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The First and the Second Eros, the Narcissist and the Empath

The first Eros, the son of Chaos, was primeval Desire. The second Eros was the son of Aphrodite.

The first and second Eros in Greek mythology signify two kinds of love that are important in transpersonal psychology. The progression from the first to the second Eros is a progression from an undeveloped state, a state that still shares the nature of its parent Chaos, to a cultured state in which the conflicting urges that are inherent in Chaos are harmonized.

Primeval Desire is what we find in the bedroom when someone who is selfish pretends to love us, but in reality only seduces us. Seduction is an exercise of power, not love, even though the power that uses sex as its weapon can make us believe that it is love. Seduction is actually an attempt to dominate. The one who seduces us is full of inner suffering that is nonetheless unconscious or only dimly conscious. This person might have a Narcissistic Personality Complex, but I prefer not to call this kind of selfish person a narcissist. I have known some actresses who were narcissists but the diagnosis did not seem to disturb them. Maybe they had a mental image of the narcissist as someone who is preparing to go on stage and happens to see her lovely face in a mirror. For a moment she is transfixed by a vision of beauty, and then tears herself away. After all, her fans are waiting for her. The real narcissism is not so glamorous. The name I prefer to the term narcissist is relationship psychopath.

The relationship psychopath refuses to examine himself or herself and never realizes that he or she has many wounds or traumas that inhibit or prevent the giving and receiving of real love. Modern psychology has concluded that much at least---but the problem goes deeper than that. One of the axioms of the Wisdom Tradition is that there are two fundamental ethical choices that we can make. We can choose power or we can choose love. At some point in the distant past, perhaps at the very beginning of the soul’s journey through incarnations in matter, the soul of the psychopath chose power. The choice of power is a very poor choice because it is a choice that excludes love. Someone who has chosen power nonetheless needs love, but must feed upon others to get it. When the victims inevitably rebel the power-seeking soul begins to sicken and die, and at the end of time will become comatose. The soul that chooses love will eventually become empathic. Such a soul must initially abandon power as he or she strives to become egoless in service to others. But ultimately that soul becomes powerful. The power in question is not the ability to seduce or to dominate others but to heal them and transform them from within. Is obvious that Mother Theresa chose love, but so did Carl Jung and Winston Churchill.

We give cards with pictures of Cupid on them to our loved ones for Valentine’s Day because Cupid actually has a special meaning for our psychological and spiritual life. If children have not been abused they are full of love and creativity, but children find it difficult to love when they do not feel safe. The love of the empath is a love that makes us feel safe because it is a love that gives, and a spiritually evolved empath can nurture and heal. The safety that this love provides allows us to return to the innocence of childhood. We give our loved ones images of Cupid---the second Eros---because our souls instinctively long for this innocent love and fear the seductive love that we, as adults, have been conditioned to think is real love.

In the creativity of this renewal of childhood we fashion things of beauty and surround ourselves with things of beauty. The urge arises within us to write, to paint, to carve, to compose. The parent of the second Eros is not Chaos but the Goddess of Love and Beauty. Try not to think of the vain, selfish Aphrodite of the ordinary Greek myths but of Aphrodite Urania. Her Latin name is Venus Caelestis. She is the Venus of Heaven that the Students of Plato worshiped. We find her in the beautiful, soothing light of the morning and evening star, and also in the garden, where she might be found bathing herself in a fountain. Gardens are special places because they are syntheses of the best parts of nature and the best parts of human culture. Gardens are places of refinement and if we hear any music it will be Rameau or Telemann instead of heavy metal. Refinement is not weakness but the result of a will and intellect that balance hardness and softness, that which strives and that which yields.

Cupid loves his mother and constantly returns to her as he darts in and out of the rose bushes. Her real name is not Aphrodite or Venus but Beauty, and it is this that the second Eros seeks. Beauty is an aspect of God. Beauty is the presence of God.

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