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Teilhard de Chardin: The Energies of Love and Unity Teilhard de Chardin: The Energies of Love and Unity
by Rene Wadlow
2018-05-01 06:27:18
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Some day, after mastering winds, waves, tides and gravity,
we shall harnes for God the energies of love, and then,
for the second time in the history of the world man will have discovered fire.
Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955)

Little  in the background and early life of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, whose birth anniversary we mark on 1 May seemed to prepare him for becoming the champion of the uniting energy of love.  He was born in the French Massif Central, the son of landed  aristocracy which had to make of family pride what they lacked in wealth.  "Fiery their force and heavenly their home" was the family motto.  Pierre grew up in a family milieu that reflected his social class: narrow, provincial, on the defensive against the rising power of the French bourgeoisie that held political power.

At 11 years of age, he was sent away to a Jesuit boarding school whose motto was "God's will is my will."  The school was known for training boys, many of whom became military  officers in an army that was anti-democratic and spent its time divided equally between plotting  a revenge war against Germany and plotting to overthrow the French Republic.  Pierre became a Jesuit priest and then a paleontologist-geologist.  He spent much of his working  life in China as a paleontologist and as a scientist is remembered for his work on the "Pekin Man".

dechar01_400However, what is remarkable and an inspiration for us today is how he moved from a background that was narrow, fearful and restricted to become a person of wider vision, with a hopeful heart and an open mind.  During his life, the Catholic Church and the Jesuit Order forbade Teilhard de Chardin to publish his philosophical writings or to accept an offer to teach at the Collège de France - the inner temple of French intellectual life.  Teilhard's view of a Cosmic Christ, of a new evolutionary stage in human consciousness, of the earth as a single organism brought fear  to the dogmatic church authorities of his day.  After leaving China at the end of the Second World War, he was sent to do research in New York City.  The Jesuit authorities knew that he spoke very little English so he would not be corrupting others by his talks.  Teilhard accepted the prohibition to publish as he remained loyal to the promises of discipline that he had made when he became a Jesuit.  However, he felt that the promises held only during his life time.  He found in New York a man who had been the Ambassador of the Netherlands in China during some of the time that Teilhard was in China.  The Dutch Ambassador was a Protestant, and Teilhard left him all his unpublished philosophical writings to have published. 

Thus Teilhard's writings came out only after his 1955 death in New York. Unfortunately, he was not able to reply to critics or to explain passages which were unclear.  Nevertheless, his writings have gained in influence, including in the Jesuit Order and among the clergy in general. (1)

Teilhard was particularly concerned with the role of love in the evolutionary development of the world as the energy of both unification and personalization.  For Teilhard, love was not an emotion but the basic, primal, universal psychic energy.  This concept is drawn from Chinese culture.  The Chinese word jen ,a term translated as love, benevolence or affection, is not only an emotional moral term, but is also a cosmic force - a quality that is the very structure of the earth. (2)

For Teilhard, it is the energy of love which unites what is separated, but love will constantly have to struggle against the forces of dispersion - egoism, pleasure-seeking, hate - which seek to widen further an already existing divide.  As he wrote in an early essay "L'Eternel féminin" Everything in the universe come to be through union and fecundity - through the coming together of two elements which seek each other out and which through their union are reborn in the form of a new reality.

The impulse of love is to share, to cooperate, and to distribute, the base of what I call World Citizen Values.

 **********************************

Notes

1) See the biography: Robert Speaight. The Life of Teilhard de Chardin

    (New York: 1967)

2) See Usula King. Toward a new Mysticism: Teilhard de Chardin and the Eastern Religions (London 1980)

 **********************************

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens


    
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