Science looks through the eye of the mind and the eye of the senses. Spirit looks through the eye of the heart. At this moment in history, which we are seeing with growing clarity, all three eyes are describing the same reality. Our contemporary understanding of Eros at the subatomic and cellular levels augments the realization of the great traditions, which saw erotic love as the primary motivating force of the cosmos. This is the primary position of the Kabbalists, such as Isaac Luria and Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, rooted in the earlier Zoharic texts, as well as of many Christian thinkers like St. Thomas Aquinas and Mechtilde of Magdeburg. St. Thomas spoke of the “dynamic pulse and throb of creation” as the love in all things. Mechtilde understood herself to be participating in this very throb and pulse when she wrote:
Lord, love me hard,
love me long and often.
I call you, burning with desire.
Your burning love enflames me constantly I am but a naked soul, and you, inside it, are a richly adorned guest.
Similarly, a Tantric text called the Mahartha-Manjari describes how Shakti, the creative power of the divine, leaping forth in her own bliss, manifests this universe as an expression or even an outpouring of love.
My (Marc) lineage master, Mordechai Leiner of Izbica, refers to Eros as teshuka, or desire as the essential structure of reality. This refers not to superficial desire but to the desire that lies at the heart of reality. Evolution is reality’s desire. It was to this that Buddha may have been referring when he said, “Have few desires but have great ones.” He was distinguishing between authentic desire, which is source itself, and superficial desire, which seeks to cover up the experience of alienation from source. This ability to discern between authentic and pseudo desire is what Leiner called birur, and was for him the mark of the enlightened one.
Leiner emerges out of an older erotic lineage of cherub mystics known as Hasidei Ashkenaz, who describe God in sensual terms as the “delight of all delights.” In one highly sexualized passage, they describe erotic longing, the core motive of the cosmos, as it shows up in the human being.
And the joy is strong and overwhelms his heart so much that, even a young man who has not gone to a woman for many days, and has great desire, when his seed shoots like an arrow and he has pleasure, this is as naught compared with the strengthening of the power of the joy of the love of God.
Remember in reading this passage that these mystics had already attained the realization that God and reality are one. So the phrase “love of God” should be read as “love of reality.”
All of these interior qualities of the cosmos have now been shown to have exterior form as well. We have seen that we are all made of stardust delicately balanced in a constantly recalibrated equilibrium—attracted and held together by a gravitational pull, while kept apart by centrifugal force. We live in a continual, divine erotic tension of radical urgency and ecstasy. We are partnered, yet separate—we are all dancing madly in the great erotic force that is Eros.
The big bang is happening in every moment of reality. The core essence and very nature of reality is erotic. All of reality is moved by the insatiable urge to merge. Eros is the unbearable yearning to make contact, which is the inner and outer form of reality, all the way up and all the way down, from subatomic particles to atoms to molecules to complex molecules and more and more complex molecules—all of it yearning for ecstatic union.