our being. The place where we realize, that we’re an inherent part of all there is, that we are an embodied expressions of Love-  when we are viscerally being lived as Love.

Marc Gafni: 

Amen. To bring those yearnings together, what a delightful space and a delightful dialogue, and just to pick up on that word, Kristina, outrageous love. So we make John’s distinction, and Desi, between outrageous love and ordinary love.

Ordinary love is a strategy of the ego, which is legitimate and lovely, and it’s comfortable, but ultimately, outrageous love is not a human sentiment, which is grasping, it’s the heart of existence itself. We live in a world of outrageous pain. The response to outrageous pain is outrageous love. May we awaken, in all of us, as unique expressions of that love [inaudible 00:48:05] and love beauty, and together return to eros in which no one is outside the circle and create a world that works for everyone.

Thank you all so much. What a delight. What a delight. What a total, total delight. We’ve been able-

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