Excerpt About Abuse

Misuse of the Sexual Component of Eros

The story of eros in human history has not been exactly wonderful. The sexual component of eros—sexual desire and interest—has been misused in various ways. Sexual energy and its various expressions have led to abuse through addiction, attachment, indulgence, and spiritual ignorance; but more significantly, it has led to abuse through aggression and violence. For many people, eros has meant a lot of domination, cruelty, and violent behavior. Many of us have a history of being forced to deal with inappropriate behavior and have often had overwhelming experiences related to our sexuality, such as rape. Hence, as we discuss and explore the various dimensions of eros, we tend to encounter those memories, that pain, and that history—both our own and that of other people. As I said at the beginning of this seminar, our culture has only recently been learning how to value relationship, how to value being sensitive with one another, how to recognize other people as precious, as important, as having their own sensitivity, as being their own center of awareness. The issues of relationship and personalness, of contact, attunement, and empathy, have been introduced here in order to situate eros within that context. That is why we are exploring divine eros, not just eros.

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