Balancing Agape and Eros Love in Global Transformation

There is a reason communities of activists and change makers bring up the topic of love in global transformation. The very nature of the cosmos is driven by the power of evolutionary love, and we are now beginning to understand what that could mean for creating positive and lasting change around the world.

Adam Crabtree’s book “Evolutionary Love and the Ravages of Greed,” offers us a guide for our collective efforts in these challenging times. His suggested antidote for unchecked consumerism and greed fueling our global demise is a conscious balance of two ancient definitions of love: agape and eros. 

Agape is the pure essence of the highest unconditional love. This is the love expressed without expected reciprocity, and the energetic love that sees the highest potential in another being. It’s this category of love that he believes is the natural basis of the universe and the driving force of evolution itself.

Putting the “Love” in rEVOLution

We can see this expression of agapic love in our daily encounters. Ask the parents of a newborn baby to try and articulate the deep reservoir of love that is flowing for their child, or read one of the many altruistic acts of heroism in times of natural disasters or conflict. Agape is even witnessed in beech trees who share their nutrients with weaker trees to support the forest community.

Agape love is the core ingredient to nurture and strengthen. Without a healthy and supported child or beech sapling, the foundation for a strong community is in peril. However, evolution and a social revolution must be driven by more than just platonic compassion.

According to Crabtree, it is eros love that’s the impetus for ongoing transformation. This category of love is essentially based on the drive for self-fulfillment, but the key is keeping it within respectful site of agape’s source of nurturing. Unfortunately, this is where we have gone astray as a culture.

Eros, and we might as well throw in erotic love while we’re at it, have lost track of the nurturing anchor of agape. Our collective eros, driven by materialism and self-fulfilment, has now morphed into greed.

Balancing Agape and Eros Love in Systems Change

The challenges we face require shifts in behavior and perspective if we’re to become reacquainted with our agapic compass. It’s time to tap back into the core understanding of evolutionary love driven to action for the good of the whole. This isn’t a task that requires complete destruction of the global machine and a new start. Rather, it’s systems change from the inside out, building from pre-existing norms of understanding that have been ignored or lost track of because of greed and materialism. Ken Wilbur uses the phrase, “include and transcend” and that is the approach we must take if we are to build an inclusive society for the future.

To begin a “renovation” project of global magnitude requires a diverse group of skilled team members who are tapped into the balance of agape and eros love. Instead of letting our overly-political mindsets set the agenda, we’d do well to shift our attention to finding a conscious community where we find purpose and support.

We are already seeing change-makers gathering together to spark cultural evolution. History is full of revolutions and uprisings, but to make lasting change and a true shift in consciousness our work must be grounded in agape love and driven by an eros love that isn’t just looking for a quick fix solution.   

Never Underestimate the Power of a Dedicated Few

I’m heartened by Adam Crabtree’s ability to articulate the evolutionary love that drives the cosmos and nature of our universe. It only makes sense that this is the nature of our universe, and it’s exciting to find a growing number of scientists and philosophers supporting the idea that agape love, co-creating alongside the eros, can serve as a beacon for conscious communities.

Equally as uplifting as Crabtree’s work is the experiments being done by journalist and author Lynne McTaggart on the effectiveness of small groups of people in creating healing transformation. In her recent book, “The Power of Eight” McTaggart shares stories of remarkable outcomes influenced by groups of people, many with only 8-12 members. The key to the success of these communities was not their size, but their altruistic approach in their healing intentions. Perhaps they were tapped in to the energetic flow of agape and eros as a collective.

This is exciting news. The examples given in “The Power of Eight” offer a glimpse of what can be accomplished when a group of people, pursuing a sense of purpose, focus their attention on the good of the whole. For them, it wasn’t about forming a critical mass, it was about a community being in balance with agape and eros love to foster change.

We can see this happening right now. If a younger generation is stirred to stand up to the materialistic values of the National Rifle Association and their gun laws, perhaps they’ll be the spark that lights up a psychic revolution of a spiritual group mind to stop this cycle of destructive materialism. To put it simply, it isn’t purely a numbers game driving our evolution, but rather love and compassion in the driver’s seat.

Having a sense of purpose is critical in shifting our current state of the world. If each of us can get intentional at a soul-based level, and find a community who shares that passion, amazing transformations can occur. If each of these purpose-driven groups share their experiences, insight and resources with fellow change-makers, just think of the good that could be accomplished. We would be able to harness the chaotic energy generated in today’s society and infuse agapic love into our social fabric, being the very example of compassion we desperately need in these challenging times.

feature image photo by Ben Mater on Unsplash

Comments 12

  1. Thank you so much for this excellent post! But, don’t you mean to say, in paragraph 3, “Agape is the pure essence of the highest *UN*conditional love?”

    1. One of my favorite teachers, Rachel Naomi Remen, who wrote Kitchen Table Wisdom, believes Love must be unconditional to be called Love. She believes unconditional Love is a redundant term. It makes one pause and think of how we throw the word Love around without really consider its meaning. maybe it means different things to different people, but what is its all encompassing meaning?

      1. This is a fascinating question because it highlights the inextricable link between language and reality, the way in which meaning is constructed and communicated in relation to the world itself. I think you are absolutely correct in suggesting that this singular word means many different things to different people, and perhaps this very ambiguity is a reflection of our postmodern inclination to suppress or deny the spiritual-emotional levels of our being. It’s especially interesting when compared to the four distinct types of love present in ancient Greek (and up to eight according to some interpretations.) In addition to both the unconditional and even divine conception of agape and the passionate, beauty-seeking eros, ancient Greek philosophy also included the “brotherly love” of philia and the familial, empathetic, communal storgi. If nothing else, this lexicon indicates a cultural recognition of love as a complex, multi-faceted energy that could not be neatly summarized.

        The omnipotent and unconditional quality of agape suggests a love that has always existed and will continue to exist whether or not there is space or time against which to measure its evolution—precisely because it is unchanging. In this way, we may even conceive of agape as the primary field of love from which all others originate, their movement through time thus a natural inclination of returning to Source. When we do pause to consider the all-encompassing factor in our diverse languages of love, perhaps it is this inherent affinity for harmony, this inevitable movement towards supercoherence that is at the heart of the matter.

  2. Great blog. Have question though in 3rd paragraph. Does Adam believe “Agape is the pure essence of the highest conditional love” ? Or should it read ‘unconditional love”.

    1. Thank you, Bruce, for pointing this out. You are absolutely right, I meant to say “unconditional” love. A rather inappropriate typo to make on my part.

    2. Hi, Margaret. I appreciate your pointing out this mistake. This is a typo. Adam, of course, says it is unconditional love.

  3. So well articulated Emanuel. Thank you. Do you think agape love comes first in evolutionary endeavors and then is shaped into action by eros? Eros to me implies passion, in this case passion of purpose, and the altruistic “seeding” of the new from Universal sources feels to me to be beyond passion. Or, as humans, do you think we would not seek the agape without first having passion of purpose? Or, does it not even matter?

    1. If we conceive of agape, in its truest and most robust sense, as an independent, energetic field of harmony and oneness—the spiritual-emotional imperative for the greatest good of the whole—then we can recognize love itself as a foundational aspect of the universe. Just as modern physics and other scientific disciplines are beginning to corroborate the timeless intuition that consciousness is actually a building block of reality and not an accidental consequence, so too may we consider love to be a force antecedent to our own particular embodiments—a gravity that lends to eros a direction for its movement. For Plato, the passion of eros was actually rooted in humanity’s natural inclination towards beauty. And while this translates practically, or at least initially, to erotic, self-fulfilling desire, Plato believed that this was in fact a means by which humanity could be reunited with cosmic Beauty itself—likewise a kind of harmony and coherence in form and systems. In other words, the expression of eros was to recognize the beauty in another person, and through that recognition transcend the individual to be reacquainted with the Beauty of the universe itself. Perhaps another way of interpreting this transcendental movement is to see eros as the gravity bringing us back into the field of supercoherence that agape demands.

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  5. Let us consider that agape is the WILL to Love and Eros the passion of love. Eros can be fire of passion and rain of passion. The heat that burns or the rain, liquid elixir of life and love.

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