Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Teilhard de Chardin, fully Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

French Philosopher, Paleontologist, Geologist, Jesuit Priest and Author

"It has sometimes seemed to me there are three weak stones sitting dangerously in the foundations of the modern Church: first, a government that excludes democracy; second, a priesthood that excludes and minimizes women; third, a revelation that excludes, for the future, prophecy."

"It is not our heads or our bodies which we must bring together, but our hearts. . . . Humanity. . . is building its composite brain beneath our eyes. May it not be that tomorrow, through the logical and biological deepening of the movement drawing it together, it will find its heart, without which the ultimate wholeness of its power of unification can never be achieved?"

"It is our duty as men and women to behave as though limits to our ability do not exist. We are collaborators in creation of the Universe."

"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."

"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."

"Love alone is capable of uniting living beings in such a way as to complete and fulfill them, for it alone takes them and joins them by what is deepest in themselves. All we need is to imagine our ability to love developing until it embraces the totality of men and the earth... Does not love every instant achieve all around us, in the couple or the team, the magic feat ... of 'personalizing' by totalizing And if that is what it can achieve daily on a small scale, why should it not repeat this one day on world-wide dimensions"

"Joy is the most infallible sign of the Presence of God."

"Love is a sacred reserve of energy it is like the blood of spiritual evolution."

"Love is the affinity which links and draws together the elements of the world.... Love, in fact, is the agent of universal synthesis."

"Love in all its subtleties is nothing more, and nothing less, than the more or less direct trace marked on the heart of the element by the psychical convergence of the universe upon itself."

"Man only progresses by slowly elaborating from age to age the essence and the totality of a universe deposited within him."

"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."

"Meanwhile, they are growing firmer every day, under the combined action of all the forces that surround us; and history shows that, as a whole, their network (woven under the influence of irreversible cosmic factors) has never ceased to draw tighter."

"Love is the only force which can make things one without destroying them… Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire."

"Matter is spirit moving slowly enough to be seen."

"Our century is probably more religious than any other. How could it fail to be, with such problems to be solved? The only trouble is that it has not yet found a God it can adore."

"One day after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity — after all the scientific and technological achievements — we shall harness for God the energies of love. And then, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire."

"Our duty, as men and women, is to proceed as if limits to our ability did not exist. We are collaborators in creation."

"Reach beyond your grasp. Your goals should be grand enough to get the best of you."

"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."

"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."

"Science, philosophy and religion are bound to converge as they draw nearer to the whole."

"Seeing. One could say that the whole of life lies in seeing — if not ultimately, at least essentially. To be more is to be more united — and this sums up and is the very conclusion of the work to follow. But unity grows, and we will affirm this again, only if it is supported by an increase of consciousness, of vision. That is probably why the history of the living world can be reduced to the elaboration of ever more perfect eyes at the heart of a cosmos where it is always possible to discern more. Are not the perfection of an animal and the supremacy of the thinking being measured by the penetration and power of synthesis of their glance? To try to see more and to see better is not, therefore, just a fantasy, curiosity, or a luxury. See or perish. This is the situation imposed on every element of the universe by the mysterious gift of existence. And thus, to a higher degree, this is the human condition."

"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!"

"So many things which once had distressed or revolted him — the speeches and pronouncements of the learned, their assertions and their prohibitions, their refusal to allow the universe to move — all seemed to him now merely ridiculous, non-existent, compared with the majestic reality, the flood of energy, which now revealed itself to him: omnipresent, unalterable in its truth, relentless in its development, untouchable in its serenity, maternal and unfailing in its protectiveness."

"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."

"Since once again, O Lord, in the steppes of Asia, I have no bread, no wine, no altar, I will raise myself above those symbols to the pure majesty of reality, and I will offer to you, I, your priest, upon the altar of the entire earth, the labor and the suffering of the world."

"That the personalization of the universe, having at this moment reached the human stage in ourselves, is irreversible we shall soon recognize, step by step, as the conditions of internal coherence particular to a personal universe yield to our analysis. In this way, the inalterability of the person, so rightly defended by spiritualist philosophers, will at the same time be preserved and attached to an intelligible physical theory."

"The Age of Nations is past. The task before us now, if we would not perish, is to build the Earth."

"The being who is the object of his own reflection, in consequence of that very doubling back upon himself, becomes in a flash able to raise himself into a new sphere. In reality, another world is born. Abstraction, logic, reasoned choice and inventions, mathematics, art, calculation of space and time, anxieties and dreams of love--all these activities of inner life are nothing else than the effervescence of the newly-formed center as it explodes onto itself."

"Spiritual perfection (or conscious 'centerity') and material synthesis (or complexity) are but the two aspects or connected parts of one and the same phenomenon."

"The future is more beautiful than all the pasts."

"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."

"The end of the world the wholesale internal introversion upon itself of the noosphere, which has simultaneously reached the uttermost limit of its complexity and its centrality ... the overthrow of equilibrium, detaching the mind, fulfilled at last, from its material matrix, so that it will henceforth rest with all its weight on God-Omega ... critical point simultaneously of emergence and emersion, of maturation and evasion."

"The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides, and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, we shall have discovered fire."

"The future belongs to those who give the next generation reason for hope."

"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 most satisfying thing in life is to have been able to give a large part of one's self to others."

"The more we split and pulverize matter artificially, the more insistently it proclaims its fundamental unity."

"The only way forward is in the direction of a common passion, for nothing in the universe can ultimately resist the cumulative ardor of the collective soul."

"The most telling and profound way of describing the evolution of the universe would undoubtedly be to trace the evolution of love."

"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."

"The reality of spirit-matter is inevitably translated into and confirmed by a structure of the spirit."

"The outcome of the world, the gates of the future, the entry into the super-human--these are not thrown open to a few of the privileged nor to one chosen people to the exclusion of all others. They will open only to an advance of all together, in a direction in which all together can join and find completion in a spiritual renovation of the earth..."

"The space-time continuum is a cone, and humans, via evolution and collective consciousness, are rising to its apex."

"The truth is, indeed, that love is the threshold of another universe. Beyond the vibrations with which we are familiar, the rainbow-like range of its colors is still in full growth. But, for all the fascination that the lower shades have for us, it is only towards the ultra that the creation of light advances. It is in these invisible and, we might almost say, immaterial zones that we can look for true initiation into unity. The depths we attribute to matter are no more than the reflection of the peaks of spirit."

"The universe as we know it is a joint product of the observer and the observed."

"The time has come to realize that an interpretation of the universe — even a positivist one — remains unsatisfying unless it covers the interior as well as the exterior of things; mind as well as matter. The true physics is that which will, one day, achieve the inclusion of man in his wholeness in a coherent picture of the world."

"The values of this world below the level of God, while Humanism finds room for a God above the level of this world. Inverse and complementary movements: or rather, the two faces of a single event which perhaps marks the beginning of a new era for Mankind. This double transformation is something more than a speculation of my own. Throughout the world at this moment, without distinction of country, class, calling or creed, men are appearing who have begun to reason, to act and to pray in terms of the limitless and organic dimensions of Space-Time. To the outside observer such men may still seem isolated. But they are aware of one another among themselves, they recognize each other whenever their paths cross. They know that tomorrow, rejecting old concepts, divisions and forms, the whole world will see what they see and think as they do."

"The world can no more have two summits than a circumference can have two centers."