French Philosopher, Paleontologist, Geologist, Jesuit Priest and Author
Teilhard de Chardin, fully Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
French Philosopher, Paleontologist, Geologist, Jesuit Priest and Author
Without the slightest doubt there is something through which material and spiritual energy hold together and are complementary. In the last analysis, somehow or other, there must be a single energy operating in the world. And the first idea that occurs to us is that the 'soul' must be as it were the focal point of transformation at which, from all the points of nature, the forces of bodies converge, to become interiorized and sublimated in beauty and truth.
You are not a human being in search of a spiritual experience. You are a spiritual being immersed in a human experience.
You have told me, O God, to believe in hell. But you have forbidden me to think...of any man as damned.
You whose divine influence is active at the very heart of matter, and at the dazzling center where the innumerable fibers of the multiple meet: you whose power is as implacable as the world and as warm as life, you whose forehead is of the whiteness of snow, whose eyes are of fire, and whose feet are brighter than molten gold; you whose hands imprison the stars; you are the first and the last, the living and the dead and the risen again; it is to you to whom our being cries out a desire as vast as the universe: In truth you are our Lord and our God! Amen.
We are faced with a harmonized collectivity of consciousness equivalent to a sort of super-consciousness. The idea is that of the earth not only becoming covered in myriads of 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.
We are like soldiers who fall during the assault which leads to peace.
We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.
We are one, after all, you and I, together we suffer, together exist, and forever will recreate each other.
We have only to believe. And the more threatening and irreducible reality appears, the more firmly and desperately we must believe. Then, little by little, we shall see the universal horror unbend, and then smile upon us, and then take us in its more than human arms.
We have reached a crossroads in human evolution where the only road which leads forward is towards a common passion. . . To continue to place our hopes in a social order achieved by external violence would simply amount to our giving up all hope of carrying the Spirit of the Earth to its limits.
We must try to penetrate our most secret self, and examine our being from all sides. Let us try, patiently, to perceive the ocean of forces to which we are subjected and in which our growth is, as it were, steeped... I took the lamp and, leaving the zone of everyday occupations and relationships where everything seemed clear, I went down into my inmost self, to the deep abyss whence I feel dimly that my power of action emanates. But as I moved further and further away from conventional certainties by which social life is superficially illuminated, I became aware that I was losing contact with myself. At each step of the descent a new person was disclosed within me of whose name I was no longer sure, and who no longer obeyed me. And when I had to stop my exploration because the path faded from beneath my steps, I found a bottomless abyss at my feet... At that moment... I felt the distress characteristic of a particle adrift in the universe, the distress which makes human wills founder daily under the crushing number of living things and stars. And if someone saved me, it was hearing the voice of the Gospel... speaking to me, from the depth of the night: It is I, be not afraid.
We only have to look around us to see how complexity and psychic temperature are still rising: and rising no longer on the scale of the individual but now on that of the planet. This indication is so familiar to us that we cannot but recognize the objective, experiential, reality of a transformation of the planet as a whole.
We see not only thought as participating in evolution as an anomaly or as an epiphenomenon; but evolution as so reducible to and identifiable with a progress towards thought that the movement of our souls expresses and measures the very stages of progress of evolution itself. Man discovers that he is nothing else than evolution become conscious of itself.
We still hesitate, as I have said, over the form which we may conveniently attribute to Space-Time. But the fact is that we have no more time for quibbling. If it is to be adjusted to Man, the high point and effective spearhead of evolution; if it is to contain and propagate the Noogenesis [evolving group mind] through which the march of events expresses itself with an increasing clarity, Space-Time must be given whatever form is most appropriate. Caught within its curve the layers of Matter (considered as separate elements no less than as a whole) tighten and converge in Thought, by synthesis. Therefore it is as a cone, in the form of a cone, that it can best be depicted. To accept that Space-Time is convergent in its nature is equally to admit that Thought on earth has not achieved the ultimate point of its evolution.
What is finally the most revolutionary and fruitful aspect our present age is the relationship it has brought to light between Matter and Spirit: spirit being no longer independent of matter, or in opposition to it, but laboriously emerging from it under the attraction of God by way of synthesis and centration. But what is the effect, for Christian faith and mysticism, of this redefinition of the Spirit? It is simply to confer absolute reality and absolute urgency upon the double dogma on which the whole of Christianity rests, and by which it is summed up: the physical primacy of Christ and the moral primacy of Charity.
What paralyzes life is lack of faith and lack of audacity. The difficulty lies not in solving problems but expressing them. And so we cannot avoid this conclusion: it is biologically evident that to gain control of passion and so make it serve spirit must be a condition of progress. Sooner or later, then, the world will brush aside our incredulity and take this step: because whatever is the more true comes out into the open, and whatever is better is ultimately realized. The day will come when, after harnessing the ether, the winds, the tides, gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And, on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.
Until man, we may say that nature was working to construct 'the unit or grain of thought'. It would now seem undeniable that, obeying the laws of some gigantic hyper-chemistry, we are now being launched towards 'edifices made up of grains of thought', towards 'a thought made up of thoughts' - traveling ever deeper into the abyss of the infinitely complex.
As I pointed out, for one form of synthesis that brings freedom there are hundreds of others that lead only to the vilest forms of bondage. We are only too conscious of this; but how can we come together in such a way as to free ourselves? In virtue of the laws of moleculization, the problem obviously consists in finding the way of grouping ourselves together not 'tangentially', in the nexus of an extrinsic activity or function, but radially', center to center; how to associate in such a way as, by synthesis, to stimulate deep within ourselves a progress that is directly centric in nature. In other words, what we have to do is to love one another because love is equally by definition the name we give to 'inter-centric' actions. By its nature, love is the only synthesizing energy whose differentiating action can super-personalize us. But just how can one ever contrive to love a multitude? if we set the two words side by side, love and multitude, surely they enclose a contradiction?
Faith in humankind does not appear capable of being satisfied without a fully explicit Christ... Any other method would only lead to confusion or to syncretism without any vigour or originality... What we lack is the clear perception of a well-defined (and real) Îtypeâ of God and an equally well-defined Îtypeâ of humankind. If each group maintains its own type of God and its own type of humankind... no agreement can be taken seriously: it will do no more than produce equivocations or pure sentiment.
In a concrete sense there is not matter and spirit. All that exists is matter becoming spirit. 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. Whatever its purity, however great its purity, it is the crown and expression of a genesis. The higher a being is in duration, the greater and more finely unified the complexity that it contains in its solid parts. The reality of spirit-matter is inevitably translated into and confirmed by a structure of the spirit.
Love is the most universal, the most tremendous and the most mystical of cosmic forces. Love is the primal and universal psychic energy. Love is a sacred reserve of energy; it is like the blood of spiritual evolution.
Someday, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love. Then for the second time in the history of the world, we will have discovered fire.
The phrase ‘Sense of the Earth should be understood to mean the passionate concern for our common destiny which draws the thinking part of life ever further onward. In principle there is no feeling which has a firm foundation in nature, or greater power. But in fact there is also no feeling which awakens so belatedly, since it can become explicit only when our consciousness has expanded beyond the broadening, but still far too restricted, circles of family, country and race, and has finally discovered that the only truly natural and real human Unity is the Spirit of Earth.
To love is to approach each other center to center.
As soon as we recognize such a center, which I shall call Omega, it becomes reasonable to conclude that the grains of consciousness produced evolutively by noogenesis (once the 'human' point of reflection has been passed) fall into a new field of attraction: the pull is exercised on the basic foundation of the grains, and it now acts not only on the complexity of their structure but directly on their center, independently of the structure. From this point of view, what we have called 'moleculization' is thus seen to be a more complicated but at the same time more radical process than we thought. In a first stage (up to hominization) there is a succession of fragile units, suspended over the void that lies behind them: there is a rising centration, but no true center as yet perfected in nature. In a second stage (after hominization) there is a mixed state; there is a continued progress of external complexity and beneath this the universe, which henceforth carries grains of thought, begins to be inverted upon itself - like a cone that has reached its apex. An intangible physics of centers succeeds the tangible physics of centration. Lastly, in a third and final phase, there is the complete turning back of spirit (now collectively centerd) upon an interior pole of consistence and total unification: hyper-centration following upon centration.