Love: the lost paradise
Dr. Diego Frigoli*
MATERIA PRIMA Rivista di Psicosomatica Ecobiopsicologica
Amore e Odio – Numero XIV – Luglio 2016 - Anno V
download pdf version
We usually refer to love as related to human affairs, but what is love if interested in penetrating its roots to get to that universal essence that expresses it? The ancient mythology had personified the cosmic force generating and holding the Universe in a divinity – Eros – to whom it was sometimes attributed the supremacy on the other gods.
In the most ancient theologies, Eros was regarded as a god born at the same time of the Earth to witness his primeval origin able as an “aggregating force”, to permit the manifestation of all what exists, while in the Ancient Greek Orphic tradition Eros was considered to be born from the primordial Egg generated by the Night whose two halves, dividing themselves, formed the Earth and its opposite, the Heaven. He was the one who ensured the internal cohesion of the Cosmos, and permitted the continuity of life in the living forms.
In other myths Eros had different genealogies: sometimes he was regarded as the son of Iris, the heavenly messenger of the Olympian gods and goddess of the rainbow together with Zephyr; Seneca referred to him as the union of Vulcan and Venus; Plato related him to Poros, the god of wealth, rationality and prudence who at the feast of the gods for the birthday of Aphrodite got drunk and seduced by Penia, the goodness of poverty, generated the god the Romans then called Cupid; others think of him as the son of Hermes and Aphrodite, and some others as the son of Ares and Aphrodite.
Gradually, under the influence of the poets, the god Eros lost his primeval qualities that considered him a cosmic force of nature, and got the traditional physiognomy, the appearance of a winged youth armed with bow and arrows that once shot could arouse in both gods and men the passion of love. He hit Apollo who fell in love with Daphne, even if not rewarded in turn; he did not spare even Aphrodite’s mother when one day after having been punished by her, he did not hesitate to hit her with treachery with an arrow that made her fall in love with Adonis, a young shepherd of remarkable beauty, then killed by the jealous Ares leaving Aphrodite in a desperate love for ever.
In all these myths the hidden sense present in the unions of divine forces often conflicting among themselves, makes us understand how Eros represents the sacred dimension of the union of the soul of the things, and by analogy of the same forces present in Man (Graves, 1988). Omnia vincit amor claims Virgil to Sophocles, in the Antigone he defines him as “mighty” to which no one either mortal or immortal, can escape. Before the poets of the Dolce Stil Novo, then the lovers of the “Lost Love” of the Renaissance (Pazzaglia, 1993) had well perceived that the meaning of Eros could be intended both as that overwhelming passion able to arrest the soul to the sensual pleasure of the sensible forms, and as that means of transformation able to sublimate the matter to recover that breath of universal life able to substantiate the soul itself.
In the first case, the tragic story of Francesca da Polenta and Paolo Malatesta described by Dante in the Inferno Canto V, highlights the daze induced by the fire of passion that makes the mind unable to sublimate itself to the discovery of Aphrodite Urania, the symbolic condition of the soul that can contemplate the absolute perfection.
Love, that exempts no one beloved from loving …
Seized me with pleasure of this man so strongly …
That as thou seest, it doth not yet desert me.
In these words, eternal in their descriptive simplicity, Dante demonstrates us the passion for his soul, the ghosts of his unconscious and the torment of the pleasure of getting lost. The fragility of Francesca is the fragility of the earthly souls, closed up in the enchantment of the stillness of the forms, but also Dante belongs to the “earth” when he describes his inner torment in detail. Wishing to transform his soul beyond the seduction of the flesh and of the instincts, he will need the help of Beatrice, whose innocence and passion merge in the new perspective of enthusiasms, indicating that human condition where the mind, raptured without being killed, elevates to a higher domain where the divine reveals. A confirmation of how love hides in itself an “itinerary of knowledge” are also the reflections of an ancient Medieval exegete on the word “amor” (“Love” in English) that in that century was not only used as an aesthetic experience dominating literature, but also as a philosophical “precipitate” to which not everybody could have access to. “Amor”, meaning a-mors, without death, expresses the anxiety of overcoming the human condition to get to the highest and most sublime world, a concept summarized in the word itself which is nothing more than the desire towards the Whole.
In modern times, Rainer Maria Rilke, in “The Eighth Elegy” of “The Duino Elegies”, reflecting on the necessity to annul the rational thought to have access to the “The Nirvanic Openness”, translated into poetry this itinerary underlining how the animal can “gaze into openness with all its eyes free from death”, as well as the child who “[…] can experiment that Openness until “we turn the young child round and make it look backwards at what is settled”, or the lovers who “if the Other were not always there as a “presence” closing off the view” to that […] pure space where “flowers blossom endlessly”, are close to perceive the reality in that subtle world described as “Nirvanic Openness”, even if always in wonder for that sudden openness. “Always there is world, and never the Nowhere without the Not: the pure, unwatched-over, that one breathes and endlessly knows, without craving. Through an oversight it opens out, behind the other, but there is no way past it, and it turns to world again to bound again to the sensible, perishable and mortal life”. Therefore, what is love beyond the human experiences if not the need to look into the abyss of our own soul to be looked at, and discover in the depth of the reciprocal gaze, the innocence of us children before the masks of the world separated the infinite possibilities of our Destiny? To be aware of our depth we should always “be opposite to the destiny itself “[…] to be that and nothing else, opposite, forever”, so as to discover through the perception of “its moving”, the track of our soul. If love is being free and “without a view” on our condition to address pure and simple to read the alphabet of the words of our heart where is hidden the invisible life of the form of every being far from the senses and the observation, then its knowledge is a constant embrace of the infinite flowing of the things and the “substances” that constitute its vital nucleus.
Therefore, love is not stillness and inertia towards the world of sensations, but a constant search for that active principle that sustains every change, a principle without limits or boundaries that the Greek philosophy had defined in Plato’s dialogues, specifically in “The Theaetetus”, with the word thaumàzein to indicate that ineffable moment where Man could see in a sudden breaking, the pre-constituted order of its certainty in favour of a new dimension with himself and the other. In the experience of the thaumàzein, or the pre-dialectical stupor, it can be discovered a different Stimmung, a particular emotion of unity that can be only lived and not described, because in this state every form disappears getting to the eternal source of the genesis of the soul. In this respect, the mystics in their yearning for knowledge towards the Unity have more than once underlined with almost the same words, as the individual soul could “drink” the water of the eternal source, reminding us as claimed by the Persian poet Rumi, that:
From the moment you came into this world,
a ladder was placed in front of you
that you might transcend it.
From earth, you became plant,
from plant you became animal.
Afterwards you became a human being,
endowed with knowledge, intellect and faith.
Behold the body, born of dust--
how perfect it has become!
Why should you fear its end?
When were you ever made less by dying?
When you pass beyond this human form,
no doubt you will become an angel
and soar through the heavens!
But don't stop there.
Even heavenly bodies grow old.
Pass again from the heavenly realm
and plunge into the ocean of Consciousness.
Let the drop of water that is you
become a hundred mighty seas.
But do not think that the drop alone
becomes the Ocean--
the Ocean, too, becomes the drop!
…’The Son of God!’ Nay, leave that word unsaid,
Say: ‘God is One, the pure, the single Truth.’
What through the frame be withered, old and dead,
If the soul keep her fresh immortal youth?
Speculating about love means to put into evidence that primitive stupor that everything subverts and nothing leaves unchanged, a stupor joining the enigma of life and death. Of life because its “action” opens Man up to a new dimension of the existence and to the discovery of an original image of the world because it dissolves the old image of the obviousness and of the habit. Love is therefore being astonished, for a new possible re-orientation that undergoes our life in front of the pressure of the new, of what we were missing but that now can belong to us. If love is thaumàzein, astonishment, stupor, that means that it despises of what is still separated and therefore “void” and wishes to know a “complete” life, “the intimate nature of hidden things” as claimed by Heraclitus.
Therefore, love looks for the reconciliation of what is separated, the pleroma of the law that the Gnostics considered as the “whole”. But this search is not easy, normally it is carried out with many a “sigh” of desires not possible to be realized and “truths” of instants where possible to enjoy only fragments of totality: that is why love is often defined as a sickness or a sweet madness, that as claimed by Stendhal, is able to provide “Man with the greatest pleasure our species can know on earth”. Man chases happiness and it is love, among the many human passions, to get close to this ineffable experience of boundless joy, but we know too well how difficult and complex is this condition to be reached. Stendhal explains this difficulty as the incapacity of lovers, perpetually tortured by passion, but filled up by it, to maintain the distance to love between imagination and reality. In the need for possession, the object of love that has evoked us the romantic illusion of a splendid and perfect image, the lovers end up crystallizing it in a reality that day by day evaporates until dissolving the happiness of the illusion.
A passionate man sees all the perfections in what he loves, but the real joys of love consist in the need of maintaining the right tension between the “happiness of the illusion” and the possibility to “enjoy” the real qualities of the beloved object. The happiness of the illusion is not an illusionary happiness, as this term may induce to think, but the only true in love and the only possible since the real object of love is the one that combines within us, in our imaginary, merging in a magic combination what we perceive in the Other with the need of our soul. The happiness of the illusion is therefore a symbol of totality, a sort of coniunctio between the reality of our soul and that of the Other, with a common télos constituted by our reciprocal idealities condensed in an immediate instant we feel as imminent to be realized. When we fall in love we do not know the Other in his/her specific characteristics, in his/her dreams, in his/her idealities, but rather the Other appears to us as surrounded by a halo, a mysterious aura where unconsciously combine both our deepest being, and our unknown expectations realizing a combinatory mixture of desires, lingering gazes, glances filled with promises that are not but the fissures through which our most profound Self overlooks.
In this search for the inner Whole appearing to us as projected in the mirror of the Other, love becomes an acting without acting, a sort of yearning to merge into the Other, in an experience of “proximity” that as Nietzsche would say “becomes too much human both concerning the senses and the soul, because our Self can be perceived only in the annulment of our superficial Ego, what happens the very moment it dissolves, eyes closed, in the fragrance of the breath of the beloved”.
In this search for infinite the lovers chase to be in the desire to abandon their bodies. In this the woman has got an innate talent, an original disposition, an absolute virtuosity giving the finite of man an infinite sense making him perceive that evening twilight beyond which is the spiritual dawn. On the contrary, man has no words to define what he feels; he has got a strength of his own and is accustomed to the exercise the power; he acts, he moves, he gets interested, he thinks and contemplates the future, but often he is unable to feel, or if he feels he does not know how to say it, and in front of the eternity he feels lost. The woman knows the soul to recover the body, whereas the man explores the body of the woman, the labyrinths of desire to see what is hidden in it to rediscover thanks to the subtle thread of love, the consistency of his own soul.
These reflections are not related to a single man or a single woman, because the sensibility is not the prerogative of women as well as the strength and the power do not belong exclusively to men; these reflections want to highlight the most general aspects of the psychology of the two sexes. According to this order of ideas there is no doubt that every woman ontologically belongs to “nature” in general, to its “cosmic” aspect as well as to the material one; while man with his force and his power, on the transcendent plane of images, condenses in himself the archetypical principle of “movement” and ”activity” that cannot be oriented to the conquest of the earthly things or of the most daring speculations. But when stating how in the female psychology is predominant a great plasticity and adaptability in comparison to the male psychology where the impulses of the reason and of the logical principle of identity are dominant, that does not mean that the woman, principle of life, is to be thought as without motion and only responding to the principle of inertia. The symbol of this complementarity of archetypical forces is well summarized in the Chinese symbol of the Yin and Yang, where the polar and opposing forces harmonically merge in a continuous motion representative of all that exists.
If metaphysically the masculine corresponds to the active, ardent and powerful principle, the feminine to the passive, humid and receptive one, these relations are completely reversed in the domain of love and sexuality, so much that Titus Burckhardt strongly claimed: “the woman is actively passive, the man is passively active, that is the reciprocal condition of their intimate nature. The “actively passive” condition of the woman is the substance of her subtle charm, “attractive” like a magnet, while the man is “passively active” in his approaching to a magnetic field whose forces will be submitted to”.
The phallic man deceives himself when he claims to have “possessed” a woman because she has laid with him, in reality she “has not been possessed” because in welcoming him she has won and absorbed in her surrender the most active fear of the assault of man. A parallelism of what happens between the individuals of the two sexes is what happens between the germ cells. The frantic movement and the initiative of the fecundating spermatozoon, in itself without nutritional plasma, after having succeeded in overtaking all the other spermatozoa poured out into the female womb, penetrates the ovule rich in vital food as if magnetically attracted opening itself a breach that immediately will close upon itself, imprisoning it as soon as internally penetrated. Then the reciprocal destruction of the two genders, the masculine and the feminine, came into contact inside the uterus, initiating a new reality that indissolubly uniting the two genders, forms a third one, a son constituted by the sublimated potentialities of the generating matter of the two departure sexes. In the son there will be a secret transformation: the physical external sex will be that of one of the parents, but the inner sex, the qualities of the soul will reflect the psyche of the opposite parent. In the deep of this subtle alchemy the archetype of the Self of the subject-son, will guide and organize the “psychic and biological matter” coming from the parental union, organizing it according to groups of specific trends derived from its ordering plasticity. Therefore, it is true that every son from a hereditary perspective summarizes the genetic patrimony of the parents, but in it there is also a further potentiality, totally individual, represented by the activity of the Self that organizes and shapes the bio-psychic matter of the parents.
Archetypically the desire to have a child, is related to the almost universal wish for immortality. In the ancient times in the East one of the main reasons to have children was to have someone to carry out the burial rites and continue the ancestral sacrifices believed to keep alive the spirit of the deceased and enable the journey into the other world. But in some of the most ancient and primitive myths was made a distinction between the partial immortality, a semi-immortality of a life lived in the person of a child, and the most direct immortality of the individual himself. In both cases it concerns a wish, a being, a getting to a personal confirmation in function of someone else, but in the second case it was about returning to the experience of our own primordial unity in the attempt to unite in one being two distinct beings characterized by the metaphysical and eternal aspect of Eros. In this second case, the aim was that to transcend the human condition in an effective regeneration of the consciousness implying a change of the ontological condition of the human being. The fundamental idea was constituted by the observation of the divine creative spark that in Man can express in the creation of a child, as well as alternatively, be assimilated by the individual himself by creating in himself an immortal spirit.
This antithesis between immortality and the birth of children was not only described in the most ancient myths, but also in the apocryphal Gospels. The psychoanalyst Esther Harding reminds us that in “the Gospel according to the Egyptians”, is reported a conversation between Christ and a woman called Salome, a disciple of his: ”When Salome asked how long will death prevail?” The Lord said, As long as ye women bear children: for I have come to destroy the function of women. And Salome said to him, Did I not well then in not bearing children? And the Lord answered and said, Eat of every herb, but do not eat of that which is bitter. And when Salome asked when the things would be known about which she had inquired, the Lord said, When ye trample on the garment of shame, and when the two shall be one, and the male with the female neither male nor female" (Harding, 1973, p. 234). The words “when the two shall be one, and the male with the female neither male nor female", indicate an inner marriage of the masculine and feminine parts through which the individual gets to the totality. This totality is well represented in the “inner child”, from the sacred marriage where Eros and Logos for ever united win the death though the consciousness of the Self.
For us in the West, these mysteric allusions are conceived in an extremely confused way and in front of the anguish of death the science answers in a deviant way, through the search for cloning as a partial solution of a body that continuously regenerates never growing old. If so the psychological and personal identity would break into pieces establishing an existential path made of different experiences with the birth of a supra individual identity able to “contemplate” from “the outside” and from “above” what that in the ordinary experience and in that of the Ego qualifies as the internal world (Nagel, 1988). In other terms, the barrier between the “internal world” and the “outside world” would fall and everything would be lived and experimented in a logic of temporal absence, an eternal present made of infinite possibilities without a consciousness able to decide the sense of its own choices.
At the same time despite this conceptual confusion, we cannot ignore the fact that the poetry and the modern art, the dreams and the fantasies of several people that nowadays relate with the myths and the religious doctrines of the past, as evidence of the continuous activity of the Self. Its action markedly resembles to the movements made immortal by the teachings of the past and tell us of a path of renewal that today seems new, but whose reality is ancient, a path of redemption that can happen only through the transformation of our consciousness.
Graves, R., (1988). I miti greci. Milano: Longanesi
Pazzaglia, M., (1993). Dal Rinascimento all’Illuminismo. Bologna: Zanichelli
Dante, A., (1968). La divina Commedia. Firenze: La Nuova Italia
Rilke, R. M., (1978). Elegie Duinesi. Torino: Einaudi
Platone, (1074). I Dialoghi. Firenze: Sansoni
Rumi, G.D., (1980). Poesie Mistiche. Milano: Rizzoli
Tortorici Conti, E., (2007). Amare l’amore. Roma: Armano
Harding, M.E., (1973). I misteri della donna. Roma: Astrolabio, p. 234
Nagel, T., (1988). Questioni mortali. Milano: Il Saggiatore
Frigoli, D., (2013). La fisica dell’anima. Bologna: Persiani
Frigoli, D. (Ed), (2014). Intelligenza analogica. Roma: Magi
Frigoli, D., (2016). Il linguaggio dell’anima. Roma: Magi
Dr. Diego Frigoli - Founder and promoter of the ecobiopsychological thought. Psychiatrist, Psychotherapist and Director of the ANEB Institute – School of Specialization in Psychotherapy. Innovator in the study of the imaginary focusing on the symbol in relation to its dynamics between the individual and the collective knowledge.
Translated by Dr.ssa Raffaella Restelli – Psychologist, member of the British Psychological Society (UK), Ecobiopsychological Counselor and expert in ANEB Psychosomatic Medicine. Linguist in ANEB Editorial area.