French Philosopher, Paleontologist, Geologist, Jesuit Priest and Author
Teilhard de Chardin, fully Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
French Philosopher, Paleontologist, Geologist, Jesuit Priest and Author
Personally, I stick to my idea that we are watching the birth, more than the death, of a World. The scandal for you, is that England and France should have come to this tragedy because they have sincerely tried the road of peace. But did they not precisely make a mistake on the true meaning of peace? Peace cannot mean anything but a HIGHER PROCESS OF CONQUEST. … The world is bound to belong to its most active elements.
The future is more beautiful than all the pasts.
The world is round so that friendship may encircle it.
A first result of the 'mass-setting' which mankind is gradually undergoing at this moment is that every one of us, taken in isolation, is becoming less and less materially self-sufficient. A series of new needs, which it would be puerile and anti-biological to regard as superfluous and artificial, is continually making itself felt in us. It is no longer possible for us to live and develop without an increasing supply of rubber, of metals, oil, electricity and energy of all sorts. No individual could henceforth manage to produce his daily bread on his own. Mankind is more and more taking the form of an organism that possesses a physiology and, in the current phrase, a common 'metabolism'. We may, if we please, say that these ties are superficial, and that we will lose them if we wish.
By means of all created things, without exception, the divine assails us, penetrates us, and molds us. We imagined it as distant and inaccessible, when in fact we live steeped in its burning layers.
Henceforth man is less capable than ever before of thinking alone. We have only to consider the series of our modem concepts in science, philosophy and religion, and it will be obvious that the more general and fruitful any one of these notions is proving, the more it, too, is tending to assume the form of a collective entity: we can, it is true, individually cover one angle of it, we can make a portion of it our own and develop it, but it rests in fact on a vault of mutually buttressed thoughts. The idea of the electron or the quantum, or the cosmic ray - the idea of the cell or of heredity - the idea of humanity or even the idea of God -no single individual can claim these as his preserve or dominate them. In such things, what is already thinking, just as what is already working, through man and above man, is again mankind. And it is inconceivable, in virtue of the very way in which the phenomenon works, that the movement initiated should not continue in the same direction, tomorrow as today, becoming more pronounced and increasing in speed.
It took hundreds of centuries for man simply to people the earth and cover it with a first network: and further thousands of years to build up, as chance circumstances allowed, solid nuclei of civilizations within this initially fluctuating envelope, radiating from independent and antagonistic centers. Today, these elements have multiplied and grown; they have packed themselves closer together and forced themselves against one another -to the point where an over-all unity, of no matter what nature, has become economically and psychologically inevitable. Mankind, in coming of age, has begun to be subject to the necessity and to feel the urgency of forming one single body coextensive with itself. There we have the underlying cause of our distress.
Psychogenesis has led to man. Now it effaces itself, relieved or absorbed by another and a higher function--the engendering and subsequent development of the mind, in one word noogenesis. When for the first time in a living creature instinct perceived itself in its own mirror, the whole world took a pace forward.
The idea is that of the earth not only becoming covered with myriad grains of thought, but becoming enclosed in a single thinking envelope so as to form, functionally, no more than a single vast grain of thought on the sidereal scale, the plurality of individual reflections grouping themselves together and reinforcing one another in the act of a single unanimous reflection…A new domain of psychical expansion- that is what we lack. And it is staring us in the face if we would only raise our heads to look at it.
The world, this palpable world, which we were wont to treat with the boredom and disrespect with which we habitually regard places with no sacred association for us, is in truth a holy place, and we did not know it. Venite, adoremus.
A more complete study of the movements of the world will oblige us, little by little, to turn it upside down; in other words, to discover that if things hold and hold together, it is only by reason of complexity, from above.
By virtue of Creation, and still more the Incarnation, nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see.
Human Energy presents itself to our view as the term of a vast process in which the whole mass of the universe is involved. In us, the evolution of the world towards the spirit becomes conscious. From that moment, our perfection, our interest, our salvation as elements of creation can only be to press on with this evolution with all our strength. We cannot yet understand exactly where it will lead us, but it would be absurd for us to doubt that it will lead us towards some end of supreme value. From this there finally emerges in our twentieth century human consciousness, for the first time since the awakening of life on earth, the fundamental problem of Action. No longer, as in the past, for our small selves, for our small family, our small country; but for the salvation and the success of the universe, how must we, modern men, organize around us for the best, the maintenance, distribution and progress of human energy?
Joy is the most infallible sign of the Presence of God.
Reach beyond your grasp. Your goals should be grand enough to get the best of you.
The more one considers this infinitely urgent problem of finding an over-all plan for building up the earth, the clearer it becomes that if we are to avoid the road of brute material force, there is no way out ahead except the road of comradeship and brotherhood - and that is as true of nations as it is of individuals: not jealous hostility, but friendly rivalry: not personal feeling, but the team spirit.
There is almost a sensual longing for communion with others who have a large vision. The immense fulfillment of the friendship between those engaged in furthering the evolution of consciousness has a quality impossible to describe.
A universal love is not only psychologically possible; it is the only complete and final way in which we are able to love.
Creation, incarnation and redemption are to be seen as no more than three complementary aspects of one and the same process.
I am far from denying the destructive and disintegrating forces of passion. I will go so far as to agree that apart from the reproductive function, men have hitherto used love, on the whole, as an instrument of self-corruption and intoxication. But what do these excesses prove? Because fire consumes and electricity can kill are we to stop using them? The feminine is the most formidable of the forces of matter. True enough. Very well, then, say the moralists, we must avoid it. Not at all, I reply, we take hold of it. In every domain of the real (physical, affective, intellectual) danger is a sign of power. Only a mountain can create a terrifying drop. The customary education of the Christian conscience tends to make us confuse tutiorism with prudence, safety with truth. Avoiding the risk of transgression has become more important to us than carrying a difficult position for God. And it is this that is killing us. The more dangerous a thing, the more is its conquest ordained by life: it is from that conviction that the modern world has emerged; and from that our religion, too, must be reborn.
Life represents the goal of a transformation of great breadth, in the course of which what we call matter turns about, furls in on itself, *interiorizes* the operation covering, so far as we are concerned, the whole history of the earth. The phenomenon of spirit is not therefore a sort of brief flash in the night; it reveals a gradual and systematic passage from the unconscious to the conscious and from the conscious to the self-conscious. It is a cosmic change of state. This irrefutably explains the links and also the contradictions between spirit and matter.
Receive, O Lord, in its totality the Host which creation, drawn by your magnetism, presents to you at the dawn of a new day. This bread, our effort, is in itself, I know, nothing but an immense disintegration. This wine, our anguish, as yet, alas! is only an evaporating beverage. But in the depths of this inchoate Mass you have placed — I am certain, for I feel it — an irresistible and holy desire that moves us all, the impious as well as the faithful to cry out: O Lord, make us one!
The more we split and pulverize matter artificially, the more insistently it proclaims its fundamental unity.
There is neither spirit nor matter in the world; the stuff of the universe is spirit-matter. No other substance but this could produce the human molecule. I know very well that this idea of spirit-matter is regarded as a hybrid monster, a verbal exorcism of a duality which remains unresolved in its terms. But I remain convinced that the objections made to it arise from the mere fact that few people can make up their minds to abandon an old point of view and take the risk of a new idea. ... Biologists or philosophers cannot conceive a biosphere or noosphere because they are unwilling to abandon a certain narrow conception of individuality. Nevertheless, the step must be taken. For in fact, pure spirituality is as unconceivable as pure materiality. Just as, in a sense, there is no geometrical point, but as many structurally different points as there are methods of deriving them from different figures, so every spirit derives its reality and nature from a particular type of universal synthesis.
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.