Monday, October 19, 2015

Hunter or Hunted?

Some years ago I wrote an extensive essay 'In Support of Teilhard de Chardin'.  It was during the time when the Catholic Church officially resisted his work.  I concluded that essay with this poem and now follow up my Teilhard series with it.

Man, the Hunter or the Hunted? 

Man craves the certainty of life’s meaning
            but this instinct of soul knows no satisfaction.
The hunger for Truth, the thirst for Knowledge—
            aspects of our need for certainty of meaning.
We can run from it, try to ignore it,
            or seek to appease it in filling our minds with facts
But behind all our actions and beneath whatever facade we construct
            is that restless search for certainty of meaning.

We are born to reason.  Freely and without asking for it
            this great gift is given—no, thrust upon us.
Before this reason our task is to assemble evidence—
            evidence which requires deduction and assumption.
Even in the face of certainty, reason refuses acceptance
            until accompanied by evidence with which to evaluate and conclude;
Thus ever with reason, we must try to appease our yearning for certainty
            for reason is born with the human soul.

Yet meaning comes not from man, but outside and beyond.
            All being, from atoms to galaxies, bespeaks order.
The very existence of order demands the attention of reason—
            uninvited and unavoidable, meaning seeks man.
The order—undiscerningly, silently, insistently—simply by being
            pursues and encircles man, until he finds it;
And in the search wherein the hunter is hunted
            it is required that one find his origins and chart his destiny.

But meaning is too vast—it implies a total, One Whole;
            endless, yet around and back upon itself.
Existence draws a horizon so man sees a flat world—
            and seeing he believes; yet something won’t permit him to rest
So he is driven to reach beyond the horizon
            to complete the circle he cannot see, and to know!
All the time thinking that he, man,
            has embarked upon a search of his own choosing.

Such is man’s eternal destiny—to seek meaning.
            Throughout time, men pursue what no one man can find.
Armored with faith and doing battle with reason—
            man seeks the hidden meaning which from the beginning enveloped him.
He must conquer the world and embrace the universe
            to deduct the certainty which is already there.
Life . . . the struggle to expand men and unify man
            that in totality Man and Meaning become One.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Teilhard Series - 7th

In this, the seventh and final of my Teilhard series, I focus on the most central of his themes—Love
            God is Love=Love is God
            Love is the energy of existence
            Love is the affinity of being-to-being

We have yet to understand love.  The contemporary world has misled us with overly sentimentalized, romanticized versions of love or has falsely applied love’s name to self-gratification.  We are closer to love’s reality at the joy of sharing experiences, thoughts and goals with another, of reaching out to give comfort, of working cooperatively toward a ‘good’ that is beyond self-interest and of saying ‘Amen’ to the wonder of creation.

Love is a ‘within’ quality—of the subjective realm—it cannot be weighed and measured, only experienced and so in the world of science it has no place and is as ill-defined as consciousness (of which it is a part).

Teilhard invites us to regard the ‘within’ as having supreme value, only it can awaken us to that new dimension to which the human is being called.  We are not just another species on an equal plane with all others.  We are more than bone and muscle and organs; with fully matured consciousness and the awareness of love, we are participants in the creative process.  We have been charged with shepherding our earth and creating our world. What we create is dependent upon our ability to realize our interconnectedness to this singular whole web of life.

Evolution begins with attraction and union; there follows a process of development.  That development (whether of species or individual) follows the law of complexity-consciousness, unfolding the pre-ordained possibilities of increased abilities and freedom.  Throughout the process, movement is toward greater being.

Looking back to the earliest and simplest level we see only a mysterious attraction propelling atoms to cluster and form molecules, then molecules joining to form cells.  Teilhard has stated that nothing comes to be in final form that had not pre-existed in an obscure and primordial way—there is a striving in coming to be.  Here we consider that attraction and union appears to be the driving force (energy) of the evolutionary process.  Teilhard states “The affinity of being with being . . . is a general property of all of life and as such it embraces . . . all forms successively adopted by organized matter . . .”; a complex concept which means ‘attraction to wholeness is everywhere in everything.’  That attraction that calls subatomic particles of protons, electrons and neutrons to join and form atoms, then atoms to join together to form molecules and molecules to cluster to form cells—that primitive attraction, over millions of years, came to be realized in ‘hominized’ form (human consciousness) as love—and continues to draw us together to realize our interconnectedness as part of our mandate to build a sustainable world.  Teilhard’s understanding of evolution and his vision of its trajectory gives hope to the future.

I conclude with one of Teilhard’s best-known quotes:

“Some day 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.”