The Teilhard Page

by Doug Phillips

 

A webpage dedicated to the work of the mystic, paleontologist, and evolutionary scientist Teilhard de Chardin.

 

Teilhard holding skull of Peking man

 

 Quotes and Excerpts

 

from Le Phenomene Humain[2]

 

Mega-Synthesis

The coalescence of elments and the coalescence of stems, the spherical geometry of the earth and psychical curvature of the mind harmonising to counterbalance the inidividual and collective forces of dispersion in the world and to impose unification--there at last we find the spring and secret of hominsation.

But why should there be unification in the world and what purpose does it serve?

To see the answer to this ultimate question, we have only to put side by side the two equations which have been gradually formulating themselves from the moment we began trying to situate the phenomenon of man in the world.

The general gathering together in which, by correlated actions of the without and the within of the earth, the totality of thinking units and thinking forces are engaged---the aggregation in a single block of a mankind whose fragments weld together and interpenetrate before our eyes in spite of (indeed in proportion to) their efforts to separate--all this becomes intelligible from top to bottom as soon as we perceive it as the natural culm ination of a cosmic process of organisation which has never varied since those remote ages when our planet was young.

First the molecules of carbon compounds with their thousands of atoms symmetrically grouped; next the cell which, within a very small volume, contains thousands of molecules linked in a complicated system; then the metazoa in which the cell is no more than an almost infinitesimal element; and later the manifold attempts made sporadically by the metazoa to enter into symbiosis and raise themselves to a higher biological condition.

And now, as a germination of planetary dimensions, comes the thinking layer which over its full extent develops and intertwines its fibres, not to confuse and neutralise them but to reinforce them in the living unity of a single tissue.

Really I can see no coherent, and therefore scientific, way of grouping this immense succession of facts but as a gigantic psycho-biological operation, a sort of mega-synthesis, the 'super-arrangement' to which all the thinking elements of the earth find themselves today individually and collectively subject.

Mega-synthesis in the tangential, and therefore and thereby a leap forward of the radial energies along the principal axis of evolution: ever more complexity and thus ever more consciousness. If that is what really happens, what more do we need to convince oursleves of the vital error hidden in the depths of any doctrine of isolation? The egocentric ideal of a future reserved for those who have managed to attain egoistically the extremity of 'everyone for himself' is false and against nature. No element could move and grow except with and by all the others with itself.

Also false and against nature is the racial ideal of one branch draining off for itself alone all the sap of the tree and rising over the death of other branches. To reach the sun nothing less is required than the combined growth of the entire foliage.

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....

Unanimity

We have used the term mega-synthesis. Within a better understanding of the collective, it seems to me that the world should be understood without attenuation or metaphors when applied to the sum of all human beings. The universe is necessarily homogeneous in its nature and dimensions. Would it still be so if the loops of its spiral lost one jot or tittle of their degree of reality or consistence in ascending ever higher? The still unnamed Thing which the gradual combination of individuals, peoples and races will bring into existence, must needs be supra-physical, not infra-physical, if it is to be coherent with the rest. Deeper than the common act in which it expresses itself, more important than the common power of action from which it emerges by a sort of self-birth, lies reality itself, constituted by the living reunion of reflective particles.

And what does that amount to if not (and it is quite credible) that the stuff of the universe, by becoming thinking, has not yet completed its evolutionary cycle, and that we are therefore moving towards some new critical point that lies ahead. In spite of its organic links, whose existence has everywhere become apparent to us, the biosphere has so far been no more than a network of divergent lines, free at their extremities. By effect of reflection and the recoils it involves, the loose ends have been tied up, and the noosphere tends to constitute a single closed system in which each element sees, feels, desires, and suffers for itself the same things as all the others at the same time.

We are faced with a harmonised collectivity of consciousnesses equivalent to a sort of super-consciousness. The idea is that of the earth not only becoming covered by 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.

This is the general form in which, by analogy and in symmetry with the past, we are led scientifically to envisage the future of mankind, without whom no terrestrial issue is open to the terrestrial demands of our action.

To the common sense of the 'man in the street' and even to a certain philosophy of the world to which nothing is possible save what has always been, perspectives such as these will seem highly improbable. But to a mind become familiar with the fantastic dimensions of the universe they will, on the contrary, seem quite natural, because they are simply proportionate with the astronomical immensities.

In the direction of thought, could the universe terminate with anything less than the measureless---any more than it could in the direction of time and space?

One thing at any rate is sure--from the moment we adopt a thoroughly realistic view of the noosphere and of the hyper-organic nature of social bonds, the present situation of the world becomes clearer; for we find a very simple meaning for the profound troubles which disturb the layer of mankind at this moment.

The two-fold crisis whose onset began in earnest as early as the Neolithic age and which rose to a climax in the modern world, derives in the first place from mass-formation (we might call it a 'planetisation') of mankind. Peoples and civilisations reached such a degree either of frontier contact or economic interdependence or psychic communion that they could no longer develop save by interpenetration of one another. But it also arises out of the fact that, under the combined influence of machinery and the super-heating of thought, we are witnessing a formidable upsurge of unused powers. Modern man no longer knows what to do with the time and the potentialities he has unleashed. We groan under the burden of this wealth. We are haunted by the fear of 'unemployment'. Sometimes we are tempted to trample this super-abundance back into the matter from from which it sprang without stopping to think how impossible and monstrous such an act against nature would be.

When we consider the increasing compression of elements at the heart of a free energy which is also relentlessly increasing, how can we fail to see in this two-fold phenomenon the two perennial symptoms of a leap forward of the 'radial'--that is to say, of a new step in the genisis of mind?

In order to avoid disturbing our habits we seek in vain to settle international disputes by adjustments of frontiers--or we treat as 'liesure' (to be whiled away) the activities at the disposal of mankind. As things are now going it will not be long before we run full tilt into one another. Something will explode if we persist in trying to squeeze into our old tumble-down huts the material and spiritual forces that are henceforwared on the scale of a world.

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.

Peace through conquest, work in joy. These are waiting for us beyond the line where empires are setup against other empires, in an interior totalisation of the world upon itself, in the unanimous construction of a spirit of the earth.

 


THE CHRISTIC[3]

INTRODUCTION: THE AMORIZATION OF THE UNIVERSE

What follows is not a mere speculative dissertation in which the main lines of some long-matured and cleverly constructed system are set out.

It constitutes the evidence brought to bear, with complete objectivity, upon a particular interior event, upon a particular personal experience, in which I cannot but distinguish the track followed by a general drift of the Human as it folds in upon itself.

During the course of my life there has gradually been aroused in me, until it has become habitual, the capacity to see two fundamental psychic movements or currents in which we all share, without, however, being sufficiently aware of what they mean.

On one side, there has been the irresistible convergence of my individual thought with every other thinking being on the Barth —and in consequence with everything that is going through a gradual process of ‘arrangement’, wherever it be, and to whatever degree, in the immensities of Time and Space.

And on the other side, there has been the persistent individualisation, at the centre of my own small ego, of an ultra-Centre of Thought and Action: in the depths of my consciousness, the rise, which nothing can stop, of a sort of Other who could be even more I than I am myself.

On one side there was a flux, at once physical and psychic, which made the Totality of the Stuff of Things fold in on itself, by giving it complexity: carrying this to the point where that Stuff is made to co-reflect itself.

And on the other side, under the species of an incarnate divine being, a Presence so intimate that it could not satisfy itself or satisfy me, without being by nature universal.

This was the double perception, intellectual and emotional, of a Cosmic Convergence and a Christic Emergence which, each in its own way, filled my whole horizon.

Although they both made themselves felt in the very core of my being, it is conceivable that these two new tides of consciousness might have had no effect upon one another — for they reached me from different angles.

But it was not so; and it is precisely this contrary experience that I hope to describe in this essay, for the delight of my life and all that gives it strength will have been my discovery that when these two spiritual ingredients were brought together, they reacted endlessly upon one another in a flash of extraordinary brilliance, releasing by their implosion a light so intense that it transfigured (or even ‘transubstantiated’) for me the very depths of the World.

I saw how the joint coming of age of Revelation and Science had suddenly opened a door for twentieth-century Man into a sort of ultra-dimension of Things, in which all differences between Action, Passion [in the sense of being acted upon] and Communion vanish — not by being neutralized but by reaching an explosive climax: and this at the high temperatures of the Centre and on the scale of the Whole.

I saw the Universe becoming amorized and personalized in the very dynamism of its own evolution.

It is already a long time since, in response to these new ways of seeing things, still barely defined in my mind, I tried, in The Mass on the World and Le Milieu Divin, to give distinct expression to my sense of wonder and amazement.

Today, after forty years of continuous thought, 1 it is still exactly the same fundamental vision that I feel I must present, and enable others to share in its matured form — for the last time.

It may not be expressed with the same freshness and exuberance as resulted from my first meeting with it — but the wonder and the passion will still be there, undimmed.

A. THE CONVERGENCE OF THE UNIVERSE

Whether we admit it or not, we have today no choice: we have all become ‘evolutionists’. Through the narrow Darwinian crack opened a century ago in zoology, the feeling of Duration has now so completely and permanently coloured the whole of our experience that we have to make an effort, for example, to get back to those not so distant days (about I900!) when the formation of species was still a matter for bitter argument, and we had not the vaguest suspicion that fifty years later the whole economy of mankind would be based on the birth of the Atom.

Today, of course, we all inevitably think and act as if the World were in a state of continual formation and transformation.

This is far from meaning, however, that this general frame of mind has yet reached its final and complete expression in our thought.

At a first stage, and that the vaguest, to evolve can mean to change, irrespective of the nature and modalities of the changing:

they may be irregular or methodical, continuous or periodical, additive or dispersive and so on.

At this elementary level, we may say that so far as Physics and Biology are concerned there is no longer any uncertainty. The movement that animates the Stuff of the Universe in and around us, is no mere agitation and no mere drifting into the homogeneous.

It presents itself to our experience as a distinctly recognizable process — or, more correctly, as the product of two processes —which is by nature subject to direction.

I. First there is the process of ‘arrangement’ which, through the gradual ‘corpusculizing’ of cosmic Energy, produces the infinite variety (ever more complex and ever more ‘psychized’) of atoms, molecules, living cells, etc.

2. Secondly, there is the process of 'dis-arrangement' (Entropy), which is constantly bringing arranged Energy back to its most probable, and therefore most simple, forms.

We may say that competent observers today are in agreement about the general picture of an Evolution which may be compared, broadly speaking, to a river made up of amorphous streams (Entropy) within which countless eddies are individualised by a counter-current. ‘Phenomenally’ speaking, we see the World not merely as a system that is simply in movement, but as one that is in a state of genesis — a very different matter. Across the metamorphoses of Matter something is being made (and at the same time being unmade) in accordance with a particular global orientation — and this irreversibly and cumulatively.

Once we understand that, a further problem — not to say the final problem — presents itself.

In the case of the river we have just used as a comparison, what is most permanent and most important is, of course, the main stream — and not the eddies that come and go in the general mass of moving water. In Cosmogenesis, on the other hand, how are we to decide the relative value of the two confronting terms? Is (as might well at first appear) that majestic and inflexible Entropy really ‘what counts’ in Evolution? In other words, is it Entropy that has the last word cosmically? Or (in spite of certain apparent indications of fragility) is it rather the ever more complex and ever more centred nuclei that are successively formed in the course of planetary ages? To put it in another way, does the Universe ultimately come to rest upon itself in equilibrium in the direction of the non-arranged-unconscious (which is the materialist solution), or in the direction of the Arranged-conscious (which is the spiritual solution)?

Vital though this problem is for us — for it bears on real values and our real future — Science as yet refuses to make up its mind, opinions are divided. We are constantly being told that it is a matter which cannot be solved experimentally: the answer must be left to the philosophers or dictated by personal feeling.

I cannot emphasise too strongly that the problem is, on the contrary, soluble by the techniques we command provided our eyes are opened to the bio-cosmic significance of a phenomenon which is at the same time so enormous and so close to us that in the end we are completely swamped by it and entirely fail to see it. And the Phenomenon I refer to is that of human co-reflection.

Because we are born and live in the very heart of this thing that is happening, we still find it quite natural not only to think with ourselves but also, inevitably, to think with all other persons at the same time: in other words, we cannot move a finger without finding ourselves involved in the construction of a total human act that includes what we see and what we make.

We must try a different approach, first retracing our steps sufficiently, and so re-introduce into our general picture of the World the process of ‘co-conscientizing’ in which we share..

Once we do that, a perfectly clear (and strangely emancipating) indication emerges from the facts: that beneath the apparent commonplace superficiality of the Earth’s technico-social disposition, it is Evolution itself — in that aspect of it which is orientated towards the Improbable — that is extending itself with increasing speed beyond our own insignificant individual centres in the direction of a Complexity-Consciousness of planetary dimensions.

The discovery of this simple fact is of decisive importance for both our understanding and our will.

Among those who theorize about Biogenesis, there are still many who speak as though the cosmic (anti-entropic) drift into Arrangement ultimately found expression in a diversifying and dispersing expansion of living forms. If the fact of terrestrial co-reflection is correctly interpreted, however, we see that when this drift has fully developed it inevitably takes on the form of a centration of the hominized portion of the Stuff of Things, which at the same time differentiates and fosters a common unanimous mind and spirit.

Experientially, if the Universe is examined in its most advanced areas, in the direction of the Improbable, it is seen that it converges upon itself

To my mind, it is impossible to be fully an evolutionist in the

true sense of the word without seeing and admitting this ‘psychogenic’ concentration of the World upon itself.

And it is equally impossible, I may add, to arrive at an understanding of such a ‘centripetal’ form of cosmogenesis , without being obliged to recognise and accept as a fact (for a number of reasons, as much physical as psychological 2) that the Universe simultaneously takes on consistence and value in the direction, inevitably, in which it folds in upon itself— and not in the opposite direction. It is thus that a universal Flux, both unifying and irreversifying, appears and asserts its power; it transfigures the World that it illuminates, warms and consolidates — and we, too, are swept along in that Flux.

This is the higher dynamism, that controls and superanimates all the other dynamisms from within.

It provides, in fact, the neo-milieu of vision and action, for lack of which we might well fear that Anthropogenesis will lose its vigour and so wither: but within which, on the other hand, we can see that there is no further forward limit to the forces of ultra-hominization.

 

B. THE EMERGENCE OF CHRIST

I have tried in the preceding section to bring home how completely the shape of the World is transformed as soon as we make up our minds to allow the Human Phenomenon of Co-Reflection to find in it its full expression and its true place.

If we now look in an apparently completely different direction, if, that is, we move from the physical grounding of knowledge to its mystical plane, we may well consider a further point: let us see whether, perhaps, a metamorphosis of the same order (symmetrical — or even complementary) is not found to be operative in our intellectual and emotional outlook on the Universe, if we examine more attentively the Christian Phenomenon of Worship.

The Christian Phenomenon...

As a result of the progressive extension of the realm of Science by the study of comparative religion, this great event (which for nearly two thousand years has been universally regarded in the West as unique in world-history) might at first appear to be now passing through an eclipse, in the same way as did Man’s appearance in Nature during the Quaternary age, when Darwinism first came on the scene. ‘Christianity: a remarkable sort of religion, of course: but only one among many, and for only a particular period of time.’ That is what the vast majority of ‘intelligent’ persons say to themselves, and openly proclaim, more or less explicitly.

In the case of Man, all that was needed to restore the Human to its primacy — no longer at the centre, but now at the head of things — was the gradual entry into our world-view of the place and evolutive function of Reflection. In just the same way, it seems to me, Christianity is far from losing its primacy in the vast religious medley let loose by the totalization of the modem world; on the contrary it is regaining and consolidating its axial, directive, place as the spear-head of human psychic energies — so long, that is, as we allow sufficient weight to its extraordinary and effectively significant of ‘pan-amorization’.

Christian love - Christian charity.

I know very well, from my experience, the reaction — sometimes kindly, and sometimes of ill-natured incredulity — that is generally aroused when those terms are used in front of non-Christians. ‘Surely,’ is the objection we hear, ‘there is a psychological absurdity in loving God and loving the World? How, in fact, can we love the Intangible and the Universal? Further, in so far as a love of all and of the All can, more or less metaphorically, be said to be possible, is not that inner gesture already familiar to the Hindu Bakti, to the Persian Babis - and to any number of others. No, it is far from being specifically Christian.’

And yet, are not the facts there, staring us in the face, to prove to us the contrary, to prove it concretely, almost brutally?

On the one hand, whatever may be said, a love (a true love) of

God is perfectly possible; for, if it were not, all the monasteries and churches in the world would be emptied overnight, and Christianity, in spite of its framework of ritual and teaching and hierarchical order, would inevitably collapse into nothingness.

And on the other hand, this love has in Christianity something stronger than it has anywhere else. Were this not so, all the virtues and all the charms of the tenderness we find in the gospels could not have prevented the teaching of the Beatitudes and of the Cross from long ago having made way for some more assertive Creed —and more particularly for some humanism or ‘terrenism’.

Whatever may be the merits of other religions, and whatever the explanation that may be given, it is indisputable that the most ardent collective focus of love ever to appear in the World is glowing hic et nunc at the heart of the Church of God.

The facts tell us that no religious Faith releases - or ever has released at any moment in History — a higher degree of warmth, a more intense dynamism of unification than the Christianity of our own day - and the more Catholic it is, the truer my words. And logic tells us that it is perfectly natural that that should be so; for in no other Creed, present or past, can be found so miraculously and effectively associated in their power to attract and captivate us, the three following characteristics of the incarnate Christian God:

I. Tangibility in the experiential order, as the result of Christ Jesus’s historical entry (by his birth) into the very process of Evolution.

2. Expansibility in the cosmic order, conferred on the Christic Centre by the operative power of ‘resurrection’.

3. And finally, assimilative power, in the organic order, potentially integrating the totality of the human race in the unity of a single ‘body’.

It is easy enough to bring abstract criticisms against this apparently illogical mixture of primitive ‘anthropomorphism’, mythical marvel and gnostic extravagance. But the remarkable fact remains — let me emphasize this — that, however strange the combination of the three factors may appear, it holds good it works - and that you have only to diminish the reality (or even the realism) of a single one of the three confronting components for the flame of Christianity to be immediately extinguished.

When all is said and done, what constitutes the impregnable superiority of Christianity over all other types of Faith, is that it is ever more consciously identified with a Christogenesis, in other words with an awareness of the rise of a certain universal Presence which is at once immortalizing and unifying.

Here we have the exact counterpart of what was earlier disclosed to us (but in terms of ‘Flux’) by a full analysis of the Phenomenon of Man.

In the second case, the Christian, we reach an expanding Centre which is trying to find itself a sphere.

In the former, the Human, we reach a sphere that is extending deeper and deeper, and needs a centre.

Could so remarkable a complementarity be no more than a coincidence — or an illusion?

 

C. THE CHRISTIFIED UNIVERSE

First, we are aware of being contained in a World whose two halves (the physical and the mystical) are slowly closing in with planetary force upon a Mankind that is born of their approach to one another. And then we realize that we are moving into a hyper-milieu of Life, produced by the coincidence of an emergent Christ and a convergent Universe.

Here we touch the very heart of the experience I am trying to describe, from what I know myself, in this essay.

My description will be more forceful if I can put things in their proper order. Let us, then, look in turn at the following:

First, the way in which, as the process develops, the Universe and Christ — one on one side and the other on the other side —find fulfilment in their conjunction.

And secondly, how from that very conjunction a third Thing

appears (a universal Element, a universal Milieu, and a universal Countenance: all three at the same time). And how in that third Thing the most familiar categories of our activity and our understanding cease to conflict with one another and yet at the same time attain their fullest expression.

 

1. The Consummation of the Universe by Christ

Writing with full sincerity, I have already (in Section I) noted and extolled the reality and spiritualizing value of the new form of ‘cosmic sense' aroused in modern Man by the evidence that Science provides of his belonging to a convergent-type Universe.

I know as well as anyone, from my own experience, to what a degree this ‘sense of evolution’ (or ‘sense of man’) can simultaneously fill one’s mind, strengthen and exalt one. And I am therefore completely convinced that the great spiritual edifices of tomorrow can be constructed (and will in fact be constructed) only if we start from this new element and use it as our foundation.

For a number of important reasons, however, I am still doubtful whether, left to itself, our consciousness (however intense it may be in each one of us) of sharing in a planetary Flux of co-reflection is capable of building up the sort of religion that has been foretold with such warmth and brilliance by my friend Julian Huxley: to which he has given the name of ‘evolutionary humanism’.

Let me explain why I say this: either of two things may convince us that a higher Pole of completion and consolidation (which we may call Omega) awaits us at the higher term of Hominization; those two are the specific curve followed by the cosmic milieu in which we are involved, and the absolute necessity of being irreversible which is inherent in our reflective Action. Nevertheless, however strongly convinced we may be of the existence of this Omega Pole, we can never in the end reach it except by extrapolation: it remains by nature conjectural, it remains a postulate.

There is the further reason that even if Omega is accepted as ‘guaranteed in its future existence’, our hopes can envisage its features only in a vague and misty way; in our picture of it the Collective and Potential are dangerously mixed up with the Personal and Real.

What, on the other hand, do we find if our minds can embrace simultaneously both contemporary neo-Christianity and contemporary neo-Humanism, and so first suspect and then accept as proved that the Christ of Revelation is none other than the Omega of Evolution?

Forthwith, we both see with our minds and feel with our hearts that the experiential Universe is once and for all activized and plenified.

On the one hand, we can indeed begin to distinguish above us the positive gleam of a way out at the highest point of the future. There is no longer any danger of our suffocating, for we are in a World whose peak certainly opens out in Christo Jesu.

And on the other, what comes down to us from those heights is not merely air for our lungs; it is the radiance of a love. The World, therefore, is not simply a place in which a Life can breathe because its power to look into the future has been aroused; we can now see its evolutive summit and so feel its absorbing magnetic attraction.

Speaking in terms of energy, we have to recognise that Christ intervenes today at exactly the right moment not only to save Man from revolt against Life, justifiably prompted by the mere threat, the mere suspicion, of a total death — but also to give him that most forceful stimulus without which, it would appear, Thought cannot attain the planetary term of its Reflection.

It is Christ, in very truth, who saves,

— but should we not immediately add that at the same time it is Christ who is saved by

Evolution?

2. The Consummation of Christ by the Universe

Christian tradition is unanimous that there is more in the total Christ than Man and God. There is also He who, in his ‘theandric’ being, gathers up the whole of Creation: in quo omnia constant.

Hitherto, and in spite of the dominant position accorded to it by St Paul in his view of the World, this third aspect or function - we might even say, in a true sense of the words, this third ‘nature' of Christ (neither human nor divine, but cosmic) — has not noticeably attracted the explicit attention of the faithful or of theologians.

Things have changed today: we now see how the Universe, along all the lines known to us experientially, is beginning to grow to fantastic dimensions, so that the time has come for Christianity to develop a precise consciousness of all the hopes stimulated by the dogma of the Universality of Christ when it is enlarged to this new scale, and of all the difficulties, too, that it raises.

Hopes, of course: because, if the World is becoming so dauntingly vast and powerful, it must follow that Christ is very much greater even than we used to think.

But difficulties, too: because, in a word, how can we conceive that Christ ‘is immensified’ to meet the demands of our new Space-Time, without thereby losing his personality — that side of him that calls for our worship — and without in some way evaporating?

It is precisely here that in a flash there comes into the picture the astounding, emancipating, harmony between a religion that is Christic, and an Evolution that is convergent, in type.

Were the World a static Cosmos — or if, again, it formed a divergent system — the only relations we could invoke as a basis for Christ’s Primacy over Creation would be (make no mistake about this) by nature conceptual and juridical. He would be Christ the king of all things because he has been proclaimed to be such — and not because any organic relationship of dependence exists (or could even conceivably exist) between Him and a Multiplicity that is fundamentally irreducible.

From such an ‘extrinsical’ point of view, one could hardly, with any honesty, speak of a Christic ‘cosmicity’.

But if, on the other hand, and as the facts make certain, the Universe — our Universe 3 — does indeed form a sort of biological ‘vortex’ dynamically centred upon itself, then we cannot fail to see the emergence at the system’s temporo-spatial peak, of a unique and unparalleled position, where Christ, effortlessly and without distortion, becomes literally and with unprecedented realism, the Pantocrator.

Starting from an evolutive Omega at which we assume Christ to stand, not only does it become possible to conceive Christ as radiating physically over the terrifying totality of things but, what is more, that radiation must inevitably work up to a maximum of penetrative and activating power.

Once he has been raised to the position of Prime Mover of the evolutive movement of complexity-consciousness, the cosmic-Christ becomes cosmically possible. And at the same time, ipso facto, he acquires and develops in complete plenitude, a veritable omnipresence of transformation. For each one of us, every energy and everything that happens, is superanimated by his influence and his magnetic power. To sum up, Cosmogenesis reveals itself, along the line of its main axis, first as Biogenesis and then Noogenesis, and finally culminates in the Christogenesis which every Christian venerates.

And then there appears to the dazzled eyes of the believer the eucharistic mystery itself, extended infinitely into a veritable universal transubstantiation, in which the words of the Consecration are applied not only to the sacrificial bread and wine but, mark you, to the whole mass of joys and sufferings produced by the Convergence of the World as it progresses.

And it is then, too, that there follow in consequence the possibilities of a universal Communion.

3. The Divine Milieu

Hitherto Man had tried only two roads in his efforts to unite himself to the Divine. The first was to escape from the World into the ‘beyond’. The second, on the other hand, was to allow himself to dissolve into things and so be united with them monistically. What else, in fact, could man try, in a cosmic economy if he wished to escape from the internal and external multiplicity that was tormenting him?

By contrast, from the moment when the Universe, through Cosmogenesis directed upon a Christic Omega, assumes for us the shape of a truly convergent whole, a third and completely new road opens up by which the ‘mystic’ may arrive at total unity. And (since the whole Sphere of the World is precisely a Centre in process of centration upon itself) that road is to give all one’s strength and all one’s heart to coinciding with the Focus of universal unification, as yet diffuse but nevertheless already in existence.

With the Christified Universe (or, which comes to the same thing, with the universalized Christ) an evolutive super-milieu appears — which I have called ‘the Divine Milieu’ — and it is now essential that every man should fully understand the specific properties (or ‘charter’) of that milieu, which are themselves linked with the emergence of completely new psychic dimensions.

All that I have just been saying leads up to this, that what basically characterizes the Divine Milieu is that it constitutes a dynamic reality in which all opposition between Universal and Personal is being wiped out, but not by any confusion of the two: the multiple ‘reflected’ elements of the World attaining their fulfilment, each one still within its own infinitesimal ego, by integrant accession to the Christic Ego, towards which the totality of Participated Being gravitates; and in so doing, the Participated, in consummating itself, consummates that Ego too.

By virtue of this total inter-linking of convergence, no elementary ego can move closer to the Christic Centre without causing the entire global sphere to be compressed more tightly; similarly, the Christic Centre cannot even begin to communicate itself more fully to the least of the World’s elements, without causing itself to be contained more strictly within the entire integument of concrete realities.

Whether rising or descending, every operation (because of the very curvature of the particular ‘space’ within which it finds completion) is ultimately pan-humanizing and pan-Christifying at the same tune.

So true is this, that to the ‘informed eye’ all opposition is blurred between attachment and detachment, between action and prayer, between centration upon self and excentration upon the Other.

And this because God can in future be experienced and apprehended (and can even, in a true sense, be completed) by the whole ambient totality of what we call Evolution - in Christo Jesu...

This is still, of course, Christianity and always will be, but a Christianity re-incarnated for the second time (Christianity, we might say, squared) in the spiritual energies of Matter. It is precisely the ‘ultra-Christianity’ we need here and now to meet the ever more urgent demands of the ‘ultra-human’.

 

D. THE RELIGION OF TOMORROW

Although we are not as alive to it as we should be, the key question that is beginning to present itself to Mankind in process of planetary arrangement, is a problem of spiritual activation. In our recent mastery of the Atomic we have reached the primordial sources of the Energy of Evolution. This decisive victory cannot be carried to its conclusion unless, to match it at the other pole of things, we find a way to increase the Drive of Evolution to an equal degree within the Noosphere. New powers call for new aspirations. If Mankind is to use its new access of physical power with balanced control, it cannot do without a rebound of intensity in its eagerness to act, to seek, to create.

For a reflective being, such an eagerness for self-fulfilment can fundamentally be found only in the expectation of a supreme Summit of consciousness which can be attained, and so provide a permanent home.

And such a hope-inspired faith in some future consummation cannot, in turn, take any form but that of a ‘religion’ in the truest, and most psychologically apt, meaning of the word.

A Religion of Evolution: that, when all is said and done, is what Man needs ever more explicitly if he is to survive and super-live’, as soon as he becomes conscious of his power to ultra-hominize himself and of his duty to do so.

‘In a system of cosmo-noo-genesis, the comparative value of religious creeds may be measured by their respective power of evolutive activation.’

If we use this criterion, where, among the various currents of modern thought, can we hope to find, if not the fullness at least the germ, of what (judging by its power to ultra-hominize) may be regarded as the Religion of tomorrow?

In this order of ideas, we immediately meet a fact which it is impossible to reject. It is this: the sort of Faith that is needed, in terms of energy, for the correct functioning of a totalized human world has not yet been satisfactorily formulated in any quarter at all — neither among the religions of the Ahead (Marxist and other Humanisms) nor among the religions of the Above (the various theisms and pantheisms).

When I say ‘neither among the religions of the Ahead’, I speak advisedly. It may be because they are nervous of admitting the reality of a biological convergence of Mankind upon itself and the consequences that this entails; or it may be because they persist in seeing in the evolutive rise of the Psychic no more than an ephemeral epi-phenomenon: whatever the reason, all the existing forms of Humanism (even the least materialist) are demonstrably equally incapable of giving Man the stimulus of confidence that is indispensable to his advance towards a supremely desirable and —what is even more important — indestructible goal, lying at the term of his activities. Whether the reason be the depersonalizing socializing of individuals or the unexorcized threat of a total death, there is not a single one of the ‘religions’ as yet produced by Science in which the Universe does not become hopelessly icy, hopelessly closed (and that ultimately means uninhabitable) ahead, in its ‘polar’ zones. There you have the truth!

Nor, let me add, among the religions of the Above. For (and in this direction we may confine ourselves to the most significant and the most promising instance, by which I mean ‘classical’ Christianity) it is becoming every day more obvious that our generation finds something lacking in an Evangelism infected with a near-Manichaeanism, in which the advances of Knowledge and Technology are presented not as a primary accompanying condition of human spiritualization, but simply as an added extra; in which failure is regarded as on the same level with success, endowed with just as much, if not more, sanctifying value; in which the Cross is constantly held up before us to remind us of our world’s initial miscarriage; in which the Parousia floats on the horizon in an atmosphere of coming catastrophe rather than of fulfilment.

We must admit that if the neo-humanisms of the twentieth century de-humanize us under their uninspired skies, yet on the other hand the still-living forms of theism - starting with the Christian — tend to under-humanize us in the rarified atmosphere of too lofty skies. These religions are still systematically closed to the wide horizons and great winds of Cosmogenesis, and can no longer truly be said to feel with the Earth - an Earth whose internal frictions they can still lubricate like a soothing oil, but whose driving energies they cannot animate as they should.

It is here that the power of the ‘Christic’ bursts into view - in the form in which it has emerged from what we have been saying, engendered by the progressive coming together, in our

consciousness, of the cosmic demands of an incarnate Word and the spiritual potentialities of a convergent Universe. We have already seen how a strictly governed amalgam is effected, in the Divine Milieu, between the forces of Heaven and the forces of Earth. An exact conjunction is produced between the old God of the Above and the new God of the Ahead.

Indeed, once we cease to isolate Christianity and to oppose it to the moving, once we resolutely connect it up to the World in movement, then, however obsolete it may appear to our modem Gentiles, it instantly and completely regains its original power to activate and attract.

And this is because, once that ‘coupling’ has been effected, it is only Christianity, of all the forms of worship born in the course of human history, that can display the astonishing power of energising to the full, by ‘amorizing’ them, both the powers of growth and life and the powers of diminishment and death, at the heart of, and in the process of, the Noogenesis in which we are involved.

As I said before, it is still, and will always be, Christianity: but a ‘re-born’ Christianity, as assured of victory tomorrow as it was in its infancy — because it alone (through the double power, at last fully understood, of its Cross and Resurrection) is capable of becoming the Religion whose specific property it is to provide the driving force in Evolution.

 

CONCLUSION: THE PROMISED LAND5

Energy, then, becomes Presence.

And so the possibility is disclosed for, opens out for, Man, not only of believing and hoping but (what is much more unexpected and much more valuable) of loving, coextensively and co-organically with all the past, the present and the future of a Universe which is in process of concentration upon itself.

It would seem that a single ray of such a light falling like a spark, no matter where, on the Noosphere, would be bound to produce an explosion of such violence that it would almost instantaneously set the face of the Earth ablaze and make it completely new.

How is it, then, that as I look around me, still dazzled by what I have seen, I find that I am almost the only person of my kind, the only one to have seen? And so I cannot, when asked, quote a single writer, a single work, that gives a clearly expressed description of the wonderful ‘Diaphany’ that has transfigured everything for me?

How, most of all, can it be that ‘when I come down from the mountain’ and in spite of the glorious vision 1 still retain, I find that I am so little a better man, so little at peace, so incapable of expressing in my actions, and thus adequately communicating to others, the wonderful unity that I feel encompassing me?

Is there, in fact, a Universal Christ, is there a Divine Milieu?

Or am I, after all, simply the dupe of a mirage in my own mind?

I often ask myself that question.

Every time, however, that I begin to doubt, three successive waves of evidence rise up from the deep within me to counter that doubt, sweeping away from my mind the mistaken fear that my ‘Christic’ may be no more than an illusion.

First, there is the evidence provided by the coherence that this ineffable element (or Milieu) introduces into the underlying depths of my mind and heart. As, of course, I know only too well, in spite of the ambitious grandeur of my ideas, I am still, in practice, imperfect to a disturbing degree. For all the claims implicit in its expression, my faith does not produce in me as much real charity, as much calm trust, as the catechism still taught to children produces in the humble worshipper kneeling beside me. Nevertheless I know, too, that this sophisticated faith, of which I make such poor use, is the only faith I can tolerate, the only faith that can satisfy me — and even (of this I am certain) the only faith that can meet the needs of the simple souls, the good folk, of tomorrow.

Next there is the evidence provided by the contagious power

of a form of Charity in which it becomes possible to love God ‘not only with all one’s body and all one’s soul’ but with the whole Universe-in-evolution. It would be impossible for me, as I admitted earlier, to quote a single ‘authority’ (religious or lay) in which I could claim fully to recognise myself, whether in relation to my ‘cosmic’ or my ‘Christic’ vision. On the other hand, I cannot fail to feel around me — if only from the way in which ‘my ideas’ are becoming more widely accepted — the pulsation of countless people who are all — ranging from the border-line of unbelief to the depths of the cloister - thinking and feeling, or at least beginning vaguely to feel, just as I do. It is indeed heartening to know that I am not a lone discoverer, but that I am, quite simply, responding to the vibration that (given a particular condition of Christianity and of the world) is necessarily active in all the souls around me. It is, in consequence, exhilarating to feel that I am not just myself or all alone, that my name is legion, that I am ‘all men’, and that this is true even in as much as the single-mindedness of tomorrow can be recognized as throbbing into life in the depths of my being.

Finally, there is the evidence contained in the superiority of my vision compared with what I had been taught - even though there is at the same time an identity with it. Because of their very function, neither the God who draws us to himself, nor the world whose evolution we share, can afford to be, the former less perfect a Being, the latter less powerful a stimulant, than our concepts and needs demand. In either case — unless we are going to accept a positive discord in the very stuff of things — it is in the direction of the fullest that the truth lies. Now, as we saw earlier, it is in the ‘Christic’ that, in the century in which we are living, the Divine reaches the summit of adorability, and the evolutionary the extreme limit of activation. This can mean only one thing, that it is in that direction that the human must inevitably incline; there, sooner or later, to find unity.

Once that is understood, I immediately find a perfectly natural explanation for my isolation and apparent idiosyncrasy.

Everywhere on Earth, at this moment, in the new spiritual atmosphere created by the appearance of the idea of evolution, there float, in a state of extreme mutual sensitivity, love of God and faith in the world: the two essential components of the Ultra-human. These two components are everywhere ‘in the air’; generally, however, they are not strong enough, both at the same time, to combine with one another in one and the same subject. In me, it happens by pure chance (temperament, upbringing, background) that the proportion of the one to the other is correct, and the fusion of the two has been effected spontaneously - not as yet with sufficient force to spread explosively — but strong enough nevertheless to make it clear that the process is possible — and that sooner or later there will be a chain-reaction.

This is one more proof that Truth has to appear only once, in one single mind, for it to be impossible for anything ever to prevent it from spreading universally and setting everything ablaze.

New York, March 1955

1. In The Heart of Matter (above) I have tried to describe, more or less autobiographically, the general process and the principal stages of this ‘apparition’.

2. The physical reasons are structural: it is the nature of union to consolidate - so long as the unification continues. And the psychological reasons are based on logical necessity: if the biological unification of the World could be conceived as being bound sooner or later to come to a halt, the anticipation of such an ending (see below) would be sufficient to produce an us an abhorrence of super-living and so kill our evolutive effort of co-reflection.

3. And probably (in so far as to create is to unify) every possible Universe.

4. Cf. The Priest in Writings in Time of War, pp. 203—24. (Ed.’s note)

Soon after the end of the World War I, Pere Teilhard had discerned, from the summit his thoughts had reached, the emergence of the other Earth:

‘I shall advance into the future with the new strength of my twofold faith as man and as Christian: for, from the mountain peak, I have seen the Promised Land.’ Goldscheuer (Baden) February In Writings in Time of War, p. 288. (Ed.’s. note)


from The Analysis of Life

translated by Rene Hague

Nothing in the world around us is more obvious than the existence - indeed, the fact - of life: and nevertheless nothing is more elusive, more difficult to pin down, than this same life when we try to handle it by the general methods of science.

Thus the whole phenomenon of consciousness, when submitted to scientific investigation, gives the impression of dissolving and melting away, like an illusion, in the uniform flood of a universal determinism: as well might one try to grasp a rainbow.

Initially, the play of chance which shuffles the grains of energy continues unaltered; but once two particles of appropriate psychic affinity happen to brush against one another within their 'radius of choice' (and in its effective angle), then, exercising choice, they will fasten on to one another. And so a movement is triggered off which nothing can then halt.

In truth, if we study it carefully, all life, and all thought, is simply the seizing and organizing of chance.

...so far as we can see at present, a planetized mankind would appear to be the highest term.

Papers [1]

 

Teilhard de Chardin and the Noosphere by Rev. Phillip J. Cunningham, C.S.P.

 

  Is Noogenesis Progressing?  by Maria Luiza Glycerio and Janice B. Paulsen

 

Aristotle, Teilhard de Chardin, and the Explanation of the World by Dr. A.B. Kelly

 

  Teilhard’s Gnosis:  Cosmogenesis by Beatrix Murrell

 

Teilhard de Chardin- Prophet of the Information Age by John A.Gowan

 

From Information Highways to Songlines of the Noosphere: Global configuration of hypertext pathways as a prerequisite for meaningful collective transformation by Anthony Judge

 

The Ecology of Consciousness by James V. Hardt Ph.D.

 

The Evolution of Consciousness:  Teilhard and Sri Aurobindo Compared by M. Alan Kazlev

 

Views on Creation: Some aspects of Teilhard's approach by Brian Cowan

 



[1] Links to external sources.

 

[2] Translated by Bernard Wall.  Harper and Row Publishers Inc.

[3] Originally adapted from http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~alfar/Christic.htm

 

 

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