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object:Toward the Future
author class:Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
subject class:Christianity
subject class:Science

Toward the Future
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Toward the Future
Translated by Ren6 Hague

A Harvest Book • Harcourt, Inc.
A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book
San Diego New York London

Foreword by N. M. Wildiers
The Sense of Man
The Road of the West
The Evolution of Chastity
The Function of Art as an Expression of Human Energy
The Awaited Word
A Note on the Concept of Christian Perfection
Reflections on Happiness
Can Moral Science Dispense with a Metaphysical Foundation?
The Spiritual Contribution of the Far East
Two Principles and a Corollary
My Fundamental Vision
Some Notes on the Mystical Sense
A Summary of My 'PhenomenologicaT View of the World



As a student of the phenomenon of man, Teilhard de Chardin
constantly refused to see in reflective consciousness a mere
epiphenomenon, a mere accident thrown up by nature, un-
related to the underlying structure of our universe. He was, on
the contrary, atpains to integrate this 'redoubtable phenomenon
which has revolutionized the earth and is commensurate with
the world' 1 into the general structure of the world, and to dis-
close its origins, through the tentative gropings of evolution,
in the very texture of primitive matter. In Teilhard's view,
reflective consciousness was by no means what Professor
Jacques Monod would have us believe, an anomaly or a second-
ary phenomenon in nature: it was a central phenomenon, re-
vealing with peculiar clarity the mysterious forces contained in
matter. With Sir John Eccles, the great brain specialist and
1963 Nobel Prize winner, he might well have said: 'My philo-
sophical position is diametrically opposite to those who would
relegate conscious experience to the meaningless role of an
epiphenomenon/ 2

There was another thing which fascinated Teilhard even
more than did the origins and slow maturing of consciousness
through the evolution of life: this was the contemporary
spectacle of the manifestations of spirit within a mankind that
has at last achieved maturity. Wherever he looked, he could

Christianity and Evolution (Collins, London, and Harcourt Brace Jo vanovich, New
York, 1971). p. 105.

^Pacing Reality (English Universities Press, London, 1972, and Springer Verlag, New
York, 1970), p. 1.


see spirit at work; in every quarter, with unprecedented vigour
and prodigality, a manifest rise of spirit was apparent in the
unfolding of new ideas and the realization of new projects.
Never, in its whole existence, had mankind known an age
that could compare with ours. One had only to consider the
progress in the fields of science and technology, the many de-
termined attempts to create a juster and more peaceful society,
or the richness and variety of all that the living arts contribute.
Seen on the scale of the history of mankind, our own age
appeared to Teilhard to constitute a real revolution. A new
era, profoundly different from all that had gone before us,
had just been inaugurated. The noosphere was beginning to
disclose its true dimensions and to reveal its possibilities for the
future. Spellbound, Teilhard set to work in an unflagging
effort to understand this entrancing drama as it unfolded before
him, and correctly to appraise all the manifestations of spirit -
whether in the field of scientific research, or in the lines along
which effort was being applied to the improvement of political
and social structure, or, again, in the area of literary and artistic
creation: and this both in the East and in the West, in the New
World and in the Old. Everywhere the same drive could be
seen, the same enthusiasm for work, everywhere one and the
same hopeful expectation of progress and achievement.

Sooner or later, someone will have to undertake a study of
Teilhard as a witness and observer of his own age. His essays
and letters abound in interesting comments, with much
valuable analysis of our present situation. His eye for reality,
his openness to the life of his own time, his constant concern
with historical movements show a characteristic side of his
intellectual attitude. An endless list could be made of the
events and tendencies whose meaning and significance he made


a real effort to understand: the First World War, the great
political currents of the twentieth century, fascism, nazism,
communism and the struggle for a true democracy, the
awakening of the Asiatic nations, China in particular (he fore-
told her rebirth and the part she was soon to play in world
affairs), and, most important of all, the great discoveries in
astronomy, astro-physics, nuclear physics and biology. We can
well imagine the enthusiasm with which Teilhard would have
welcomed the age of the first inter-planetary expeditions and
of the cracking of the genetic code had he but lived long
enough to witness them. His view of the future was based not
so much on study and interpretation of the past as on searching
analysis of the great changes that were being effected in con-
temporary mankind. All around him, he could detect the
symptoms that pointed to a 'rebound of evolution', and the
indications of a deep undertow which was sooner or later to
carry us to the full development of the 'super-mankind' whose
birth he foresaw.

It would be difficult to exaggerate the realist and factual
character of Teilhard's forecast of the future development of
the noosphere. Underlying all the events he studied, he dis-
cerned the same design and the same basic trend: progressive
unification of mankind, intensification of collective conscious-
ness, birth of a socialized mankind, and, finally, movement
towards the convergent structure of evolution as it seeks out
its cosmic centre. Thus it is that spiritual energy, far from
coming to a halt or sinking back, is active in mankind, and is
continuing to evolve and to progress towards its full realization.

This new situation in which man found himself called for a
new attitude towards life on his part, a new moral philosophy.
Our traditional moral concepts originated from and were based


upon faith in a cosmic order which was accepted as stable and
inviolable; it was a sacrosanct expression of the Creator's will,
to which man had to submit unreservedly. Today, however,
we see the universe in a very different light, not as a final,
inevitable order, but as an order to be designed and created by
man himself, for the purpose of his own fuller development.
A moral philosophy based on the existence of a pre-existent
natural order, serving as a model and a rule for man's activity,
was meaningless except as part of a concept of the world which
had permanently lost all validity. No moral philosophy was
adapted to a forward-moving mankind which was puzzling
out its road and trying to discover its true destiny, except one
of effort, of achievement, of hazard and progress. The present
crisis in moral attitude stems entirely from the fact that we
have not yet grown accustomed to this new situation, and that
we are not yet sufficiently clear-sighted and courageous to
accept its consequences. In spite of our doubts and hesitations,
this new concept of moral behaviour, based on man's responsi-
bility in relation to his own destiny, will ultimately, and
inevitably, have to be accepted; for it alone fits logically into
the structure of our concept of the world.

Teilhard had a clear appreciation of this new situation. Not
only was he fully aware of its importance, but he was anxious
also to focus attention on all the consequences it entailed, and
to make us alive to the changes it called for from us. Thus he
distinguished two forms of humanism. The Middle Ages and
the Renaissance had known a humanism of balance, which
placed man's moral perfection in his conformity with the
natural order of the world. Our own age had seen the birth
of a new form of humanism: the humanism of achievement,
which measured the value of a human life not by the degree of



equilibrium it had succeeded in attaining, but rather by its
contribution to the progress and spiritual growth of mankind.
The humanism of balance had seen evil as refusal to adapt one-
self to a pre-existing order; the humanism of achievement saw
evil as refusal to contribute, according to one's capabilities, to
the progress of mankind as it advances towards its true destiny.

In Teilhard's view, a similar transformation was becoming
discernible in our concept of the Christian life. In the past,
Christianity had been above all a religion of order. The funda-
mental question that Christians asked themselves had always
been the same: what is the significance of Christ in a world
which was created in a perfect order but has been upset by
original sin? The answer was unambiguous: Christ had come
to restore the order destroyed by sin, and to lead the world
back to its primitive perfection. According to Teilhard, the
fundamental question which the Christian of today asks
himself is very different. Henceforth he must ask: what is the
significance of Christ in an evolving world, at the heart of a
mankind which is seeking for its future? A theology which
started from such an expression of its fundamental question
could not but lead to a new understanding of the Christian
mystery. We know how Teilhard answered the question: for
him, Christ had come into this world not to restore a primitive
order which had never in fact existed, but to guide and in-
vigorate the evolution of mankind by giving it its true centre
and its true goal.

Thus Christianity became for Teilhard the religion of pro-
gress, the religion of evolution. Science teaches us about an
evolution; Christianity teaches us about a 'super-evolution'. 3
Just as we needed a neo-humanism, so we needed a *neo-



Christianity', a Christianity freed at last from 'the slavery
imposed on us by a certain group of accepted scholastic
formulas', 4 a Christianity commensurate with the dimensions
of our world. What we were living through in the Church
was precisely, according to Teilhard, this slow but irresistible
transformation of a religion of order into a religion of evolution
and of progress. That was why, with all the vigour he could
command, he called for the emergence of a new type of
Christian, one freed from the strait-jacket of mediaeval
theology, and now capable of fulfilling his real mission, which
is the building-up of the world in Christ

The essays contained in this volume of Teilhard's writings
derive entirely from his eager concern to disclose the true
meaning of our age and to arouse in us the 'sense of man and
sense of the Christian 9 without which our lives cannot be lived
with all the fullness of our time. That is why Teilhard will
always be for us one of the great witnesses to this spiritual
revolution which is now being effected, and whose manifesta-
tions, baffling and, indeed, distressing though they may some-
times appear, are nevertheless a continual source to us of
boundless 'joy and hope*.

Docteur en Th&logie

'The Making of a Mind (Collins, London, and Harper & Row, New York, 1965),
p. *44-



€ Non veni solvere sed adimplere? 1

There are 'events' in the human mass, just as there are in the
world of organic matter, or in the crust of the earth, or in the
stellar universe; and so there are also certain privileged beings
who are present at and share in such events. It would have been
possible for a witness, positioned further back in duration -
provided his observation extended over a sufficiently long
period - to watch the formation of our planet, the appearance
of life, and the emergence of the human zoological type.

The purpose of what follows is to point out that we new-
comers of the twentieth century are coinciding in time and
place with a happening which is as massive as the initial forma-
tion, vitalizing, and humanizing of the earth, and is developing
at a tempo which keeps pace with our own experiences. This
happening is the awakening of the sense of man, by which
I mean that terrestrial thought is becoming conscious that
it constitutes an organic whole, endowed with the power
of growth, and both capable of and responsible for some

Such consciousness has not always existed; it has emerged
only quite recently, and yet, even so soon after its dawn, its
rays have so penetrated us that our whole interior life is now
permanently impregnated by them. It is, one might say, cast in

"I have come not to abolish but to fulfil' Matthew 5: 17.


a new mould. It is this event that I propose briefly to explain
in this essay.


There is no task more arduous for our mind (nor one that so
soon calls for an effort beyond our powers) than to emerge from
our own selves in order to meet the thought of those who are
spiritually far removed from us. What could be the inner vision
of a man for whom the earth was flat, the sky a convex bowl;
for whom space had definite limits, and time was demarcated
and homogeneous? Is there, then, anyone who could infuse
himself, without distorting it, into the soul of an inhabitant of
the ancient world, of a primitive man, or of a beast?

Today, we are so familiar with the ideas (whether properly
understood or not) of progress, of the process of becoming, that
we find it difficult not to include them among the essential
ideas which provided the intellectual foundation on which
Plato, Aristotle, or St Thomas built. If those great minds did
not enlarge on matters that mean so much to us, the explana-
tion, we might be inclined to say, is that they weighed diem
and found them beneath their notice.

Nevertheless, we find ourselves forced to accept the evidence
of history. Although Aristotle, Plato, and St Thomas may well
have been, individually, more powerful thinkers than any we
could name today, yet not one of them saw the world as we
now see it; and this because in their day the collective human-
kind of which they formed a part was not yet ripe for such a
vision. They had, of course, a certain perception of the soli-
darity of man and of the changes that take place in man. In their
view, however, these changes have never amounted to more



than accidental diversification or repetition of uniform cycles;
nor was man's solidarity anything more to them than a
theoretical or juridical bond. Until the eighteenth century (and
even after it, indeed) and for Christian thought in particular,
the fate of the individual (considered moreover almost ex-
clusively in the 'supernatural* areas of his being) completely
overshadowed the collective destinies of the whole. The affairs
of men played a large part in the thinking of the theologians
and moralists of yesterday, but (as is today still too often true)
there was no room for the affair of man, and still less for the
affair of the universe, specifically as such, and both involved as
such in the creation.

We often delude ourselves by the belief that we do not
differ mentally from the men of the century of Louis XIV. But
can you imagine any modern man who could breathe freely
under the burden of the world in which, for example, Bossuet's
vast scope of thought was perfectly at home?

For Bossuet, an unexceptionable interpreter of his own
generation, the visible world formed a completely unvarying
framework, within which, until the end of time, man was to
repeat himself, ever identical; and with no function other than
to restore to God, by intellectual obedience and temperance in their
use, the manifold objects which were harmoniously ordered
once and for all by die Creation. It is the very concept to be
found in the celebrated 'foundation' of the Spiritual Exercises
of St Ignatius; and it is the idea which still persists today in the
wording of the catechism: 'Man was created to know God, to
serve and love him, and so to attain eternal life/

But suppose we turn from Bossuet to any lay thinker you
like of the seventeenth century, and question him. He will give
us a different answer from that of die Christian doctor; yet



even so, the view he has of the world as he looks around him is
still, as it was for the great bishop, essentially individualistic
and static. Man is nothing but a witness or a sojourner on
earth, more or less observant and concerned as the case may be.

What is most characteristic of the static and fragmented
picture that coloured collective human thinking only two
centuries ago is the position accorded in those days, by believers
no less than by unbelievers, to science and research. There was
no lack, it is true, of scientists and students (nor, indeed, has
there ever been since Icarus and Prometheus), who were already
in some obscure way impelled by a deep-seated instinct for a
sacred duty. But it would not appear that these men normally
understood themselves correctly - and still less that they were
correctly understood by others.

Until the eighteenth century, the scientist was primarily the
enquirer; he was a man who was led by a harmless mania, or
by his abundant leisure, to indulge in a respectable, interesting,
but rather useless occupation. Inside the religious world, he
became the apologist, whose delight it was to catalogue the
wonders of creation, or who perhaps sought to refute op-
ponents in some field of philosophy or scripture, or again
perhaps hoped to adorn the Church with spoils won from the
secular world. Nowhere was the serious student yet what we
are now beginning to see him as: a sort of priest. 8

A moving example of individual genius stifled by the col-
lective mind of his own time was Pascal, who never broke
through this constricting outlook. How can it be that a be-
liever with such extraordinary gifts should have passed by the
mystical treasures hidden in 'the effort to know 9 without

*Bvcry work of discovery in die service of Christ, which thus hastens the growth of his
mystical body, shares in his universal priesthood (Ed.)



recognizing them? So close to us as he is in his religious self-
questionings, how can a being so profoundly human be so far
removed from us by his human faith? Pascal reproached
himself for his scientific studies. He regarded the hours spent
in physical and mathematical research as time wasted on useless
trivialities. We need hardly say more to illustrate the revolution
which in less than two centuries has destroyed the spiritual
outlook we used to adopt towards the value of the world.


If we try to arrive at some sort of understanding of how the
consciousness of man has developed in one hundred and fifty
years, and thereby at the same time to determine more closely
exactly where that consciousness is situated, we can, it seems
to me, detect the simultaneous and convergent action of a
number of factors; these appear to be independent, and yet the
way in which they work together is most remarkable.

a. First, the influence of the natural sciences, and the
discovery of time

Here, in what is perhaps the most important step, we have the
basic foundation of the progress effected by human thought in
all its history that is known to us. Until the middle of the
eighteenth century, as we said earlier, there was hardly anybody
who had any doubt but that the earth, its elements and its living
beings, was a system of fixed things, in which the only element
of growth was that of individual lives. In the world there was a
time which was homogeneous and measured by the periodic
movement of the stars. There were superficial distortions of



sensible qualities and of states of soul. Deeper than these, but
localized in time and place, there were also mutations of
substance', chemical or of other sorts. And finally, there was
the development of individual destinies. So far as change was
concerned, that was all.

The great discovery of the natural scientists, since Buflfon,
came when they realized that we could speak of life, and of
the earth, too, in terms of its age. Ever since that time, the
universe ceased to constitute an invariable mass and structure.
It was subject to a general movement (completely different
from the old sequence that ran through the golden age, the iron
age and so on), which carried it along, both in its totality and
in its parts: and this movement was not local, but deep down
in its very substance. Taken as one whole, the world was
governed by a process of development, no less than any other
organism. Mankind was confronted by things of which it could
truthfully be said that they had a past, and with equal truth,
therefore, z future.

b. The influence of the physical sciences. Mastery of
cosmic energies

Parallel with the progress of the natural sciences, and even more
rapid, there then came into play the advance of physics and
chemistry. It has more than once been pointed out (and it is,
indeed, a striking fact) that by about die end of the seventeenth
century man was not much further advanced in his knowledge
and mastery of cosmic energies than his cave-dwelling ancestors
had been. He still had only fire with which to harness artificially
die power needed for his social development. And then, in some
scores of years, suddenly everything came in a rush: electricity,



physical chemistry, radiations. It was as though a wide breach
had been made in the energy reservoirs stored up by the world.

There is no need to emphasize here the vast consequences
(whose influence is still far from being exhausted) that such an
incursion of new forces entailed in the social sphere. What
concerns us is to note the profound psychological changes it
introduced into the fabric of human consciousness.

For the first time, perhaps, since his origins, man felt that
he had real strength. After having been frightened of the
elements, he thought that he might aspire to master them. His
study of nature had opened up a vast expanse of time ahead of
him, and at that very moment he found that the physical
sciences had provided him with the power to use that future
to its full capacity.

c. The influence of the social sciences. The mass
coalescing of mankind

Man could not discover and master die forces of the world
without recognizing that he himself was the most noble and
the most formidable of the earth's energies. In fact, the short
space of time (a mere century) which sufficed to get the physical
and the natural sciences off the ground was distinguished by a
vast labour of thought and research, applied by mankind to its
own spiritual powers.

Man questioned himself about the dignity and the natural
potentialities of his activity; and he realized that the group
formed by the human race was still no more than a scattered and
dormant mass. Ignorant and inactive, individuals wore not
extending themselves to the full extent of their powers; and,
most important of all, the organized community, in which



individual resources are meant to be accumulated - where they
should provide mutual support, stimulating, we might say, a
resonance in one another, with limitless intensity and sureness
of purpose - this had not yet been constructed.

As so often happens, consciousness of this lack was simply
the form taken by a deep-seated wish - or, to speak more
accurately, it was the reflection of a vast movement towards
solidarity which already existed in outline. Man began to feel
the sprouting of his wings, and was wondering to what heights
he might not fly.

Future ages, I am sure, will see the time in which we are
living more and more clearly as marking both the end and the
beginning of a world (the end of neolithic times, as has been
well said, and the beginning of the industrial age). The im-
portance of the changes introduced on earth by the coming of
science will stand out with ever greater emphasis. But among
so many great events, there is one phenomenon which, in the
eyes of posterity, may well overshadow everything that has
been discovered in radiation and electricity: and that is the
permanent entry into operation, in our day, of inter-human
affinities - the movement, irresistible and ever increasing in
speed, which we can see for ourselves, welding peoples and
individuals one to another, for all their recalcitrance, in a more
sublime intoxication. It is the constitution, in progress at this
very moment, of the organized human bloc, powerful and
autonomous - the mass coalescing of mankind.


And now, even though the movement is as yet only in its



infancy, we may say that it is born for all time. Whatever our
reaction to it, it is here for good. After all the wild hysteria of
the great revolution and the nineteenth century's often childish
worship of progress, today, in the light shed by the discovery
of time and of energies we have mastered, and of our vision of
man's unity, we are initiates, and we are beginning to see into
ourselves and ahead of ourselves, sharply and clearly.

In earlier days (one hundred and fifty years ago) we saw our-
selves as passive and irresponsible spectators watching a great
terrestrial panorama. We were still children.

Today, we have understood that we are workers pledged to a
vast enterprise. We feel that we are living atoms in a universe
that is under way. We have become adult.

There was a first occasion, it would appear - at the time of
the Renaissance - when the sense of man tried to emerge; but
the men who were then so entranced by the countenance of the
world they had found again, misdirected their grasp. It was to
enjoy nature that they reached out so eagerly; and everything
fell to pieces in their hands. We, too, are experiencing a
passionate re-birth into the universe; but we can see more
clearly than did our ancestors, and our devotion to the universe
is a devotion to a conquest to be won and a prize to be held.
And this will be our salvation. 8

It is only too true that there are many today who are still
only vaguely aware of the new spirit which animates them.
Nevertheless, this spirit surrounds them on all sides: and even
if it does not make itself explicit in their speech, at least they
can hear its voice - or, indeed, the judgement it passes on them.
The airman who sacrifices his life in establishing an airmail

8 And it is this, too, we may note, which makes our civilization so different in its
essence from the ancient paganism of Greece, a comparison with which is sometimes



route; the climber who risks it in the conquest of Everest; the
doctor who loses a limb by exposure to X-rays; all those, in
short, who are today's pioneers of mankind are obedient,
fundamentally, to the call to co-operate in a grand triumph
which is greater than they. They tell us this in their wills, in
their last words, and in their books. 4 And we understand what
they mean - and anyone who does not understand loses our
esteem. The moral support sought in the consciousness of
forwarding the growth of the world by forwarding that of
mankind is tending to become a normal and habitual driving force
behind every human activity. What a fantastic change since the
time of Pascal and Bossuet.

It is this realization that there is a solidarity of responsibilities
and aspirations which properly constitutes the sense of man,
and we would be justified in recognizing in it the psychological
aspect, and therefore the experiential manifestation, of what
we have called elsewhere 'the noosphere*. If mankind did not,
physically and biologically, constitute a natural unit, provided
with certain specific powers of organization, how could it
produce a collective soul?

Let us, for the moment, leave the noosphere on one side,
and confine ourselves to looking rather more deeply into the
nature and the psychological import of the vast interior move-
ment whose birth and first development we have just recog-
nized. What precisely does the appearance of the sense of man
represent in the history of thought on earth?

4 To quote a few examples, taken at random: Younghusband's preface to the account
of the assault on Everest; Professor R. A. Millikan's lectures at Yale University in
1928 on 'Evolution in Science and Religion'; the last testament of an American trans-
continental airline pilot, quoted in the National Geographic Magazine in 1926; DrouuVs
dying words, "The Atlantic, the Atlantic . . •'



The answer is inevitable: it cannot be anything but a power-
ful phenomenon that belongs to the order of religion.

The nature of the sense of man is such that it brings men
closer together, and inspires them, in the expectation of a
future: in the certainty, that is to say, that something is becom-
ing a reality whose existence is not strictly demonstrable but
is nevertheless accepted with even more assurance than demon-
stration and touch could afford. The sense of man is a faith.

Its nature, again, is such that it subordinates the whole of the
activities for which it provides the basic directive force to the
preparation and service of this great thing whose emergence is
foreshadowed. The work now in progress in the universe, the
mysterious final issue in which we are collaborating, is that
'greater unit* which must take precedence over everything, and
to which everything must be sacrificed, if success is to be ours.
The sense of man is a summons to renunciation.

Faith and renunciation - and what are those if not the two
attributes essential to all worship?

It is perfectly true to say that what men are going through at
this moment, in the incursion of the sense of man, is literally a
profound conversion: the consequence of the revelation,
through nature, of their situation and vocation in the universe.

Here we must proceed with caution, and not make the
mistake of confusing what is happening with the emergence
and dissemination of any one particular religion. The present
event is much more massive than the coming of Buddhism or
of Islam. 6 Today, it is not simply a matter of the special applica-
tion to this or that divine being of man's religious powers. In
us, at this very moment, it is tie very religious power of the

'Christianity, too, constitutes a unique event, but by virtue of communication from
above ('revelation') as well as by virtue of an awakening in the heart of man.



earth itself which is going through a final crisis - the crisis of
its own discovery. In some very ancient human representations
we seem to meet traces of the idea that to 'try to find out' is
evil and forbidden by God. Later, the gospels might appear to
have taught that every attempt to grow in stature, specifically
as human, is vain. 6 But now the time has come when we look
upon 'trying to find out 9 as the most sacred of duties. After
beating against first this and then that restraining bank, man's
need to worship has at last found the way out for which its
troubled waters were seeking. At last it has explicitly recognized
one of the essential attributes of the Messiah it awaited. We are
beginning to understand, and we shall never forget, that in
future the only religion possible for man is the religion which
will teach him, in the very first place, to recognize, love, and
serve with passion the universe of which he forms a part.

Admirable and mysterious self-reconciliation of life! At the
very moment when man, dangerously armed with a more
subtle mistrust, was beginning to call existence to account for
the sufferings it inflicts upon him - at that precise moment the
world (its discovery the very fruit of this new keenness of our
critical regard) opens up for us the prospect of a future to which
we cannot but submit. The awakening of the sense of man -
itself brought about by the apparently fortuitous coincidence
of steps taken independently of one another in the natural,
physical and social sciences - is occurring at exactly the right

•Christ's message inevitably suffered from the limitation of knowledge at the time in
which the sacred writers lived. In revealing himself, God raises the mind of man to a
higher level, but has too much regard for it to substitute himself for it. Hence the
necessity for a period of growth, in other words, of evolution. 'I have yet many things
to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he
will guide you into all the truth' (John 16: 12-13). This guidance will last for the
whole period referred to in the parable of the grain of mustard seed, Le., from the
sowing of the seed to the tree which covers the whole earth. (Ed.)



moment; just when it is needed to avert the terrible crisis of
rejection and repugnance which would inevitably have
shattered the thinking earth, had not that earth, at the same
time, become conscious both of what was demanded of its
activity and of the value of the universe.

Faith in the world has just been born. This, and this alone,
can save the world from the hands of a mankind that is de-
termined to destroy the universe if it cannot worship it. 7

But what conflicts must it face before it succeeds in becoming
established? And what support will it have to look for outside


Faith in the world is irresistibly establishing itself at the heart
of a civilization which is still dominated by, or which at any
rate was formed by, faith in Christ. Inevitably, an extremely
grave organic conflict is being produced between these two
principles. If we appreciate the depth of this dramatic struggle,
we have a perfectly clear explanation of the troubles which,
for the last century, have been disturbing the world of estab-
lished religions in the west.

a. The growing indifference of men to Christianity

A first fact which must strike every independent observer is
the discredit which today attaches to the word Christian:

7 Six years later, in 'Some reflexions on the conversion of the world* (Science and
Christ (Collins, London, and Harper & Row, New York, 1968), p. 127), Teilhard
strongly emphasized this point: 'I believe that the world will never be converted to
Christianity's hopes of heaven, unless first Christianity is converted (that so it may
divinize them) to the hopes of the earth.' (Ed.)



Christianity has become, in human terms, antipathetic. In
earlier times it was feared or persecuted as being a power.
Today, it is avoided, or kept at a distance, as a burden or
encumbrance. That is the factual situation. It would be idle
to explain this state of affairs as the result of ignorance or
misrepresentation, for both those are effects rather than causes.
The truth is that if Christianity has lost its attraction today, it is
by no means because it is too difficult and too elevated (as its
defenders pretend to believe) but for the contrary reason: in
the form in which Christianity is generally presented today, its
ideal is neither pure enough nor elevated enough. To our
minds, the Christian religion seems narrow; and our hearts tell
us that we cannot breathe in its atmosphere.

And the reason for this is precisely that Christianity has not
yet allowed room for -gives, indeed, even the impression of
being hostile to - the aspirations of the sense of man.

The sense of man believes in the magnificent future of the
tangible world: and the gospel seems to despise it. The sense of
man preaches enthusiasm and effort in the conquest of things:
Christianity calls for indifference and renunciation. The sense
of man discerns a universe emerging in radiance from the heart
of the struggle for being: Christianity still confines us to the
prospect of a fallen, static nature. There can be no doubt that
between the gospel of certain preachers and theologians, and
the sense of man, there is at present a deep rift. The temperament
and structure of modern mankind is such that it believes in the
world: a belief that, to judge by appearances, the Church of
Christ rejects. The Church no longer gives the impression of
'feeling with mankind*. This is the basic reason for the atmos-
phere of hostility and indifference which surrounds her, even
- indeed particularly - in the most progressive areas of society.



And this, too, is the explanation of the Church's present
sterility. The proper mark of a true religion should be to
spread like water or fire - irresistibly. If in these days the
Church is making no headway, or can advance only with such
difficulty, and that in the least active strata of the world, it is
because something is lacking to the splendour of her truth;
and that means that something is lacking to the fullness of her
coincidence with the present needs of mankind.

h. The sickness of Christianity

If the appearance of the sense of man does indeed correspond,
as we have said, to an organic (and in consequence an inevitable)
modification of the fundamental religious capacity of man,
then its effects cannot be limited to producing in unbelievers a
certain loss of sensitivity to Christian influences. They must
also be apparent in a serious disorder eating into the souls even
of the faithful.

And this, surely, is exactly what we find everywhere around

Ask the Catholics you know: if they have any mental alert-
ness and sincerity, most of them will recognize that, however
faithful they may be in the practice of their religion, they do not
find in it total justification for their lives. They give their
adherence to Christianity: but only for lack of anything better -
and provided that certain central points (relating to the value
and origin of the world) be left discreetly in the background.
This is no longer complete and ardent adherence to die light
they have found. It is already (and how many have told me
this) anxious expectation of a new gospel.

Nor could it be otherwise: however hard the Church may



try to keep believers warmly insulated in the cocoon of
orthodoxy, she cannot prevent them from drawing from the
common reservoir of human vigour the natural religious
energy which feeds their 'supernatural' faith in God. As we
have already seen, it is this primordial religious energy itself
which is now being transformed as a result of the awakening
of the sense of man. The Christian has no choice but to be
carried along with the ground on which he stands, and thereby
he escapes from the limitations of his own self. His eyes, and
his heart, too, are changed. How, indeed, could he continue to
find the same satisfaction and the same stimulus to his en-
thusiasm in the same representations and the same promises?
He may, no doubt, try to persuade himself that he still believes
in the prime importance of the Fall, of expiation, and of con-
tempt for material things; 8 but he is already forcing himself
and even forcing himself out of true. There are ways of looking
at things which we shall never again accept, because they have
become alien to the soul of man. No one has ever been able to
re-kindle a love that has been extinguished.

c. The official reaction

Never, since its first days, has the Church had reason to feel
die threat of so deep an internal rift

Hitherto, heresies and schisms had confined their attacks to
die forms in which Christianity was presented. Never, even
when the dangers were most serious, had the religious tran-
scendence of the gospel message been questioned by any
opponent; but today it is the essential moral value of Chris-

8 A primacy of importance, moreover, which derives from a view in which there is
more Jansenism than orthodoxy. Cf. John i : 1-18 and Colossians x: 15-19.



tianity, it is its capacity to perfect man, which is being chal-

An instinct of self-preservation is proper to every organism;
and it is a wholly predictable reaction of this instinct which
accounts for the hostile attitude adopted, most unfortunately,
by ecclesiastical authority when presented with the first outlines
of what has become the modern world. Even, perhaps, before
our world had become conscious of its own existence, auth-
ority could feel the advent of the rival who was gradually to
halt its progress and eat away its power. For all her protesta-
tions and parade of sympathy, the official Church has never
liked science: and this because she has always been suspicious
of new elements that might disturb her peaceful dominance -
and, moreover, because she has never looked to the tangible
progress of the universe for anything of value. In fact, ever
since the first indications of faith in progress and the unity of
man, have not the clergy constantly sought to suppress it, to
condemn it, and to ridicule it? More cleverly still, have they
not tried to belittle it by affecting to see in it no more than the
effect of a secularizing of, and so a retrograde departure from,
the Christian ideal?

Let us be frank about this. Fundamentally, the Church has
never understood, as we understand it, the fine pride of man,
nor the sacred passion for enquiry, which are the two basic
elements of modern thought. However specious the explana-
tions that may be appended to it, Pius DCs Syllabus was an
attempt to condemn all that is most solid in our present hopes.
A world completely dominated by the Church - as the Church
has shown herself to be from the Renaissance until our own day
- and were such a domination humanly possible - would have
acquired increased capabilities from the point of view of



sensibility and charity; but it would have lost all power to
attack and penetrate the real: a warning would have been
posted along the whole front line telling the enquiring mind
that everything had already been found.

Nevertheless, under the impulse of a higher vocation, man
looked - and found; and wherever he perseveres in looking,
there again he will find. Is it to be wondered at that after such
an experience he should be tempted to lose some of his respect
and love for the Church?

In a moment we shall be considering what can be done to
correct this Mure to understand on the part of churchmen
who have not recognized in the growing faith in the world die
most powerful summons to Christ ever to emerge from the

Meanwhile, let us concentrate solely on the fact of this
misunderstanding. By her reluctance to keep in step with
mankind, which she should have led along new roads, the
official Church has allowed an increasingly wide breach to
open, since the coming of science, between herself and the life
of the earth. She has given the impression of no longer sharing
in the life of the world: and that is a mistake which it will take
a long time to make good. So it is, now, that a great part of
the world has lost confidence in her.

In order, then, to maintain her power, she clings to an
antiquated apologetics. She claims that the historically estab-
lished miracles of the gospels entail for men the intellectual
and moral obligation to conform to her dogmas, whatever may
be the new demands of man's religious sense.

Her effort is wasted: the facts of psychology deny all effi-
cacy to this method of intellectual conversion and domination.



We now see that what gives a miracle its demonstrative force
is that it is produced within, and assists, a movement that,
quite apart from that, shows a capacity to justify the religious
development of the earth. If you take away from Christianity
its power to direct human activity and keep it on an even keel
in the new courses to which its destiny commits it, then the
raising of Lazarus has hardly more power to command our
adherence than the wonder-working of Buddha or Mahomet

d. The salvation of the world

The gospel tells us, 'Veritas liberabit ws'-'Tlie truth will make
you free/ It is useless to deny the facts; what we have to do is
to understand them and control them.

We have just seen that, in a first and perhaps inevitable stage,
the official Church made a vain attempt to block the road for
the natural religion of effort and progress. Let us consider now
whether there is a way of preserving at the same time - not
by any artificial device, but in a real way - the sense of man
and the spirit of Christianity: of preserving each, and of using
each to preserve the other. A misdirected reaction has driven
these two vital forces into mutually hostile camps. Are they
not, rather, designed for mutual support and completion? La
other words, surely there is a way of bringing together in
natural alliance the hopes of heaven and the hope of earth, no
longer as hostile forces but as rightly ordered energies.

If this is to be done, it is first and foremost essential that the
fundamental Christian attitudes - detachment, resignation,
charity, purity - be readjusted to modern religious needs.

Christian detachment is still too often advocated or under-
stood as an attitude of indifference, suspicion, or contempt



towards the realities of the earth. The world we know is but
dust or slime, and the less contact we have with it, the saintlier we
shall be. We have to replace this negative doctrine of renuncia-
tion by abstention with the positive idea of renunciation by
'devotion to the greater than self'. In itself, contact with matter
most certainly does not defile the soul or drag it down: on the
contrary, it feeds the soul and elevates it. For many centuries
the Christian could be accepted as being one who professed
contempt for the transient. Henceforth he must be recognized
by an unrivalled devotion of his whole being to the creative
power which is building up the world 'usque adhuc - to the
very point at which we now stand - even in the spheres of the
material and tangible. What must mark him out is an m*-
paralleled zeal for creation. Formerly to be detached from the
world could mean to desert the world. In future the phrase will
mean to drive a road through the world, in other words to
make a sustained effort in all domains - even in those so
wrongly regarded as 'secular' - and so attain, make use o£ and
develop what is continually loftier, more distant, and greater
in the universe.

Christian resignation has been too readily confused with a
dangerously passive attitude, and with accepting a line of least
resistance to evil. Indeed, has not one way of understanding
Calvary inclined us to speak and act as though suffering were
directly good and enjoyment directly evil? But what the faithful
must now understand is that while suffering and death- in so
far as they are cosmically inevitable - can become, through
God's providence, marvellous instruments of spiritual fulfil-
ment and union, in themselves they are both, none the less,
hateful to the Creator. And in consequence, if our first duty
is to develop the world, a second and no less binding command-



ment calls on us to fight to the bitter end against every form of
diminution and pain.

The charity of the gospels has for long been identified with
that of the good Samaritan, who picks up the victim, bandages
him, and gives him such solace as he can. Surely there must be
some way of giving this great virtue an even more generous
and more active form? Beside the soldier who brings in his
wounded comrade, there stands another whose devotion
consists in pressing on with the attack without a moment's
respite. Love of our neighbour would wither were it to lose
that flower of compassion from which sprang the rich harvest
of the Hospitallers and the nursing orders; but it needs to give
itself a more solid structure in some passionate attachment to
the collective work of the universe. We have not only to ease
but to develop; not only to repair but to build. For our genera-
tion, love of mankind can have but one meaning, to devote
oneself with all one's energies and all one's heart to man's

A more passionate detachment, a more militant resignation,
a more creative charity and, we must add, a purity more in-
spired to informed action; a humility with more pride in its
subordination to the universe; a kindliness more animated by
the spirit of conquest; a virtue less akin to weakness or medioc-
rity; a salvation more like the success of a universal enterprise
than the rescue of an individual; a propagation of the faith
more clearly distinguished from a sectarian proselytism - that
is what we are all looking for if we are to feel that Christianity
is on the scale of our new requirements. We can already hear it
coming; and it will, in fact, come automatically, provided the
sense of man and the sense of the Christian can produce in our
hearts a vital mutual reaction of complete sincerity.



To the informed eye, is there not already a barely perceptible
change of shade? Original sin is very gradually becoming, is it
not, something more in the nature of a tough beginning than a
fall? the Redemption more akin to a liberation than a sacrifice?
the Cross more evocative of hard-won progress than of peni-
tential expiation?

A collective optimism, realistic and courageous, must without
any doubt take the place of the pessimism and individualism whose
exaggerated ideas of sin and personal salvation have gradually
infiltrated and distorted the Christian spirit. 9

Unbelievers should not see in this a mere intellectual juggling
- nor should conservative believers regard it as an illegitimate
development of dogma.

It would be difficult, I know, to find in the letter of Scripture
the precepts of an explicit gospel of human effort. That, how-
ever, is inevitable. Have the gospels anything to say about the
modern industrial crisis; and is there anything in them that
points to the reversal of the principles that govern 'obsoles-
cence'? The awakening of the sense of man, if I have made
myself clear, is a contemporary phenomenon, which has
brought into the world something completely new. It would,

•Because of the change effected, as wc have pointed out, in man's fundamental religiouf
power, all modem religious literature, having been written either before the change
occurred, or, if after it, without taking it into account, is to some degree outdated: not
in the sense that it is false or useless, but in that it must accommodate itself to the
change of curve experienced in recent times by the 'anima naturaliter Christiana 9 , as a
result of the emergence of the new dimension I have called the sense of man. We must
recognize the situation frankly: it is not only the Imitation of Christ, but our inter-
pretationofthegospditselt to which this correct
world insists that this be done. Let us, then, say so in so many words.

As a typical example of Christian pessimism, I may quote the latest encyclical
(June 1928) on Reparation. In this the history of the world is presented as a long series
of evils, in which all man can do is to express his horror and make expiation. The only
answer the Church can give to present-day aspirations towards a great terrestrial
task which must be carried forward is to lament the misfortune of the new age,



accordingly, be as absurd psychologically to assume its pre-
existence in the minds of the apostles (and even in the human
consciousness of Christ) as it would be to assume that of the
internal combustion engine - or the English language. There
are two things, and only two things, we have a right to ask for
in Scripture and to claim for it, if its sacred character is to be
retained. The first is that when the intellectual and moral
principles contained in 'Revelation* are applied to the new
curve followed by the human mind, they shall continue to
operate with no distortion of the relationships which constitute
the essential image of Christ and the Christian. And the second
is that, in this new situation, Christ and the Christian faith
shall continue to demand acceptance, not simply as being
adaptable to the new development of the human mind but as
being structurally necessary to it.

These two conditions appear to be satisfied in the prospect
I am now trying to open up.

The Christian attitude can find new vigour and enrichment
within, and indeed by means of, the human aspirations that
have most recently come to the surface in the consciousness
of man: of this we have just satisfied ourselves in our examina-
tion of the chief evangelical virtues.

The light of Christ, far from being eclipsed by the growing
brilliance of the ideas of the future, of scientific research and
of progress, is coming into prominence as the very central core
destined to sustain their ardour: this is now a truth of which
we can say with certainty that it will continue to become ever
more dominant in modern apologetics.

The more man, under the impulse of the sense of the human,
is entranced by the idea that he may expect some great outcome
from carrying further even his 'secular' effort, the more will he



find that he must exalt the value of personalization and of the
person, which is the supreme human work. The more, again,
man becomes alive to the idea of "the human function in the
universe' and so attains a higher appreciation of the part
played in the world by the forces of deliberate choice and
consciousness, the more will he understand that the appearance
on earth of reflective thought entails almost necessarily another
'reflection 9 to complete and balance it: after the reflection of
the monad upon itself, the reflection of the whole upon the
monad - in other words, a revelation. Finally, the more man
becomes conscious of the high seriousness and the hazards of
being, and is thereby led to question what rights the universe
has over his freedom, the more unavoidable will he find this
third conclusion - that if no tangible element can give him clear
evidence of the intervention of a real term to the world (can
guarantee him, that is, the existence of such a term) then no
argument of his own individual reason, no agreement of other
minds, however unanimous it be, can rid him of this doubt
(which means the death, the physical death, of his activity and
his essential zest for living) : 'Does the world really provide the
way out of which we dream? Are we not life's dupes?'

Thus, and for reasons that are built into the structure of our
souls, we see how necessary is the objectivity of some contact
with a God; not a long-delayed contact, and one confined to
the individual, but one as old and all-embracing as the whole
human entity, and made with a God conceived as the supreme
centre of personalization. And this, we may conclude, is the
final condition without which our present grand hopes for the
earth will dissolve in abject disappointment.

Faith in the world can have no solidity without an answer
given since time began by that which is promised to faith in the



world. Those spheres of the universe which are endowed with
thought cannot exist without a physical principle of spiritual
coherence and energy. If the whole is to command our
allegiance, it must have a heart: it must not be faceless. In the
whole range of our experience,, the only principle we can see
which can give the sense of man its justification and its solidity,
is a Christ to whom are attached both a concrete history and
the attributes of divinity.


It is written in the gospel: € Non veni solvere, sed adimplere 9 , € 1
have come not to abolish but to fulfil/

Whatever men may do to discover more sublime roads and
develop new ideas, Christ must always, if he is to remain the
same Christ, stand ahead of their progress. At every moment
Christ, and he alone, must be able to give a sense of direction
and a guarantee to the growing expectations of the modern
world. It is Christ who gives fullness (adimplet) and who con-
summates. It will become ever more true that it is by that sign,
and by that sign alone, that we shall recognize him.

Either Christ, Christ himself and he alone, is capable of
safeguarding the human aspirations of our day - in which
case we are ready to worship him with renewed fervour; or his
growth is not keeping pace with the finest of our hopes - and
in that case he no longer means anything to us.

Then, indeed, should Christ disappear, what will be left to
us to justify and, in the last resort, to develop our zest for
existence and life?

It is fundamental to the present crisis that the cause of
Christianity and the cause of the world are inextricably linked.



The world would have no internal coherence were Christ
not at hand to give it a centre and to consummate it. Christ,
on the other hand, would not be divine if his spirit could not
be recognized as underlying the processes which are even now
re-creating the soul of the earth. It is only an extraordinary lack
of faith that can have belittled, feared, or even condemned 'the
spirit of today*. The awakening of the sense of man cannot be
anything but the dawn of a new epiphany.

The time has come when this must be recognized. Today 10
the Church, drifting in a backwater of abstract theology, of a
sacramentalism whose standard is quantity rather than quality,
of over-refined piety, has lost contact with the real. The
guidance provided by the clergy, and the interests of the faith-
ful, are gradually being confined to a little artificial world of
ritualism, of religious practices, of pious extravagancies, which
is completely cut off from the true current of reality. The
Eucharist, in particular, is tending to become a sort of object
whose validity rests entirely in itself, and which absorbs
religious activity instead of making it work as a leaven for the
salvation of everything in the universe. It is here that we have
taken the wrong road; and that is why the progress of Christian
truth has, one might almost say, come to a halt.

Christianity will never cease to stagnate, will never begin
once more to spread with the vigour of its early days, unless
it makes up its mind to gear itself to the natural aspirations of
the earth. Faith in Christ, a faith given vitality by man's faith
(now born, and never to be lost) in some universal progress -
faith in the world, a faith vindicated by the solid, exacdy
defined reality of Christ - the mutually supporting passion

10 It should be remembered that this was written in 1929. Since that time, some
Christians, in avoiding the danger noted, have gone to the other extreme. (Ed)



for Christ and passion for the world - these are now emerging
as the twin poles of the religion of the future. 11

Indian Ocean, February-March, 1929

The text follows that of P£re Jouve, editor of Etudes, revised
and corrected by Pfere Teilhard. Where variations of wording
have appeared in successive copies, we have given preference
to one of the earliest typescripts, which used to be in the
possession of P£re Valensin.

u The greater part of the 'Catholic clerical body' now agrees inallowingaprogressively
more important part in the Christian life to human activities. In their view, however,
this part is never more than an adjunct, an extra, an overflow of the supernatural life
into the secular domain. We hold, on the contrary, that participation in man's work
and aspirations is by no means of subsidiary importance as an instrument in the work
of salvation: it is the basic psychological core on which in every man is built, or from
which is born, faith in and the gift of self to the supernatural

In spite of the concessions that have been made, there is still a complete contradic-
tion between these two points of view.



The distressing spectacle of the multiplicity of the world and
of its present state of disorder, which in the end forces us into
an impassioned faith in the possibility of reducing that frag-
mentation to unity - in that lies the common source of the
various philosophical currents, and the various attitudes to
prayer, whose successive emergence, much more than the
creation of any empire or the discovery of any energy, is the
dominating event in human history.

Without mysticism, there can be no successful religion: and
there can be no well-founded mysticism apart from faith in
some unification of the universe.

The One and the Many: whence comes the fragmentation?
and how can there be a return to unity? The increasing clarity
with which this problem is seen, and the gradual approach to
its solution, are a probable guide to the stages (some of which
are still to come) of anthropogenesis.

From time to time, it is true, it is as though this tremendous
germinal thrust were hibernating.

Under the influence of an agnosticism, wrongly regarded as
scientific, which refuses to allow itself to know anything
beyond continued identity with the past, the modern world has
come to accept the question of the unity of being as one that
cannot be answered and is therefore not worth asking; and so
an attempt is made to disregard it.



Even more dangerous, because they offer a plausible substi-
tute for an ideal, are the still popular positivist or aesthetic (as
opposed to noetic) forms of pluralism. These have sought to do
away with mysticism, or to supplant it, by teaching that
fragmentation is of the essence of the universe. Incessantly,
every individual and every moment of time represents a new
culminating point: everything has always been, and will con-
tinue to be, multiple. This is the cult of this moment's ego - a
principle of infinite dissociation logically posited as the core of
moral science.

The modern world has examined all the possible outlets to
its activity, except faith in unity. It seems permanently to have
forgotten Buddha, Plato and Paul.

Experience, however, has shown the sterility of these
attempts to secularize the world. They have introduced no
organic order, and they have constructed nothing; nor, indeed,
by definition could they seek to or have the power to do so.
Their influence has spread, but it has been as a solvent spreads.
They have not converted, but perverted, the earth. To convert
means to contribute a soul.

And now, the world of man - bursting with a new exuber-
ance of energies and desires - disappointed, and yet more than
ready to accept a new form - feels all the pain and anxiety of
the need for a spiritual orientation. Forced back to the initial
sources of action, the world is looking for the essential idea
and ideal which are biologically necessary to produce (in the
root meaning of the word) unanimity.

It is looking for it: but would it not, so far from looking,
even reject what it is offered, if it had not already discovered at
least the conditions that must be satisfied by the divinity which,
in anticipation, it worships?



The purpose of what follows is to show how, in continuity
with (and at the same time in opposition to) ancient forms of
mysticism (particularly Eastern), mankind of today, the child
of Western science, is even now - for all its appearance of
sceptical positivism - pursuing along a new road the persistent
effort which since time began seems to have been driving life
towards some plenifying unity.


If we are to believe the ethnologists, primitive man (in so far
as we can recognize traces of him imprinted in the backward
tribes of the earth) went through a phase of confusion in his
infancy; it was a phase when he was mentally incapable of
dear differentiation, and he could distinguish only imperfectly
between activities on the one hand and things on the other.
Attempts have been made to read into this vague feeling of an
identity or fundamental solidarity in beings evidence or traces
of an advanced degree of wisdom. It has been suggested that
'primitives' had already, naturally and without effort, reached
the spiritual peaks to which we are so slowly climbing. This
we cannot accept. Logically, and in actual fact, the divine
virtue of unity appears in direct ratio with the differentiation
of the multiple with which it is in contrast. We must have been
brought clearly and forcefully up against the separateness and
the antagonism of the cosmic elements before we can be en-
thralled by the feeling of their underlying solidarity and their
anticipated confluence. Pre-logic (in so far as such a thing
exists) can know only a pre-reHgion or a pre-mysticism.

The first current of true mysticism (that is to say, of a
tendency towards universal union) of which traces are extant



in recorded history, and whose influence can be traced right
up to modern thought, is that which originated in India some
five or ten centuries before the Christian era, and has for
so many years made that country the religious pole of the
earth. 1

We do not know whether any historian has yet been able to
determine what psychological or physiological antecedents,
what refinements of culture or thought, are reflected (whether
directly or as a reaction) in the formation of this mysterious
'cyclone* on the plains of the Ganges; but the results are still
here for us to see: at a given moment, the finest portion of
mankind reached a unanimity of belief in the essential unity of
nature, a unity which could be achieved only by a release of
tension in the universe.

'The multiplicity of beings and desires is no more than a
bad dream, from which we must awake. We must suppress
the effort to find knowledge and love, which means personaliza-
tion, because it tends to give consistence to what is simply a
mirage: and thereby (this is the key-word in the argument), as
a direct consequence of the disappearance of plurality, we shall
see the basic design of the picture emerge. When silence reigns,
we shall hear the single note. Phenomena do not disclose the
substance to us : they mask it/

In over-simplified terms, this is the 'Eastern solution of the
perfect life, of the return, that is, to unity. For the Buddhist
who drains himself away physically, as for the Brahmin who
concentrates himself mentally, the opposition between the one
and the many is like that of two planes which the eye cannot
see without shifting from one to the other. Unity is achieved

s Nothing could be less mystical (in the sense in which the word is used here) than the
older parts of the Bible. Jewish monotheism, in its beginnings at least, is much more
anthropomorphic than 'cosmic'.



by denying and destroying the many. This is the idea which,
in a number of different forms, has dominated Eastern wisdom,
penetrating it as far as Japan. It was in this refined and pessimist
solution of the world that the soul of Asia was born and found
its expression.

In our own time, there would appear to have been a re-
nascence of 'Buddhist' mysticism, even in Europe. It has even
been suggested, and with some anxiety, that the monist
serenity of the East might well convert the confused pluralism
of the West.

In fact, however, this revival of theosophy and neo-Buddhism
appears to be founded upon a vast misunderstanding. As we
shall shortly be seeing, the modern world (for reasons even
more cogent than those which had formerly influenced the
East) indulged, in its turn, in the dream of discovering unity at
the bottom of matter. In an excess of caution, Christianity was
offering the world expressions of the one that were confined to
juridical terms, emphasizing only its relation to the individual:
and the world eagerly adopted the ancient formulas of Hindu
pantheism, thinking that there it would find itself at home.
However, in so doing it unconsciously attributed to them an
entirely new meaning. The 'pantheist' mysticisms of the West,
in their essence, respect the meaning of, and cultivate, the real
values of the universe. Logically, on the other hand, these
values no longer exist for the Eastern philosopher. The one
stands not at the pole, but at the antipodes, of the experiential;
and it is in consequence impossible to attribute to it any character
or any determinant, even in an 'analogical' sense. It is impos-
sible to conceive it at the infinitely extended term of any line
of knowledge or action. The one is the mere negation of all
that we call 'full'. If we are to attain this void, we must rid



ourselves (and this is all we need to do) of every concept, every
image, every desire.

This is the total death of constructive activity: the funda-
mental emptiness of the experiential universe.

In strict logic, the Indian sage cannot concern himself with
anything the life of the world has been, is, or will be. His
European followers, I fear, are a long way from realizing this.

Such an outlook is so strange to us that the possibility of an
ambiguity is forced upon our minds. Has there ever, in fact,
been a single real worshipper of vacuity? Is it not simply that
deep down beneath its words (which are the opposite of ours)
and its actions (which may well have contradicted its funda-
mental intentions), the East had vaguely seen and was trying
to pin down what we shall later be defining as 'the road of the
West'? In other words, when the Buddhist is infatuated with
that which contains nothing, does he differ essentially from us,
when we aspire to that of which nothing can be predicated?
For all the assurances of Eastern philosophers, this is a view we
cannot but question.

Whatever may be the truth about that problem, which is a
psychological one, what we call the 'Eastern' solution certainly
exists in theory, and must be put forward here, if only in order
to make plain the exact nature and originality of Western
neo-mysticism. In the abstract we can conceive that man may
pursue (what, in concrete feet, the East has perhaps literally
exhausted itself in seeking) the unity of the world through
direct suppression not only of the 'state of multiplicity* but of
the multiple itself. Under the influence of the same universalist
aspirations, it is in a diametrically opposite direction that the
Western solution, or Western road, is now emerging.




In the eyes of the founders of Eastern metaphysics and mysti-
cism, the tangible universe, from which the wise man had to
free himself, formed a complex, glittering system of objects
moving in a closed circle. Since the multiple, whether dream
or reality, was irreparably fragmented, sanctity consisted in
breaking the envelope of things and so escaping from them. In
direct contradiction to this, the West's basic solution to the
problem of the one and the many is to consider the experiential
universe as formed from a linked whole of elements animated,
throughout the whole of duration, by an at least potential
movement of internal coalescence. On this hypothesis, if we
wish to arrive at unity we must refrain from the barren and
foolish effort to escape from things without freeing them at
the same time as we free ourselves. We must not reject things:
on the contrary, we must love them and hold fast to them in
their essence - which is, if I may so put it, to yield, at the cost
of great effort, to a forward and upward pull towards a
common centre. Understood in the good and true sense, the
multiple is by nature convergent. If it is to be reduced, it must
not, therefore, be suppressed - it must be extended beyond
itself. The divine light does not appear in the night artificially
created inside ourselves; like a supreme and inextinguishable
glow, it plays over the organic shimmer of the world. The
fundamental note of the cosmos cannot be heard in absolute
silence; it rises over the harmony of elementary vibrations.
Heaven does not stand in opposition to earth: it is born from
the conquest and transformation of earth.
God is reached, not by a draining away of self, but by



sublimation. Such, if we are not mistaken, is the great religious
discovery of the new age.

To look anywhere for explicit formulation of this doctrine
would, we must admit, be fruitless. No one has yet been at
pains to set down this gospel in black and white. But do we
need a book, when the truth can be read in the most profound
needs and attitudes of a whole civilization? In fact, if we take
due note, the point of view we have just set out is already so
accepted and so built into our lives that it hardly needs explana-
tion. It is this view which is coming to be adopted by all the
living branches of modern religions, and to form the basis of
their gradual convergence: a convergence of all, from Chris-
tianity (see below) to the new forms of Islam and Buddhism.
And the reason for this agreement is as profound as it is simple.
It is only in this prospect of union (and escape) through con-
vergence that all the demands both of our aspirations and of the
experiential world can find satisfaction and mutual assistance:
and this with perfect ease, and with no loss or distortion.

The ancient religions of the East hardly noticed more in
the experiential (that is, the multiple), and could hardly dis-
tinguish more, than the incoherent and mystifying aspects of
its aimless and senseless turmoil: and that is why they were so
ready to jettison it. The modern world, it is continually
becoming more evident, was born, body and soul, from the
discovery of the organic time of evolution. We are coming to
see ever more clearly that the nebula of monads forms an
ascending and contracting spiral. Flesh and spirit, each one of
us is involved in a cosmogenesis which we can no longer
regard with doubt or indifference.

For us, the history of the world unfolds as a significant act,
instinct with the absolute and the divine, in which the spiritual-



izing activity of beings emerges as a sacred energy. There can
no longer be any question, therefore, of setting up a simple
opposition between one and multiple, between spirit and
matter. Each must be sought out and worshipped through the
other. Divine unity surmounts the plural by super-creation,
not by substitution. Such is the road (the only road open to it)
which Western life has already instinctively adopted, and to
which it has irrevocably committed itself.

In the conflict introduced into the universe by the existence
of the multiple, it would already be much to have found a way
out which can satisfy the needs of the modern world. The
crowning success, the fullness of salvation, is that for the
Western mystic one and multiple, faith and experience, are not
reconciled simply as two inert diagrams constructed to com-
plete one another geometrically. The two terms combine, in
reality, like two sources of energy whose coming together
produces a mutual reaction; and this governs an upsurge of
continually purer and higher life. In the Eastern picture, a
similar psychological phenomenon can be produced: contempt
for, and weariness of, the agitation of the cosmos drives the
wise man towards Nirvana, and the appeal of Nirvana can in
turn increase his repugnance for the agitation of the world:
and this can continue to the extreme limits of ecstasy. Yet the
whole of this process, in theory at least, is bound to take place
in the negation of material things, of passions, of images, and
to tend towards vacuity. Logically (and even though perhaps
nine-tenths of modern theosophists deceive themselves by
transposing our modern concepts into an ancient idiom) the
Eastern saint must try not to sublimate the tangible real, but to
thin it down to nothing.



What a melancholy and unrewarding occupation to offer as
nourishment to the spiritual enthusiasms of a world!

From the Western point of view, the cycle takes on a com-
pletely different significance, and a completely different vigour.
Western man is driven to the discovery and conquest of unity
not only by his dissatisfaction with present disorders and short-
comings, but also by the immensely powerful attraction of the
countless incipient perfections among which he moves.

The scattered charms of the universe give him a glimpse of
the beauty that would unite them all in bringing them to their
fullness, and his perception of this nascent beauty in the universe
redoubles his admiration for the chosen, the 'elect' substance
hidden in the elements of the world. Man's part, then, is to
progress further in consistence by purifying and so extracting
the positive essence of the multiple. The unity of the world
rests on constructive work - work directed towards concentra-
tion and not release of tension. And the man who understands
this, it is he who will know the intoxicating charm that comes
not from vacuity but from plenitude.

Looking at modern Europe, to all appearances disillusioned
and pleasure-seeking, one might fear that now mankind has
reached a peak of complexity and power it may come to a halt,
may stand undecided, may fade away, out of pure boredom
with life. There will be no danger of anything like this if we
are right in maintaining, as we have done, that in every quarter
men are beginning to see that the turmoil of the universe is
not an incoherent dream, but conceals and paves the way for a
divine advent.

As we were saying earlier, it may be difficult, at the distance
at which we stand from the first Hindu sages, to discern the
causes which determined the appearance of their teachings and



assisted their astonishing diffusion. In the case of the new faith
in the West, the connection of events is perfectly clear. A
passion - not simply a rejuvenated passion, but one that has
taken on a completely new form-fbr the coming unity of the
world provides the soul, which is biologically necessary: and
this is at hand just when it is needed to maintain civilization in
the modern form imposed on it by an irresistible evolution of
social and individual consciousness. The concept of a 'unity of
convergence' is the only concept on which can be built the moral
phitosophy and religion of a universe based on scientific research and
progress. In virtue of that principle, no conversion (if one may
use the word) will ever have such deep roots as that which is
now being effected under the cloak of modern unbelief

Hitherto men have been converted primarily with a view to
individual needs and hopes, or by national or racial pressures.
We are now for the first time witnessing the inauguration of a
spiritual movement, intimately linked with the progress of the
tangible world regarded as one whole: zest for unity in order
to preserve the universal zest for action; a new faith condition-
ing a new mankind; one single soul for the whole surface of
the earth.

Western mysticism (and in this lies the secret of its strength)
is the first in which the subject is unquestionably no longer the
human monad but the world. It is essentially 'catholic'; by
that characteristic alone we could recognize that, in spite of
certain appearances to the contrary, it is the legitimate daughter,
or, to put it more exactly, the now-realized term and evolved
expression of Christianity.




As Western mysticism has made its appearance as an extension
of Christianity, so too has the modern world, to which that
mysticism contributes a meaning and an ideal. Historically, one
preceded and encouraged the development of the other. One
passed into the other. But what of die cost? the long delays
before it could be paid? Did the flower not kill the stem? Does
the original Christian soul still survive truly in the soul of
modern religion?

It would appear to be difficult to question that, in a con-
siderable part of its early manifestations, Christianity appears
as an offshoot of Eastern mysticism. The importance accorded
to the Sermon on the Mount, which exalts what is weak in the
world - the summons to a renunciation which is uncommonly
like a direct escape from the useless or evil multiple - a theory
of religious perfection which colonized the deserts - all these
point to the conclusion that in its origins Christian thought to
some extent failed to free itself unequivocally from the rut of
Eastern tradition. 2 From another angle, if we look deeper into
things, we see that the gospel is based on a certain number of
fundamental affirmations, such as that of the resurrection of
the body; and that if the import of these affirmations is fully
developed, they lead directly to the Western concept of the
universe. Already, when St Justin speaks of the salvation of
matter, what he is doing is precisely to turn his back on

When we consider these contrasts, it would appear that

*In his complete and tenacious fidelity to the evangelical counsels, Teilhard constantly
resisted a pernicious interpretation of the gospel which would read into it an abandon*
ment of die fight against evil and an endorsement of 'dolorism'. (Ed.)



the mystical history of the West might be described as a long
attempt on the part of Christianity to recognize and separate
within itself the two roads of spiritualization, the Eastern and
the Western: suppression or sublimation? To divinize by subli-
mation - that was the side chosen, following the profound
logic of the Incarnation, by the instinct of the nascent world.
To divinize by suppression - it was in that oversimplified
direction that the accustomed ways of the East exerted their
pressure. Until our own day, the two currents can be recog-
nized in die forms of expression adopted by the Christian
world - if not in its fundamental, and correctly interpreted,
attitude. Use and privation: Christ and the Baptist: attempts
have been made to see in this duality two essential and recon-
cilable components of sanctity. In reality they are the remains
of two incompatible attitudes. Men like St John of the Cross, 8
carried along by, and kept on a straight course by, the general
movement of Christianity, have undoubtedly lived in practice
a mysticism which can be reduced to the sublimation of
creatures and their convergence in God. But the way in which
they interpreted themselves - or others have interpreted them
- is still distinctly 'Eastern'; and we should have the honesty
to admit that, in this aspect of their sanctity, they are now alien
to us. God does not emerge from the night; it is on the radiance
of noon that he stands. Or, if we can speak of night at all in this
context, it is a darkness which is the very excess of, or what we
might call the reversed aspect of, our own light.

The time has undoubtedly come when clarity and simplicity
must be introduced into Christian mysticism. In the very
operation of its natural growth, die world has made its choice:
God lies at the term of an effort to super-develop, not to

'And also, to some extent, die author of the Imitation of Christ.


constrict, the universe. If Christianity is to continue to live and
be supreme, it must henceforth think and speak, unambiguously
and exclusively, the language of the West: it must not resign
itself passively, but attack; not ignore, but seek; not despise
the tangible universe, but become enraptured by its contempla-
tion and in its fulfilment.

I have dealt at length with this elsewhere (in the Milieu
Divin). I am not offering you a road which will lead you in the
end to any form of naturalism, or hedonism, or of pantheism.
Far from it.

In the first place, if Christianity, in conformity with its
nature and with the needs of modern mankind, is explicitly
confined solely to the Western interpretation of the world,
then it can and must retain intact (or even increase) its ascen-
sional power of purification and detachment. Precisely in
virtue of their capacity to converge upwards, the elements of
the universe cannot be fully attained except by constantly
forcing ourselves beyond them, towards ever more spiritual
zones. So, just as the Eastern road, the Western road leads
through asceticism to ecstasy. The Hindu saint closes in on
himself and drains away his self in order to shake off his in-
tegument of matter; the Christian saint does so in order to
transfigure matter and allow it to penetrate him ('super-indui'
- to be 'super-enveloped'). The first seeks to isolate himself
from the multiple, the second to concentrate and purify it.
The oriental seeks to escape by abandoning time, space and
self The occidental emerges from the plural by carrying it with
him. And of these two attitudes, only the second is capable of
expressing to the modern soul the truth, the power and the irresistible
appeal of the Cross.

What is more, frankly Westernized Christianity has no cause



to fear a dangerous monism. No doubt, this very idea that in
and around us the unity of the cosmos is gradually coalescing
at the term of a universal convergence produces an echo in the
modern soul of the deep eternal music which has mesmerized
all the pantheisms. But has there ever, by definition, been any
true mysticism without some element of pantheism? 'And
then/ says St Paul when speaking of the plenitude of the In-
carnation, 'God will be all in all: en past panta Theos. 9 If
Christianity is to remain true to itself as it is Westernized, only
one condition, and that an essential one, must be fulfilled: to
the maintenance of the primacy of spirit over matter (which,
as we have seen, brings with it the renunciation of possession),
must be added the primacy in the spiritual of the personal,
which brings together at the same time the maximum differen-
tiation of die elements and their maximum union. And does
not this latter primacy, just as the former, derive precisely from
the nature and mechanism of 'convergence'? How could the
multiple be lost in unity (which is what false pantheism consists
in), when the ontological process of convergence which unites
the elements is precisely the process which at a lower level
makes each one of them incommunicably itself?

In short, as things stand now, if Christianity is to remain itself,
it must come to the rescue of Western mysticism, and in so
doing take it to itself Left to themselves, the new wise men of
the West might well relax in the enjoyment of what they have
won. They would probably limit their hopes to the temporal
and spatial horizons of the present world, without realizing
that this limitation to an inferior and declining state of matter
must logically destroy their passion for research and the vigour
of their optimism.

In any case, they would lack the culmination which is almost



essential to the validity of their outlook: an historical design, a
name, and a face, to attach to the term of universal convergence.
As the present metamorphosis of man's religious sense de-
velops, nothing is as yet at hand to replace Christ in his role of
the centre 'in whom all things find the consistence of their
being*. Christ is still the only cosmic element we can see that
can - leaving aside any illuminism or idle dream - give a body
to modern hopes for a spiritual organization of the world.
More, however, is still needed: the Church must recapture the
visions so passionately described by St Paul, and must make
up her mind finally to recognize and proclaim Christ, the
whole and entire Christ, as fulfilling that role, radiant with the
hopes and energies of the universe.

But to continue: mankind has now reached such a degree of
concentration and moral tension that it can no longer postpone
taking the spiritual step which will give it a soul. Agnosticism
and pluralism are either dead or impotent. It is only a renewed
faith in some unity to be born of the world that can preserve
our zest for life. And at this precise point we come to a parting
of the ways; to one side runs the ancient path of the East,
away from matter, towards the minimum of questioning, of
concern, of external effort - the unity which is disclosed with
die negation of the multiple: and on the other side runs the
new highway of the West, following a straight line to the
mysteries of the earth, to the sustenance it provides, to the
unity absorbed in domination of the multiple.

There can be no hesitation; and, what is more, the choice
has already, to all intents and purposes, been made long since.
History and experience both insist that it is in the Western
direction that we must guide the progress of life. We must
know more, and we must be masters of more, so that we may



be more completely assumed by God. At the dawn of human
kind, such an ambition might have seemed reprehensible, when
the first energies unleased were rounding on the daring spirits
who had released them. It might have seemed superfluous to
the first Christians, when the physical universe seemed to have
neither a past nor a future. But now that we have understood
the importance of the work which is being carried on through
the medium of our lives, it has become for us the finest expres-
sion of moral duty and worship. Both outside and inside
Christianity, it is on this new gospel of masterful spirituality
that the old world now parts company with the new.

Individuals, nations, races and religions, everything will
disappear tomorrow which has not today hazarded its soul on
the road of the West.


As philosophers have long remarked, there are two converse
notions of unity: first, unity by impoverishment, by taking
away, or return to the homogeneous; and secondly, die unity
of richness, by concentration of what is positive in determinants
and qualities. The 'ens ut sic 9 and the 'ens a se\ Ether and spirit.
Eastern and Western mysticism are simply the religious pursuit
of the divine in one or other of these two directions - another
way of emphasizing the reason for preferring the second to the

Nevertheless, there is an essential element in Western
mysticism which is not properly brought out by simply
relating it to the cut and dried system of two types of unity,
die unities of simplicity and of complexity.



From the modern point of view, which is governed by the
idea of evolution, the one is not merely opposed to the multiple
as a total perfection opposed to a sum of imperfections:
partially at least, it is born from that multiple. Its unity is, to
some degree, woven from the plurality whose consummation
and synthesis it ensures. And in this lies the fundamental reason
as regards human activity, for impassioned abandonment to
effort; what we do ensures, on the scale of the element, the
unification of the universe. It calls for nothing less than conscious-
ness of this responsibility 9 and for nothing more f to make life of real
concern to us.

From this notion of the evolutive structure of universal unity
(of the 'pleroma', St Paul would have said) is derived an
extremely well-defined and encouraging significance to be
attached to matter.

In the mystical or metaphysical systems belonging to the
Eastern current, some idea of evil is always associated with the
origin of the multiple: a dream, disturbing the initial serenity
of essence, or a revolt entailing the degradation of some portion
of spirit into matter. The plural, which should have been sup-
pressed, must be evil by nature or accidentally perverted in its

When, on the other hand, we admit the idea of a genesis or a
fulfilment of the one from the elements of the world, these
elements still remain, it is true, the source of all sin and all
suffering - because of their temporary condition of disorder,
itself the inevitable consequence of the still continuing process
of attaining their union - but they no longer need a prior evil
to explain their appearance and their initial distribution. They
are no longer the shattered fragments of the amphora, but the
dust of the elemental clay. The multiple is not a secondary



waste product; it exists, quite simply, because it is necessary for
a certain fulfilment of unity. It is, in the most fundamental
sense, the positive and essential condition of an absolute pro-
gress. The idea of a congenital flaw in matter can now he seen to he
as incompatible with Western mysticism as its absolute contingency

Seen in this way, the idea we are now coming to form of the
structure and function of matter is closely linked with Christian
views on the final consummation of the universe. On the one
hand, in virtue of the Incarnation, God can no longer (at least
hie et nunc and for ever) dispense with the multiple into which
he once entered; and on the other hand, the real entity 'God+
multiple' in Christo Jesu, seems, both in Christian practice and
in Pauline mysticism, to represent a perfection which, however
qualified it may be as extrinsic to God, introduces with itself a
real completion into the equilibrium of universal being.

Here we find implicitly the concept of the multiple as
fundamentally good, and to some degree necessary. As follows
from what we were saying earlier, Christianity is in an excel-
lent position to rescue the hesitant steps of Western mysticism,
and lead them along an exact, well-tried, and direct line. It is
the only guide at hand to pilot us along the road of the West

But here again, we should note, we who are of the faith
must make up our minds to a partial but far-reaching revision
of our views on the origin and evolution of the universe. Pre-
cisely as in the case of asceticism and mysticism, we still seem
to find in Christian representations of cosmogony a certain
cross-infection between Eastern and Western views. Although
St Paul combined them into a single picture, the ideas of a
first creation (absolutely contingent, and hence hardly explic-
able) and then of a general fall (equally contingent, and hence
a poor reflection of die Creator's glory) do not fit in well with



those of an Incarnation which culminates in a sort of mutual
plenifying of the one and the multiple. In the complete concept
we can trace the mixture of elements borrowed from judge-
ments of value or principles of solution that are very different
Of even contradictory. To separate these elements, and then
to select from them, and so arrive ultimately at a Christian
cosmogony with no limits to its horizons and no taint in its
structure - one worthy of the universal Christ who is its
crowning glory - this is a task that cannot be postponed. 4

Penang, 8 September 1932

4 Ih order to follow the writer's spiritual journeying, it is essential to re-read the essay
which provides his starting point, and which he called 'an introduction to mysticism*
(Writings in Time of War? Collins, London, and Harper & Row, New York, 1968,
pp. 115-49). (Ed.)



Ever since religions have existed, they have always tended to
express themselves, in the most sublime of their manifestations,
in the form of chastity; and this is as true of Buddhism as it is
of Christianity. We always find that for die complete initiates,
the perfecti, victory over sexual attraction is ultimately die
supreme mark of die triumph of spirit.

I shall not try here to contest, but rather to justify die pro-
found value of this reaction. In its spontaneity and its uni-
versality, die call to chastity seems to me to be too intimately
derived from life's infallible instincts for it to be possible to
regard it as a value with which we can now dispense.

At the same time I believe it to be true of this, as it is of so
many other matters, that we are still a long way from having
accurately determined the nature of what we undoubtedly
feel. Consciousness, we know, does no more than grope its
way forward, one approximation following upon another.
Hidden beneath die idea of virginity there lies, I am sure, a
precious, significant and active element; but I am no less sure
that no formulation of that idea has yet been found which is
satisfactory either in theory or in practice. The doubt originated
from my own personal experience, and has been magnified
by die increasing number of elevated and sincere minds who
no longer see anything fine in the restrictions of asceticism.

It is now only a blurred image of chastity that is projected
on our physical and moral universe. It is constantly either
expressed in obsolete language and systems - or justified by a



complex of disparate reasons, many of which no longer have
the power to move us. What we have to do is to define precisely
what constitutes the excellence of chastity; and in order to do
that we must relate it clearly to the structure and values of the
modern world.
It is this that I have had in mind when writing what follows. 1


Just as, and by the very fact that, Christianity is today the most
progressive form of religion, so, and by that same fact, it is
to Christianity that we should look for the most highly de-
veloped expression of the doctrine of chastity.

In these days, this doctrine (or rather, as I shall be explaining,
this practice) is very clearly summed up in the two following

i. The union of the sexes is good, and even holy - but ex-
clusively for the purpose of reproduction.
2. Apart from that purpose, any intimacy of union between
the sexes must be reduced to the minimum. The moral ideal
(higher even than marriage) is virginity.

*It may be easier to follow the author's argument more clearly, as he develops it in
the text, if it is summarized as follows:

Pere Teilhard sets out to define the essence of virginity, in the light of the problems
he meets in his own environment. In order to do so he:

a. begins by ruling out obsolete concepts, such as the Manichaean concept of the
impurity of. matter, which entailed an ideal of virtue based on detachment;

b. moving then to the dynamic aspect, he asks: is human love, as some maintain,
an energy of the highest rating in spiritualization? Or, 'are we not burning up In
human love some part of what is absolute in us?';

c turning finally to the sense of evolution in man, he concludes: 'Love is under-
going a process of change within the noosphere, and it is in this new direction' (the
direct drive towards its creator) 'that the collective transition of mankind into God is
being made ready.' (Ed.)



These two rules cover satisfactorily the majority of cases;
and for some centuries they have been successful in assuring the
two essential human functions of propagation of the species'
and 'spiritualization*. Nevertheless they are by no means com-
patible - they are complementary in practice rather than
logically connected. Prudent and comprehensive though they
are, yet we can detect opposition between two incompletely
reconciled points of view.

This arises from the fact that, in the sphere of sex, what we
have is not exactly a developed theory, but simply a Christian
empiricism. Open any book you choose of moral theology or
ascetics. What guidance do we find in it for the use of our
senses? Categorical rules? Yes. Explanation? No. Apart from
a few isolated, and generally fanciful attempts, there has been
no systematic examination of the 'formal effect' of the 'saintly
virtue*. On the other hand, a very elaborate and very psycho-
logically aware code is developed, of rules, methods and
counsels - based on the traditional practice of the saints, and
ultimately on a very small number of gospel texts. And that is

This 'empirical* character, we should note, is by no means
a mark of biological inferiority. Far from it. The more widely
a reality is seen to be based on a development and an achieve-
ment that is experiential in nature, the better its chances of
proving fruitful and definitive: but only provided we try to
intellectualize it?

What, then, are the elements - emotional or rational - which
we can recognize as the basis of Christianity's cult of chastity?
A whole series of them can, I believe, be distinguished, differing

•Intellectualize means in this context to justify theoretically the value of a procedure
that is otherwise entirely 'empirical*. (Ed.)



quite considerably, either according to the motives they bring
into operation or according to the stage of moral evolution they

In the first place, and most fundamental of all, we can detect
a physiological presupposition which colours more completely
than one would imagine the whole development of Christian
thought in connection with the Fall, sanctification, and grace.
By this I mean the idea - though 'impression* would be the
better word - that sexual relations are tainted by some degrada-
tion or defilement. By the material conditions of its act; by the
physical transports it entails; by a sort of clouding of personality
that accompanies it - 'passion', man instinctively feels, has
about it something of animality, of shame, of fever, of stupe-
faction, of fear, of mystery. Here we meet, in its most basic
and most insistent form, and at its most acute, the whole
intellectual and moral problem of matter. Sexuality is sinful.
Later, we shall try to determine how much of this primitive
'horror' can and should be retained. The point that matters
now is that its influence, a heritage from Judaism, has passed
into the Christian concept of chastity - and that in spite of the
sanctity accorded to marriage. 'Hi sunt qui cum mulieribus non
sunt coinquinati.'*

After the physiological element comes the social element It
would be a distortion of the religious phenomenon to reduce
it to an organ of defence directed by the group against the
individual; but without that collective function, too, some-
thing would be lacking to religion. For what is more important
to society than maintenance and control of man's powers of
reproduction? In these matters, strict policing is needed to
establish the best system and to defend it against those who

*'It is these who have not defiled themselves with women.' Revelation 14: 4.



would abuse it. This concern for 'public safety' does much to
explain in Christianity the load of penalties and threats, the
stigma, attached to misdemeanours of the flesh - as it explains,
too, the wealth of praise lavished on chastity. With fire lurking
in the human edifice, it is safer to flood the whole premises.

This is social tutiorism. 4 But there is individual tutiorism, too.
It is probably for lack of some compensating idea to balance
the exaggeration that Christianity has developed in itself, to
the point of what a biologist would call hypertrophy, the ideas
of guilt and damnation. The one thing that matters for the
soul is to save itself, and to do so by absence of sin. From this
arises a whole system of restrictive asceticism in relation to
sexuality. To avoid any risk of vertigo, one has to stay as far
as possible on the safe side of the cliff- one has to run away.
In order not to give way to the blandishments of pleasure, in
order not to be carried away by enjoyment, one has to cut away
the very roots of pleasure and inflict pain on oneself: privation
and penance.

This practice is in itself largely defensible. It contains the
elements of a valuable prophylactic. What is more disturbing
is to see it gradually transformed into a practical system, in
which an absolute sanctifying quality is implicitly accorded to
suffering and sacrifice. This odd inversion 5 of natural values to
all intents and purposes endorses the value of chastity conceived
as a moral castration - and it has opened the door to all the
extravagances of penitentialism. However - and this is to the
credit of the gospel - this asceticism is justified for Christians
only in so far as it develops ultimately into a refined mysticism.

4 Tutiorism consists in adopting, when in doubt, the solution which involves the least
risk. Some theologians or spiritual advisers have made it a rule of virtue. (Ed.)
*This inversion turns pain, the normal symptom of effort, into a result which, it is
held, is of value quite independently of the result to which the effort is directed.

6 4


If the real believer nurses so apprehensive a love for the restric-
tive practices of chastity, it is because he sees in them the
necessary means of preserving the flower of his charity. And
this comes about as follows.

For every religion worthy of the name, to worship means to
lose oneself unitively in God. In Christianity, however, this
union of the divine takes on a precisely defined meaning: it
comes into effect as a supreme marriage. The saintly soul is in
some way Christ's bride. As a consequence of this fundamental
concept, Christianity's empirical approach to chastity - and
herein lie both its strength and its weakness - develops as an
extension to man-God relationships of the ideal code accepted
between earthly lovers: hence physical virginity. But most of
all, and even more clearly, a holding-back of the powers
that love commands. It is the heart that dictates chastity. We
have been moving hitherto in the half-dark of physiology, and
now at last we find a fully human clarity. Christian chastity is
ultimately a transposition into religion of the lovers fidelity.

It is, then, the notion of fidelity that we shall be chiefly con-
cerned to examine more fully when we come to discuss the
supremely nice question of an evolution of chastity. Here we
may simply note that, in conformity with a restrictive and
penitential asceticism, Judaeooriental in tone, the Christian
expression of this fidelity has so far been primarily in terms of
privations; so much so that the whole theory of Christian
sanctification - based, and rightly based, on sublimation of
love - tends to culminate in a sort of separatist view of matter.

True Christianity has never condemned matter, but has, on
the contrary, constantly defended it against monist or Mani-
chaean heretics. Christianity draws nourishment from sacra-
mental practices, and lives in the hope of a resurrection. Yet



this care for the body is combined with an odd mistrust of the
earth's resources. Creatures are good: and yet they are not good.
The world might well have been created as we see it: and yet
it contains within itself a hidden perversion. And so once more
we come up against the complexity of the still insufficiently
intellectualized notion of the original Fall.

In this somewhat ambiguous situation, the Christian's rule
will be (as the book of the Imitation says) to take less rather than
more. He will save his body by losing it. He will sublimate
matter by attenuating it. The flesh does not form an atmosphere
or a nebula around his spiritual self, but a duplicate. For reasons
that we cannot understand, this satellite, mysteriously associated
by the Creator with the spirit, is inconstant and dangerous.
Above all, it is wilful. We must hold it in subjection, even
when ministering to it.

Logically, the saint will attain the maximum of self-perfec-
tion by a minimum use of matter - and, most particularly, of
matter in its most virulent form: the feminine.


It is thus that Christianity has carried further than any other
religion the practice of chastity, of which it has developed the
most perfect type in the figure, so lovingly cultivated and for
so many centuries, of the Virgin Mary. And today it is Chris-
tianity that constitutes the surest defence of chastity and its
richest storehouse.

Nevertheless, it by no means follows that the ideal of virtue
which it conserves and seeks to make more widely accepted,
still retains for our modern minds the vigour and precision of
its first magnetic charm. The moral value of chastity (or at least



the traditional interpretation and discipline), long accepted
almost without question, was seriously challenged by the
Reformation, and for many of us is now coming to lose its
obvious rightness. Nor should this phenomenon be attributed,
by oversimplification, to human perversity, and, in conse-
quence, be underestimated. It must be faced conscientiously
and straightforwardly; for, in a number of aspects, it is far
from behaving as a retrograde movement - it is manifesting
itself, rather, as an attraction exerted by a loftier ideal.

Underlying the modern mind's objection to the gospel code
of purity, and running deeper than any pagan libertarian
thought, we can distinguish, I believe, a re-awakening of the
religion of spirit. On die one hand, the whole physiological
and social side of chastity is again being challenged: the im-
portance of virginity or material integrity of the body has be-
come as unintelligible to us as respect for a taboo. And on the
other hand, for reasons which we shall try to analyse later, we
are finding a successful venture into experience more attractive
than preservation of innocence; we now estimate the moral
value of actions by the spiritual impulse they provide.

In its extreme form, disregard for the material side of chastity
is expressed in a radical, and ingenuous, solution. 'In short/
we often hear, 'sexuality has no significance at all from the
moral and religious point of view: you might as well speak
of running your digestion on moral principles. So far as his
sexual side is concerned, man must no doubt have a care for
health, and exercise temperance. A controlled use will give
him balance and an added zest for action. But by no stretch of
imagination can we agree that physical chastity has anything to
do with spiritual virtue. There is no direct relationship between
sanctity and sexuality/


I cannot accept this idea that two independent variables,
'spirit' and 'matter', operate in the domain of moral growth.
It is not in conformity either with the deep instinct which has
always made men suspect that something more valuable than
mere self-control underlies chastity - or, quite simply, with
the all-embracing laws of biological development. Moreover,
the idea itself is no more than an elementary form of im-
patience, a mere gesture, produced as part of the reaction
which makes the modern mind question the pre-eminence of
chastity. There is another idea which seems to me to be much
more connected with the basic evolution of our thought. This
(the most important basis of psychoanalysis) is that the energy
which fuels our interior life and determines its fabric is in its
primitive roots of a passionate nature. Like every other animal,
man is essentially a tendency towards union that brings mutual
completion; he is a capacity for loving, as Plato said long ago.
It is from this primordial impulse that the luxuriant complexity
of intellectual and emotional life develops and becomes more
intense and diverse. For all their height and the breadth of their
span, our spiritual ramifications have their roots deep in the
corporeal. It is from man's storehouse of passion that the warmth
and light of his soul arise, transfigured. It is there, initially,
that we/hold concentrated, as in a seed, the finest essence, the
most delicately adjusted spring, governing all spiritual develop*

When we have finally weighed things up, it is apparent that
only spirit is worth our pursuit; but deep within us there exists
a system of linkages, both sensitive and profound, betweenspirit
and matter. It is not only that the one, as the Christian moralists
say, supports the other: it is born of the other, and so we should
not simply say, 'To lighten the burden of the body, be ab-



stemious', but, 'To maintain the drive of spirit, fill up with
fuel.' Underlying the religion (or moral science) of spirit, a new
moral conception of matter is asserting itself*

The idea that there is a universal genesis of spirit through
matter (the idea, in other words, of a spiritual power of
matter) has origins which outflank the problem of chastity. It
arises from that vast experience of mankind which, in the
course of a century, has given a completely new picture of the
world: the discovery of universal time and evolution. Until
the eighteenth century, or thereabouts, the debate about the
principles of moral science was confined to two very simply
distinguished groups: the spiritual and the material. The latter
claimed that die business of life was to enjoy nature as they
found it. The former urged that we must, on the contrary,
hasten to shake off the dust of material things. Both, however,
agreed in admitting implicitly that the world had never moved
- or, at any rate, had come to a final halt. It was then that
through all the channels of thought and experience there
entered into us the consciousness that the 'universe around us 9
was still functioning as a vast reservoir of vital potentialities.
It used to be believed that matter was either stabilized or spent;
and it was found to be inexhaustibly rich in new psychological
energies. It used to be thought that nothing essential was still
left to be discovered; and now we realize that everything is
still waiting to be found. The perfecti came uncommonly
close to rejecting the world like a squeezed lemon: we shudder
at the idea of that wasteful gesture, which would have brought
to a dead stop the conception, still being developed, of spirit.
Then we revised other judgements of value in the light of this

'The author, it will be observed, has transcended the opposition between matter and
spirit which is incompatible with human unity. (Ed.)


discovery, and found that the transformation of our intellectual
views on matter was gradually, both in fact and logically, in-
vading the domain of our affective and emotional life. Woman
is, for man, the symbol and personification of all the fulfilments
we look for from the universe. The theoretical and practical
problem of the attainment of knowledge has found its natural
'climate' in the problem of the sublimation of love. At the
term of the spiritual ppwer of matter, lies the spiritual power of the
flesh and of the feminine.

It is here, if I am not mistaken, that we reach the source of the
divergence which seems to detach our modern sympathies
from the traditional cult of chastity. The Christian code of
virtue seems to be based on the presupposition that woman is
for man essentially an instrument of generation. Either woman
exists for the propagation of the race - or woman has no
place at all: such is the dilemma put forward by the moralists.
All that is most dear to us in our experiences, and most certain,
revolts against this simplification. However fundamental
woman's maternity may be, it is almost nothing in comparison
with her spiritual fertility. Woman brings fullness of being,
sensibility, and self-revelation to the man who has loved her.
The truth is as old as man himself; but it could not take on its
full value until the world had reached such a degree of psycho-
logical consciousness that, for a human race that had spread
far and wide and had a sound economic footing, the problems
of food supplies and of reproduction had begun to be domi-
nated by those of maintaining and developing spiritual energies.
In fact, making the widest allowance for the phenomena of
moral retrogression and licence, it would appear that the
present 'freedom' of morals has its true cause in the search for



a form of union whidi will be ridier and more spiritualizing
than that which is limited to the cradle. Here we have a
symptom, which may be interpreted as follows.

Within the human mass there floats a certain power of
development, represented by die forces of love, which infinitely
surpasses the power absorbed in the necessary concern for the
reproduction of the species. The old doctrine of chastity
assumed that this drive could and should be diverted directly
towards God, with no need of support from the creature. In
this there was a failure to see that such an energy, still largely
potential (as are all the other spiritual powers of matter), also
required a long period of development in its natural plane. In
the present state of the world, man has not yet, in reality, been
completely revealed to himself by woman, nor is the reciprocal
revelation complete. In view, therefore, of the evolutive struc-
ture of the universe, it is impossible for one to be separated
from the other while their development is still continuing. It
is not in isolation (whether married or unmarried), but in
paired units, that the two portions, masculine and feminine,
of nature are to rise up towards God. The view has been put
forward that there can be no sexes in spirit. This arises from
not having understood that their duality was to be found again
in the composition of divinized being. After all, however 'sub-
limated 9 man may be imagined to be, he certainly is not a
eunuch. Spirituality does not come down upon a monad' but
upon the human "dyad 9 .

There is a general question of the feminine, and so far it has
been left unsolved or imperfecdy expressed by the Christian
theory of sanctity. It is this that accounts for our dissatisfaction
with, and our repugnance to, the old discipline of virtue. It
used to be urged that the natural manifestations of love should



be reduced as much as possible. We now see that the real
problem is how to harness the energy they represent and
transform them. We must not cut down on them, but go
beyond them. Such will be our new ideal of chastity.


Once we have properly understood and, most important of all,
have known by experience, the meaning of the words 'spiritual
power of matter 9 , the first thing we see is the disappearance, in
an initial phase, of die classic distinction between holiness of
body and holiness of spirit. Material creation no longer stretches
between man and God like a fog or a barrier. It develops like an
elevating, enriching ambience; and it is important not to try
to escape from this or release oneself from it, but to accept its
reality and make our way through it. Rightly speaking, there
are no sacred or profane things, no pure or impure: there is
only a good direction and a bad direction - the direction of ascent,
of amplifying unity, of greatest spiritual effort; and the direc-
tion of descent, of constricting egoism, of materializing enjoy-
ment. If they are followed in the direction which leads upwards,
all creatures are luminous; if grasped in the direction which
leads downwards, they lose their radiance and become, we
might almost say, diabolical. According to the skill with which
we set our sails to their breeze, it will either capsize our vessel
or send it leaping ahead. Hitherto, asceticism has been a
pressure towards rejection - the chief requirement of holiness
used to be self-deprivation. In future, because of our new
moral outlook on matter, spiritual detachment will be some-
thing much more like a conquest; it will mean plunging into
the flood of created energies, in order both to be uplifted and



to uplift them - and this includes the first and most fiery of those
energies. Chastity (just as resignation, 'poverty', and the other
evangelical virtues) is essentially a spirit And so we can begin
to see the outline of a general solution to the problem of the

In itself, detachment by passing through is in perfect harmony
with the idea of the Incarnation in which Christianity is
summed up. The movement carried out by the man who
plunges into the world, in order first to share in things and then
to carry them along with him - this movement, let me em-
phasize, is an exact replica of the baptismal act: 'He who
descended 9 , says St Paul, 'is he also who ascended • • • that he
might fill all things/ It is quite natural, accordingly, that, under
the pressure of the sense of man for which she serves as a
channel, the Church of God should correct anything rather too
'oriental* (or negative) that might be found in her theory of
renunciation. This comparatively new proposition, that
Christian perfection consists not so much in purifying oneself
from the refuse of the earth as in divinizing creation, is a
forward step. In the most conservative quarters, it is beginning
to be recognized that there is a communion with God through
earth - a sacrament of the world - spreading like a halo round
the Eucharist; but there is still a grudging reserve in allotting
the share that has at last been accorded to terrestrial sources of
nourishment. As in the biblical Eden, the majority of fruits
are now allowed to the initiate. His, if he feels their attraction,
the 'vocation 9 - his the joys of artistic creation, the conquests
of thought, the emotional excitement of discovery. These
broadenings of personality are accepted as sanctifying or
patient of sanctification. One tree, however, still carries the
initial prohibition, the tree of the feminine. And so we are still



faced by the same dilemma - either we can have woman only
in marriage, or we must run away from the feminine.

Why this exception? why this departure from logic?

I can distinguish two main reasons : one, a matter of practical
prudence - the other, derived from an ideal or theory.

In practice, the feminine is included among natural products
that are forbidden as being too dangerous: a disturbing scent,
an intoxicating draught. Since the beginning of time, men have
been astounded by the uncontrollable power of this element;
and in the end, being unable to suppress its use entirely, our
mentors have come to limit it to essential cases. There is no
distrust (though logically there might well be, perhaps) of the
passions for ideas or for numbers, or even of a keen interest in
stars or nature. Because these realities are assumed (quite
wrongly) to appeal only to the reason, they are regarded as
harmless and easily spiritualized. Sexual attraction, on the
contrary, is frightening because of the complex and obscure
forces it may at any moment bring into operation. Love, it
would seem, is a monster slumbering in the depths of our
being, and, throughout our lives, we can be safe from it only
if we are careful not to disturb its sleep.

I am far from denying the destructive and disintegrating
forces of passion. I will go so far as to agree that apart from the
reproductive function, men have hitherto used love, on the
whole, as an instrument of self-corruption and intoxication.
But what do these excesses prove? Because fire consumes and
electricity can kill, are we to stop using them? The feminine is
the most formidable of the forces of matter. True enough.
'Very well, then/ say the moralists, 'we most keep out of its
way/ 'Not at all/ 1 reply, 'we must master it/ In every domain
of the real (physical, affective, intellectual) 'danger is a sign of



power. Only a mountain can create a terrifying drop. The
customary education of the Christian conscience tends to make
us confuse tutiorism with prudence, safety with truth. Avoid-
ing the risk of a transgression has become more important to
us than carrying a difficult position for God. And it is this that
is killing us. 'The more dangerous a thing, the more is its
conquest ordained by life': it is from that conviction that the
modern world has emerged; and from that our religion, too,
must be re-born. In order to justify the overall prohibition
that a certain Christian asceticism imposes on the use of the
feminine, it is useless to paint a picture of the dangers of an
adventure; if we have any 'sporting* instinct, those dangers
will only attract us. If we are to abandon our attempt to climb
the peak, we need an explanation of why the ascent will not
bring us closer to God.

The second reason - a positive reason this time - for exclud-
ing the influence of the feminine from the hearts of the fully
Christian, is sought by traditional asceticism in the ideal of
'fidelity* which was mentioned at the beginning of this essay.
What God asks for from the Christian is his heart; and it is
this heart which we have to preserve for him, without sharing.
But what do we mean by sharing our heart? Is it loving some
thing outside the lover? Perhaps. But this accepted attachment
to die other, whether material or abstract, can be corrected
and put right. It is never more than peripheral. What is really
serious, and even mortal, is turning towards an other: it is
loving some one. To have a passionate enthusiasm, as a Christian,
for science or thought, or any other impersonal structure, is
still possible, for its charms are inanimate and can therefore be
divinized by us. Woman, however, represents something
personalized, in other words a type of being that is closed in on



itself and is in some way absolute. It is impossible to allow this
type into our interior system without to some extent disturbing
the unity of attraction which is to elevate us. In the case of love,
more than in any other, it is impossible to serve two masters.
Such is the final argument of those who defend the 'old'

In a general way, I must confess that I am suspicious of a
doctrine which compares our heart to a glass of water which
is emptied when shared. I have already said that I am convinced
that our passional power is a delicate organism whose reserves
we too often waste when we love ill. But that our heart
necessarily becomes less for one being, by giving itself to
another (in another relationship or following an hierarchical
order), that is something which I find it very difficult to accept*
I can find two lovely flowers - and my eyes can return from
one with increased sensitivity to the appreciation of the other.
Use multiplies power. What is true is that, in the particular
case of love, the husband must keep and strengthen for the
wife the privileged position which makes her in some way the
sun of his interior universe. And it is here that jealousy is in the
right: there can be only one sun in our heart's firmament: but
why may there not be subordinate stars?

These remarks seem to me already to weaken considerably
the psychological value of the 'law of reservation' of the heart,
which is invoked by defenders of a chastity 'of privation'.
But we can go still further when we answer them. In defining
the code of chastity, we have a way of comparing God and the
Christian soul to two lovers, univoce. This is to overlook the
essential fact that God is not a person of the same order as our-
selves. He is a super-person, a 'hyper-centre' - that is to say
someone of greater depth than us. This means that the fact



that a man centres his heart on a woman does not necessarily
imply that that man is going to be affectively 'neutralized' in
relation to God. The divine sun (because it is deeper) can still
be seen through the feminine star. It can shine, and with even
greater brilliance) along, and reaching beyond, the same line.
Even though affectively replete in relation to other human
persons, the pair of lovers can still be open, free, and even
exalted by their duality, to the higher attraction of God. There
is a way of loving which does not merit the apostle's reproach
that it 'divides' a man. 7 A purely imaginary case, you will say.
Yet are we not, once again, mortally infected by the prevailing
confusion between prudential rules and judgements of value?
There is no doubt about it: the feminine must be included
among the sources from which Christian life draws its vigour.
It is exceptional in only one way - in its extreme power. And,
precisely because of that power, it, more than any other energy
contained in matter, is subject to the triumphant domination
of spirit.

Chastity, then, is a virtue of participation and conquest, and
not a schooling in restriction and avoidance. Purity is often
pictured to us as a fragile crystal which will tarnish or be
shattered if it is not protected from rough handling and the
light. In fact, it is more like the flame which assimilates every-
thing and brings it up to the standard of its own incandescence.
€ Omnia tnunda mundis\ 'To the pure all things are pure':
broadly speaking, that is perfectly true. In the relationship

'Chastity attracts, and legitimately, by the aura of freedom which surrounds it There
are, it is true, tasks that call for the whole man; but on reflection it becomes apparent
that the hindering or dividing agent is not Woman, but either the family or the
physically loved woman. A noble passion lends wings. That is why the best test for
determining to what degree a love is sublime would be to note to what degree it
develops in the direction of a greater freedom of spirit The more spiritual an affection
is, the less it monopolizes - and the more it acts as a spur to action.



between spirit and body everything is, indeed, a matter of
'potential*. 'Burn or be burned/ 8 Volatilize matter or be cor-
rupted by it. Throughout the whole range of things, such is
the law of life: a law which we cannot conceivably avoid if
we are to develop the most sublime peak of our being.

Naturally enough, a price has to be paid for this achieve-
ment. In our approaches to woman, and when we come into
contact with her, we are enveloped in a sort of indistinct glow
of illumination - the instinctive feeling that a new world
awaits us and is about to develop in the depths of matter -
if only we fold the wings of spirit, and surrender ourselves to it.
This, in an emotional form (which is much more insidious
than the intellectual form), is the 'materialist illusion 9 . So: if
we wish to make the mystery of the flesh fully our own, we
must make a considered choice which will be an expression in
our own consciousness of the very effort of creation, and so
discredit the false evidence of the mirage which tends to drag
us down. 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 colours is still in full
growth. But, for all the fascination that the lower shades have
for us, it is only towards the 'ultra 9 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.

•Fundamentally, there is a confrontation between two opposing theories of chastity -
two ideas of purity. One side says, 'Above all, break no rule - even at the cost of some
loss in richness.* The other side says, 'Above all, increase your richness, even at the
cost of some contamination.' I need hardly say that, to my mind, it is die latter who
have hold of the truth and will be vindicated by the future.


Both human experience and human thought would appear to
guarantee this.

The whole problem now (in theory a secondary problem,
but an extremely important one in practice) is to estimate to
what degree, as the 'spectrum' turns towards colours of an
ever higher quality, the lower radiations continue to shine -
or whether they are extinguished. The centre of loving attrac-
tion and possession shifts progressively towards the spiritual;
and if beings are to attain one another, they are obliged to seek
one another at a progressively higher level. But, if they are to
ensure the fullness of this sublimation - if they are not to cut
the channels which convey to them the spiritual powers of
matter -from what initial level are they to start taking possession
of one another? How much of the body is needed for an
optimum of spirit? 9

And so our analysis of the creative function of chastity-
spirit brings us back to the problem of determining the precise
meaning and value of virginity.


As we were saying earlier, the material side of virginity, though
important for primitive peoples, has completely ceased to have
any significance for us. This, the physical, aspect of the virtue
has become meaningless to us. But we have reached the point
where we must now consider whether virginity has not some
hidden spiritual value, deeper than physical integrity, for the
sake of which we may still have reason - better reason, even,
than ever- to foster and respect it

•This completes the authors statement of the problem. He now goes on to show die
increasing importance of virginity. (Ed.)



On first consideration, the idea of a sanctity that attaches
particularly to continence does not seem specially appropriate
to the moral significance we have just attributed to chastity.
If chastity is a spirit which requires nourishment, why cut it
off from the most vigorous of its sources? Is not the gift of the
body the complete and natural form in which the natural
power of matter offers itself for sublimation? And is not spirit
waiting to be produced, like a spark, from the shock of this
encounter? And the great surges of energy released by physical
love - is it not precisely these which it should be our first
concern to stimulate, to master, and to transform?

Here I must admit that, left to my own judgement, I am not
at all clear about 'quod non licet\ about what is not allowable.
For obvious reasons, physical union has traditionally been
associated exclusively with the idea of material generation. A
certain type of 'theological biology 9 still teaches indeed that by
reason of the human physical conformation it is impossible for
it to be otherwise without violating the natural order. As
though 'the natural order* of the world were something with
which we were presented complete and ready-made, rather
than a balance which is trying to establish itself! As though our
organs had existed fully formed from the very beginning, and
had not, on the contrary, been adapted in the course of evolu-
tion to meet new requirements! As though the tongue had
been made for speech and not used for speaking ! All that sort
of talk rests on very shaky foundations.

The more, accordingly, I think about this problem, the less
can I find anything unacceptable in the idea expressed by the
heroine of a Russian novel that 'we shall in the end find another
way of loving 9 . Spiritual fecundity accompanying material
fecundity ever more closely - and ultimately becoming the



sole justification of union. Union for the sake of the child -
but why not union for the sake of the work, for the sake of the
idea? The multiplicity of man is such that each form of
association would have its adherents, nor would there be any
danger that the second might prematurely destroy the first.
Fundamentally, is not this spiritual use of the flesh precisely
what many men of genius, men who have been true creators,
have instinctively found and adopted, without asking the
moralists for their approval? And is it not from these allegedly
impure sources that a life has been drawn which here and now
sustains those of us to whom conservation is of prime im-

Looking at the problem abstractly, such is the position I
cannot but anticipate. And at the same time, were I to have to
leave the field of theory and attempt, or even advise, this
practice of spiritual-physical love, I feel that I would be stopped
by an insurmountable obstacle - by some indefinable instinct
in which I believe I can distinguish something more than the
mechanical bent imposed on my soul by continual subjection to
the prohibition "Thou shalt not* repeated for generation after
generation. And then I wonder whether it would be a release
or only a retrograde step to snap the links of moral duty and
reverent admiration that have formed around the ideal of
virginity in the course of centuries of human experience. May
there not be some hidden reason which ensures that, however
omnipotent spirit may be in the domain of chastity, some
physical sources of vigour shall not be subject to its transform-
ing power - precisely because of the perfection of chastity?

Moralists (as we noted earlier) often seem to us to use an
argument based on personal or collective safety to justify
exclusion of the flesh from affective relationships - or at any



rate a tendency to reduce its active part to a minimum. It is
something we must deny ourselves, for fear lest we abuse it;
that we must cut ourselves off from, so that we may not be
absorbed by it. We must force ourselves over to the right, to
make sure that we do not slip to the left; climb, to make sure
that we do not fall. By themselves, let me repeat, these reasons
are not sufficient. In the first place it is doubtful whether the
method proposed would be effective. To force often means to
distort; and you can even break a thing by forcing it. No force,
and no idea, has ever been conquered by repression - to do so
you have to harness it. And secondly, if there is one point on
which all religions are in agreement, and on which Christianity
in particular has staked its authority, it is that physical chastity
brings with it a sort of absolute superiority. If, therefore, we
wish to preserve the essence of traditional practice, it is in-
dispensable to disclose some perfection that resides in virginity
by nature.

And it is, I believe, somewhat along the lines that follow
that this may be done. The most penetrating interpretation we
can give of the world - the interpretation we find in much the
same terms in all mystical and philosophical systems - is to
regard the world as a movement of universal convergence,
within which the plurality of matter is consummated in spirit.
This view of things takes into account the fundamental and
creative role of erotic attraction. It provides a simple formula
that readily disentangles the complex difficulties presented by
the biological, intellectual and moral evolution of the world. In
every field, it is obvious, progress means unification. Looked
at from this angle, God is seen to be the supreme centre in
which the multiplicity of lower forms of being becomes an



organic whole - the focus at which matter is consummated in
spirit. Let us, then, accept this hypothesis - and apply it to the
problem with which we are now concerned.

At the point at which life, in the present world, has arrived,
the spiritualizing unification of human monads is governed by
two attractive forces, which are the same in nature but differ
in value. These are the mutual love of man and woman, and
divine love. As each element seeks to find fulfilment in unity,
it is courted simultaneously by the forces of passion and by
mystical forces, working in association. The element must,
simultaneously, complete its human unity in the feminine, and
its cosmic unity in God. In both, there is fundamentally the
same energy of convergence, the same love. The two forces
do not, however, pull together in harmony immediately.
How, then, are we to combine them and so obtain a resultant
force which will give the maximum spiritual 'yield'? That, in
feet, is the problem raised by chastity.

A first solution that comes to mind is the very one we
suggested at the beginning of this chapter. Initially, man will
gravitate to woman. He will take possession of her in the fullest
sense; and it is the flame which explodes from this first union
which will leap up towards God. First, there is the contact of
die two elements in human love; and then the dual ascent to-
wards the greater divine centre. This process, we were saying,
seems to have the advantage of most fully releasing, for God,
the spiritual potentialities of passion. Without any doubt, it has
been responsible for the appearance on earth of great truths
and great beauties: but are there reasons why we should be
wary of it?

I can see only one - but it is one that could have great
weight. It is this: we have just assumed that man's potentialities



are magnificently released by physical love. What would
appear to have been always dormant in our souls is awakened
and leaps forward. Is this completely true? Another possibility
suggests itself; that a sort of 'short-circuit' is produced in the
dazzling gift of the body - a flash which burns up and deadens
a portion of the soul. Something is born, but it is for the most
part used up on the spot. What constitutes the peculiar in-
toxication that comes with complete giving may very well
be that in it we burn away a part of our 'absolute'. And so a
second solution to the problem of chastity comes to mind.
Why should there be this distinction of two phases in union:
first one gift, and then another? Is it really possible, without
loss, to give oneself twice? The time has perhaps come when,
in conformity with the inflexible laws of evolution, man and
woman - on whom life has laid the charge of advancing to the
highest possible degree the spiritualization of the earth - will
have to abandon that way of possessing one another which has
hitherto been the only rule for living beings. Retaining of their
mutual attraction only that part of it which causes them to
rise as they come closer, why should they not direct forwards
the impulse in which they grasp one another? No immediate
contact, but convergence at a higher level: the moment of
complete giving would then coincide with their meeting with the
divine. This retains our faith in the spiritual value of the flesh -
but at the same time it finds room for virginity. Chastity be-
comes in essence a delayed gift.

So we have two solutions, and two roads. Which is right?
The evidence that individuals can give on this point is con-
flicting and contradictory. Congenitally, if I may put it so,
I am myself committed to the second. I have followed it as
far as possible; and I have, it is true, been through some diffi-



cult passages. But I have never felt any impoverishment of
being, nor that I had lost my way.

And now I have reached the point where I believe I can
distinguish, as I look around me, the two following phases in
the creative transformation of human love. During a first
phase of humanity, man and woman are confined to the
physical act of giving and the concern with reproduction; and
around that fundamental act they gradually develop a growing
nimbus of spiritual exchanges. At first it was no more than an
imperceptible fringe, but the fruitfulness and mystery of union
gradually find their way into it; and it is on the side of that
nimbus that the balance ultimately comes to rest. However, at
that very moment, the centre of physical union from which
the light emanated is seen to be incapable of accepting further
expansion. The centre of attraction suddenly withdraws ahead,
to infinity, we might say; and, in order to continue to possess
one another more fully in spirit, the lovers are obliged
to turn away from the body, and so seek one another in
God. Virginity rests upon chastity as thought upon life:
through a reversal of direction, or at one particular point of

Such a transformation on the face of the earth cannot, of
course, be instantaneous. Time is essentially necessary. When
you heat water, die whole quantity does not turn into steam at
the same moment: the liquid phase and the gaseous phase exist
together for a long time. Nor could it be otherwise. Neverthe-
less, one single event is taking place beneath this duality - and
its significance and *worth-whileness' extend to the whole.
So, at this present moment, physical union retains its necessity
and its importance for the race; but its spiritual quality is
henceforth defined by the type of higher union it first makes



possible and then sustains. Love is going through a 'change of
state' in the noosphere; and, if what all the great religions
teach us is correct, it is in this new direction that man's col-
lective passage to God is being mapped out.

It is in this form that I picture to myself the evolution of

Theoretically, this transformation of love is quite possible.
All that is needed to effect it is that the pull of the personal
divine centre be felt with sufficient force to dominate the
natural attraction that would tend to cause the pairs of human
monads to rush prematurely into one another's arms.

In practice, I am forced to admit, the difficulty of this enter-
prise seems so great that ninety per cent of my readers would
say that all I have written here is over-ingenuous or even wildly
absurd. Surely universal experience has shown conclusively
that spiritual loves have always ended in grossness? Man is
made to walk with his feet on the ground. Has anyone ever
thought of giving him wings?

Yes, I shall answer: some madmen have had such a dream;
and that is why we have today conquered the skies. What
paralyses life is lack of faith and lack of audacity. The difficulty
lies not in solving problems but in 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, 10 the

10 Writing today, Teilhard would say 'space*. (Ed.)



'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. 11

Peking, February 1934

u As early as 1917, in the very middle of the first world war, Pere Teilhard felt himself
called to give living expression to this ultimate form of love in God: "The true union
that you ought to seek with creatures that attract you is to be found not by going
directly to them, but by converging with them on God, sought in and through them.
It is not by making themselves more material, relying solely on physical contacts, but
by making themselves more spiritual in the embrace of God, that things draw closer
to one another . . .' 'The true union is the union that simplifies ... the true fertility
is the fertility that brings beings together in the engendering of spirit . . .' (Writings
in Time of War, pp. I43» I97)« (Ed.)





I am no artist: I am a geologist - in other words I am simply
a prospector whose field is the past; and I have therefore no
right to address this gathering. Nevertheless, I have recently
had occasion to concern myself with human energy, its value,
its use, and its future; and in so doing I have had to examine
the various forms assumed by the activity of the world we live
in. And this is what I thought I could more or less distinguish,
but what only you, who are artists, can see completely, can
express unambiguously, and can make real.

In the first place, so far as I understand art, it is a universal
perfection which appears as a luminous fringe around every
form in which the vital is realized, as soon as the realization
attains the perfection of its expression. There is a supreme art
in the fish, the bird, the antelope.

In man, however, art, true art, becomes something more
than this. It ceases to be a fringe and becomes an object, some-
thing endowed with a special life. It becomes individualized;
and it then appears in the world as the form assumed in the
world by that particular exuberance of energy, released from
matter, which characterizes mankind.

A large proportion of this excess of energy in quest of
employment is no doubt absorbed by science and philosophy.
Science and philosophy would never have been born, nor



would they continue to develop, had not the earth possessed,
as a result of technological progress, a constantly increasing
store of power available for use. At the same time, they are
closely connected with the collective fulfilment of the human
organism; and we have no difficulty in seeing them as a
legitimate and essential extension of life's progress.

In art, on the other hand, we still find, unimpaired, the
freedom and even the imaginative fancy, which is characteristic
of an ebullition of energy in its native form. In the shimmer of
radiance it casts over human civilization, does it not make us
think of the countless tints, prodigal and yet without function,
which decorate the calyces of flowers or the wings of butter-

The question then arises for the engineer or biologist, whose
primary concern is to measure the spiritual yield of things, 'Is
art simply a sort of expenditure and dissipation, an escape of
human energy? Its characteristic being, as is sometimes said,
that it serves no purpose? Or is the contrary true, that this
apparent uselessness hides the secret of its practical efficiency?'

As many others have done before me, I have asked myself
this question: and it has seemed to me that, far from being a
luxury or a parasitical activity, art fulfilled a threefold neces-
sary function in the development of spirit throughout the

In the first place, I maintain, art serves to give the over-plus
of life which boils up in us the first elementary degree of
consistence through which that drive, initially completely
internal, begins to be realized objectively for all of us. A feeling
may be vivid, but it still lacks something, or cannot be com-
municated to others, unless it is expressed in a significant act,
in a dance, a song, a cry. It is art that provides this song or cry



for the anxieties, die hopes, and the enthusiasms of man. It
gives them a body, and in some way materializes them.

Thereby, too, by the very fact that it gives these impulses a
sensible form, art idealizes them and already to some degree it
intellectualizes them. The artist, I imagine, would be wrong,
and indeed has often gone astray, in trying painfully to intro-
duce a thesis or doctrine into his work. In his case, it is intuition
and not reason that should be dominant. But if the work does
truly issue from the depths of his being, with the richness of
musical harmony, then we need have no fear: it will be re-
fracted in the minds of those upon whom it Ms, to form a
rainbow of light. More primordial than any idea, beauty will
be manifest as the herald and generator of ideas.

Through its power of symbolic expression, art thus gives
the spiritual energy that is being produced on earth its first body
and its first face. But it fulfils a third function in relation to that
energy, one that is the most important of all. It communicates
to that energy, and preserves for it, its specifically human
characteristic, by personalizing it. Science and thought, it is
true, call for an incommunicable originality in those who excel
in them; but the thinker's originality, or the scientist's, may
well be swallowed up in the universality of the conclusions he
expresses. The scientist is comparatively soon swamped in the
collective creation to which he devotes himself The artist,
precisely because he lives by his imagination, can ignore and
counterbalance this cancelling-out of the human worker by
his work. The more the world is rationalized and mechanized,
the more it needs poets' as the ferment within its personality
and its preservative.

In short, art represents the area of furthest advance around
man's growing energy, the area in which nascent truths con-



dense, take on their first form, and become animate, before
they are definitively formulated and assimilated.

This is the effective function and role of art in the general
economy of evolution.

P&re Teilhard de Chardin's contribution, 13 March 1939, at
an artists' luncheon arranged in Paris by the "Centre d'Etudes
des Probl&mes humains 9 .



Today, in the middle of the global crisis through which the
world is passing, there is not a single man, believer or un-
believer, who is not longing with his whole soul for light - a
light to show him that there is some sense of direction behind,
some outcome to, the confusion that prevails on earth. Never,
perhaps, since the first year of the Christian era, has mankind
found itself so cut off from its past structures, more anxious
about its future - more ready to welcome a saviour.

We who are Christians know that the saviour has already
been born; but we now have a completely new phase of
mankind, and should not the saviour be re-horn in a form com-
mensurate with our present needs? People are looking today
(this I know from so often having heard it admitted) to Rome.
Will the Church be able, at the decisive hour, to take to her-
self a world which offers itself to her in the very throes of its
transformation? Will she find at the critical moment the word
which will explain what is happening, and so give back to us
clarity of vision and joy in action - the word for which we are

I myself, a mere unit in the great Christian body, can, you
may be sure, make no claim to show our leaders the road to
follow. For various accidental reasons, however, and by tem-
perament, I have found myself living more closely than others
to the heart of the earth; and in consequence I feel the need to
emphasize here, with all sincerity and frankness, the re-
modelled form of worship I believe to be required by that heart




Some are so distressed by the intellectual and moral disorders
that are today confusing the human mass that they are inclined
to believe that what we are doing is simply to drop back and
disintegrate. Feeling as they do, what they would suggest to
save our threatened civilization would be to force emancipated
minds back into the framework of the old way of looking at

To my mind, the nature of the disease is completely different
- and in consequence calls for a completely different remedy.
The more I question myself, and the people I meet, the more
convinced I am of this: disregard of traditional rules certainly
plays a large part in the troubles from which we are suffering,
but that disregard itself is not so much lack of principle as
dissatisfaction. There is something too narrow and something
missing in the gospel as presented to us. In spite of appearances,
our age is more religious than ever: it is only that it needs
stronger meat. A crisis not of spiritual weakness and frigidity,
but one of transformation and growth - that is the sort of
ordeal we are experiencing.

That being so, it is useless or even dangerous to recommend
a mere return to the past. It is because man needs and hopes for
something other that he is now rising up in protest and kicking
over the traces. Wider horizons, and not a tighter rein - that,
if I am not mistaken, is the only remedy that can effectively
bring our generation back to the ways of truth.

But - and this is the point - where are those horizons to be
found? Fundamentally, what is it that human beings are



looking for today? In other words, what lies at the root of
their confusion?


At the original source of the intellectual and social troubles
which characterize the present crisis, there lies, to my mind,
an important change; during the last two centuries this change
has taken place surreptitiously in the deepest layers of that
religious consciousness of man which has, with reason, been
called the 'naturally Christian soul 9 .

Until the dawn of modern times, the problem of salvation
could be expressed for man in no more than two terms: the
existence on earth of each man, and his ultimate end; the brief
years of life, and eternity; the human individual, and God.
And between the two - nothing.

What, then, has happened in the course of barely two
hundred years? As a result of a complex combination of
external discoveries and internal insights, man has become
conscious simultaneously both of the incredible resources
accumulated in the human mass, and of the possibilities open
to this energy for the building up of a tangible work, anticipated
by nature. God is no longer seen as standing immediately
above man: there is an intermediate magnitude, with its
accompanying train of promises and duties. Thus, without
leaving the world, man is now discovering above himself some
sort of 'object of worship', something greater than himself: and
it is the appearance of the earth of tomorrow - of this new
star, which is channelling into itself the religious forces of the
world - that is associated, I believe, with the origin of our



present perplexities. It is this, in any case, that accounts for the
irresistible emergence of the great myths (the communist, the
nationalist myths), whose appearance and whose impact are
shaking the old civilization. It is no longer a matter of mere
heresies within Christianity, but of Christianity's being con-
fronted by what seems to be an entirely new religion, which
threatens to make a clean sweep of everything. You may call
it the Temptation on the Mountain, if you wish; but there is
an infinite subtlety in it, since, in this context, it is not a question
of self-gratification in worship, but of disinterested conquest,
productive, without any doubt, of lofty spiritual forces. It is
the replacement, in human consciousness, of charity by the
'sense of the earth*.
What is the duty of us Christians at this juncture?


It is impossible, I was saying, to return man to the right path
by forcing him back towards some long out-dated condition.
And it would be equally useless to try to convert him by re-
moving from his horizon the pseudo-divine object which has
just invaded it under the symbols of mankind, of race, or of
progress. Whether we like it or not, not one of us can exist
without thereby experiencing the deeply penetrating influence
of this new star. Each one of us (those of us whose faith is
strongest) is faced by the spiritual problem of balancing not
two but three co-existing realities: our own soul, God, and also
the earthly future of the world lying ahead of us. To deny
the existence of this last object would be to falsify ourselves,
to lie to ourselves and, in consequence, to our faith.



If that, however, is so, then the general solution of the
problem becomes clear. It emerges automatically. There is
only one way of escaping from the threatening, absorbing,
thing which we cannot remove from our sky, and must not
try to remove, simply because it exists: and that way is to over-
come it by a Force greater than it. Would it not be possible to
assimilate it, to baptize it, to Christianize it, to Christify it?

'Thy kingdom come. 9 We used, perhaps, to imagine that
God's triumph is confined to a purely interior and 'super-
natural* dominion over souls. Is that true? Or does it not, on
the contrary, presuppose not only the tangible reality of our
own individual bodies, but also the fulfilment of the collective
human organism throughout the ages?

'Love one another/ Is that essentially Christian disposition
limited to easing, individually, the sufferings of our fellow-
men? Or does it not, rather, need to be developed in active
sympathy with the great human body, in such a way as not
merely to bind up its wounds but to embrace its anxieties, its
hopes, all the structural growth that creation still looks for
in it?

To incorporate the progress of the world in our picture of
the kingdom of God: to incorporate the sense of the earth,
the sense of man, in charity - with the world no longer eclipsing
God nor carrying us away at a tangent - with the two stars
entering into an harmonious conjunction - with the two
influences added together in an hierarchical whole, so to uplift
us in one and the same direction - 'Deus amictus mundo\ 'God
clothed in the world 9 : were such an operation possible, we may
be sure that it would immediately and radically put an end to
the internal conflict from which we are suffering.

And so little is needed, so little would be enough, for this



liberating transformation to be effected: simply - and this is
the point I want to make - that we should follow our creed to
its fullest implications, along the logical and historical line of
its development.


'Nova et Vetera - 'New things and old.' It is part of the normal
economy of the Christian life that certain elements, long
dormant in revealed truth, suddenly develop into powerful
branches; and this happens commensurately with new times
and needs, and in answer to their demands.

In our own day, this, it seems to me, is the part reserved for
the grand and essentially dogmatic idea of the Christian
pkroma: the mysterious synthesis of the uncreated and the
created - the grand completion (at once quantitative and quali-
tative) of the universe in God. It is impossible to read St Paul
without being astounded by three things simultaneously: first,
the fundamental importance attached by the apostle to this
idea, interpreted with the utmost realism; secondly, the relative
obscurity to which it has hitherto been relegated by preachers
and theologians; and thirdly, its astonishing appropriateness
to the religious needs of the present day. Here we have the
concept of God gathering to himself not merely a diffuse
multiplicity of souls, but the solid, organic, reality of a universe,
taken from top to bottom in the complete extent and unity of
its energies - and do we not find in that precisely what we were
feeling our way towards?

It would, indeed, seem that under the guidance of a divine
instinct, and parallel with the rise of modern humanist aspira-



tions, the sap of Christianity is even now flowing into the bud
that has been dormant so long, and will soon make it burst
into flower. We can now clearly distinguish a fundamental
movement in the Church, which also started just two hundred
years ago, in the cult based on devotion to the heart of Jesus,
and which is now clearly directed towards worship of Christ
- of Christ considered in the ways in which he influences the
whole mystical body, and in consequence, the whole human
social organism; the love of Christ being seen as the energy in
which all the chosen elements of creation are fused together
without thereby being confused. Rome has recently made a
gesture which marks a decisive stage in the development of
dogma, expressing and sanctioning in the figure of Christ the
King this irresistible advance of Christian consciousness to-
wards a more universalist and more realist appreciation of the

What I have in mind, and what I dream about, is that the
Church should follow up the logical extension of this move-
ment, and so make plain and actual to the world, as St Paul
did to his converts, the great figure of him in whom the
pleroma finds its physical principle, its expression, and its
consistence: Christ-Omega, the Universal-Christ. 'Descendit,
ascendit, ut repleret omnia - 'He descended, and he ascended, that
he might fill all things/ 1 St Paul's imagery made rather a vague
impression, no doubt, on the Romans, the Corinthians, the
Ephesians, or the Colossians, because in those days the 'world',
the 'whole* (with all that those words now imply for us of the
organically defined), had not yet come to exist in man's con-
sciousness; but for us, fascinated by the newly discovered
magnitude of the universe, it expresses exactly that aspect of

1 Ephcsians 4: 9-10.



God which is needed to satisfy our capacity for worship.
Between Christ the King and die Universal Christ, there is
perhaps no more than a slight difference of emphasis, but it
is nevertheless all-important. It is the whole difference between
an external power, which can only be juridical and static, and
an internal domination which, inchoate in matter and culminat-
ing in grace, operates upon us by and through all the organic
linkages of the progressing world.

This figure of the Universal Christ, the prime mover, the
saviour, the master and the term of what our age calls evolution,
entails no risk, we should note, of the disappearance of the
man-Christ, or of a deviation of mysticism into some pan-
theistic and impersonal form of worship.

The Universal Christ, born from an expansion of the heart
of Jesus, requires the historical reality of his human nature if
he is not to disappear; and at the same time, as a function of
the mechanism specific to love, he does not absorb but com-
pletes the personality of the elements which he gathers to-
gether at the term of union. Nor, again, is there any danger
that the faithful who are drawn to the Universal Christ will
forget heaven and allow themselves to succumb to a pagan
naturalism and be drawn into a materialist conquest of the
earth: for does not the Universal Christ, in his full glory,
always emerge from the Cross?

So, there is no danger: on the other hand, what advantages
are to be reaped, and how alluring the prospect !

This (and I speak from experience) is something of which I
am deeply convinced. The religious consciousness of today,
now finally won over to the idea of some 'super-mankind* to
be born from our efforts, but unable to find any concrete
image or rule of action that will answer its aspirations - this



modern consciousness could never resist a Christianity which
presented itself as the saviour of the earth's most real and living
hopes. This would mean a complete and radical conversion of
neo-paganism; and it would mean also a new infusion of the
lifeblood of mankind into the heart, too often starved of that
human energy, of those who believe.

It is only the Christian (and he only in so far as he absorbs into
himself the humano-divine properties of the Universal Christ)
who is in a position today to answer the complex demands of
nature and grace by an incredibly rich and simple act, by a
completely synthetic act f in which the spirit of detachment and
the spirit of conquest combine, correct and elevate one
another - the spirit of tradition and the spirit of adventurous
enquiry, the spirit of the earth and the spirit of God-
May we not say that if the Church wishes to guide the con-
vulsions of the modern world to a fruitful issue, all she needs
to do is to summon us to the discovery and die exercise of this
completely modern form of charity?

After two thousand years, the affirmation of a Christian
optimism in the nativity of the Universal Christ: is not that
the message and the rallying cry we need?

Peking, 31 October 1940

Published in 1963 in the Teilhard de Chardin Foundation's
Cahier IV, without the additions provided later by Fr Bernar-
dino M. Bottansea, o.f.m., of the Catholic University of
Washington. These manuscript additions appear in copies
given by Pfere Teilhard to Pfere Allegra, O.F.M.





i. In its time-honoured classic form, the theory of Christian
perfection is based on the idea that in the world we know,
'nature' (as opposed to 'super-nature') is fully complete. Nu-
merically, of course, spirit is still increasing on earth (i.e.
there is a multiplication of souls). Qualitatively, however (in
its 'natural 9 powers), it is at a standstill, making no progress in
any direction. All that it is doing is to maintain itself and
endure. This being so, human perfection can mean no more
than each individual's flight into the supernatural. Anything
else is of no concern to the kingdom of God, except in so far
as it is necessary to ensure, for some arbitrary period of time,
the functioning and preservation of life from age to age: and
the children of this world are still on the whole competent to
deal with that particular problem. Essentially, the Christian is
more purely Christian the more rapidly he detaches himself


q G = God. s, s', s" = souls.

f^ WW' = the world, re-

\^ maining constant through

;i* time. (In this, as in the other

^vv^^^ figures, 'nature* is repre-


sented by cross-hatching,
'the supernatural 9 by dots.)



from die world; die less lie makes use of creatures, the closer
lie is brought to spirit.

2. But now a new element has just appeared in man's con-
sciousness; and, to my mind, this calls not for a dilution, but
for a corrected development, of these traditional views. For
many reasons, we are now coming to see that man's powers -
both his 'natural powers' and those which are 'patient of super-
naturalizing are still infill growth - and that will probably be so
for some millions of years to come. We used to think that
"mankind was fully mature; in fact, it is very far from being
adult - very far from being fully created: and this is true not


The world, converging in
the future towards a
'natural 9 , psychic, con-

only of its individualized values but also, and most of all, of
the collective term towards which it is making its way as a result
of the great phenomenon of 'convergence of spirit'. We may
represent this 'natural' evolution of spirit which creation still
awaits by a cone, 1 with apex K (figure 2). How then, are we
to conceive the transposition of the problem of perfection into
this new context?

3* If we wished to retain the old formulas literally^ we should
obviously have to say that when souls are striving towards
holiness they do not have to concern themselves with the

x Of course, if anyone rejects this, which is now the normal view for our generation,
any further discussion with him becomes useless. We can only wonder how such a
man can understand his contemporaries or hope to influence their minds.



jHffly The classic formula of

,**^§^$ # 'detachment* applied literally

frfrfrtt^Vfffryg* K t0 a wor ld in process of

natural growth (still active).

formation of the cone K: their perfection consists solely in
detaching (separating) themselves as much as possible from that
cone, in the direction of God (figure 3, G). This, however, is
no longer possible, for two reasons at least.

a. First, in virtue of the continuing (still active) creation of
die 'natural* stuff of the world, the kingdom of God is now
seen to be directly concerned, qua tale, with a natural process
which, after producing the soul of stuff s, must produce that of
stuffs', and then that of stuff s" . . . The Christian thus finds
himself obliged qua talis, in as much as he is a Christian, to
support the 'natural' world's further progress ahead (since a
new form of nourishment, spiritual in substance, 8 is con-
tinually to be expected from that progress), and so allow the
transforming action of the forces of supernaturalization.

b. But there is a further reason. The serious defect in the
solution given by the diagram (figure 3) is that it does not
retain the dogmatic magnitude of the Incarnation. In this
diagram God, it is true, gathers souls to himself one by one;
but he does not consummate in himself the collective develop-
ment of the world 'as a whole'. 8 He incorporates individuals,

•'spiritual in substance* is inserted in the author's hand on the copy given by him to
FrGabriele M. Allegra, o.f.m., in Peking, between 1942 and 1945. This copy is now
in the possession of Fr Allegra's friend, Fr Bernardino M. Bonansea, who has allowed
us to use it. (Ed.)
*Pere Teilhard uses the English phrase. (Ed.)



but the universe and mankind evade him. In consequence,
there are two distinct spiritual poles in the universe : one natural,
K; and the other supernatural, G. In this view of a 'bi-cephalous •
spirit, the Incarnation is parasitic' to the world: but it does not
re-cast the world in a 'mono-cephalous' pleroma, in Christo.
What would St Paul and the great body of the Greek Fathers
have to say to that?

4. The only solution that will satisfy both dogma and reason
is that shown ^grammatically in figure 4: that is, the natural
and supernatural consummations of the world envelop one
another (the latter incorporating and super-animating the
former), with God situated on the extended axis of the natural
evolution of the whole of spirit. Ghristogenesis is thus seen to
be the sublimation of the whole of cosmogenesis (figure 4).

If the apexes G and K are thus brought together, it is evident
that all duality in the mind and heart of the Christian dis-
appears. Without any tendency to deviate into any naturalism
or Pelagianism, he finds that he, as much as and even mote than
the unbeliever, can and must have a passionate concern for a
terrestrial progress which is essential to the consummation of
the kingdom of God. 'Hotno sum. Plus et ego. 9

figure 4

This shows diagrammatically
(zone of the'counsels 1 ) the incorporation of natural

progress in Christian
spiritualization and
detachment. K finds
completion only in G - and
G incorporates K ('needs' K)
for the realization of the




And at the same time, the elevating power of human detach-
ment is retained intact. The Cross still dominates the earth with
its symbol of annihilation, but it does so by consecrating and
integrating all the sweat and tears - the constructive sweat and
tears - which human effort entails. The annihilation is still
there, but it is positive annihilation: annihilation, subordinated
to a growth, here corresponds to an excess of growth - annihila-
tion here requires, if it is to be authentic and possible, that both
individuals and the world be ready for, be ripe for, this final
step of reversal and excentration. For a fundamental gift of self,
one must be fully self.

In conclusion, three points should be noted:

a. An important advantage in figure 4 over figure 3, is that
it provides our age with a powerful, and perhaps essential,
'credibility motive*. Today, to place God out of tune with
human progress is to undermine the reasons for belief in the
minds of believers, and to shut the door of faith in the face of
unbelievers (. . . unless we resign ourselves to making the
Church into a shelter for the disillusioned).

b. It would be useless and even wrong-headed to look to
the saints of the past for explicit approval or condemnation of
the new attitude just suggested - since the problem of human
progress (as we understand it today) did not arise for them.
What we need to do, and will in itself be sufficient, is to be
able to recognize that when that earlier movement towards
perfection is translated into the outlook of today, it becomes
precisely the 'detachment by super-attachment' which I have
just been describing. 4

c. At the most fundamental level, what now influences our

4 No longer separation (escape) but emergence (note added by the author on Fr Allegra's



views on the mechanics (the ascesis) of spiritualization is that
spirit has ceased to be for us 'anti-matter', or 'extra-matter',
and has become 'trans-matter'. As we now see it, spiritualiza-
tion can no longer be effected in a breakaway from matter or
out of tune with matter: it must be effected by passing through
and emerging from matter. 'DesceniiU ascendit, ut repleret
omnia 9 , 'He descended, and he ascended, that he might fill all
things' 5 - there you have the very economy of the Incarnation.

Peking, 1942

*C£ Ephesians 4: 9-10.



In the world of mechanized matter, all bodies obey the laws
of a universal gravitation; similarly, in the world of vitalized
matter, all organized beings, even the very lowest, steer them-
selves and progress towards that quarter in which the greatest
measure of well-being is to be found.

One might well imagine, then, that a speaker could hardly
choose an easier subject than happiness. He is a living being
addressing other living beings, and he might well be pardoned
for believing that his audience contains none but such as are
already in agreement with him and are familiar with his ideas.

In practice, however, the task I have set myself today turns
out to be much nicer and more complex.

Like all other animate beings, man, it is true, has an essential
craving for happiness. In man, however, this fundamental
demand assumes a new and complicated form: for he is not
simply a living being with greater sensibility and greater
vibratory power than other living beings. By virtue of his
'hominization' he has become a reflective and critical living
being; and his gift of reflection brings with it two other
formidable properties, the power to perceive what may be
possible, and the power to foresee the future. The emergence
of this dual power is sufficient to disturb and confuse the hither-
to serene and consistent ascent of life. Perception of the possible,
and awareness of the future - when these two combine, they
not only open up for us an inexhaustible store of hopes and



fears, but they also allow those hopes and fears to range far
afield in every direction. Where the animal seems to find no
difficulties to obstruct its infallible progress towards what will
bring it satisfaction, man, on the other hand, cannot take
a single step in any direction without meeting a problem
for which, ever since he became man, he has constantly and
unsuccessfully been trying to find a final and universal

€ De vita beata\ in the ancient phrase - on the happy life:
what, in fact, is happiness?

For centuries this has been the subject of endless books, in-
vestigations, individual and collective experiments, one after
another; and, sad to relate, there has been complete failure to
reach unanimity. For many of us, in the end, the only practical
conclusion to be drawn from the whole discussion is that it is
useless to continue the search. Either the problem is insoluble
- there is no true happiness in this world - or there can be only
an infinite number of particular solutions - the problem itself
defies solution. Being happy is a matter of personal taste. You,
for your part, like wine and good living. I prefer cars, poetry,
or helping others. 'Liking is as unaccountable as luck.' You
must often, I am sure, have heard that sort of remark, and it
may well be that you are a little inclined to agree.

What I want to do this evening is to confront fairly and
squarely this relativist (and basically pessimist) scepticism
shared by so many of our contemporaries, by showing you
that, even for man, the general direction in which happiness
lies is by no means so ill-defined as it is taken to be: provided
always that we confine our enquiry to the search for those joys
which are essential and, in so doing, take as our basis what we
are taught by science and biology.



I cannot, unfortunately, give you happiness: but I do hope
that I may be able at least to help you find it.

What I have to say Ms into two parts. In the first, which will
be primarily theoretical, we shall try together to define the
best route leading to human happiness.

In the second part, which will serve as a conclusion, we shall
consider how we must adapt our individual lives to these
general axes which run towards happiness.

i. The Theoretical Axes of Happiness


If we are to understand more clearly how the problem of
happiness presents itself to us, and why we find ourselves at a
loss when we meet it, it is essential to start by taking a com-
prehensive view of the whole position. By this I mean that we
must distinguish three fundamental initial attitudes to life
adopted by men as a matter of fad.

Here an analogy may well be a useful guide.

Let us imagine a party of tourists who have set out to climb
a difficult peak, and let us take a look at them some hours after
they have started. By this time we may suppose the party to be
divided into three sorts of elements.

Some are regretting having left the inn. The fatigue and risks
involved seem out of all proportion to the value of a successful
climb. They decide to turn back.

Others are not sorry that they set out. The sun is shining,
and there is a beautiful view. But what is the point of climbing
any higher? Surely it is better to enjoy the mountain from
here, in the open meadow or deep in the wood. And so they



stretch out on the grass, or explore the neighbourhood until it
is time for a picnic meal.

And lastly there are the others, the real mountaineers, who
keep their eyes fixed on the peaks they have sworn to climb.
So they set out again.

The tired - the hedonists - the enthusiasts.

Three types of men: and, deep within our own selves, we
hold the germ of all three. And, what is more, it is into these
three types that the mankind in which we live and move has
always been divided.

I. First, the tired (or the pessimists)

For this first category of men, existence is a mistake or a failure.
We do not fit in - and so the best thing we can do is, as grace-
fully as possible, to retire from the game. If this attitude is
carried to its extreme, and expressed in terms of a learned
doctrinal system, it leads in the end to the wisdom of the
Hindus, according to which the universe is an illusion and a
prison - or to a pessimism such as Schopenhauer's. But, in a
milder and commoner form, the same attitude emerges and
can be recognized in any number of practical decisions that
are only too familiar to you. 'What is the good of trying to
find the answer? . . . Why not leave the savages to their
savagery and the ignorant to their ignorance? What is the
point of science? What is the point of the machine? Is it not
better to He down than to stand up? better to be dead than
asleep in bed?' And all this amounts to saying, at least by im-
plication, that it is better to be less than to be fnore - and that
best of all would be not to be at all.



2. Secondly ; the hedonists (or pleasure-seekers)

For men of this second type, to be is certainly better than not
to be. But we must be careful to note that in this case 'to be*
has a special meaning. For the followers of this school, to be,
or to live, does not mean to act, but simply to take your fill of
this present moment. To enjoy each moment and each thing,
husbanding it jealously so that nothing of it be allowed to be
lost - and above all with no thought of shifting one's ground -
that is what they mean by wisdom. When we lave had enough,
then we can He back on the grass, or stretch our legs, or look
at the view from another spot. And meanwhile, what is more,
we shall not rule out the possibility of turning back downhill.
We refuse, however, to risk anything for the sake of or on the
chance of the future - unless, in an over-refinement of sensi-
bility, danger incurred for its own sake goes to our heads,
whether it be in order to enjoy the thrill of taking a chance or
to feel the shuddering grip of fear.

This is our own version, in an oversimplified form, of the
old pagan hedonism found in the school of Epicurus. In literary
circles such has recently been the tendency, at any rate, of a
Paul Morand or a Montherlant - or (and here it is far more
subtle) of a Gide (the Gide of Fruits of the Earth), whose ideal of
life is to drink without ever quenching (rather, indeed, in such
a way as to increase) one's thirst - and this with no idea of
restoring one's vigour, but simply from a desire to drain,
ever more avidly, each new source.



3* Finally, the enthusiasts

By these I mean those for whom living is an ascent and a dis-
covery. To men in this third category, not only is it better to
be than not to be, but they are convinced that it is always
possible - and the possibility has a unique value - to attain a
fuller measure of being. For these conquerors, enamoured of
the adventurous, being is inexhaustible - not in Gide's way,
like a precious stone with innumerable facets which one can
never tire of turning round and round - but like a focus of
warmth and light to which one can always draw closer. We
may laugh at such men and say that they are ingenuous, or we
may find them tiresome; but at the same time it is they who
have made us what we are, and it is from them that tomorrow's
earth is going to emerge.

Pessimism and return to the past; enjoyment of the present
moment; drive towards the future. There, as I was saying, we
have three fundamental attitudes to life. Inevitably, therefore,
we find ourselves back at the very heart of our subject: a con-
frontation between three contrasting forms of happiness.

i. First, the happiness of tranquillity

No worry, no risk, no effort. Let us cut down our contacts,
let us restrict our needs, let us dim our lights, toughen our pro-
tective skin, withdraw into our shell. - The happy man is the
man who attains a minimum of thought, feeling and desire.



2. Secondly, the happiness of pleasure

Static pleasure or, better still, pleasure that is constantly re-
newed. The goal of life is not to act and create, but to make use
of opportunities. And this again means less effort, or no more
effort than is needed to reach out for a clean glass or a fresh
drink. Lie back and relax as much as possible, like a leaf drink-
ing in tie rays of tie sun - shift your position constantly so
that you may feel more fully: that is the recipe for happiness.
- The happy man is the man who can savour to the highest
degree the moment he holds in his hands.

3. Finally, the happiness of growth

From this third point of view, happiness has no existence nor
value in itself as an object which we can pursue and attain as
such. It is no more than the sign, the effect, the reward (we
might say) of appropriately directed action: a by-product, as
Aldous Huxley says somewhere, of effort. Modern hedonism
is wrong, accordingly, in suggesting that some sort of renewal
of ourselves, no matter what form it takes, is all that is needed
for happiness. Something more is required, for no change
brings happiness unless the way in which it is effected involves
an ascent. - The happy man is therefore the man who, without
any direct search for happiness, inevitably finds joy as an
added bonus in the act of forging ahead and attaining the full-
ness and finality of his own self

Happiness of tranquillity, happiness of pleasure, and happi-
ness of development: we have only to look around us to see
that at the level of man it is between these three lines of pro-
gress that life hesitates and its current is divided.



Is it true, as we are so often told, that our choice is deter-
mined only by the dictates of individual taste and tempera-

Or is the contrary true? that somewhere we can find a reason,
indisputable because objective, for deciding that one of these
three roads is absolutely the best, and is therefore the only road
which can lead us to real happiness?


r. General solution: fuller consciousness as the goal

For my part, I am absolutely convinced that such a criterion,
indisputable and objective, does exist - and that it is not
mysterious and hidden away but lies open for all to see. I hold,
too, that in order to see it all we have to do is to look around
and examine nature in the light of the most recent achieve-
ments of physics and biology - in the light, that is, of our new
ideas about the great phenomenon of evolution.

The time has come, as you must know, when nobody any
longer retains any serious doubts about this: the universe is not
'ontofogically' fixed - in the very depths of its entire mass it
has from the beginning of time been moving in two great
opposing currents. One of these carries matter towards states
of extreme disintegration; the other leads to the building up
of organic units, the higher types of which are of astronomical
complexity and form what we call the 'living world*.

That being so, let us consider the second of these two
currents, the current of life, to which we belong. For a century
or more, scientists, while admitting the reality of a biological
evolution, have been debating whether the movement in
which we are caught up is no more than a sort of vortex,



revolving in a closed circle; or whether it corresponds to a
clearly defined drift, which carries the animate portion of the
world towards some specific higher state. There is today almost
unanimous agreement that it is the second of these hypotheses
which would appear undoubtedly to correspond to reality.
Life does not develop complexity without laws, simply by
chance. Whether we consider it as a whole or in detail, by
examining organic beings, it progresses methodically and
irreversibly towards ever higher states of consciousness. Thus
the final, and quite recent, appearance of man on the earth is
only the logical and consistent result of a process whose first
stages were already initiated at the very origins of our planet.

Historically, life (which means in fact the universe itself,
considered in its most active portion) is a rise of consciousness.
How this proposition directly affects our interior attitudes and
ways of behaviour must, I suggest, be immediately apparent.

We talk endlessly, as I was saying a moment ago, about
what is the best attitude to adopt when we are confronted by
our own lives. Yet, when we talk in this way, are we not like
a passenger in the Paris to Marseilles express who is still wonder-
ing whether he ought to be travelling north or south? We
go on debating the point: but to what purpose, since the
decision has already been taken without reference to ourselves,
and here we are on board the train? For more than four
hundred million years, on this earth of ours (or it would be
more correct to say, since the beginning of time, in the
universe), the vast mass of beings of which we form a part
has been tenaciously and tirelessly climbing towards a fuller
measure of freedom, of sensibility, of inner vision. And are we
still wondering whither we should be bound?

The truth is that the shadow of the false problems vanishes



in the light of the great cosmic laws. Unless we are to be guilty
of a physical contradiction (unless, that is, we deny everything
that we are and everything that has made us what we are) we
are all obliged, each of us on his own account, to accept the
primordial choice which is built into the world of which we
are the reflective elements. If we withdraw in order to diminish
our being, and if we stand still to enjoy what we have, in each
case we find that the attempt to run counter to the universal
stream is illogical and impossible.

The road to the left, then, and the road to the right are both
closed: the only way out is straight ahead.

Scientifically and objectively, only one answer can be made
to the demands of life: the advance of progress.

In consequence, and again scientifically and objectively, the
only true happiness is the happiness we have described as the
happiness of growth and movement.

Do we want to be happy, as the world is happy, and with
the world? Then we must let the tired and the pessimists lag
behind. We must let the hedonists take their homely ease,
lounging on the grassy slope, while we ourselves boldly join
the group of those who are ready to dare the climb to the
topmost peak. Press on!

Even so, to have chosen the climb is not enough. We have
still to make sure of the right path. To get up on our feet ready
for the start is well enough. But, if we are to have a successful
and enjoyable climb, which is the best route?

2. Detailed solution: the three phases of personalization

As I said earlier, life in the world continually rises towards
greater consciousness, proportionate to greater complexity -



as though the increasing complexity of organisms had die
effect of deepening the centre of their being.

Let us consider, then, how this advance towards the highest
unity actually works out in detail; and, for the sake of clarity
and simplicity, let us confine ourselves to the case of man -
man, who is psychically the highest of all living beings and
the one best known to us.

When we examine the process of our inner unification, that
is to say of our personalization, we can distinguish three allied
and successive stages, or steps, or movements. If man is to be
fully himself and fully living, he must, (i) be centred upon
himself; (2) be 'de-centred* upon 'the other'; (3) be super-
centred upon a being greater than himself.

We must define and explain in turn these three forward
movements, with which (since happiness, we have decided, is
an effect of growth) three forms of attaining happiness must

1. First, centration. Not only physically, but intellectually and
morally too, man is man only if he cultivates himself- and that
does not mean simply up to the age of twenty . . . If we are to
be fully ourselves we must therefore work all our lives at our
organic development: by which I mean that we must con-
stantly introduce more order and more unity into our ideas,
our feelings and our behaviour. In this lies the whole pro-
gramme of action, and the whole value and meaning (all the
hard work, too !) of our interior life, with its inevitable drive
towards things that are ever-increasingly spiritual and elevated.
During this first phase each one of us has to take up again and
repeat, working on his own account, the general labour of life.
Being is in the first place making and finding one's own self



2. Secondly, decentration. An elementary temptation or illusion
lies in wait for the reflective centre which each one of us
nurses deep inside him. It is present from the very birth of
that centre; and it consists in fancying that in order to grow
greater each of us should withdraw into the isolation of his own
self, and egoisticaUy pursue in himself alone the work, peculiar
to him, of his own fulfilment: that we must cut ourselves off
from others, or translate everything into terms of ourselves.
However, there is not just one single man on the earth. That
there are, on the contrary, and necessarily must be, myriads and
myriads at the same time is only too obvious. And yet, when
we look at that fact in the general context of physics, it takes
on a cardinal importance - for it means, quite simply, this:
that, however individualized by nature thinking beings may be,
each man still represents no more than an atom, or (if you
prefer the phrase) a very large molecule; in common with all
the other similar molecules, he forms a definite corpuscular
system fromwhichhe cannot escape. Physically and biologically
man, like everything else that exists in nature, is essentially
plural. He is correctly described as a 'mass-phenomenon'. This
means that, broadly speaking, we cannot reach our own ulti-
mate without emerging from ourselves by uniting ourselves
with others, in such a way as to develop through this union an
added measure of consciousness - a process which conforms to
the great law of complexity. Hence the insistence, the deep
surge, of love, which, in all its forms, drives us to associate our
individual centre with other chosen and specially favoured
centres: love, whose essential function and charm are that it
completes us.



3. Finally, super-centration. Although this is less obvious, it is
absolutely necessary to understand it.

If we are to be fully ourselves, as I was saying, we find that
we are obliged to enlarge the base on which our being rests; in
other words, we have to add to ourselves something of 'the
Other'. Once a small number of centres of affection have been
initiated (some special circumstances determining their choice),
this expansive movement knows no check. Imperceptibly, and
by degrees, it draws us into circles of ever-increasing radius.
This is particularly noticeable in the world of today. From the
very beginning, no doubt, man has been conscious of belonging
to one single great mankind. It is only, however, for our modern
generations that this indistinct social sense is beginning to take
on its full and real meaning. Throughout the last ten millennia
(which is the period which has brought the sudden speeding-up
of civilization) men have surrendered themselves, with but little
reflection, to the multiple forces (more profound than any war)
which were gradually bringing them into closer contact with
one another; but now our eyes are opening, and we are begin-
ning to see two things. The first is that the closed surface of the
earth is a constricting and inelastic mould, within which, under
the pressure of an ever-increasing population and the tightening
of economic links, we human beings are already forming but
one single body. And the second thing is that through the
gradual building-up within that body of a uniform and uni-
versal system of industry and science our thoughts are tending
more and more to function like the cells of one and the same
brain. This must inevitably mean that as the transformation
follows its natural line of progress we can foresee the time when
men will understand what it is, animated by one single heart,



to be united together in wanting, hoping for, and loving the
same things at the same time.

The mankind of tomorrow is emerging from the mists of
the future, and we can actually see it taking shape: a 'super-
mankind', much more conscious, much more powerful, and
much more unanimous than our own. And at the same time (a
point to which I shall return) we can detect an underlying but
deeply rooted feeling that if we are to reach the ultimate of our
own selves, we must do more than link our own being with
a handful of other beings selected from the thousands that
surround us: we must form one whole with all simultaneously.

We can draw but one conclusion from this twofold phenom-
enon which operates both outside ourselves and inside our-
selves: that what life ultimately calls upon us to do in order that
we may be, is to incorporate ourselves into, and to subordinate
ourselves to, an organic totality of which, cosmically speaking,
we are no more than conscious particles. Awaiting us is a
centre of a higher order - and already we can distinguish it -
not simply beside us, but beyond and above us.

We must, then, do more than develop our own selves -
more than give ourselves to another who is our equal - we
must surrender and attach our lives to one who is greater than

In other words: first, be. Secondly, love. Finally, worship.

Such are the natural phases of our personalization.

These, you must understand, are three linked steps in life's
upward progress; and they are in consequence three superim-
posed stages of happiness - if, as we have agreed, happiness is
indissolubly associated with the deliberate act of climbing.

The happiness of growing greater - of loving - of worship-



Taking as our starting-point the laws of life, this, to put it in
a nutshell, is the triple beatitude which is theoretically fore-

Now what is the verdict of experience on this point? Let us
for a moment go directly to the facts, and use them to check
the accuracy of our deductions.

First, there is the happiness of that deep-seated growth in
one's own self- growth in capabilities, in sensibility, in self-
possession. Then, too, there is the happiness of union with one
another, effected between bodies and souls that are made to
complete one another and come together as one.

I have little need to emphasize the purity and intensity of
these two first forms of joy. Everybody is in basic agreement on
that point.

But what shall we say about the happiness of sinking and
losing self in the future, in one greater than ourselves? ... Is
not this pure theorizing or dreaming? To find joy in what is out
of scale with us, in what we can as yet neither touch nor see.
Apart from a few visionaries, is there anyone in the positivist
and materialist world we are forced to live in who can concern
himself with such an idea?

Who, indeed?

And yet, consider for a moment what is happening around

Some months ago, at a similar meeting, I was telling you
about the two Curies - the husband and wife who found
happiness in embarking on a venture, the discovery of radium,
in which they realized that to lose their life was to gain it. Just
think, then: how many other men (in a more modest way,
maybe, and in different forms and circumstances), yesterday



and today, have been possessed, or are still possessed, even to
the point of death, by the demon of research? Try to count

In the Arctic and Antarctic: Nansen, Andree, Shackleton,
Charcot, and any number of others.

The men of the great peaks: the climbers of Everest.

The laboratory workers who ran such risks : killed by rays or
by the substances they handled - victims of a self-injected

Add to these the legion of aviators who conquered the air.
And those, too, who shared mans conquest of man: all who
risked, or indeed gave, their lives for an idea. 1

Make a rough count; and when you have done so, take the
writings and letters left by these men (such of them as left
any), from the most noteworthy of them (the everyday names)
to the most humble (those whose names are not even known)
- the airmail pilots who twenty-five years ago were pioneering
the air-route across America for human thoughts and loves,
and paid for it, one after another, with their lives. What do
you find when you read what they confided to paper? You
find joy, a joy that is both higher and deeper - a joy full of
power: the explosive joy of a life that has at last found a
boundless area in which to expand.

Joy, I repeat, in that which knows no bounds.

What generally saps and poisons our happiness is that we
feel that we shall so soon exhaust and reach the end of whatever
it is that attracts us: we know the pain of separation, of loss by
attrition - the agony of seeing time fly past, the terror of
knowing how fragile are the good things we hold, the dis-

14 You know that my life is an oblation, joyfully and conscientiously offered, with no
selfish hope of reward, to the Power which is higher than life* (Rathenau).



appointment of coming so soon to the end of what we are
and of what we love.

But when a man has found, in an ideal or a cause, the secret
of collaboration and self-identification (whether it be close or
distant) with the universe as it advances, then all those dark
shadows disappear. The joy of worshipping so spreads over the
joy of being and the joy of loving as to allow them to expand
and grow firmer (Curie, for example, and Termier were
admirable friends, fathers and husbands): it does not lessen or
destroy the earlier joys, and it holds and brings with it, in its
fullness, a wonderful peace. Its source of nourishment is
inexhaustible, because it gradually becomes one with the very
consummation of the world in which we move; by the same
token, moreover, it is safe from every threat of death and
decay. Finally, it is, in one way or another, constandy within
our reach, since the best way we have of reaching it is simply,
each one of us in his own place, to do what we are able to do
as well as we can.

The joy of the element which has become conscious of the
whole which it serves and in which it finds fulfilment - the
joy which the reflective atom draws from awareness of its
function and completion within the universe which contains
it - this, both logically and factually, is the highest and most
progressive form of happiness I can put before you and hope
that you may attain.

2. The Fundamental Rules of Happiness

So much for pure theory. We may now consider in what ways
it can be applied to our individual lives.
We have just made it clear that true happiness is a happiness



of growth - and, as such, it awaits us in a quarter characterized
i. unification of self within our own selves;

2. union of our own being with other beings who are our

3. subordination of our own life to a life which is greater
than ours.

What consequences do these definitions entail for our day-
to-day conduct? And what practical action should we take in
order to be happy?

I can, of course, satisfy your curiosity and assist your good
will by only the most general indications; for it is here that,
quite rightly, we come up against any number of problems of
taste, accident and temperament Life becomes established and
progresses in nature and structure only by reason of the very
great variety of its elements. Each one of us sees the world and
makes his approach to it from a particular angle, backed by a
reserve of vital energy, with its own peculiarities, which
cannot be shared by others. (We may note, incidentally, that
it is this complementary diversity which underlies the biological
value of 'personality'.) Each one of us, therefore, is the only
person who can ultimately discover for himself the attitude,
the approach (which nobody else can imitate), which will make
him cohere to the utmost possible degree with the surrounding
universe as it continues its progress; that cohesion being, in fact,
a state of peace which brings happiness.

Bearing these reservations in mind, we can, following our
earlier lines of thought, draw up the following three rules of

1. If we are to be happy, we must first react against our tendency


reflections on happiness

to follow the line of least resistance, which causes us either to
remain as we are, or to look primarily to activities external to
ourselves for what will provide new impetus to our lives. We
must, it is true, sink our roots deep into the rich, tangible,
material realities which surround us; but in the end it is by
working to achieve our own inner perfection - intellectual,
artistic, moral - that we shall find happiness. The most im-
portant thing in life, Nansen used to say, is to find oneself.
Through and beyond matter, spirit is hard at work, building.
- Centration.

2. If we are to be happy we must, secondly, react against the
selfishness which causes us either to close in on ourselves, or to
force our domination upon others. There is a way of loving -
a bad and sterile way - by which we try to possess rather than
to give ourselves. Here again, in the case of the couple or the
group, we meet that same law of maximum effort which
governed the progress of our interior development The only
love which brings true happiness is that which is expressed in a
spiritual progress effected in common. - Decentration.

3. And if we are to be happy - completely happy - we must,
thirdly, in one way or another, directly or through some
medium which gradually reaches out further afield (a line of
research, a venture, an idea, perhaps, or a cause), transfer the
ultimate interest of our lives to the advancement and success of
the world we live in. If we are to reach the zone where the
great permanent sources of joy are to be found, we must be
like the Curies, like Termier and Nansen, like the first aviators
and all the pioneers I spoke of earlier: we must re-polarize our
lives upon one greater than ourselves. Do not be afraid that this



means that if we are to be happy we must perform some re-
markable feat or do something quite out of the ordinary; we
have only to do what any one of us is capable of: become
conscious of our living solidarity with one great Thing, and
then do the smallest thing in a great way. We must add one
stitch, no matter how small it be, to the magnificent tapestry
of life; we must discern the Immense which is building up and
whose magnetic pull is exerted at the very heart of our own
humblest activities and at their term; we must discern it and
cling to it - when all is said and done, that is the great secret of
happiness. As one of the most acute, and most materialist,
thinkers of modern England, Bertrand Russell, has put it: it is
in a deep and instinctive union with the whole current of life
that the greatest of all joys is to be found. - Super-centration.

There you have the real core of what I have to say to you; but,
having reached that point, there is one more thing which I
owe it to you and to myself to say, if I am to be absolutely

I was recently reading a curious book, 2 in which the English
novelist and thinker H. G. Wells writes about the original
views recorded earlier by an American biologist and business-
man, William Burrough Steele, which bear precisely on the
point we are now considering, human happiness. Steele tries,
with much good sense and cogency, to show (just as I have
been doing) that since happiness cannot be dissociated from
some notion of immortality, man cannot hope to be fully
happy unless he sinks his own interests and hopes in those of the
world, and more particularly in those of mankind. He adds,
however, that, put in those terms, the solution is still incom-

*H. G. Wells, The Anatomy of Frustration*


plete; for if we are to be able to make a complete gift of self
we must be able to love. And how can one love a collective,
impersonal reality - a reality that in some respects must seem
monstrous - such as the world, or even mankind?

The objection which Steele found when he looked deeper,
and to which he gave no answer, is terribly and cruelly to the
point. My treatment of the subject would, therefore, be both
incomplete and disingenuous if I did not point out to you that
the undeniable movement which, as we can see, is leading the
mass of mankind to place itself at the service of progress is not
'self-sufficient': If this terrestrial drive which I am asking you
to share is to be sustained, it must be harmonized and synthe-
sized with the Christian drive.

We can look around and note how the mysticism of research
and the social mysticisms are advancing, with admirable faith,
towards the conquest of the future. Yet no clearly defined
summit, and, what is more serious, no lovable object is there for
them to worship. That is the basic reason why the enthusiasm
and the devotion they arouse are hard, arid, cold, and sad: to
an observer they can only be a cause for anxiety, and to those
who aspire to them they can bring only an incomplete happi-

At the same time, parallel with these human mysticisms, and
until now only marginal to them, there is Christian mysticism;
and for the last two thousand years this has constantly been
developing more profoundly (though few realize this) its view
of a personal God: a God who not only creates but animates
and gives totality to a universe which he gathers to himself by
means of all those forces which we group together under the
name of evolution. Under the persistent pressure of Christian
thought, the infinitely distressing vastness of the world is



gradually converging upwards, to the point where it is trans-
figured into a focus of loving energy.

Surely, then, we cannot fail to see that these two powerful
currents between which the force of man's religious energies is
divided - the current of human progress, and the current of
all-embracing charity - need but one thing, to run together,
and complete one another?

Suppose, first, that the youthful surge of human aspirations,
fantastically reinforced by our new concepts of time and space,
of matter and life, should make its way into the life-stream of
Christianity, enriching and invigorating it; and suppose at the
same time, too, that the wholly modern figure of a universal
Christ, such as is even now being developed by Christian
consciousness, should stand, should burst into sight, should
spread its radiance, at the peak of our dreams of progress, and so
give them precision, humanize and personalize them. Would
not this be an answer, or rather the complete answer, to the
difficulties before which our action hesitates?

Unless it receives a new blood transfusion from matter,
Christian spirituality may well lose its vigour and become lost
in the clouds. And, even more certainly, unless man's sense of
progress receives an infusion from some principle of universal
love, it may well turn away with horror from the terrifying
cosmic machine in which it finds itself involved.

If we join the head to the body - the base to the peak - then,
suddenly, there comes a surge of plenitude.

To tell you the truth, I see the complete solution to the
problem of happiness in the direction of a Christian humanism:
or, if you prefer the phrase, in the direction of a super-human
Christianity within which every man will one day understand
that, at all times and in all circumstances, it is possible for him



not only to serve (for serving is not enough) but to cherish in
all things (the most forbidding and tedious, no less than the
loveliest and most attractive) a universe which, in its evolution,
is charged with love. 8

Lecture given by Pere Teilhard de Chardin in Peking,
28 December 1943

*Pere Teilhard had added the following quotation at the end of his original typescript:
'From the religious standpoint happiness and contentment are not things which result
from welfare in any mere material or biological sense. Were human society freed
from all disease or accident, poverty, and overt crime, it might still be very miserable
and intolerably dull. The only thing that brings content is the service of God; and
that service can be equally real under the most variable conditions and in any station
in life; for the kingdom of God is within us. God's kingdom is one of loyal service,
whatever form the service may take. The religious perception that in that service,
apart from its mere outward results, we are one with God, brings inspiration, strength,
and inward contentment' (J. B. S. Haldane, Materialism, Hodder & Stoughton,
London, 1932, p. 156).





The first thing we have to do is to define moral science 9 and

Moral Science

a. In the widest sense, we may apply the term 'moral science*
to every coherent system of action, accepted by necessity or
agreement. (In this sense one could speak of the 'moral science*
of a game of chess.)

b. In the strict sense, 'moral science* is a coherent system of
action which is

- universal (governing the whole of human activity)

- and categorical (entailing some form of obligation).


In what follows, metaphysics is to be taken as meaning every
solution or vision of the world (of life) 'as a whole* (every
Weltanschauung), whether that solution of the complete world
imposes itself on our intelligence, or whether it is adhered to
categorically as a choice or a postulate.

Once these two definitions are accepted, the question we
have asked is immediately answered, simply by confronting
each of the two terms with the other. If, in fact, moral science
(in the stria sense of the words) implies coherence of action



- either a universal equilibrium (static moral systems)

- or a universal movement (dynamic moral systems)

then it necessarily presupposes the categorical acceptance of a
certain view of the world (as being in equilibrium or in evolu-
tion); otherwise it is 'up in the air* - indeterminate.

It follows, then, that moral science and metaphysics must
inevitably be seen as, structurally, the two aspects (the intel-
lectual and the practical) of one and the same system. A meta-
physics is necessarily backed by a moral science, and vice versa.
Every metaphysics entails its own moral science, and every
moral science implies its own metaphysics. Essentially the two
go together in pairs. There are as many definitions of good and
evil, as many forms of obligation, as there are solutions to the

From the philosophical primacy accorded to the individual
are derived the 'egoist' moral systems.

From the philosophical primacy of society, the social.

From the philosophical primacy of race, the 'national-

From the philosophical primacy of enjoyment, the 'hedon-

From the philosophical primacy of knowledge, the heuristic.

From the philosophical primacy of humanity, the humanist.

And finally, to philosophical agnosticism, corresponds a-

In every case, we should note, obligation is a function of the
solidarity and inter-dependence which the philosophical sys-
tem establishes between individual freedom and the universe.
The more an individual, as a consequence of his metaphysical
convictions, recognizes that he is an element of a universe in



which he finds his fulfilment, the more closely he feels that he
is bound from within himself to the duty of conforming to the
laws of the universe. In those philosophies in which the universe
culminates in a personal and transcendent being, this immanent
obligation is backed and reinforced by a transcendent obligation
of loving obedience to the will of God.

In theory, all this seems strictly true. In practice, no doubt,
many men act in a moral way by instinct or by temperament. Such
fidelity, however, is logically justified only by implicit accept-
ance of a certain vision of the world, in other words, a certain

For example, if philanthropical feelings are to be justified, it
is essential to have a certain view of the world in which
human individuals are seen to be linked together in the unity
of a common destiny.

Similarly, if an enthusiasm for enquiry and progress in all
its forms is to be justified, there must at all costs be an optimistic
and progressive theory of the universe, extending to a demand
for some irreversibility in the developments of spirit. 1

It follows from this organic and fundamental relation be-
tween moral science and metaphysics that our intellectual
adherence to a particular philosophy is a complex phenomenon,
in which the operation of the reason and the will are intricately
combined: for if the choice of a moral system follows logically
from rational adherence to a metaphysics, on the other hand a
metaphysics is ultimately acceptable to us, and appeals to us,
only in so far as it enables our active side to be developed as
fully as we wish it to be.

*However 'empirical* it may claim to be, a moral system cannot avoid attributing a
certain primacy, be it to well-being, to pleasure, to success ...and every one of these
primacies (and the very definition of the word 'success') implies essentially a solution
or vision of the world as a whole - in other words, a metaphysics.



The test of a metaphysics is the moral system which is
derived from it.

Today we are feeling the influence of new 'evolutive* views,
and these, it would appear, are causing the mass of mankind to
turn towards a moral system in which primacy is accorded to
hard work and human unity (a system which accepts move-
ment and looks to an ideal). This is linked with a metaphysics
in which the universe is seen as a quantum of psychic energy
flowing towards higher states of consciousness and spirituality.

There is a final difficulty: is the metaphysics to which every
moral system looks for a backing, a true structural complement,
or merely a fabricated justification, a sort of disease 2 of die
mind? And the answer : it is a structural complement, because -

i. This metaphysics provides die necessary animating force.

2. It determines the modes and progressive developments of

Peking, 23 April 1945

•Pete Teilhard uses the English word. (Ed.)




This is a critical period for mankind. With an intense feeling
of its own power and, at the same time, an equally intense
feeling of its inner disintegration, it is looking desperately for
a soul; and today it is once again towards the East that many
are directing their search, wondering if it may not be in that
quarter that the first signs of the dawn will be seen. The East
stands for spirit, the West for matter. Such, they keep telling
tis from over there, was the plan on which the world was
divided between the children of earth.

I have, myself, no special competence in the history of
Asiatic thought; but, simply as a considered reaction to an
environment in which I have been deeply involved for a long
time, I would like in what follows to offer a few remarks
which, I believe, reduce to its correct and substantially valid
proportions die spiritual contribution we are justified in
expecting from our fellow human beings in the Far East


Many Westerners have a vague and distant picture of the Far
East as bathed, throughout its whole extent, in a sort of
Buddhist serenity. It is a view that has been popularized by
tourists 9 reports, by novels, and by the countless curios
brought home by travellers.



In reality, however, there are profound differences under-
lying this generally accepted uniformity; and we can form a
preliminary idea of these by taking as representative and con-
sidering in turn the three great segments into which, broadly
speaking, the east-Asian land mass is divided: India, China, and

a. Spiritually speaking, what makes India is an extraordinary,
a predominant, sense of the one and of the divine. By an
astonishing reversal of what happens among us in the West,
for the Hindu the world is in some way less clear than God:
so much so, that it is the world and not God whose existence
presents difficulty to the intelligence and needs to be justified.
The invisible is more real than the visible: that is the funda-
mental religious experience - initially diffuse in the poetry of
the Upanishads, and gradually condensed later in the com-
mentaries of the Vedanta - which, right up to the present day,
has continually sought embodiment in a complex series of
monist philosophies: while at the same time, through an
accompanying exaggeration of the feeling of the 'unreality of
phenomena 9 , Buddhism was being born, causing a large pro-
portion of mystical energies to evaporate in 'the intoxication
of emptiness'.

b. In sharp contrast to this theist and pantheist attitude,
China emerges from the very beginning as fundamentally
naturistic and humanist. Whether we look at Taoism, which
explains the universe metaphysically by a theory of contraries,
or at Confucianist wisdom, which is based empirically on
tradition handed down by ancestors, Chinese thought is
dominated throughout its whole history by an ever-present
sense of the primacy of the tangible in relation to the invisible.
The supreme being, it is true, is not excluded from this mental



climate (we have only to remember the Temple of Heaven),
but he is to an alarming degree assimilated to the firmament.
The same is true of spirit, also, which is too readily identified
with material currents of air and water. Here we have a con-
cept of the supernatural which veers towards geomancy; a
passion for ideas diverted into the cult of calligraphy; an
ethical system concerned mainly with practical morality; and
finally a Buddhism (the Buddhism which China received from
India) which substitutes for the Nirvana the attractive, com-
passionate, and so human figure of Amida: all these are signs
which characterize and reveal in the Chinese a persistent and
ultimately always victorious predilection for man and the

c. When we move on to Japan, we find a third habit of
mind. It is again a form of humanism; but it is very different
from, or even the very converse of, what we found in China;
in this sense, that the individual is no longer the centre of
society, but its servant. For a complex variety of reasons, partly
some racial psychism, partly the country's warlike history
and geographical isolation, the Japanese seems to have a
stronger innate feeling for the life of the clan than for his own.
This accounts for his warrior-mysticism, in which, as Ren£
Grousset points out, Buddhist renunciation and anti-realism
(first adapted by the Chinese to satisfy their innate feeling for
the concrete) are here reformulated, through Zen, into a code
of chivalrous violence and self-sacrifice.

In India, then, we find a metaphysical sense of the divine;
in China, a naturistic and practical sense of the human; in
Japan, an heroic sense of the collective. And so the allegedly
simple light we are urged to seek again from the Far East



breaks down under analysis into three groups of completely
different shades. In fact - whether by some hidden harmony
in things, or by mere coincidence - these three groups are
oddly complementary. Taken together, indeed, do they not
exactly cover the complete field of a perfect spirituality?
Mysticism of God, mysticism of the individual confronted by
the world, social mysticism: there you have the complete
picture. There is this, however, to be noted: these three com-
ponents of a complete life of the spirit are dispersed, ethnically
and geographically, over three different areas of the continent;
and not only do we not find them in eastern Asia except in a
disparate form, but, what is more, when we come to look at
them more closely we find that they possess characteristics
which make them (at least for the time being, in their present
form) mutually exclusive and irreconcilable.


Let us now resume, but this time more analytically, our
examination of the spiritual currents of the Far East. Let us
repeat our tour of India, China, and Japan, but this time with an
eye to apprehending and defining, not so much in its general
tendencies as in its specific expression, what one might call the
'soul' of each of the three human groups under consideration.
What does such an examination tell us?

a. Although we find in Indian systems an extreme poly-
morphism which lends itself to all sorts of deceptive kinship
with Western thought, the religious metaphysics of India
appears undoubtedly to be governed, in its essence and its very
fabric, by a very particular concept of unity \ and this, if I am not



mistaken, gives Hindu 'theism', in whatever form it may be
expressed, a colouring and flavour that are immediately recog-
nizable. To overcome the harrowing multiplicity of the world
in which we are immersed - to arrive at some beatifying unity
- such is the basic dream, more or less explicit as the case may
be, of all human mysticism, throughout all time and in all
countries. The problem, however, is to know what road to
follow if this fundamental and vital process of cosmic unifica-
tion is to be effected. Later I shall be referring to what I call the
'road of the West'. In the East, by which I mean India, the
instinctive, innate, unquestioned solution to the problem seems
always to have been as follows.

'If (as is infinitely desirable) we are to unify the multiple,
whether in our own selves or in the world around us, there is
no more radical nor more simple plan than to deny it or
suppress it. You dream of hearing the resonance of the funda-
mental note? Then be silent. You seek to emerge from turmoil
and the plural? Then gradually make your way down into the
depths of your own self, blotting out one by one all the tints -
iridescent or over-harsh - into which being is broken down,
to form the apparent reality of the world around you: and
when you have descended to the very bottom, below every
conceivable determination, you will find that a universal essence
lies at that term, underlying everything, and that it is waiting
only for you to return to it to absorb and identify you with

So we have a sort of God-substratum, or again a 'God of
non-tension 9 , attained by relaxation of the effort towards
differentiation in which the cosmic phenomenon involves us:
it is basically that object, and expressed in those sorts of terms,
which Hindu wisdom offers, in countless different forms, to



our need to worship. In the final reckoning, there is no true
love in this attitude: for identification is not union. 1 Nor is there
any room for humanism in the sense in which our generation
understands the word; for no essential value is attributed in
this view to the planetary constructions of human effort.*
Keeping this second point well in mind, let us now turn to

b. If India, by nature, is bathed in an atmosphere of the
transcendent and the divine, China, as we saw earlier, is above
all, and always has been, a focus of material and human aspira-
tions. But, as this earthly flower has blossomed, what particular
design has it disclosed, what brilliance, what special savour has
it chiefly developed? If it be possible and permissible to con-
dense into a cut-and-dried formula the exuberant reality
spread over three thousand years of practical good living, of
art and poetry, might we not say - in fact, must we not say -
that what characterizes the soul of ancient China is appreciation
of man, much more than faith in man? China, it is true, has not
remained completely static throughout its history; but it would
not appear to have concerned itself gready with the onward
drive the movement embodies. To perceive, to appreciate and
to preserve the harmony of an established order - to effect a
fine and stable balance between the earth, society and the stars
- to pacify rather than to conquer - such would appear to have
been China's predominant concern and the source of her loftiest

1 This was dearly understood in the eighth century by the advocates of Bhakti Yoga.
But the mode of union proposed by this yoga (or Hindu mysticism) of love is surely
of the Western type (see below) and therefore incompatible with the original and
authentic tendencies of the Vedanta.

In 1946, during an interview with Siddheswarananda, who represented the Rama*
krishna mission, Pere Teilhard was at pains to obtain more accurate information
about the various forms of yoga, and to confirm that in India the highest ecstasy
corresponded to final loss of consciousness in an impersonal whole. (Ed.)



aspirations. And the inevitable result of this was that, even if
heaven was always there to form a roof over the city of man,
its vault was nevertheless regarded as impenetrable ; and nothing
in the way of progress for life was envisaged which might
arouse the desire or hope of ever penetrating it. Take what you
have, and dispose it accordingly. Neither the spirit of Pro-
metheus nor the problem of action ever seems to have haunted
or disturbed the soul of Confucius or Lao-Tse. Here we find a
form of wisdom which certainly moved at a higher level than
the world, but which, by suppressing in logic if not in fact all
anxiety for, all the demands of, the future, tended to weaken
the whole drive towards, to cut every road leading to, what
during the same period was India's sole and burning desire:
the transcendent.

c. Finally, let us look once more at Japan. Here it is no
longer movement that is lacking, nor the spirit of conquest; it
is much more the general organic structure capable of using
and sublimating this magnificent source of energy. Historically,
the Japanese soul seems to have expressed itself in too narrow a
framework, race and the racial spirit: race centred on blood
and common origin much more than on spirit and convergence
ahead; and racial spirit doubly dehumanized in as much as, by
improperly retaining the biological conditions of the animal
'phylum* at the level of reflective life, it resists the convergence
of human filiations, and, within each filiation, tends to keep
each individual in the condition of a mere link. This gives rise
to an exclusive, closed mysticism, equally impenetrable, in
its practical spirit of service and sacrifice, to the supreme
detachment of the Hindu and the supreme good sense of the



So we reach the conclusion I suggested when we started. God
and his transcendence; the world and its value; the individual
and the importance of the person: mankind and social require-
ments: taken in isolation, each of these great problems has
indeed been seen and attacked by the East - always, however,
leading in the end to a series of particular and mutually incom-
patible solutions. The East has not solved the problem of
spirit, taken in its complete totality; and we would look in
vain in that quarter for the dawn to illuminate it. Should we
not, then, turn back to the West and ask ourselves whether
it may not perhaps be on our side that the sun will this time


As I pointed out when I began, the European is not regarded as
being either by temperament or by his inventions, a religious
being. Reason dries up in him the well of fancy, and he is
entirely absorbed in material structures: such is his reputation.
In defiance of this preconceived judgement, I maintain, and I
hope to demonstrate here, that underlying die creative fever
of the West, and combined with it, there is a true mystical
ferment, the fruit of Christianity and a new humanism. It is a
young mysticism, original and powerful, still perhaps clumsily
constructed and ill-expressed in its theory, but perfectly defined
in its main lines, and the hidden inspiration of the whole
'modern* movement.

Let us, then, try to define this mysticism and bring it out
into the open.

If we look deep into Western man, we meet again, of course,
the operation of that fundamental aspiration or anxiety, which,



as I pointed out earlier, drives all reflective consciousness in
the direction of an increasing unity; but we find, at the same
time, the outline of a new and hitherto untried solution to this
primordial need of every age. 'In order to become one with alT,
is the constant message of one part of the East, 'suppress the
plurality of the phenomenon/ 'If you wish to become one
with all/ is the contrary decision of the West, 'resolutely em-
brace the multiple, and urge it with all your energies in the
direction in which it tends, through a bias proper to it, to
develop organic structure and to converge upon itself/ This is a
slow and laborious process. It calls for a constant effort to rise
higher, to leave behind, to pass through. But it works. And
because it replaces immersion in a substratum-God, a God of
non-tension, by the anticipation of a God who is centre and
peak, a God who is tension, it immediately establishes complete
coherence between the different spiritual values which the
wisdom of the East found it impossible to reconcile.

Governing the whole picture in the first place, the absolute
necessity of a divine principle is evident, since it is that existence
and that alone which can provide the universe, outside time
and space, with a transcendent point of attraction, of con-
vergence, and of irreversible consolidation: God, the prime
psychic mover ahead.

At the same time, too, the value of human effort, including
even man's most material activities, is seen to be justified and
hallowed: because (precisely as a result of the convergent
mechanism of union) the consummation of unity implies
structurally - not, indeed, as a sufficient, but as a necessary con-
dition - the loyalty with which the world will actively use all
the support it finds in the spring-board of matter, to raise itself



to its highest possible degree of organic structure and deter-

Thereby, too, love regains its dignity as the supreme spiritual
energy, and at the same time the human person has its irre-
placeable and incommunicable essence restored: for, since the
process of unification culminates in an act not of identification
but of union, the elements involved in the operation are not
dissolved by their entry into God, but are continually more
super-centred upon themselves.

And yet in this system full allowance is made for the opera-
tion and requirements of collective forces, since it is exclusively
through Wanimization* that the elements of the universe - by
reason of its convergent structure - can hope to attain the pole
of their personality and their reflection.

Looked at in this way, we must admit that all the major
data of the spiritual problem are readily organized into an
harmonious and fruitful whole. On the rational side, the con-
tradictions disappear; and an immensely wide field is opened
up for the directionally controlled operation of the most
elevated forms of action.

Here it is important to understand exacdy what I mean. I
am not saying of the philosophico-mystical choice whose
starting point and further developments I have just broadly
indicated that it has yet found in the West its clear, undisputed
and indisputable expression. What I do maintain is that the
Western choice, on careful and sympathetic consideration (or
analysis of the psyche), so colours and dominates every one of
our fundamental reactions to life 8 that no great perspicacity is
needed to see that at this moment the West is the starting point

3 Including even, paradoxical though this may seem, 'Marxist' aspirations: which to
me are no more man Western mysticism unwarrantably limited to that branch of it
or, one might say, that central focus) which looks to material organization.



for an advance, a general breakthrough, of spirit in the direc-
tion I have indicated.

How, indeed, could it be otherwise?

At other periods of history, it may well be that man's in-
ventive genius has been shared (one might say) between various
ethnic groups, each group possessing special capabilities for a
particular line of progress: in one case, art; in another, the
sciences; in another, religion or metaphysics, and so on. At our
present stage in anthropogenesis, there would certainly appear
to be a sort of mobilization or concentration at work within
man's powers of discovery. It is becoming more and more im-
possible for any step in material organization to be taken on
this earth which does not there and then call for an equivalent
step in the psychic and spiritual domain, to balance, humanize
and complete it. In a world which is becoming totalized (or
even 'cephalized'), the two movements are coalescing into one.
That is why the West could not at this moment be (as it un-
doubtedly is) the spearhead of science, nor retain its position as
such, were it not at the same time the shaft, too, of religious
creative effort. Today, in fact, all eyes are instinctively turned
towards us, to see not only how to build but also how to
believe. Underestimating its own capabilities, Europe is
hesitating; it is looking to Asia, with a plea for wisdom - and
yet, even in that field, it is Asia that is turning to us.

I shall be told that this is an exaggeration: and yet, consider,
in India, the humanism of a Tagore. Go further East, and follow
the astonishing, irresistible movement that is taking place in
China: suddenly converting into a completely modern faith
in man the ancient, traditional appreciation of man, it is suc-
cessfully turning the humblest Chinese peasant into a death-
defying proselyte. Note, as I have been able to do, the way in



which the best Japanese thinkers are gradually widening their
native clan-centred ambitions to a global scale.

Surely all these indications point to the fact, if they do not
amount to a proof of it, that the East is yielding from within
to an emancipating instinct, and slowly getting tinder way
with its whole spiritual mass, to join up, not only techno-
logically but mystically too, with the road of the West


'The whole spiritual mass of the East once more under way':
I would like to conclude the evidence offered here with that
great possibility or even, I would say - if my judgement is
correct - that great event.

An ever-increasing number of persons is concerned with this
much canvassed question of a convergence of East and West;
they are apt to picture it to themselves by the idea of two
complementary blocs, or two conflicting principles, which are
merging into one: another example of Chinese Tao's yin and
yang. To my mind, if the meeting is effected - as sooner or
later must happen - the phenomenon will come about as the
result of a different mechanism, one much more akin to that
by which a number of streams pour simultaneously through a
breach opened by one of them in a common retaining barrier.

As it happens, and through a complex of historical factors
which it would not be difficult to analyse, the honour and the
opportunity of opening the road for a new surge of human
consciousness have fallen, I repeat, to the West. But while
there can no longer be any doubt about the correct approach,
or even about whether the breach has been made, we are still
a long way from the final target; nor can we be certain of



success. In one sense, the real battle for spirit is only beginning
in our world; and if we are to win it, all the available forces
must be brought into action.

So far, as I have tried to show, the three main spiritual
currents of the Far East have not yet found their point of
confluence nor, in consequence, their complete expression.
Their waters have been rising silently in enclosed lakes. Yet I
am sure that the time is approaching when their massive
reserves will pour through the gap made by Europe's penetrat-
ing tenacity and be incorporated in ours. For a long time now,
the Eastern soul (Hindu, Chinese, or Japanese), each following
its own specially favoured line and in its own special way, has
had the answer to the religious aspirations whose pole of con-
vergence and whose laws we, in the West, are now engaged in
determining more exactly: that answer is no doubt less clear
than ours and less of a synthesis, but it has, possibly, a deeper
innate foundation, and greater vigour. And what results may
we not expect when the confluence is at last effected? In the
first place, there will be the quantitative influx of a vast human
flood now waiting to be used; but, what is even more valuable,
there will be the qualitative enrichment produced by the
coming together of different psychic essences and different

In every domain of thought, whether religious of scientific,
it is only in union with all other men that each individual
man can hope to reach what is most ultimate and profound in
his own being. By this I do not mean that we have to be
initiated into a higher form of spirit, but rather that, forming a
new resonant whole, we must add volume and richness to the
new (the humano-Christian) mystical note rising from the



West. Such, in a word, I believe to be the indispensable role
and the essential function at the present moment of the Far

10 February 1947







In conformity with what we may call the c law of complexity-
consciousness\ there is at the moment a rapid rise in the
psychic temperature on earth, caused by the activity of an
economico-technological network which is being tightened at
a continually accelerated speed. And it is equally clear, on the
other hand, that the first effect of this rise is to produce within
the thinking envelope represented by man a state of turbulence
which our generation finds most disconcerting. From every
quarter, as though we were at the centre of a cyclone, waves of
mutually hostile ideas are rearing themselves up and clashing
together: evolutionism and fixism - Christianity and Marxism
- so many different answers with which our mind reacts to the
ever-increasing pressure exerted on it by the double question
of the meaning and the value of the world around us.

To the reflective element which each one of us constitutes,
there seems at first sight to be no decisive way of finding our
bearings and determining our direction in this orderless
turmoil. And yet, if we only believe in the viability of the
human type, surely everything goes to show that the chaos in
which we are involved is no more than temporary: a mere
phase, only to be expected, of interference and adjustment



between old currents and new currents - the broken water of
their superficial conflict is only the prelude to the deeper
harmony of some powerful underlying flow.

What I wish to show in this essay is that such a hope is not
only permissible, but rests on a solid foundation: and this not
by invoking abstract considerations, arguing a priori, but with
the support of concrete examples. By this I mean explaining
the way in which, to my mind, a simple and consistent line of
advance (one that completely satisfies the demands, and is com-
mensurate with the powers of human action) is being marked
out for us at the very centre of the spiritual storm in which we
are enveloped - provided, however, that we obey what the
facts suggest, and, disregarding all preconceptions to the
contrary, we resolutely extend to their furthest limit two
judgements of value. The first is purely rational and relates to
the biological nature of the social phenomenon; the second is
specifically Christian, and relates to the physical basis of the
parousia. Let me try to explain how this may be done.





Understanding of this first fundamental point presupposes the
acceptance of three basic choices, the justification of which,
and their logical connection, I have explained elsewhere. 1

Here I give a brief summary of what I then wrote.

a. Choice 1. Life is neither an accident, nor an incident, in

"Turmoil or genesis? Is there in the universe a main axis of evolution?' (December
1947) in The Future of Man (Collins, London, and Harper & Row, New York, 1964),
p. 214; Fbntana edition (London, I9<59), p. 222.



the material universe. It shows, carried to its highest observable
degree, a general process of involution (at once quantitative
and qualitative) through which a sort of amorphous primordial
cosmic stuff has continually, it would appear, been concentrat-
ing upon itself a multitude of ever more complex corpuscles: 8
the phenomenon of 'consciousness', when looked at from this
angle, being simply the specific property of a matter which has
been taken to extreme states of complexity. And in this con-
nection, moreover, it is of no importance whether the phenom-
enon first originates as an effect of condensation (die universe of
Laplace) or explosion (the expanding universe).

b. Choice 2. Within the living world, human psychism is not
a mere variety of consciousness, one among thousands of
others - nor is it a monstrous anomaly. It corresponds to the
emergence, or the development, in a domain of a higher order
(the domain of reflection) of a certain specially favoured psychic
radiation. With man, it is life itself that attains a new state,
characterized, among other things, by the two properties of
prevision and deliberate invention.

c. Choice 3. Finally, within mankind, each individual re-
flective centre (the person ) does not represent the upper limit
of cosmicinvolutionknown to our experience. On die contrary,
examination of the social phenomenon (technological super-
arrangement of individuals, accompanied by intensification of
consciousness - c£ Introduction), seems to point to the con-

*Ihe process would appear, in reality, to be made up of two inverse involutions: one
starts from the immensely large and divides the stuff of the cosmos 'aggregativer/
into continually smaller fragments (stellar involution - from nebulae to planets); the
other starts in the infinitesimal and produces (through structural complexity) con-
tinually larger corpuscles (atomic involution - from atoms to living creatures and
man). Both involutions (stellar and atomic) meet in the case of the human noosphere,
in which the organic mega-corpuscle (mankind) becomes co-extensive with its astral
support (the earth). Here we are directly concerned only with atomic involution.



elusion that the process of centration from which each one of
us has emerged is being extended on a global scale at a higher
level - each elementary human vortex continuing to be con-
centrated upon itself only within and under the pressure of a
more general vortex which is folding back into itself the totality
of mankind.

I do not believe that any real observer of the world and life
can today entertain any serious doubt about the actual reality
of man's social super-humanization within mankind: in other
words he must accept the validity of the three inter-dependent
choices of which I have just spoken. On the other hand, it
would not appear that biologists have as yet thought it either
profitable or possible to define more closely their views on the
nature and limits of this 'eighth act* in the drama of creation.
They either leave the configuration of the cosmic future of
spirit completely indeterminate; or, in order to ensure for it
that perennial, 'limitless* quality which we cannot deny to it
without destroying our own most deeply implanted zest for
living, there is a vague acceptance (J. B. S. Haldane is an
example) of a wave of thought which radiates from the earth
and gradually (either alone or in combination with other
similar waves) penetrates the totality of space.

And yet, if we pursue to its logical conclusion the hypothesis,
accepted here as a guide, of a universe in process of involution,
surely it points to a much less fanciful and much more precise
picture of the future. I must emphasize this again: if it is indeed
true that men - both as one whole, and each on his own
account - reach the term of their individual re-involution
through collective envelopment in a vast maelstrom, then
there is no need to look for the extensions of anthropogenesis
in the direction of a cosmic diffusion. In virtue of its structure,



we have admitted, super-hominization is a closed process; we
must therefore try to express its supreme culmination in terms
not of divergence, but of convergence. No: whatever may be
the effects of 'planetary expansion' that astronautics has in
store for us, the main part of the human phenomenon is
developing in the direction not of an indefinitely continued
expansion, but in the opposite direction of a centration.

It is this that prompts the idea, suggested and accepted here
as being the most consistent - or even, perhaps, as being alone
consistent - with the sum total of our knowledge, of a point of
maturation, which lies at the term of the earth's biological
evolution, in other words of noogenesis.

Looked at from this angle, we see how mankind's strict
association with his planetary support must persist until its
very end, and how man might end his existence on it (or,
more correctly, might be detached from it), not under the
impact of an external catastrophe, nor as the result of some
internal malady or exhaustion - but by arrival at a certain
critical state of metamorphosis (a combination of the highest
psychic tension with the highest technological organization),
beyond which we can distinguish nothing in the future: and
the reason for our inability is precisely that what is involved
is a 'critical point' of emergence (we might almost use the
astronomers' 'emersion') from the universe's temporo-spatial
matrix. 8

This point of human maturation may be defined psychologically as a point of 'general
reflection* which corresponds to a certain optimum of reflection produced in all the
mutually reflected terrestrial elements: and this means, as I have said elsewhere, that
man's historical evolution would appear to be effected between two critical points of
reflection (one, lower and individual; the other, higher and collective). Such an
ontological phenomenon cannot, however, be conceived without the accompanying
production, in the 'cognitive* and 'affective' order, of some general Weltanschauung
in which minds find a common basis on which to support their common reflection.
What is more - and this is implied in the very notion of a critical point - this must



This view, let me repeat, is perfectly consistent (or even 'is
alone consistent') with the plan of physico-psychic involution
found in the world. What I wish now to show is how re-
markably it is in harmony with the design which is most
essential both to Revelation and to the hopes entertained by





The parousia (or Christ's return in glory at the end of all time)
occupies a central position in the firmament of the Christian
world - even though long centuries of continued waiting have
made it easy to forget. It is in this unique and supreme event,
in which (so faith tells us) the historic is to be fused in the trans-
cendent, that the mystery of the Incarnation culminates: and
this asserts itself with all the realism of a physical explanation
of the universe. No believer doubts the sheer actuality of the
feet: the problem is how to picture it to ourselves.

So far, for reasons that derive from Scripture, from tradition,
and from instinct, the end of the world and the last judgement
have mostly been interpreted and expressed (for does not a
sudden transformation always take on the appearance of an

take place in an atmosphere not of relaxation and tranquillity, but of tension and
ebullition. (Cf. below.)

We should note incidentally that initially (Le. before any further reflection per
descensum) the cosmogenic design suggested here does not introduce any finality, or
any orthogenesis, other than that which can exist, and which everyone accepts without
hesitation, in the course of a river or the formation of a whirlpool. The only difference
is that the stream with whose stirring into motion we are here concerned is not a mass
of water or galactic substance: it is the whole of the stuff of the cosmos in process of
total, multi-centric re-involution upon itself.



accident?) as some form of catastrophe; but if we follow this
apocalyptic line, we should realize that we must advance with
caution. All recent progress in exegesis is a warning that while
Revelation guides our steps, on the other hand it cannot
describe to us the point from which we start, nor the point at
which we are going to arrive : it is no more prophetic' about the
great expanse of the future than it is about that of the past. In
these matters, which transcend experience, only an essential
nucleus of truth, underlying any form in which they are repre-
sented, is to be retained: and in the case of the parousia this
would seem to be reducible to the three following elements -
- a crisis, a concentration, and finally (under Christie influence)
a spiritualizing consummation in some human super-organism.
And so we see that precisely in virtue of these three characteristic
elements, the road of religion leads us back to the same general
type of event as that which (as we have just explained) might
be theoretically anticipated by our reason as the biological term
of hominization. In both cases, may we not be concerned,
fundamentally, with one and the same thing?

From this we derive the following hypothesis: for all its
simplicity, it is pillar no. 2' supporting the general picture I am
describing here.

For Christ to appear on earth for the first time it was obviously
necessary (as no one would question) that, following the general
process of evolution, the human type should be anatomically
developed, and socially advanced, up to a certain degree of
collective consciousness. That being so, why should we not take
a further step, and believe that in the case of his second and
final coming too, Christ is waiting to reappear until the human
collectivity has at last become capable (because fully realized in



its natural potentialities) of receiving from him its supernatural
consummation? After all, if there are without doubt exact
physical laws for the development of spirit within history, why
should there not be, a fortiori, laws for its further expansion and
ultimate consummation ?

Let us then, accepting this idea, posit a coincidence between
Christie parousia-point and human maturation-point, at
different levels but within the concrete unity of one and the
same event. In other words, let us say that since the latter is
a condition of the former (not, of course, sufficient and deter-
mining, but necessary), the two cannot but be produced simul-
taneously. What follows from this identification, or to put it
more exacdy, this conjunction?

In the first place, no important change is introduced into the
traditional Christian way of envisaging the end of all time.
For (and this is a point which must be stressed) while Scripture
warns us emphatically of a crisis which will be final and unex-
pected, nothing could be less peaceful, nothing more 'critical',
and, up to a point, nothing more impossible to foresee, than the
focal centre on which, concentrating at a higher level than
ourselves, man's social involution is converging.

Moreover, in the prospect which my view opens up, there
is nothing which opens the door to unwarranted reconciliation
of incompatibles. It does not involve deceptive assimilations of
fragments of truth taken from different planes of knowledge,
but simply a 'polar* convergence of two lines of vision (one
biological, the other mystical) which agree on the general form
of equilibrium (or super-union) that may be expected from a
pluralist world in process of unification.

Thus, there is no serious disadvantage in what I suggest. And,
on the other hand, there is what we still have to see - the truly



remarkable rise of spiritual energy at the heart of the universe
thus 'mono-cephalizecT. 4




If I am not mistaken, we would be justified in saying that the
root source of the spiritual troubles in which mankind is
struggling today is what may be called 'the conflict of the two

Until about the time of the Renaissance, it still seemed as
though the whole earth, following in the steps of the West,
must gradually allow itself to be taken over and exalted by the
ascensional force of Christianity : in a striving for mere detach-
ment which would be a continuation - corrected, personalized,
and 'Mediterraneanized' - of a mystical tendency that had
long been familiar to the peoples of the East. Saint and sage
were agreed that there was, for man, but one issue open to the
world: an upward issue, sheer or modified, from matter.

Starting with the Renaissance, however, another tendency
was born deep in the mind of man: at first it was not easy to
detect, but with the nineteenth century it was asserting itself
ever more rapidly. In a vague way, man had always felt (witness
Babel, the Titans, Prometheus) that he had wings,* his own
wings, and that die day would come when he would develop
his own power of flight. But it is only quite recently, and as
collective organization of his energies taught him his own

♦The whole picture described here could be expressed in logical sequence by die
following series of equations: Cosmos = cosmogenesis = biogenesis = individual
anthropogenesis = collective anthropogenesb = Christogenesis.
•Pete Teilhard adds the English 'faiths* to the French 'ibis*. (Ed.)



capacity for sel£evolution, that this primordial feeling of power
has begun to become in man a normal, hereditary and general-
ized habit of mind. Not to see this today would argue complete
blindness to facts. Another type of faith is coming to challenge
the old traditional faith (divine faith) in a Transcendent, lying
above: it is a new faith, a human faith in some Immanent,
lying ahead. 6 Just as happens in a crowd when some new exit
is opened to the stream of people, so a vast eddy is being formed
at the heart of the human mass; and this is carrying it no longer
towards heaven, but towards some great but as yet ill-defined
terrestrial future. Initially, it might well seem as though the
two currents were mutually irreconcilable and contradictory.
Is it not two camps, two psychological species, in fact, that
are emerging in our world of today? On die one side the
spiritualists (above all Christian) whose faith in God seems to
make them immune from all hope, all desire, for the appear-
ance of super-mankind. And on the other side are the material-
ists (above all Marxists), who regard every allowance made to
the Transcendent and to finality of purpose as a compromising
and a dilution of their faith in man.

It is precisely in this disturbing conflict that the coincidence
noted above between human maturation-point and Christie
parousia-point intervenes, and acts as a releasing agent.
Parousia-point: the culmination of Christian faith. Maturation-
point: the peak of human faith. If these two focal centres, these
two stars, coincide, how can the least opposition persist between
the tides produced by their gravitational pull? And how even,
one may well ask with astonishment, has it ever been possible
to see opposition where there is nothing but two components,

•b it not in feet the second of these two currents which is at this moment proving the
most lively, the most infectiously influential, and the most productive of the spirit of



each equally anxious to come together in a common resultant?

Unfortunately there are, as we were saying, many Christians
to whom the very idea of earthly progress still seems a tempta-
tion of the devil: 7 they regard it as a forbidden fruit. But I
wonder whether these timid believers ever suspect what
treasures of man's vital energy, what precious 'tangibility* of
support for spiritual effort, they are denying themselves,
simply from failing to understand a very simple and very
important fact: that man cannot hope to meet Christ 'super-
naturally* without at the same time (or, indeed, without first)
arriving in his own nature at the furthest limit of his human
self? What is more, how can these same men still call themselves
Christians, when they deliberately seek to exclude from their
concern and their field of influence ambitions and dreams that
have now arrived permanently as the newest and most vital
ingredient in the modern soul?

There is also, I added, the mass of new believers in mankind,
for whom the gospel is no more than a dangerous opiate. These,
too, must surely realize that without Christianity the world
becomes a place in which, in a twofold sense, it is impossible
for man to breathe. First, because such a world is heartbreak-
ingly barred ahead, confronted by total death. And secondly,
because it no longer contains any living warmth to animate its
terrifying mechanism.

Working on its own, the elevating force of Christianity might
well lose its vigour and disappear; while, to balance this, if
man's propulsive force is left to itself it still lacks (and these are
fatal deficiencies) any factor that makes for irreversibility and

T A legacy, no doubt, from the time when the idea of anthropogenesis had not yet
been conceived - or from a still earlier (proto-historic) time when the demiurge could
still be regarded as suspicious and jealous of the power developed by his own creation*



On the other hand, once the two tendencies come together
and are combined in one and the same consciousness (as the
concrete identity of their respective centres of effort and attrac-
tion makes possible, or, rather, makes inevitable), then we see
that an astonishing, dual, psychic event can, and indeed must
occur: and this comes about not merely by an intellectual
identification, but by a real confluence, of the two most power-
ful spiritual currents we can now distinguish in mankind - one
driving towards what lies above, the other towards what lies

The first of these is the appearance 8 in the soul of man of a
new sort of faith ('super-humanized* Christian faith), more
powerful than any other, and therefore destined sooner or later
to prevail, with absolute certainty, over all the others.

And the second is the possibility for the Christian (by reason
of the identification effected between anthropogenesis and
Christogenesis) not only of recognizing and serving evolution,
but also of literally - and in a higher meaning of the word -
loving it.

The emergence of so astonishingly rich and so completely
new a mental condition might at first be taken to be no more
than the attainment by the individual of an interior mystical

In real fact, the repercussions of the phenomenon are much
more far-reaching, and much more important.

By this I mean that the more we consider the extreme com-
plexity of the planetary organism that man, if he is to consum-
mate man, finds himself obliged to achieve, the stronger our
conviction that there is only one way in which the 'motor*

•In logics and therefore In fact : for in the end it is always the 'psychically* stronger that


Diagrammatic representation of the two faiths

Oy = Christianity's ascensional force towards a Transcendent.

Faith in God
Ox = Human propulsive force towards an Immanent lying ahead.

Faith in man
Oz = Resultant: 'Super-humanized' Christian faith
P = Parousia-point
M = Human maturation-point
Oz combines die properties of Ox (influx of human vital energy,

tangibility) and of Oy (irreversibility, warmth) - and makes

a 'love of evolution* possible.

required for such a purpose can operate : it cannot do so without
distorting the free elements of which it is composed, nor,
what is more, can it release the hidden reserves of their spiritual
powers, unless the force applied to it be ajfectivo-unitive in
nature. Biologically, in the case of a personalizing totalization
- which is what the formation of a noosphere gives us - love
(a universal love) is the only conceivable form that can be
taken by a truly evolutive energy.

And this leads me to my final remark: in the dual intellectual
event (by which I mean the gradual appearance in the field of



human consciousness of a maturation-point, combined with
progressive identification, in the field of Christian conscious-
ness, of the 'general reflection-point 9 with the parousia) - in
this dual event which makes possible the birth of such a love,
we should not see a mere chance encounter. What in fact
happens is precisely as though, as a result of this coincidence,
life were developing, just at the right moment, the exact
environment, the exact spiritual temperature, that are essential
to it if it is still to continue its self-involution. 9

Paris, February 1948

•From this point of view, noospheric maturation (being linked to a dynamized form
of charity) cannot be effected without the Church's animating action making itself
more strongly felt at the heart of mankind. And this amounts to the eminently satis-
fying proposition that terrestrial progress will attain the 'parousiac flash-point' only
on condition of, and through the agency o( its own internal self-Christification.





Thank you for your kind letter of the 20th which arrived only
yesterday in this remote corner. I think you are probably over-
generous in your praise of Comment je Vois ('My Fundamental
Vision 9 ); but I am glad, anyway, that you were favourably im-
pressed. As I told you, there can as yet be no question of printing
such an essay: it is addressed to the professional. Nevertheless, your
comments are justified- at least the majority of them. On p. 26 1 1 see
no reason for changing forc&nent ^perforce 9 ) unless you would
prefer inSvitablement - which is not quite so strong: I am not
saying that God must in any case immerse himself- but only that
i£he wishes to create, he must immerse himself And that certainly
does not over-step the bounds of classic orthodoxy. Page 2&: here the
difficulty is more serious, and so what I had in mind was to indicate
certain lines (in the form of the note or elucidation added at the end
of the piece) as an aid to determining more exactly the relationship
between the two ideas of being and union.

Les Moulins, Neuville, Puy-de-D6me,
24 August 1948

*p. 196 of the following text,
•p. 194 of the following text.



Introductory note

Part i. PHYSICS (Phenomenology)

I. The Phenomenon of Man

1. The involuting universe, or the cosmic primacy of life

2. Elementary hominization, or the breakthrough into

3. Collective humanization, or the advance into super-

4. The orientation of the future, and Omega Point

II. The Christian Phenomenon



*It seems to me that a whole life-time of continual
hard work would be as nothing to me, if only I could,
just for one moment, give a true picture of what I



What follows is divided into thirty-eight paragraphs, arranged
in three chapters (a 'physics*, or phenomenology, a metaphysics,
and a mysticism), and it contains, in the form of a connected
argument, the whole body of scientific and parascientific views
whose progressive elaboration has been the object of my earlier
essays. Here will be found - to be endorsed or criticized - an
authentic and complete summary of my present intellectual
attitude to the world and to God - the essence of my faith. And
because I know in advance that the chief objection I shall meet
will be, 'All this is too simple and too delightful to be true', I
feel that I must, before I begin, make these three remarks, or,
rather, put forward these three affirmations:

i. First, in spite of certain appearances to the contrary, the
* Weltanschauung 9 1 offer in no way represents a fixed and closed
system. There is no question here (for such a thing would be
absurd) of a deductive solution to the world, in the manner of
Hegel, of a definitive framework of truth - it is simply a cluster
of axial lines of progression, such as exists and gradually comes
to light in every evolutionary system. There is no exhaustive
presentation of truth; there are simply lines of penetration
through which we can see a still unexplored immensity of the
real opening up for us.



2. Secondly (and here I am answering an objection that has
already been made), we must be careful not to confuse 'con-
cordism* with 'coherence*. We are all familiar, in the history of
ideas, with certain infantile, over-hasty reconciliations, which
fail to distinguish between planes and sources of knowledge,
and so produce constructions which can only be unstable, be-
cause grotesque; but such exaggeratedly forced harmonizations
should not make us forget that the essential criterion of truth,
its specific mark, is its power of developing indefinitely - not
only without ever producing internal contradiction, but also in
such a way as to form a positively constructed whole in which
the parts support and complement one another ever more
effectively. At the equator, it would be ridiculous (and this is
concordism) to confuse meridians on a sphere: but (and this is
coherence) structural necessity demands that these same
meridians meet together at the pole.

3 . A fundamental implication of all this is my third postulate,
which is in line with all that is closest to the heart of Greek and
Mediterranean tradition: that the conscious takes precedence
of the unconscious, and the reflective of the instinctive; con-
sciousness and reflection never exhaust the psychic reserves
they organize according to a design which is based on a centre;
it is in their direction, in the direction of consciousness and
reflection, that life's current always flows, so that one may say
that, for the stuff of the cosmos, its higher form of existence
and its final state of equilibrium is in being thought. 1

"Everything seeks to be thought' (Charles de Bouvelles, quoted by Bernard Groet-
huysen, in Mesures, 16 January 1940).


i. Physics (Phenomenology)


I. The involuting universe, or the cosmic primacy of life

I. In the construction of systems of physics, it has always been
the case until now that only a single axis in the world has been
taken into consideration: that axis which runs through magni-
tudes of the middle order (in which we are physically included),
rising from the extremely small towards the extremely large,
from the infinitesimal to the immense. Physics still confines
itself to only two "infinites 9 . And yet this is not enough. If the
totality of experience is to be covered scientifically, then it is
necessary, I believe, to take into consideration a further 'infinite*
in the universe, one that is no less real than the other two : the
infinite, I mean, of complexity. The bodies among which we
move are not only large or small; they are also simple or
complex. And, expressed numerically - crude though the
approximation must be - simply by the number of elements in
combination, the gap between the extreme of simplicity and
the extreme of complexity is as astronomically great as that
between stellar and atomic magnitudes. It is therefore in a very
strict sense, and by no means metaphorically, that the scientist
can speak of a 'third infinite', which, starting from the in-
finitesimal, builds up in the immense, at the level of the middle
order. And this third, as I said before, is the infinite of com-

2. The effect of introducing the complexities-axis into our
fundamental scheme of the universe is not confined simply to



including more explicitly, and without distortion, a larger
section of the experiential world. The most important result
of the change is that it makes it easy to connect the phenomena
of life - consciousness, freedom, inventive power - to the
phenomena of matter: in other words, to find a natural place
for biology as part of physics. If, in fact, as universal experience
shows us, life represents a controlled whole of properties that
appear and develop as a function of the increasing physico-
chemical complexity of organized material groupings, then
surely we must lay down a further principle. It is one that is
completely consonant with another fact, now universally
accepted, that every infinite is characterized by certain effects
that are strictly proper to it alone. 2 The principle I mean is that
consciousness is the peculiar and specific property of organized
states of matter; it is a property that cannot be detected, and
may therefore be neglected in practice, with low values of
complexity, but that gradually emerges and finally becomes
dominant, with high values. 8 On the one side you have
physics, in the strict sense of the word, which is principally
concerned with bringing out the statistical behaviour of ex-
tremely simple elements (whose degree of life is therefore

•For example, the variation in the mass of bodies moving at extremely high velocities.
8 This amounts to saying that the behaviour of every cosmic particle may be sym-
bolically represented in our experience as an ellipse constructed with two foci of
unequal and varying intensity: Fi, the focus of material arrangement, and F2, the
focus of psychism. F2 (consciousness) appears initially and increases as a function of
Fi (complexity), but soon shows a persistent tendency to react constructively on Fi
in such a way as to super-complexify it, and at the same time to become, itself, more
individualized. In pre-life (the zone of minimal complexities: atoms and molecules)
F2 is imperceptible, and may be regarded as nil In pre-human life (the zone of com-
plexities of the middle order) F2 appears, but has still only a slight influence on the
growth of Fi, which remains for the most part automatic Starting with man (the
zone of extremely high complexities), F2, now reflective, takes on to a large extent the
function of ensuring the progress of Fi (through invention), until the latter may be
able to free itself by attaining complete autonomy. See below.



infinitely small), handled in extremely large numbers, ranging
from the minute to the immense; and on the other side you
have a divergent, but connected, branch - biology, which is
concerned, in the middle order, with the study of the behaviour
and associations of particles which are appreciably interiorized
(because extremely complex), and can be considered in isola-
tion. Thus, the two sciences (the science of matter and the
science of life) are no longer in opposition, but complementary.

3- This way of looking at things not only introduces order
and continuity into our various fields of knowledge, but also
makes possible a new and valuable interpretation of the world
in which we move. For some time now astronomers have been
talking about a universe expanding in immensity. Would it not
be just as scientific, and even more true, to speak of a universe
involuting in complexity? Both ways of looking at it (which are
perfectly reconcilable) are equally objective and equally free
from any unwarranted teleological assumption; but the second
of the two would seem to go much further and deeper than
the first. For while the explosive expansion of matter in space
may well tell us something about the distribution of galaxies
and stars, on die other hand a process of complexification and
centration of the cosmic stuff upon itself allows us to follow
and note, with that stuff's increasing granulation, the correlative
rise of interiorization (that is, of psychism) in the world. More-
over, there is every possibility that this simultaneous shift in
the organic and the conscious may well be die universe's
one essential and specific movement.

4. At this first stage in our enquiry, there can as yet be no
question of trying to define the principle or the particular 'field
of force' which causes matter to develop its own complexity
in this way (see paragraph 20). On the other hand, it is im-



portant to note the way in which the phenomenon becomes
irreversibly more pronounced. First, we have the sub-world of
atoms, which are apparently able to develop, each on its own,
from nuclear particles, and fall into a limited number of fixed
groupings, with no well-defined natural order of sequence from
heavy types to light. Then comes the sub-world of molecules, in
the most complex forms of which can clearly be seen, if not
what we might take to be genealogical descent, at all events
chain-structures which suggest the idea of an ontogenesis.
Finally, there is the organic sub-world (with its possible sub-
divisions), in which the wonderful process of reproduction (and
of death . . .) makes it possible for complexification to be con-
tinued additively from individual to individual, throughout
almost indefinitely prolonged phyla. 4 In a word, once the
cosmic involution of complexification has been started it
cannot stop: on the contrary, in spite of the improbabilities it
entails and accumulates, it appears to continue with an infalli-
bility and a constancy which one can only compare (para-
doxically) with the inexorable (and probably allied) dissipation
of matter and energy we find at the other end of things: the
latter, the dissipation or de-volution, being a loss in an imper-
ceptible radiation produced by exteriorization, while the
former, the involution, is a sublimation produced by synthesis
in spirit.

5. All this leads up to the following conclusion: there is a
persistent and widespread preconception that life, which
appears in the universe as something so fragile and so rare,

4 It is the progress of these 'additions' which defines true time or biological time. It
should be noted that, in this way, the body of each living entity does not act as a con-
taining limit to the latter within the universe (every cosmic particle, be it the smallest
electron, is strictly co-extensive with the totality of space and time) : the body is only
die expression of the living entity's inferiority and 'centridt/.



represents no more than a chance accident, and therefore a
completely secondary element in cosmogenesis. The hypothesis
of 'an involuting world' obviously means that this view must
be reversed. Structural necessity demands, in such a world,
that the vitalized portion of matter - however weak and
localized it may appear - can by no means be regarded as an
anomaly, nor as a subsidiary occurrence (nor, to use words one
still hears, a mould or fungus) ; on the contrary, it corresponds
to the most central and most solid axis (or, one might say, the
very 'apex') of the cosmic Vortex*. So true is this, that at every
point in space-time, whatever its curvature and confines may
be, we have to see life - and therefore thought itself- as a
force which is everywhere and at all times contained under
pressure - and which, accordingly, is only waiting for a favour-
able opportunity to emerge: and once emerged, to carry its
constructive processes (and, with them, its interiorization) right
through to the end.

This is what we have to see and accept once and for all: and
unless we do this first, we shall never be able to understand
anything either about the universe or about what is for us the
universe's most advanced expression, the phenomenon of man.

2. Elementary howinization, or the breakthrough into reflection

6. However subject to direction the organic involution of the
world may be along its general axis of progress, the very nature
of the multiple upon which it operates is such that the involu-
tion can advance only by endlessly feeling its way. This ex-
plains why it is that when we look back and observe the wake
it has left behind it in terrestrial biogenesis, we do not see a



well-defined line but one that is broken up into a large number
of divergent branches: the countless phyla along which
attempts have been made to find those directions which are
most favourable for complexity and consciousness. Both from
the point of view of 'complexity* and from that of 'conscious-
ness', there has been good reason to wonder whether there
were not some objective method of establishing a classification
of value between the various filaments of this vast fan-like
structure, as yet hardly catalogued by zoologists. After all, by
what criterion are we to decide that one particular organic
type (with its associated instinct) is more central or higher on
the axis of the evolving universe than another? When we look
at this spectrum of psychic rays, all of different shades, is there
any way of recognizing - is it reasonable even to imagine
that we may recognize - that some rays exceed the others in
absolute value?

We shall answer that there is - provided that due weight be
allowed to the phenomenon o£ reflection.

7. Man is the only being, within the limits of our experience,
who not only knows, but knows that he knows. 5 In spite of the un-
mistakable vastness of the effects of this mental property, it is
still inexplicably underestimated by many biologists, who (re-
peating at this new level a mistake in appreciation made earlier
in relation to life - see above, paragraph 5) see in it no more than
an exaggeration, or an anomalous form, of the consciousness
that is common to all living beings. And yet, whether we try
to judge, from the point of view of its physical perfection, the
act of reflection itself (a strictly 'punctiform* operation - i.e.

6 If, as we are sometimes told, other animal species shared this characteristic with us,
then those species (which appeared chronologically before man) would long ago have
become masters of the world; and in such conditions, man would never have appeared
on earth.



a breakthrough at a critical point - effected by a consciousness
that is definitively centred upon itself) ; or whether we concen-
trate on considering the extraordinary and pre-eminent com-
plexity and co-ordination of the cerebro-nervous systems in
which the act becomes possible; or whether, finally and most
important of all, we observe the immediate and permanent
superiority over the whole of the rest of life obtained by the
zoological group in which this mysterious power emerged: 6
in every case an identical, very different and much more con-
structive conclusion has to be accepted. It may be expressed as
follows: at the level of 'reflection, a threshold is crossed or a
critical point is passed, and as a result of this something com-
pletely new appears - it is as though a change of state were pro-
duced in consciousness. And the consequence of this is that,
however closely attached to other living beings the thinking
being may appear to be in its genesis, and in fact is so attached,
yet in reality it belongs to a new and higher order, for which
we must be careful to reserve a special place in the structure of
the world.

8. This prompts the following way of interpreting, in more
or less general terms, man's place in nature. Initially (i.e. if we
trace it sufficiently far back) the human phylum is (or, to put it
more correctly, would appear to be) simply one among die
thousands of thousands of other rays (each one of which is
coloured by a particular shade of consciousness and way of
knowing) along which the constructive effort of biological
evolution is dispersed, as though it were determined to leave
no possible road untried. And yet - as subsequent events make
clear - there was already something, whether in its temporo-

•It is no exaggeration to say that the appearance of thought completely renewed the
race of the earth.



spatial situation in the biosphere or in the particular make-up
of its cellular elements and its anatomy (the mammals and
primates) which was to give this particular phylum a specially
favoured place in the race towards higher forms of complexity.
In every other direction, the rest of the rays either found their
progress halted or were completely refracted in their line of
advance, so that it became impossible for them to emerge;
meanwhile, this one phylum alone was able, at a given moment
(towards the end of the Tertiary period) to break through the
mysterious surface which separates the sphere of intelligence
from that of instinct: and from that moment (this is what it is
essential to understand clearly) the whole of life's main effort
forces its way at that one point of breakthrough and spreads
out into a whole new compartment of the universe. From a
strictly experiential point of view, let me emphasize again, man
is originally no more than just one of the cosmic stuff's in-
numerable attempts to involute upon itself: but because this
attempt is the one that succeeded, it is literally true that, starting
with that successful attempt, 7 one more animate envelope (a
point to which we shall return later) began gradually to extend
over the globe, on top of the biosphere.

9. This means that we must add a corollary, clarifying our
ideas upon an important point. Today it is accepted finally and
without question that, while our science of matter may be, or
may be tending to become, a single science, there are in reality
several physics. There is the physics of the extremely small,
which is different from that which covers the middle order,
which again is different from that of the extremely large. That
being so, is it not obvious that there must necessarily, and
symmetrically, be exactly the same sort of division for the

'That is, from the narrowly specialized physiology and psychology of a primate.



sciences of life? We still speak of a single biology, as though the
properties to be observed in organic matter remained the same
from the minute to the immense in the scale of complexity.
Yet nothing is theoretically more improbable; and in fact
nothing is more false or more unproductive than this assumed
uniformity of evolutionary laws and forms at every rung of the
zoological ladder. In reality, as we are coming to accept, there
is probably at the very bottom a biology of viruses and genes,
quite distinct from that of cellular beings. And in any case,
what is quite certain (even though there is still some reluctance
to accept the evidence) is that it is becoming essential to dis-
tinguish at the other end, at the very top, a special biology of
man: a biology that is necessitated by, and defined by, the
breakthrough of reflection. The fact is that three associated
factors invade the human phenomenon at the same time as
thought: the first is the power of rational invention, by which,
as we shall see (paragraph 15), evolution acts as its own spring-
board; the second is pre-awareness of the future, which presents
life with the double problem of death and action; and finally
the third is attribution of value to the individual, who moves
from being a mere link in the phyletic chain, to the dignity of
an element capable ofbeing integrated in an organic totalization.
With this group of allied properties, we are evidently,
without leaving life behind, entering into a zone of the universe
which science cannot represent: unless, that is, we finally make
up our minds to adopt a non-Euclidean* geo- (or bio-)metry,
if I may put it so, for complexes of an extremely high order -
in other words, unless we adopt a biology of n new dimensions.



3. Collective humanization, or the advance into super-reflection

10. All that we have said so far may be summed up in the two
following propositions, which we have to accept, not as a
random choice, but in order to ensure clarity and coherence:

a. The essential phenomenon in the material world is life
(because life is interiorized).

b. The essential phenomenon in the living world is man
(because man is reflective).

A third step has still to be taken if we are to follow the curve
of cosmic involution we have thus sketched in, and carry it
through to its end: and this is to make up our minds, as we
have solid reasons for doing, to accept this third proposition:

c. The essential phenomenon in the world of man is the
gradual totalization of mankind (in which individuals super-
reflect upon themselves).

This is the ultimate (or, more correcdy, penultimate - see
paragraph 24) choice, which will be decisive in determining, at
this juncture, our theoretical and practical attitude to war and
peace - to effort and resignation - but a choice the soundness of
which can be established only by examining, both in history
and in the world around us, the mechanism, the effects
and, in consequence, the underlying nature, of socialization.

II. Among animals (and this is a point to which we shall
shortly have to return) what we call socialization is in itself no
more than the manifestation, at the level of highly indi-
vidualized elements, of those chain-building forces which
constantly and universally tend to bring together and interlink
the elementary particles (atoms, molecules, cells) of the uni-
verse. The only difference is that at these high levels of com-



plexity (at which the effects of disintegration and repulsion are
exaggerated), if the organic process of grouping is to be
effected appreciably, it requires the presence in the bodies
subject to its action of special and rarely encountered properties :
such, for example, as the extraordinary aptitude for developing
their own mechanism which we see in insects, and (even more
strikingly) the wonderful power of linked association which
man acquires from his collective immersion in a reflective

Let us concentrate on this last instance, as being the most
characteristic and the most to the point for the study and
understanding of the phenomenon of synthesis between
strongly differentiated and interiorized elements.

12. When, at the beginning of the quaternary period, we
first meet the particular group of primates to which we belong,
we can still clearly distinguish in it the ramified and divergent
structure which is so characteristic of all the other living groups
which preceded our own. The fossil men of the Far East
(Pithecanthropus, Sinanthropus, Solo Man), it would appear,
form a truly independent 'scale', or marginal lamination, which
points to the existence elsewhere (in Asia and Africa) of other
elements which are more central but still take the form of
further scales: this is true, for example, of a 'bulb' of ruminants
or of carnivores when it first appears. Very soon, however,
certain effects of concentration become apparent above this
primitive ramification. At the end of the palaeolithic age, the
sapiens group, in spite of including numerous leaflets (white,
yellow, black) is already forming one single unitary system.
Thus a movement of re-involution or convergence emerges
and grows more pronounced; and I believe I am right in
recognizing in this, as two successive phases occur (one of



expansion, and one of compression), the most essential charac-
teristic of the phenomenon of man.

In the first phase (which covers the neolithic period and the
whole of the historical period right up to the present day), the
socialization of man, being effected from a starting-point in a
large number of centres and under only moderate pressure,
simply coincided with the gradual occupation of the globe: the
reflective layer spread slowly and freely over the non-reflective
layer of the earth. There are many who think that we are still
living under this elementary system oicrescite et multiplicamini,
of which plurality of nations and states is characteristic. And
yet, in the world we know, the expansive movement has
already been reversed. After occupying all the free space on
the planet, the human wave of socialization has curled back
upon itself and is engaged in a process of compenetration and
of re-shaping itself which reaches down to its furthest depths
(cf. paragraph 16). And it is in the course of this second phase of
compression, again initiated at this very time, that the final
problems of hominization are coming to the fore, and will
sooner or later have to be solved.

13. There can be no doubt whatsoever, we may be sure,
about the fact itself, briefly analysed here, of a gradual con-
solidation and organization of mankind upon itself. On the
other hand, when we come to appreciate the value of the
phenomenon and to determine its future, it is then that the
debate begins and contrary views come into conflict. There are
some, we know, for whom 'the individual is everything*, and
for whom socialization is no more than the by-product of an
evolution whose mistake has been to culminate in too great a
number of human beings at the same time. Come what may,



this multitude must fall into an orderly pattern; but this com-
pletely artificial and superficial arrangement has no longer any
connection, we are told, with biology's real structures. Very
well: in my view, once again it is precisely this over-cautious
and legalistic interpretation of the facts that it is so urgently
important to combat. How we can do so, and for what reasons,
we may now consider.

As I was saying earlier (paragraph n), socialization is a
direct equivalent, at the level of highly complex elements, of
the associations which at a lower level produce the molecules
of protein, for example, and the organic tissues; further, and
most important of all (paragraph 17), each new and more
successful human grouping automatically subtends a further
increase of consciousness. There we have two reasons, whose
validity is completely objective, I maintain, why the social
totalization taking place at this moment can in no way be
equated with an accidental and superficial aggregation of living
reflective particles. On the other hand, it fits in admirably as a
direct continuation of the process from which those particles
emerged. Because of an instinctive preconception we have
about the slowness of life's movements, we are inclined to
believe that hominization has long since come to a halt, and
that all it can do in the future is to maintain its present 'ceiling 9
at our own level; but a close examination of the social phenom-
enon should open our eyes, and show us that the cosmic involu-
tion from which each one of us has emerged has not been
arrested. Far from it: it is being continued, with even more
vigour than before, in the collective, and at a higher level than
our own. 8 *E purse muove. 9

•What is more, this collective super-involution has the effect of super-centering each
oneof us upon our own selves: rightly conducted, totalization personalizes: c£ below.



14. Directly or indirectly, all that follows here will prove to
be nothing but a list of die corollaries that result from this
identification of human socialization with the main terrestrial
axis of evolution. Here we may simply note, for a start, that
the mere acceptance of this unflinchingly organic and realist
point of view is in itself sufficient (as I have already shown else-
where 9 ) to give a new and most remarkable emphasis to the
vicissitudes of man's adventure in the general history of the

a. Zoologically, in the first place, if the Homo group is con-
sidered from this angle, it forms a perfectly natural picture.
Originating, to all appearances, as a mere species or fascicle of
species, we find in the end 10 that it is nothing more nor less
than a complete phylum (the main growing-point of the tree
of life) which is in process of folding back upon itself through all
its branches, existing or potential, and on a global scale.

b. Anatomically, in the second place (and this is in full agree-
ment with what modern thought instinctively guesses and
anticipates) the social body is seen to be going through a pro-
cess of organic differentiation - using the word as no metaphor,
but in a physical sense - through the development in association
of perfectly balanced instruments: collective heredity (or
memory) for example, which is transmitted by education or
stored in books; mechanization, gradually released from the
hand which initiated it, and now extended to planetary dimen-
sions; and, most important of all, progressive cerebralization
which is ever more closely and more rapidly bringing together
and co-ordinating an ever-increasing number of individual

•"The Formation of the Noosphere' in The Future of Man, pp. i55fF; Fontana edition,
pp. i6if£

"Thereby, too, it goes beyond all the categories of Linnaean classification and all
earlier formulations of biological evolution.



insights, and directing them towards ever more clearly defined

c. Finally, physiologically, an unmistakable functional rela-
tionship is becoming apparent between these three principal
organic instruments (and between many others to which I
need not now refer), which throws a great deal of light on the
main outlines of the infinitely disturbing chaos of our modern
world: the ever more rapid release, as a result of technologically
advanced automation, of an increasing quantity of free human
energy - a reserve that is now available, and forthwith put to
use, to supply fuel for the various forms of research and

And all this, we must realize, is not characteristic of a
cyclical system, set up once and for all and automatically
turning upon itself: it points to the progressive genesis of what
I have called a 'noosphere' - the pan-terrestrial organism in
which, by compression and arrangement of the thinking
particles, a resurgence of evolution (itself now become reflec-
tive) is striving to carry the stuff of the universe towards the
higher conditions of a planetary super-reflection. The course it
follows in so doing is what we must now analyse: for if it is
true that as a result of socialization mankind is continuing to
advance towards the highest degree of consciousness, then, at
the present rate of acceleration, how unimaginably enormous
are the distances to which we shall have travelled after some
hundreds of thousands of years.

4. The orientation of the future, and Omega Point

15. So: during a first phase of evolution, we have the more or
less automatic genesis of man; and in a second phase, the re-



bound of evolution and its extension by means of the devices
man's collective imagination has developed.

If only we take the trouble to consider the full implications
of the countless events and portents we are now witnessing in
the domain of physics, biology and psychology, the evidence
we find forces us to this conclusion : that as a result of mankind's
now standing upon its own feet, life is here and now entering
into a new era of autonomous control and selforientation*
As a direct result of his socialization, man is beginning, with
rational design, to take over the biological motive forces which
deterinine his growth - in other words, he is becoming capable
of modifying, or even of creating, his own self. Once this has
been understood and accepted, can we then foresee the general
directions in which the noosphere will tomorrow decide to
advance? Or, since reflection entails freedom, must we con-
clude that when evolution becomes hominized (that is to say,
when it acquires a power of auto-direction) it thereby tends
simultaneously, and in virtue of its structure, to make it im-
possible for us to foresee how it will develop? To my mind,
there can be no doubt about the answer to that question.
Although the human myriad is made up of free elements - or,
rather, precisely because it is based on such elements - its line
of advance is firmly polarized: so much so that, provided
Heaven grant it life', 11 it cannot fail, by a sort of statistical in-
fallibility, to carry itself on in a pattern defined by the follow-
ing properties: constantly increasing unification, centration,

n This presupposes, among other favourable conditions, (a) the absence, in the course
of anthropogenesis, of any astronomical or biological catastrophe which would
destroy the earth or life on earth; (b) the maintenance until the end - or the replace-
ment by synthetic methods - of the natural resources available in the continents, which
feed man's individual and social body; (c) effective control, both in quantity and
quality, of reproduction in order to avoid over-population of the earth or its invasion
by a less satisfactory ethnic group.



and spiritualization - the whole system rising unmistakably
towards a critical point of final convergence.

16. Unification. This is the immediate and inevitable result
of the properties specific to the substance of man when it is
subject to the action of two antagonistic, and essentially ir-
resistible, forces: on the one hand, the increase of human
population, and, on the other, the restricted surface-area of the
earth. It is because of this double planetary condition (demo-
graphic expansion in a closed container) that the social phenom-
enon, as I pointed out earlier, has just entered a final phase of
compression. Now - and this is the point that matters - col-
lective man can survive this increasing compression, from
which there is no escape, only by developing an ever higher
degree of self-arrangement (which means self-organization) in
his own structure. 12 And in consequence, while still leaving the
road open to the later, 'attractive' action (cf. paragraph 21) of
other factors (operating not a tergo but ah ante) which make for
unanimity, he is forced by reasons that are cosmic in scale and
urgency gradually to transcend, in his interests and in what he
makes, every limit, every frontier, be it political or economic,
or even, up to a point, spiritual. One may, indeed, say without
any hesitation, as I have already often said, that under a
planetary pressure that can only increase with the passage of
time, 18 it would be easier to halt the revolution of the earth
than it would be to prevent the totalization of mankind. 14

11 And this has the further remarkable result that while every advance in organization
brings a temporary relief of pressure, it makes every new increase in planetary con-
striction more noticeable and more rapidly transmitted in man's environment.
"Unless we accept the possibility of a drop in pressure by means of 'astronautics';
but this would not, I think, alter the general trend of the phenomenon.
14 We often meet the idea that totalization means the immobilization (in other words,
the death) of mankind. This is completely untrue. Two sorts of movements at least
may be envisaged within a unified mankind: surface movements, which result from
exchanges of thought between different zones of the noosphere, and movements in



17. Centration (in other words, intensification of consciousness).
A full understanding of the fundamental cosmic relationship
between complexity and consciousness will make it plain that
this second axis of the future is in fact integral with the first,
of which it is simply the continuation or consequence. We
have just seen that mankind is being forced by planetary pres-
sure (fortunately, indeed) into a self-organization that is ever
more tightly knit around itself. The mechanism and properties,
moreover, of vital involution demand that a correlative effort
of internal centration shall inevitably correspond to this
external imposed centralization. 16 There is thus a sequence of
invisibly linked effects by which the more the concentration of
the human mass entails its organic arrangement, the more it
continually raises the psychic temperature of the noosphere.
Nor, so far as I know, is there anything which seems to be
able to modify the operation of this law, for as long as the
earth is still inhabited or habitable.

18. Spiritualization. By this I mean the increasing pre-
dominance in the human layer of the reflective (or 'thought 1 )
over automatic reactions and instinct. Earlier (p. 167, n. 3) I
was saying that every natural unit produced by cosmic involu-
tion can be represented symbolically by an ellipse drawn around
two allied foci: one, Fi, of material and technological arrange-
ment; the other, F2, of consciousness (this latter appearing only
at the level of life). What it is essential to understand in the
case of man, is that once the breakthrough into reflection has

depth, caused by the continual emergence (and kept continually in equilibrium by
convergence) of new potential branches at the core of the human mass as it folds
back upon itsel£

"Collective centration, through development of a common vision (c£ paragraph 19);
but individual super-centration, too, as a result of totalization (c£ above, p. 178, n. 8).



been made, 16 the biological process of evolution seems to
concentrate and to reduce itself more and more (as a result of
collective involution) to ensuring the predominance of Fz over
Fi. The more intensely mankind becomes organized and
technologically centred upon itself, the more (in spite of ap-
parent evidence to the contrary) does its upward impulse (its
passion for discovery, for knowledge and creation) tend to pre-
dominate over its elementary need to establish itself and sur-
vive. Thus, it is ultimately by using this index or parameter of
the growing autonomy of ¥2 that we may hope most accu-
rately to extrapolate the curve of hominization to its term.

19. When we try to examine scientifically what sort of end
awaits mankind on earth, I would rather there were less talk
of catastrophe (that is a gratuitous and lazy hypothesis), or
decay (for we have no reason to believe that the noosphere may
not be immune from the ravages of old age: the evidence - cf.
below— is very much the other way), or of astronautic emi-
gration (an escape that is astronomically improbable). On the
contrary, we should, I think, look at the problem both more
closely and more deeply, and then make up our minds to draw
the final consequences from this essential fact: that noogenesis
(which is what anthropogenesis essentially amounts to) is a
convergent phenomenon. In other words it is, by its nature,
directed towards an ending and a completion that ate internal
in origin. And here I can only repeat, pushing its conclusions as
far as they can be taken, what has been the constant theme
running through all that I have already said. If it is true, as I
hope I have shown, that the human social phenomenon is
simply the higher form assumed on earth by the involution

16 By which the conscious, now decisively isolated and individualized, begins distinctly
to react, through invention, on its organic support.



of the cosmic stuff upon itself, then we must accept a conclusion
for which the road has been prepared by die emergence
(already adumbrated in the sciences) of a Weltanschauung
common to the consciousness of all mankind. 17 By this I mean
that we must recognize the rapidly increasing probability that
we are approaching a critical point of maturity, at which man,
now completely reflecting upon himself not only individually
but collectively, will have reached, along the complexity axis
(and this with the full force of his spiritual impact), the extreme
limit of the world. And it is then, if we wish to attribute a
significant direction to our experience and see where it leads,
that it seems we are obliged to envisage in that direction, finally
to round off the phenomenon, the ultimate emergence of
thought on earth into what I have called Omega Point.

20. I shall continue here to use the term 'Omega Point* in
the sense I have long attributed to it: an ultimate and self-
subsistent pole of consciousness, so involved in the world as to
be able to gather into itself, by union, the cosmic elements that
have been brought by technical arrangement to the extreme
limit of their centration - and yet, by reason of its supra-
evolutive (that is to say, transcendent) nature, enabled to be
immune from that fatal regression which is, structurally, a
threat to every edifice whose stuff exists in space and time, in
itself, and by definition, such a centre is not direcdy apprehen-
sible by us. Yet, even if its presence and its influence cannot be
immediately perceived, there are at least three decisive reasons
why its existence must inevitably, it would appear, be postu-

a. First and foremost, a reason derived from irreversibility.

17 By this we must understand a vision of the world in which passion plays as large a
part as intellect, a vision glowing with the magical nimbus of all that art and poetry
have gradually accumulated.



From what we have already said, it must follow that once the
process of cosmic complexification has been initiated it cannot
be halted. Further, at the level of, and starting with, the psychic
point of reflection, this external, relative irreversibility begins to
be duplicated by another irreversibility, which in this case is
internal and absolute. Man becomes aware simultaneously of his
power to foresee the future and to invent; and it becomes in-
creasingly clear to him that he would be out of his mind to lend
himself to the prolongation of evolution, and still more to its
rebound with himself as spring-board, if the irreplaceable and
incommunicable essence, both of each individual person and of
planetized mankind, were not finally gathered up and inte-
grated into some fulfilment - a fulfilment that would be for
all time. 1 * In other words, in a universe which has become
conscious of a future, cosmic involution would immediately
come to a halt, checked from within, when confronted by the
hopeless prospect of a possible total death. This can mean b&t
one thing : that at that inevitable moment, which must arrive in
every thinking being or system sooner or later, when focus Fi
of complexity is about to collapse, a common, supreme, focus
must be ready and at hand, in which the F2s of consciousness
can find support and can combine, so that the human ellipse
may be redrawn: and this time, with no possibility of collapse,
b. But there is a second reason, too, derived from polarity.
Up to this point we have been satisfied to note, without
explaining, the irresistible character of the movement which
causes 'matter* to fold back upon itself. It is, one would say,
as though the universe were falling along its axis of increasing
complexity. The truth is that what is going on is not a fall -

18 A demand which implies (let there be no mistake about this) no undue self-love: it
is a demand based on respect for the value of the 'being'. When enlarged to the scale
of the Whole, renunciation ceases to be noble, because it becomes illogical



for a fall means a passage towards a state of equilibrium: it is,
as we noted incidentally, the exact opposite, an arduous climb
towards the improbable. - And it is impossible to justify
rationally this inverse form of gravitation, 19 without conceiving
that somewhere, influencing the very heart of the evolutive
vortex, there must be a centre which is sufficiently independent
and active to cause the totality of the cosmic layer to centre
itself (that is, to complexify itself) tinder the control of, and in
the image of, that same independent centre.

c. And finally, there is a reason derived from unanimity. One
might at first suppose that all that is needed to ensure the forma-
tion of the noosphere, to make it W, is the action of planetary
compression, which forcibly draws together the reflective
particles up to the point where it makes them leave their area
of increasing mutual repulsion and ultimately causes them to
fall within the radius of their mutual attraction. Here again,
however (as in the case of Tailing into complexity'), we must
beware of over-simple physical analogies drawn from die
other extreme of the world, from the domain of the infinitely
simple. However compressed the human particles may be, they
must ultimately, if they are to group themselves 'centrically',
love one another - with a love that includes all individuals
simultaneously and all as one whole. 20 Yet there is no true love
in an atmosphere, however warm it be, of the collective; for
the collective is the impersonal. If love is to be born and to
become firmly established it must find an individualized heart,
an individualized face. The more closely one examines this

19 Li which the more complex, in spite of its fragility, behaves paradoxically like the
more stable . . .

S0 For by nature (or even, one might say, by definition) sympathy is the only energy
that can bring beings together centre to centre (which is, incidentally, the only way of
ultra-personalizing them).



essential psychic mechanism of union, the more convinced one
becomes that the only possible way in which cosmic involution
can culminate is to reach its term not simply on a centred
system of centres, but on a centre of centres - that alone, and only
that, will suffice.

All these considerations converge and blend and force us to
admit that while, in the direction of the immense and the in-
finitesimal, the world of physics curls back upon itself, or
contracts in such a way as hermetically to imprison in itself all
the lines of force of the universe - on the other hand, if we
follow the axis of complexities, we cannot conceive of thought
as attaining the fullness of its culmination and then either
halting or falling back upon itself: when thought has reached
that peak of intensity it must succeed, somehow, as a result of
hyper-centration, in breaking through the temporo-spatial
membrane of the phenomenon - until it joins up with a
supremely personal, supremely personalizing, being.


21. A planetary compression 21 which forces the human mass
to organize itself- and that organization releasing an upward
spiritual force which finally detaches reflective consciousness
from its matrix of technical arrangements, and so allies it
extra-phenomenally with the partially transcendent focus of
cosmic involution: it is thus that we have just seen the develop-
ment of the linked sequence we know as the phenomenon of
man. Further direct progress along that line is impossible. On
the other hand we can take a dialectical swing backwards, to
consolidate the road we have travelled, and so hope to build up

"Ultimately, gravitational in origin.



fresh impetus. And this is how we can do so: it is a principle
derived from general experience that every being acts on its
environment through the totality of its self. This means, quite
simply, that biological lines offeree are inevitably established
between living elements - intellectual lines of force between
thinking elements - and so on. This being so, to admit, even
as a conjecture, the existence at the summit of the universe of
an Omega Point, is ipso facto to introduce the possibility that
certain influences, a certain radiation, psychic in nature, are
active around us; and these point to and confirm (under
certain conditions, and up to a certain degree) the existence we
have postulated, at a higher level than our own persons, of an
ultra-pole of personal energy. - And so it is that the significance
and importance of the Christian phenomenon become ap-

22. The Christian phenomenon, historically speaking, is
simply the final and central form assumed, following a long
and complex phylogenesis, by the persistent emergence at the
heart of hominization of the need to worship: and so, by the
Christian phenomenon I mean the experiential existence within
mankind of a religious current which is characterized by the
following group of properties: intense vitality; unusual adapta-
bility, which allows it, unlike other religions, to develop most
successfully and chiefly in the noosphere's very area of growth ; 22
and finally a remarkable similarity in its dogmatic views (con-
vergence of the universe upon a self-subsistent and supra-
personal God) with all that we have learnt from our study of
the phenomenon of man. These various peculiarities might well
escape the notice of an uninformed mind, but they awake in
the sensitive observer a suspicion that amounts to a certainty.

"La what botanists call the meristem.


Is it not reasonable to see in the gradual formation, at the very
quick of man's consciousness, of an ever more perfect and more
fully developed image of God, just that influence and radiation
we were expecting of Omega, reflecting, revealing, itself,
affectively and intelligibly on the reflective surface of the
noosphere? Let us accept this hypothesis; or, better still, let
us adhere to this faith. 28 It is apparent that, with that acceptance
or adherence, many things that characterize the structure and
general progress of the universe are clarified and come into
sharper focus.

23. In the first place, the immediate result of this perception
of the divine reflection on the world is an important (and,
indeed, an essential) 24 confirmation of the existence of Omega.
But, what is more (through that controlled fertilization of
human thought in which Revelation is psycho-experientially
expressed for us), all sorts of concrete determinant properties,
of very great value both in theory and in practice, become
apparent. These relate to the essence of Omega (trinitarian
nature, for example), and more particularly to its modes of

24. If we left out any contribution or support from Revela-
tion, the only conclusion we could deduce from the existence,
once that is accepted, of Omega is that the tide of consciousness
of which we form a part is not produced simply by some
impulse that originates in ourselves. It feels the pull of a star,

i*Ihis is not the place to analyse the mechanism, but only to determine the dialectical
position, of the mysterious 'act of faith' within which the elementary human centre
and the divine Megacentre attain a vital recognition of one another - starting from, but
going beyond, certain signs.

"'Essential' on two grounds: first, of course, in a religious sense, to strengthen our
worship; but in an intellectual sense also, to assure us that we are right to trust our
reason. For if there were no confirmation of the existence of the Omega whom we
have recognized as theoretically necessary for the coherence of the world, it would
seriously impair our confidence in the constructive value of human reason.



upon which, individually and as one whole, we are completing
in union our process of self-interiorization. The layers of the
world around us take on a vastly richer and more penetrating
radiance when they are seen in the context of a Christie-type
creation (one, that is, in which a divine involution steps down
to combine with the mounting evolution of the cosmos). I
shall have more to say later about the metaphysical concords
and mystical consequences of such a vision. From a phenomenal
point of view, we may confine ourselves to noting here the
relationship which it brings out between what I referred to
earlier as 'the critical point of human maturation' on the one
hand, and on the other hand the parousia-point (or the second
coming of Christ in triumph) which at the end of all time
rings down the curtain on the Christian horizon. By structural
necessity, the two points inevitably coincide - in this sense, that
the fulfilment of hominization by ultra-reflection is seen to be a
necessary 26 pre-condition of its 'divinization. And so we see an
additional element beginning to take shape in the actual
nucleus of the cone of cosmic involution. At first we had
recognized that the central phenomenon in the universe is life:
in life it is thought, and in thought the collective arrangement
of all thoughts in inter-relation to one another. We are now
faced by a fourth choice, and it brings us to the conclusion that
at a still deeper level, at the very heart, that is to say, of the
social phenomenon, a sort of ultra-socialization is in progress.
It is the process by which 'the Church' is gradually formed, its
influence animating and assembling in their most sublime form
all the spiritual energies of the noosphere: the Church, the
reflexively Christified portion of the world - the Church, the

^Necessary, but not sufficient. In all this there is, of course, no 'rniUenniarism', since
the point of human ultra-reflection (corresponding to the parousia-point) marks a
phase not of rest but o£ maximum tension.



principal focus-point at which inter-human affinities come
together through super-charity (c£ paragraph 3 8) - the Church,
die central axis of universal convergence, and the exact meeting-
point that springs up between the universe and Omega Point.

2. Metaphysics

25. In the course of the preceding pages I have concentrated
solely on disclosing, and tracing to its end, a tangible thread in
the world, a law of recurrence (cosmic involution), while
realizing that its final extrapolation must be checked by a
critical reference to a deeper form of experience (perception
of the Christie influence). In this second part I shall try to
reconstruct deductively (that is, a priori) the system observed
in the way I have described, including its theological or
revealed extensions, and starting from certain general principles
which I take as an absolute. I am fully aware, of course, of the
precarious and provisional nature of such a metaphysics; but I
know too that it is by such attempts that little by little, pro-
ceeding from one approximation to another, we gradually
build up both in science and in philosophy the univer$e-of-
thought around which, as we have seen, human reflection must
one day succeed in coalescing. 26

26. In classical metaphysics it has always been customary to
deduce die world from a starting-point in die notion of being,
regarded as irreducibly primordial. The most recent investiga-
tions of the physicists have shown that the 'common-sense'

MTIxe tentative nature of this enquiry, emphasized by Pere TeOhard, should be borne
in mind. In every domain, and particularly in those he covers, science and reflection
can only feel 'their way. Any judgement of such an essay as this implies and pre-
supposes that die reader shares its approach, which is common to all that Pere
Teilhard wrote. (Ed.)



evidence which underlies the whole of the philosophia perennis
is misleading: motion is not independent of the moving body
- on the contrary, the moving body is physically engendered
by the motion which animates it. Relying on this new principle,
I shall try in what follows to show that a line of argument richer
and more flexible than the earlier becomes possible if our initial
proposition is that being does not represent a final notion, stand-
ing in isolation, but is in reality definable (genetically, at least, if
not ontologically) by a particular movement which is indis-
solubly associated with it - that of union. Thus one may use the
following equations, as the case demands:

to be = to unite oneself, or to unite others (the active form)

to be = to be united and unified by another (the passive
form). 27

Let us, then, note and briefly analyse the successive phases of
this metaphysics of union. 28

27. In a first phase, we have to assume as a prime datum (and
in so doing we coincide with classical philosophy) the irrevers-
ible and self-sufficient presence of a 'First Being' (our Omega
Point). Otherwise it is impossible (both logically and onto-
logically) to get any purchase - that is, to take a single step
forward. But if this initial and final centre is to subsist upon

t? Or, more clearly, in Latin:

Plus esse = plus plura mire (active form)

Plus esse = plus a pluribus uniri (passive form)
Note: in the first expression, it is evident that 'plus plura unite 9 does not hold good for
God in the case of trinitization, but it exactly fits pleromization (or creation, cf.
paragraph 29).*

*To be more = more fully to unite more elements
To be more = to be more fully united from more elements (Ed.)
"Here Pere Teilhard returns to and develops more fully (by including in it the mystery
of God himself) an intuition which first asserted itself in his mind as early as 1917, and
which, in one form or another, was to be with him throughout his life. Cf. 'Creative
Union* in Writings in Time of War, pp. 151-76. (Ed.)



itself in its splendid isolation, then (in conformity with the
'revealed* datum - phase two) we are obliged to represent it to
ourselves as, in its triune nature, containing its own self-
opposition. Thus, even in these primordial depths, the onto-
logical principle we adopted as the foundation of our
metaphysics is seen to be valid and illuminating: in a sense
that is strictly true, God exists only by uniting himself. - Let
us see how, in another sense, he fulfils himself only by
uniting. 29

28. In the very act by which his reality asserts itself, God
(we have just seen) makes himself triune. But, what is more,
by the very fact that he unifies himself upon himself in order
that he may exist, the First Being ipso facto stimulates the out-
break of another type of opposition, not in the core of his
being but at the very opposite pole from himself {phase three).
The sel£subsistent unity, at the pole of being : and as a necessary
consequence, surrounding it on the circumference, the multiple
- the pure multiple (with full emphasis on pure), or creatable
nil, which is nothing - and which nevertheless, by passive
potentiality of arrangement (that is to say, of union), is a
possibility of being, a prayer for being: a prayer (and here we
are in such deep waters that our minds are completely unable
to distinguish supreme necessity from supreme freedom) 80

••It will be noticed that here Pere Teilhard starts from what is normally the final point
in his line of thought - Omega. The elements of this initial assumption are fully
analysed in the fourth phase of his 'dialectic of spirit', written a little earlier than this
essay. (Cf. Activation of Energy, Collins, London, 1970, and Harcourt Brace Jovanovich,
New York, 1971. pp. 148-51.) Here he shows how one can envisage Alpha if one
starts from Omega. (Ed.)

••Except by recognizing the presence of the Free by the infallible sign of an associated
love. Similarly, it is love (c£ below, p. 201, n. 43) which makes it possible to distinguish
the Eastern 'ineffable of relaxation' from die Christian 'ineffable of tension' (as found,
for example, in St John of the Cross).



which it is just as though God had been unable to resist. 81
29. In classical philosophy (or theology) the Creation, or
Participation (which constitutes phase four) always tends to be
presented as an almost arbitrary act on the part of the first
cause, operating (by a causality that is analogically 'efficient')
through a completely indeterminate mechanism: an 'act of
God 9 , indeed, in the catastrophic sense of the term. In a meta-
physics of union, however, while the self-sufficiency and self-
determination of the absolute being are retained intact (since,
let me again emphasize, the pure multiple at the opposite pole
is merely potentiality and pure passivity), 32 on the other hand
the creative act takes on a very clearly defined significance and
structure. Being, in some way, the fruit of a reflection of God,
no longer in God but outside him, the pleromization (as St
Paul would have called it) - that is to say, the realization of
participated being through arrangement and totalization -
emerges as a sort of echo or symmetrical response to Trinitiza-
tion. It somehow fills a gap; it fits in. And at the same time it

"Here Teilhard raises the problem of the Creation in its aspect of, while yet without
being, existing for God in the form of a 'possible' of which God wishes to have need.
Granted the way in which Teilhard thinks of reality, this possible has in some way the
already positive and yet completely evanescent appearance of the pure multiple. He
calls it 'creatable nil 9 because it is already the stuff in which the universe will be
fashioned by process of arrangement and creative union.

In dealing with the freedom of this creative act, Teilhard attains a profound depth
of expression here (paragraph 28) and in the accompanying note. As early as 1924 he
had written on the same lines: 'God and the world - the Pleroma - the mysterious
reality of which we cannot say that it is more beautiful than God himself (since God
could dispense with the world), but which we cannot, either, consider completely
gratuitous, completely subsidiary, without making Creation unintelligible, the Passion
of Christ meaningless, and our own effort completely without value.' (C£ 'My
Universe' in Science and Christ, p. 85.)

A metaphysics of union, culminating in the figure of the universal Christ, as Pete
Teilhard says in paragraph 38 below, gives us some idea of how the creatable nil
(that is, the world made for Christ, even before it is world) enters on its appointed
role in the form of a prayer for being. (Ed.)
"Itself only an 'antithetical' reflection of the triune being.



becomes expressible in the same terms as those which served
us for our definition of being- To create is to unite. 88
And this, we shall find, has some remarkable consequences.

a. First, we shall discover that, while Creation can include a
limitless number of phases, on the other hand (and in this it
somewhat resembles Trinitization) it can be effected only once
(if I may use the phrase) 'in God's lifetime'. Indeed, once the
reduction of the multiple has been effected, no form of still un-
satisfied opposition (either interior or exterior) subsists for the
'pleromized* being. With every conceivable possibility of
union (whether active or passive) exhausted, the 'being' has
reached the level at which it is saturated. 84

b. Secondly, we realize that in order to create (for, once
again, to create is to unite) God has inevitably to immerse
himself in the multiple, so that he may incorporate it in himself.

c. And finally, a much more sensitive point, about which I
must now make myself clear - we see that in order to launch
an attack on the multiple, God is forced into war with evil,
'the shadow of Creation'.

30. Our ingrained habits of thought are such that we still
automatically maintain that the problem of evil is insoluble.
And yet, why should this be so? In the old cosmos, which was
assumed to have emerged complete from the hands of the
Creator, it was only natural to find it difficult to reconcile a
partially evil world with the existence of a God who is both
good and omnipotent. But with our modern view of a universe

••Provided, of course (<£ paragraph 26), that we reject what common sense has sr
long told us about the real distinction between mover and moved, and so cease to
imagine that the act of union can be effected only upon a pre-existing substratum, the
'true* object of creation.

••There is obviously an infinite number of conceivable modalities for the single universe
which is the object of creation: but these various modalities are like a number of
different mountain tracks which are bound to lead in the end to the same peak.



in a state of cosmogenesis - and more particularly in a state of
'involution 9 - how can so many well-ordered minds still persist
in failing to see that, intellectually 85 speaking, the only too
familiar problem no longer exists. Leaving behind imaginary
speculations, let us consider the real conditions which, we have
just seen, must be satisfied by the creative act. Our analysis has
led to the conclusion that not through inability, but by reason of
the very structure of the nil to which he stoops, God can proceed
to creation in only one way: he must arrange, and, tinder his
magnetic influence and using the tentative operation of enor-
mous numbers, gradually unify an immense multitude of
elements. Initially, these are infinite in number, extremely
simple, and hardly conscious - then they gradually become
fewer, more complex, and ultimately endowed with reflection.
What, then, is the inevitable counterpart to every success
gained in the course of such a process, if not that it has to be
paid for by a certain amount of wastage? So we find physical
discords or decompositions in the pre-living; suffering in the
living; sin in the domain of freedom. There can be no order in
process of formation which does not at every stage imply some
disorder. In this ontological (or, more correctly, ontogenic)
condition inherent in the participated, there is nothing which
impairs the dignity or limits the omnipotence of the Creator,
nothing which in any way smacks of Manichaeanism. In itself,
the pure, unorganized Multiple is not evil: but because it is
multiple, which means that it is essentially subject in its
arrangements to the operation of chance, it is absolutely barred

intellectually as opposed to vitally. It is obviously one thing to explain rationally the
corn-possibility of evil and God, and quite another to have to put up with physical
or mental suffering. It in the former case, a chain of reasoning will serve our purpose,
even so we need nothing less than the transforming virtue of what I shall later (para-
graph 38) be referring to as 'super-charity' to release us from the latter.



from progressing towards unity without sporadically en-
gendering evil: 86 and that as a matter of statistical necessity.
'Necessarium est ut adveniant scandala' If (as we must, I believe,
inevitably admit) our reason can see only one way in which it is
possible for God to create - and that is evolutively, by process
of unification - then evil is an inevitable by-product. It appears
as a forfeit inseparable from Creation. 87

31. And so we can see how a series of notions, long regarded
as independent, gradually comes to form a linked organic
pattern. No God (up to a certain point . . .) without creative
union. No creation without incarnational immersion. No
incarnation without redemptive repayment. 88 In a metaphysics
of union, the three fundamental mysteries' of Christianity 89
are seen to be simply the three aspects of one and the same
mystery of mysteries, that of pleromization (or unifying reduc-
tion of the multiple). And at the same time a re-invigorated
Christology stands out as not simply the historical or juridical,
but as the structural axis, of the whole of theology. Between the
Word on one side, and the Man-Jesus on the other, a sort of
'third Christie nature 9 (if I may use so bold a phrase) emerges -
constantly to be found in the writings of St Paul: it is the nature
of the total and totalizing Christ, in whom the individual

••However free it may be.

9v Let me emphasize here the principle which gives us a simple and fruitful interpreta-
tion of original sin - the theological necessity of baptism being explained by the
genetic solidarity of all mankind (permeated, by statistical necessity, with sin), in
which the collective ties which bind individuals are seen to be even more real and
more deeply rooted than any strictly and 'lineally* hereditary type of linkage.
**We should probably distinguish two elements in the 'creative forfeit' expressed by
the idea of Redemption: a. Pint, of course, compensation for statistical disorders;
b. but also a specific effort towards unification, overcoming a sort of ontological
slope (or inertia) because of which participated being constantly tends to fall back
towards multiplicity.

"Which, I repeat, have hitherto been commonly represented as entirely separable
from one another. In popular teaching, it is still generally accepted that: 1. God could



human element born of Mary is subject to the transforming
influence of the Resurrection, and so raised not merely to the
state of cosmic element (an element, one might say, of what
makes up the whole cosmic milieu or curvature) but to that
of ultimate psychic centre of universal concentration, 40

So there re-appears, at the term of our metaphysics, the
same Christie point towards which, as we had already seen, the
phenomenon of man seems experientially to be making its
way, and on which it seems to converge: - and the same point,
too, as we have still to see, around which the very essence of
modern mysticism is coming to re-discover and re-shape
itself, and so conquer the future.

3. Mysticism

32. What I mean here by mysticism is the need, the science
and the art of attaining simultaneously, and each through the
other, the universal and the spiritual. To become at the same
time, and by the same act, one with All, through release from
all multiplicity or material gravity: there you have, deeper
than any ambition for pleasure, for wealth or power, the
essential dream of the human soul - a dream which, as we
shall see, is still incorrectly and incompletely expressed in the

absolutely (simplidter) create or not create; 2. If he did create, he could do so with or
without the Incarnation; 3. And that if he made himself incarnate, he could do so
with or without suffering. Whatever one's attitude, it is this conceptual pluralism, I
believe, that must be corrected.

*°Each element in the universe (c£ p. 169, n. 4) is both physically and metaphysically
an elementary centre in relation to the totality of time and space. In Christ, however,
this co-extension of co-existence has become co-extension of sovereignty.



noosphere, but can be clearly recognized throughout the
already lengthy history of holiness.

33. An effort to escape spiritually, through universalization,
into the ineffable: mystics of all religions and of all times 41 are
in complete agreement that it is this general direction that
must be followed by the interior life as it seeks for perfection.
Nevertheless, I have long been convinced that this superficial
unanimity disguises a serious opposition (or even a fundamental
incompatibility) which originates in a confusion between two
symmetrical but 'antipodal* approaches to the understanding,
and hence to the pursuit, of spirit. 42

a. If the first road, which for convenience I shall call 'the
road of the East 9 is followed, spiritual unification is conceived
as being effected through return to a common 'divine* basis
underlying, and more real than, all the sensibly perceptible de-
terminants of the universe. From this point of view, mystical
unity appears and is acquired by direct suppression of the
multiple: that is to say, by relaxing the cosmic effort towards
differentiation in ourselves and around ourselves. It is pan-
theism of identification, the spirit of 'release of tension':
unification by co-extension with the sphere through dissolu-

b. If the second road, however, is followed (the road of the
West), it is impossible to become one with All unless we carry
to their extreme limit, in their direction at once of differentia-
tion and convergence, the dispersed elements which constitute
us and surround us. From this second point of view, the

"See a selection of quotations from many different sources in Aldous Huxley's
Perennial Philosophy.

"For a fuller analysis of the characteristics of the two roads, see 'The Spiritual Con-
tribution of the Far East* in this volume, and 'How I believe' in Christianity and
Evolution, pp. 96-132. (Ed.)



'common basis' of the Eastern road is mere illusion: all that
exists is a central focus at which we can arrive only by extend-
ing to their meeting-point the countless guide-lines of the
universe. Pantheism of union (and hence of love): spirit 'of
tension'; unification by concentration and hyper-centration
at the centre of the sphere.

Surprisingly, it would not appear that a clear distinction has
yet been drawn between these two diametrically contrasted
attitudes: and this accounts for the confusion which muddles
together or identifies the ineffable of the Vedanta and that of,
for example, St John of the Cross 48 - and so not only allows
any number of excellent souls to become helpless victims of
the most pernicious illusions produced in the East, but also
(what is more serious) delays a task that is daily becoming more
urgent - the individualization and the full flowering of a valid
and powerful modern mysticism.

34. In this connection, the first point - and it is the decisive
point - to bring out and fix in our minds is this: once our
physics and metaphysics have been accepted, as expressed in
the terms we agreed on earlier, then there can be no possible
hesitation about the direction we must choose at this cross-
roads. In a universe of self-involution, the only homogeneous
form of spiritualization, the only viable mysticism, must be -
what, in fact, they are becoming more and more - a positive
act not of relaxation, but of active convergence and concen-

48 When approached by the road of the East (identification) the ineffable is not such
that it can be loved. By the road of the West (union) it is attained through a con-
tinuation of the direction of love. This very simple criterion makes it possible to
distinguish and keep separate, as being antithetical, verbal expressions that are almost
identical when used by Christian or Hindu. Cf. above, p. 194, n. 30.



Now that we have realized this, let us try to define and
describe the two modes - one simply rational, the other speci-
fically Christian - in which the human swarm, by an instinctive
and imperative choice, is adopting the road of the West: a
mass movement which we can even now witness for ourselves.

35. At the psychological root of all mysticism there lies, if I
am not mistaken, the more or less ill-defined need or magnetic
power which urges each conscious element to become united
with the surrounding whole. This cosmic sense is undoubtedly
akin to and as primordial as the sense of sex; we find it spor-
adically very much alive in some poets or visionaries, but it has
hitherto remained dormant, or at any rate localized (in an
elementary and questionable form) in a number of Eastern
centres. In recent times there has emerged in our interior vision
a universe that has at last become knit together around itself
and around us, in its passage through the immensity of time
and space. As a result of this, it is quite evident that the passionate
awareness of a universal quasi-presence is tending to be
aroused, to become correctly adjusted and to be generalized in
human consciousness. The sense of evolution, the sense of
species, the sense of the earth, the sense of man: these are so
many different and preliminary expressions of one and the
same thirst for unification - and, it goes without saying, they
all, by establishing a correct relation to the object that gives
rise to them and stimulates them, conform to the Western
type of spiritualization and worship. Contradicting the most
obstinate of preconceived opinions, the light is on the point
of appearing not from the East, but here at home, in the very
heart of technology and research.

36. From this point of view, it is in the direction of a
dynamic and progressive neo-humanism (one, that is, which



is based on man's having become conscious of being the respon-
sible axis of cosmic evolution) that a mysticism of tomorrow
is beginning to assert itself as the answer to the new and
constantly increasing needs of anthropogenesis. A common
faith in a future of the earth is a frame of mind, perhaps even
the only frame of mind, that can create the psychic atmosphere
required for a spiritual convergence of all human conscious-
ness: but can that common faith, in its merely natural form,
constitute a religion that will be permanently satisfactory? . • .
In other words, is not something more required to maintain the
evolutive effort of hominization unimpaired and unfaltering
to its final term, and to love it: does it not call for the manifest
appearance and explicit intervention of the ultimate focus of
biological involution? I believe that it does; and it is here that
Christie faith comes in to take over from and to consummate
faith in man.

37. Twice already we have met this supreme crown to both
the phenomenon of man and the metaphysics of union - the
mysterious figure of the parousiac or risen Christ, in whom the
two linked processes of involution and pleromization are
simultaneously consummated. In 'Christ-Omega', the universal
comes into exact focus andassumes a personal form. Biologically
and ontologically speaking, there is nothing more consistent,
and at the same time nothing bolder, 44 than this identification
we envisage, at the upper limits of noogenesis, between the
apparently contradictory properties of the whole and the
element. And it follows necessarily that, psychologically, there
is nothing more miraculously fruitful, because, in this antici-

"Left to itself, biology would no doubt shrink from carrying the effects of socializa-
tion beyond a common reflection (unanimity), which combines and interlocks the
thinking elements in a sort of vaulting - but without the appearance of a centre of
common consciousness.



pated centre to the total sphere, attitudes and 'passions' are able
to meet and to he multiplied by one another, which in every
other mental compass remain irreparably separate. 'To lose
oneself in the cosmic; 'to believe in and devote oneself to
progress 9 ; 'to love another being of the same sort as one's self;
such are the only relationships possible in a purely human
ambience - and there they cannot but be independent of one
another or even mutually exclusive. 'To love (with real love,
with a true love) the universe in process of formation, in its
totality and in its details', 'to love evolution' - that is the
paradoxical interior act that can immediately be effected in
the Christie ambience. For the man who has once thoroughly
understood the nature of a world in which cosmogenesis, pro-
ceeding along the axis of anthropogenesis, culminates in a
Christogenesis - for that man, everything, in every element and
event of the universe, is bathed in light and warmth, everything
becomes animate and a fit object for love and worship - not,
indeed, directly in itself (as popular pantheism would have it)
but at a deeper level than itself: that is, at the extreme and
unique term of its development.

Once things are seen in this light, it is impossible to adhere
to Christ without doing all one can to assist the whole forward
drive. In that same light, too, communion becomes an im-
passioned participation in universal action; and expectation
of the parousia merges exactly, as we saw earlier (paragraph 24)
with the coming of a maturity of man; and the upward move-
ment towards the 'above' combines harmoniously with the
drive 'ahead' . . . And from all this follows that Christian
charity, generally presented as a mere soothing lotion poured
over the world's suffering, is seen to be the most complete and
the most active agent of hominization.



By Christian charity, in the first place, the reflected evolutive
effort, whether considered in its individual parts or as one
whole, is charged, as we have just said, with love: and that is
the only way in which the full depths of its whole psychic
reserves can be released.

By charity, again, the miseries of failure and vital diminish-
ment - even these! - are transformed into factors of unitive
excentration (by which I mean the gift to, and transition into,
another greater than self): so that they cease to appear as a
waste-product of creation and, by a miracle of spiritual super-
dynamics, they become a positive factor of super-evolution:
the true and supreme solution of the problem of evil (cf. above,
p. 197, n. 35).

Thereby, too, if the vast and formidably complex motor of
evolution is to drive ahead under full power, without distorting
a single working part, Christian mysticism, the higher and
personalized form of the mysticism of the West, must be
recognized by the thinking mind as the perfect energy for the
purpose, the eminendy appropriate energy. - And in that con-
clusion we have a most significant indication that nothing can
prevent it from becoming the universal and essential mysticism
of tomorrow.


38. A phenomenology of involution, leading up to the notion
of super-reflection. A metaphysics of union, culminating in the
figure of the universal-Christ. A mysticism of centration,
summed up in the total and totalizing attitude of a love of
evolution. Super-humanity crowned by a super-Christ, him-



self principle of super-charity. Such are the three coherent and
complementary aspects under which the organic one-ness of a
convergent universe is made manifest to us intellectually,
emotionally, and in our practical activity.

Paris, 12 August 1948


1. Note to the Phenomenon of Man: on some analogies or hidden
relationships between gravity and consciousness

A remarkable kinship can undoubtedly be detected between
two processes, both of which are gradual and irreversible: the
'mass concentration of matter upon itself as a result of gravity,
and its psychic centration as a result of organic involution.
Both processes occur only in the immense (the spatially im-
mense, or the immense of complexity). Both tend towards a
folding-back upon themselves which is total and universal in
ordei;. And finally both constantly support one another in the
course of their development (without gravity there would be
no large molecules, and no planetization of man).

If, as modern physics seems to accept as a definitive fact,
gravity is fundamentally no more than an effect of inertia con-
nected with a curvature of space-time, must we not conclude
that life, too, behaves, and may be treated by the physicist, as
another form of 'inertia': corresponding, in this case, not to an
incurvation, but to an interiorization of the same 'continuum'?

To frame the question is obviously not the same as to
answer it. But it is surely one st?p in that direction to have



reduced the two phenomena to the same dimensions and to the
same dignity of "universal cosmic effects'.

2. Note to the Christian Phenomenon: on the %-axiaV nature of
the Incarnation

So long as the universe was regarded as a static system - which
means, in practice, made from a stuff which is genetically
amorphous - the coming into it of the kingdom of God raised
no structural difficulty. The plastic layers of human destiny had
simply to adjust themselves around die incarnate Word (to the
measure of, and under the control of, the latter). Once, how-
ever (and this is what really matters), the universe is defined, as
it is today, in terms not of cosmos but o£ cosmogenesis, then the
problem of the Incarnation becomes more complex: for an
adjustment has now to be made between two different and
partially autonomous axes: that of anthropogenesis, and that
of Christo-genesis.

Hence the importance, or rather the necessity, of a Christology
in which there is a coincidence of the human and the Christie
points of planetary maturity and parousia.

3. Note to Metaphysics: on the notion of'paireS entities

Rather than regarding (as I have done in paragraph 26) esse
as further definable by unire (or uniri), it would perhaps be
better to take the two notions of being and union (or, if you
like, moving body and motion) as forming a natural pair, the
two terms of which, while each equally primordial and fun-
damentally irreducible, are nevertheless ontologically insepar-
able - like the two surfaces of one and the same plane - and



constrained to vary simultaneously in the same direction. 45
The introduction into metaphysics of such paired entities
(well represented in physics, for example by the pairs mass-
velocity, or electricity-magnetism; or in psychology by
understanding-love) might well be an important step forward
in our thinking. It would mean the end of many unreal
problems, which arise from the temptation speciously to
isolate, or determine the precedence between, the two terms
of each pair. Further, it would open up a new line of thought
in approaching the problem of the relationships that hold
good inside the most mysterious of all those pairs: Ens a se and
participated being.

Auvergne, Les Moulins, near Neuville, 26 August 1948

This last point being characteristic of what one might call pairs o£ the first species.
In other pairs (of the second species), spirit-matter (Le, unity-plurality) tor example, the
two associated terms vary inversely in relation to one another.



I. The mystical sense is essentially a feeling for, a presentiment
of, the total and final unity of the world, beyond its present
sensibly apprehended multiplicity: it is a cosmic sense of
'oneness'. 1 This holds good for the Hindu and the Sufi, no
less than for the Christian. It enables us to appreciate the
mystical 'tenor* of a piece of literature or of a man's life, but its
expression varies greatly according to circumstances.

2. Both a priori and a posteriori, two principal ways (and
only two - 1 wonder?) of realizing oneness suggest themselves
and have been tried by mystics. (Two roads, or rather two
components, that have hitherto to all intents and purposes been
merged into one.)

a. The first road: to become one with all by co-extension
'with the sphere': that is to say, by suppression of all internal
and external determinants, to come together with a sort of
common stuff which underlies the variety of concrete beings.
Access to Aldous Huxley's 'common ground*.

This procedure leads ultimately to an identification of each
and all with the common ground - to an ineffable of de-dif-
ferentiation and de-personalization.

Both by definition and by structure, this is mysticism WITH-

a Herc, and later, Pere Trilhard uses the English word. (Ed.)


b. The second road: to become one with all by access to
the centre of the cosmic sphere, conceived as being in a state of
(and possessing the power of) concentration upon itself with
time. This access is no longer by 'dissolution but through a
peak of intensity arrived at by what is most incommunicable
in each element.

This procedure leads ultimately to an ultra-personalizing,
ultra-determining, and ultra-diflferentiating UNIFICATION
of the elements within a common focus; the specific effect of

In the first case, God (an impersonal 'God') was all In the
second, God (an ultra-personal, because 'centric, God) is 'all
in all 9 (which is precisely as St Paul puts it).

3. It would appear that only the second road - a road not
yet described in any 'book* (?!) (the 'road of the West', born
from the Christianity-modern-world contact) - is the true
path 'towards and for 9 oneness. Only this road of unification

a. respects the facts and history (science and history), which
shows us consciousness (spirit) as a process of differentiation and

b. and at the same time retains in 'spiritual 9 man that inten-
sity, that ardour, that 'drive',* which are, for us, inseparable
from the idea of true mysticism. - The road of tension, not of

4. Structurally (theology) and practically (primacy of
charity), Christianity follows (is) road 2.

At the same time, we have to recognize that, as a result of a
certain excess of anthropomorphism (or primitive nationalism)
the Judaeo-Christian mystical current has had some difficulty
in getting rid of a point of view which sought oneness too

•Here again Pere Tcflhatd uses the English word. (Ed.)


exclusively in singleness, rather than in God's synthetic power.
God loved above all things (rather than in and through all
tilings). This accounts for a certain 'lack of richness 9 in the
mysticism of the prophets and of many saints: it is too 'Jewish 9
or too 'human in the narrow sense of the words - not suffi-
ciently universalist and cosmic (there are exceptions, of course:
Eckhart, Francis of Assisi, St John of the Cross . . •).

5. I need no more than mention one perverted way of
seeking oneness:

'suppression of the multiple, in destruction and death, and
so leaving only "God" subsisting. 9

It is doubtful whether this morbid interpretation has ever
fed a true religious and mystical current. But, in as much as it
represents a distortion or perversion, it has to be guarded
against; for it is a constant potential danger {suffering of annihila-
tion being confused with suffering of transformation). Can we be
quite certain that traces of this "illusion 9 may not still be found
in some interpretations of the meaning of the Cross? . . .

Winter, 1951







'Developing a counter-current that cuts across entropy,
there is a cosmic drift of matter towards states of arrangement
that show progressively greater centro-complexity (this occur-
ring in the direction of - or within - a "third infinite", the
infinite of complexity, which is just as real as the infinitesimal or
the immense). And consciousness presents itself to our ex-
perience as the effect or the specific property of this complexity,
when the latter is taken to extremely high values/

If this law of recurrence (I call it the law of 'complexity-
consciousness') is applied to the history of the world, we see the
emergence of an ascending series of critical points and out-
standing developments, which are as follows.

i. Critical point ofvitalization

Somewhere, at the level of the proteins, an initial emergence of
consciousness is produced within the pre-living (at least as far
as our experience goes). And, by virtue of the accompanying
mechanism of 'reproduction 9 , the rise of complexity on earth
increases its pace phyletically (the genesis of species, or specia-
Starting from this stage (and in the case of the higher living



beings) it becomes possible to 'measure' the advance of organic
complexification by the progress of cerebration. That device
enables us to distinguish, within the biosphere, a specially
favoured axis of complexity-consciousness: that of the pri-

2. Critical point of reflection (or hominization)

As a result of some 'hominizing' cerebral mutation, which
appears among the anthropoids towards the end of the Tertiary
period, psychic reflection - not simply 'knowing' but 'knowing
that one knows' - bursts upon the world and opens up an
entirely new domain for evolution. With man (apparently no
more than a new zoological 'family') it is in fact a second species
of life that begins, bringing with it its new cycle of possible
patterns of arrangement and its own special planetary en-
velope (the noosphere).

3. Development of co-reflection (and rise of an ultra-human)

If it is applied to the great phenomenon of human socialization,
the criterion of complexity-consciousness provides some de-
cisive evidence. On the one hand, an irresistible and irreversible
technico-cultural organization, noospheric in dimension, is
manifestly in progress of development within human society.
On the other hand, as an effect of co-reflection, the human
mind is continually rising up collectively - collectively, because
of the links forged by technology - to the appreciation of new
dimensions: for example, the evolutionary organicity and
corpuscular structure of the universe. Here the 'organization-
interiorization pair can again be clearly distinguished. This
means that all around us the fundamental process of cosmo-
genesis is continuing just as before (or even is making a fresh



and more vigorous start). 1 Considered as a zoological whole,
mankind is presenting the unique spectacle of a phylum that is
organico-physically synthesizing upon itself. It is, indeed, a
Wpusculization and a 'centratW (or centering) upon itself
of the noosphere as a whole.

4. Probability of a critical point of ultra-reflection ahead of us

If it is extrapolated into the future, mankind's technico-mental
convergence upon itself forces us to envisage a climax of co-
reflection, at some finite distance in time ahead of us: for this
we can find no better (indeed, no other) definition than a
critical point of ultra-reflection. We cannot, of course, either
imagine or describe such a phenomenon, which would seem
to imply an escape from space and time. Nevertheless there are
certain precise conditions in the field of energetics that must
be satisfied by the event we anticipate (a more pronounced
awakening in man, as the event comes closer, of the 'zest for
evolution' and the 'will to live'); and from these we are
obliged to conclude that ultra-reflection coincides with a final
attainment of irreversibility. This must be so, since the prospect
of a total death would be so disheartening as to stop the further
development of hominization.

It is to this higher term of human co-reflection (which means,
in fact, unanimization) that I have given the name of 'Omega
Point 9 : the cosmic, personalizing centre of unification and

5. The likelihood of a reaction {or 'reflection) of Omega on the

1 Tne only difference being that; starting with man, cosmic complexxfication clearly
and unmistakably takes the form no longer of a merely fortuitous arrangement
arrived at as a statistical consequence of large numbers - but ultimately, in its most
vitally active sections, of a planned self-arrangement,



human in the course of co-reflection {Revelation and the Christian


The more we consider the indispensability of an Omega to

maintain and animate the continued progress of hominized

evolution, the more clearly we can see two things.

The first is that a purely conjectural Omega - one that was
arrived at simply by 'calculation* - would be powerless to
keep active in man's heart a passion strong enough to make him
continue the process of hominization to the very end.

The second is that if Omega does really exist, it is difficult
not to accept that its supreme 'Ego* in some way makes itself
felt as such by all the imperfect Egos (that is to say all the
reflective elements) of the universe.

From this point of view the ancient and traditional idea of
'Revelation 5 reappears and finds a place in cosmogenesis -
entering it, this time, through biology and the energetics of

From this point of view, again, the Christian mystical
current takes on an extraordinary significance and actuality:
and this because, while it is true that, by the logic of energetics,
the warmth of some intense faith is absolutely indispensable to
the completion of the process of complexity-consciousness, at
the same time it is equally true (how true, you have only to
look around the world to realize) that at the present moment no
faith can be distinguished that is capable of fully taking over
(by < amorizing , it) a convergent cosmogenesis, except faith in
a Christ, a Christ of the pleroma and parousia, in quo omnia
constant, in whom all things find their consistence. 8

New York, 14 January 1954

f Colossians 1: 17.



agnosticism, 40, 55, 131

Allegra, Fr G. M., 100, I03n, 10511

Amida Buddha, 136

Andrfe, S. A., 122

anthropogenesis, 40, 144, 151, 15611,
15811, 18m, 184, 207; and Christo-
genesis, 159, 264; new needs, 203

apologetics, 30, 35

Aristotle, 14

art; and human energy, 88-90;
threefold function, 89-91

asceticism, 60, 64-5, 75

astronautics, 152, 18211, 184

astrophysics, 152, i82n, 184

atoms, 16711, 169, 175

aviators, first, 21-2, 122, 125

baptism, I98n

being and union, 162, 193, 207

Bhakti Yoga, I39n

Bible, 43a

biogenesis, 15611, 170

biology, 9, 114, 20311; divisions, 174;

and physics, 167-8; 'theological',

biosphere, 173, 213
Bonansea, Fr B. M, too, 103a
Bossuet, J.-B., 15, 22
Bouvelles, C. de, i6sn
Brahmanism, 43
Buddha, 30, 41, 51
Buddhism, 23, 43, 44-5, 134, 135*,

and. chastity, 60; Chinese, 136;

new forms, 47
Buffon, G. L. L., 18

carnivores, 176

cells, 175

centration; collective, i83n; hyper-,
188; of man upon himself, 117-
18, 124-5; man's increased, 183,

cephalization, 144

cerebralization, 179-80

Charcot, J.-B., 122

charity, Christian; as active agent of
hominization, 204-5; need for re-
adjustment, 31, 33, 96» 100; and
progress, 128; replacement by
sense of the earth, 95 ; super-, 1970,

chastity, 60, 68, 69, 77, 82, 84;
empirical Christian approach, 61-
6; and freedom of spirit, 77a;
querying of moral value, 66-8,
70-1, 79

China; and primacy of the tangible,
135-6; spiritual contribution, 139-
40, 144, 146

Christ; centre of universal conver-
gence, 55; co-extension of sove-
reignty, I99n; faith in, 25, 203,
215; the King, 98-9; message of,
24n; and the multiple, 58 ; -Omega,
98, 203; second coming, 153, 154-
5, 191; and sense of man, 35,
37-9; significance in evolving
world, n; total, 198; universal, 59,
98-100, I95n, 205

Christian; new type, 12; zeal for
creation, 32

Christian phenomenon, 189

Christianity, 23n, 148; ascensional
force of, 156, 158; causes of loss of



Christianity (contd.)
attraction, 26; challenge to, 28-9;
and chastity, 61-2; conversion to
hopes of earth, 2fn; discrediting
of, 25-6; Eastern current in, 51-2;
and expressions of the one, 44;
linked to cause of world, 37-8;
and modern religious conscious-
ness, 99-100; and new religion,
95; religion of progress, 11; and
sense of man, 26, 27, 31, 37-9;
sickness of, 27-8; super-human,

Christogenesis, 104, is6n, 204, 207

Christology, 198, 207

Church; animating action, 16m;
hostile attitude to modern world,
29-31; and human progress, 105;
andimportance ofhuman activities,
39; loss of contact with the real,
38; and man's spirit of enquiry,
29-30; meeting point between
universe and Omega Point, 191-2;
need for proclamation of universal
Christ, 55; and needs of mankind,
26-7; and religion of evolution,
12; and world crisis, 92, 100

coherence, 165

communism, 9» 95

complexity; and consciousness, 114-
15, 116-17, 118, 150, 167, i67n,
168, 171-2, 183; infinite of, 166,
212; universe and fall into in-
creasing, 186-7, i87n

complexity-consciousness, law of,
148, 212-13, 215

compression of mankind, 177, 182,
182ml, 187

concordism, 165

Confucianism, 135

Confucius, 140

consciousness, 7, 150, 165; collective,
9; and complexity, 1 14-15, 116-17,

118, 150, 167, i6rn, 168, 171-2,
183; development of man's, 13,
i7> i9» 35; emergence within pre-
living, 212; life rise of, 115;
relationship with gravity, 206;
spiritual convergence of human,

convergence ; and Japanese mysticism,
140; of multiple, 46; of religions,
47; of spirit, 102; and super-
hominization, 152; union through,
47; 'unity of, 50; universal, 54-5,

co-reflection, 213

cosmic sense, 202

cosmogenesis, 47, 104, is6n, 170,
197, 204, 207, 215; continuous
process, 213-14, 21411

cosmogony, Christian, 58-9

cosmos; complexification and cen-
tration of, 168; final state of
equilibrium of stuff of, 165;
involution of stuff of, I53n, 184-7

creation; Christie-type, 191; con-
tinuing, 102; divinization of, 73;
idea of first contingent, 58; man's
involvement, 14; in a metaphysics
of union, I93n, 195-8, I98n; zeal
of Christian for, 32

crisis, world's, 93-4

Cross, the, 34, 53, 99; symbol of
annihilation, 105, 211

Curie, Marie, 121, 125

Curie, Pierre, 121, 123, 125

death, 32, 36, 169; problem of action
and, 174; total, 158, 186, 214

decentration of man, 117, 118, 124,

detachment; and Christian perfec-
tion: new view, 104-5; classic
view, 101-4; by 'passing through*,
72; readjustment of Christian, 31-



detachment (contd.)

2* 33; by super-attachment, 105
discovery; duty, 24; man's powers

of, 144; man's spirit of, 29-30, 184
dogma, 30, 34
dolorism, 5m

earth; discovery of, 24; rise in psychic
temperature, 148

East, road of the, 42-5, 48-9, 51-2,
53, 200-1, 20m, 202; confluence
with Western road, 145-6

Eccles, Sir John, 7

Eckhart, Meister, 211

electricity, 18, 20

electron, i69n

energy, dissipation of, 169

enquiry, man's spirit of, 29-30

entropy, 212

Epicurus, in

Eucharist, 38, 73

Everest, Mt, 22, 22n, 122

evil; by-product of creation, 198;
and the multiple, 57-8; problem
of, 196-8, 205

evolution, 7, 9, «, 57, "4* 159;
discovery of, 69; love and service
of, 159; and mankind's future
development, 181-4; noosphere
and resurgence of, 180; rebound
of, 9, 180-1, 186

evolutionism, 148

excentration, 105, 205

expiation, 28

faith, 23; of Christians and Marxists,
157; Church and; 28; in future
of earth, 203; in supernatural,
39n; in world and in Christ, 25, 30,

Fall, the, 28, 58, 63, 66
Far Eastern spirituality; incomplete

solutions of, 141; three groups,

134-40, 146
fascism, 9
feminine, the, 66, 71; prohibition,

73-6; spiritual power, 70, 77
fidelity and chastity, 65, 75
fire, 18
fbdsm, 148
flesh; spiritual power, 70; spiritual

use, 80-1
Francis of Assisi, St, 211
freedom, 167, 194-5, I95n
future, 18, 19, 24, 26, 35 ; conquest of,

127; drive towards, 112; man's

awareness of, 107-8, 174, 186; of

world, 95, 151

genes, 174

genetic code, 9

Gide, Andr£, in, 112

God; 'all in all', 210; 'clothed in the
world', 96; and concept of jpfer-
oma, 97; and evil, 196-7, I97n,
198; and evolution, 127; and
human progress, 105; immersion
in the multiple, 162, 196; love of
man and woman and of God, 76-7;
man's present-day view, 94, 95, 96;
and the multiple, 58, 194-7; prime
psychic mover ahead, 142; and
raising of man's mind, 24n;
reached by sublimation, 46-7, 52;
reflection on world, 190; supreme
centre, 36, 82-3; of tension and
non-tension, 138, 142; triune, 194;
world's consummation in, 103,

good Samaritan, 33

gospels; and contemporary world,
34-5; T. and interpretation of, 51,

grace, 63, 100

gravity, 206



Greece, 2in
Greek Fathers, 104
Groethuysen, Bernard, 16511
Grousset, Renl, 136

Haldane, J. B. S., 12911, 151

happiness; craving for, 107-8; funda-
mental rules, 123-6; of growth,
113, 116, 117, 120-1, 123-6; of
loving, 120-1; of pleasure, 113;
terrestrial drive and Christian
drive, 127; of tranquillity, 112,
113; of worship, 121-3

heart of Jesus, devotion to, 98, 99

hedonism, 109-10, 112, 113, 131

Hegel, F., 164

heredity, collective, 179-80

heresies, 28

Hinduism, 53, no, 20m, 209

holiness, 102, 200; new concept, 72

hominization, 107, 203, 213, 214,
215; biological term of, 154; and
Christian charity, 205; continua-
tion of, 177, 178, 181-4; fulfilment
by ultra-reflection, 191

Homo sapiens, 176

Hospitallers, 33

human activities, importance of, 39n

human effort, 33. 57. 105, 139, 175;
gospel of, 34; and Hindu wisdom,
139; value of, 142

human energy, 94, 100; and art,
88-91; increasing quantities of
free, 180

humanism, 131, I35» I39*» Christian,
128-9; neo-, 202} two forms, 10-n

humility, 33

Huxley, Aldous, 113, 200n, 209

Imitation of Christ, 34n, 52n, 66
immense, the, 166, 168, 212
Incarnation, 52, 54, 58, 59» 98, 198*
I98n; and concept of Christian

perfection, 103-4; culmination in

parousia, 153; problem of, 207
India; and tint current of mysticism,

43; and 'God of non-tension', 138;

spiritual contribution, 135, 136,

137, 140
individualism, 34
individual, value of, 174
industry, 119

ineffable, the, I94n, 201, 20m
infinitesimal, the, 166, 168, 212
infinite, third, 166, 212
insects, 176
instinct, 183
interiorization, 168
inter-planetary expeditions, 9
invention, 150, 167, 167x1, i84n, 186;

power of, 174
involution; atomic and stellar, ison;

cosmic, 150, 151, I53n, 168, 169,

186, 188, 192, 197; divine, 191;

focus of biological, 203; and the

future, 151; organic, 170-1, 173;

super-, I78n
irreversibility, 179, 214
Islam, 23, 47

Jansenism, 28n

Japan, 44, 135; spiritual contribution,

140, 145, 146; warrior-mysticism,

John the Baptist, 52
John of the Cross, St, 52, I94n, 201,

Jouve, Raymond, S. J., 39
Judaism, 63, 65
Justin, St, 51

kingdom of God, 96, 101, 104, 207

Lao-Tse, 140
Laplace, P.-S. de, 150
last judgement, 153



Lazarus, 30

life, 115, 169-70, I7s;and complexity,
114-15, 116-17, 167; enthusiasts 9
attitude, no, 112; hedonists 9 atti-
tude, 109-10, 112, 116; and in-
volution, 150; pessimistic attitude,
109, no, 112

Louis XIV, age of, 15

love; of Christ, 98 ; energy of human,
6in, 68, 71-2, 74, 80, 83 ; evolution
and spiritual transformation, 85-7,
87n; of evolution, 204, 205; of
man and woman and of God, 83-5 ;
of mankind, 33; of one's neigh-
bour, 33, 96; passionate, 63, 74;
and personalization, 120-1 ; sharing
of, 75-7; spiritual-physical, 80-1;
supreme spiritual energy, 143;
universal, 160

Mahomet, 31

man; biology of, 174; challenge to
Christianity's capacity to perfect,
28-9; critical point of maturity,
185; critical point of metamor-
phosis, 152; feith in, 203; fossil,
176; a mass-phenomenon, 118;
and new stars of mankind, race
and progress, 94-5; place in nature,
172-3; and reflection, 16711, 171,
17m; solidarity, 14, 15, 26; state
of turbulence, 148-9

Manichaeanism, 6in, 65, 197

mankind; believers in, 158; and
compression, 177, 182, 18200, 187;
end on earth, 184; gradual totaliza-
tion, 175; mass-coalescing of, 19-
20; maturity, 7, 21, 102; technico-
mental convergence, 214; union
in single body, 119-20

marriage, 71, 74; and reproduction,

Marxism, 14311, 148, 157

material things, contempt for, 26, 28,

matter; and complexity, 114, 150,
168; and consciousness, 167; con-
summation in spirit, 82-3; idea of
congenital flaw, 58; new moral
conception, 69-70; primitive, 7;
'salvation of 9 , 51; separatist view,
65-6; spiritual powers, 70, 71, 79;
spiritualization through, 106; trans-
figuration of, 53

maturation-point, human, 152, iS2n,
155, 157-8. 160-1, 191, 19m, 204,

mechanization, 179-80

memory, 179

metaphysics; and moral science, 130-
3; of union, 192-9, 203, 205; of
union: paired entities, 207-8

Milieu Divin,Le t 53

Millikan, R. A., 22a

miracles, 30-1

molecules, 16711, 169, 175, 206

monads, 36, 47

monism, 54, 65; Eastern, 44, 135

Monod, Jacques, 7

monotheism, Jewish, 43a

Montherlant, H. M. de, in

moral science; and metaphysics*
130-3; and principle of dissocia-
tion, 41

Morand, Paul, in

Mortier, Jeanne, 162

multiple, the; and evil, 57, 197-8;
God and, 58, 194-7; andmysticism,
45-7. 51. 53. 55, 58, 142, 200; the
one and, 48, 57

multiplicity, 40, 43-4, 45

mystical body, i6n

mystical sense, 209

mysticism, 40-2, 127-9, 199-203; of
centration, 205; Eastern andWes-
tern currents of Christian, 51-2,



mysticism (contd.)
53-6, 58; Judaeo-Christian current,
210-11; new Western, 141-3, 146-
7; without love, 209. See East,
road of the; Far Eastern spiritu-
ality; West, road of the

Nansen, R, 122, 125

nationalism, 95

national socialism, 9, 131

naturalism, 104

natural resources, 18m

natural sciences, 19, 24

nature; belief in unity of, 43; and
grace, 100; and super-nature, 101

neo-paganism, 100

Nirvana, 48, 136

noogenesis, 184, 203

noosphere, 8, 9, 22 9 6in, 86, no,
15cm, 18211, 187, 189, 190, 200,
213, 214; and end of mankind, 184;
maturation of, 16m; progressive
genesis, 180; rise in psychic tem-
perature, 183

nuclear physics, 9

obligation, 131-3
obsolescence, 34
Omega Point, 185-9, 190, 19cm, 214;

Alpha and, I94n; and metaphysics

of union, 193-4; reflection on the

human, 215
oneness; perverted search for, 211;

two roads of access, 209-11
ontogenesis, 169
optimism, 34, 54, 100
original sin, n, 34* I98n
. I53n

paired entities, 207-8
pantheism, 44, 54, 135, 201, 204
parousia, i53-5> 191, 204, 215; physi-
cal basis, 149, 207

participated being, 208
Pascal, Blaise, 16-17, 22
Paul, St, 41, 54. 57. 58, 73. 198; and

idea of pleroma, 97, 98, 104, 195
peace, 175
Pelagianism, 104
perfection, Christian; classic theory,

101, 102-3; hi new context, 102-6
person, the, 150; value of, 36 t 141,

personalization, 36, I78n; of human

energy by art, 90; three phases,

116-20; ultra-, i87n
pessimism, 109, no, 112, 116;

Christian, 34, 34n
phenomenon of man, 170, 174, 175,

177, 188, 189; Omega crown to,

physical chemistry, 19
physical sciences, 19, 24
physics, 114, 118; and biology, 167-8;

divisions, 173; and two infinites,

pioneers of mankind, 21-2, 122
Pithecanthropus, 176
Pius DC, pope, 29
planetary expansion, 152
Plato, 14, 41, 68
pleroma, 57. 97, I95n» 215
pleromization, 19311, 195
pluralism, 41, 55
positivism, 41, 52
possible, man's perception of the,

powers, growth of man's, 102
pre-life, i6rn
prevision, 150, 174, 186
primates, 17311, 213
progress, 8, 35, 50; Christian sus-
picion of earthly, 158; God and

human, 105; of 'natural world',

103; of world and kingdom of

God, 96



proteins, 212

psychism; human, 150; rise in world,

i6jn t 168
psychoanalysis, 68
purity, 77-8, 77n; readjustment of

Christian, 31, 33

radiations, 19-20

radium, 121

Ramakrishna mission, I39n

Rathenau, Walter, I22n

Redemption, 34* 198, i98n

reflection, 36, 107, 116, 150, 165,
192, 19211; breakthrough into, 171-
2, 173, 183-4, 184a; critical point
of, i52n, 213 ; ultra-, 19m

Reformation, 67

religion, 23, 24, 40, 67; of the future,
39; mark of true, 27; and 'unity
of convergence 9 , 50

religions; and chastity, 60, 82; con-
vergence, 47

religious energy, 28, 128

religious sense, 30, 55

Renaissance, 21, 29, 156

renunciation, 23, 26, 51 ; readjustment
of Christian doctrine, 32, 73; and
the Whole, i86n

Reparation, encyclical on, 34n

reproduction; and complexification,
169; human, 61, 62, 63, 70-1, 85;
human: control of, 181, 18m

research, 8, 35, 50, 180; mysticism of,
127; passion for, 8, 35» 54» 122

resignation, 175; readjustment of
Christian, 31* 32, 33

revelation, 35* 36, 153, iS4» 190, 215

ruminants, 176

Russell, Bertrand, 126

sacramentalism, 38
salvation, 33, 34* 94
sanctification, 65

schisms, 28

Schopenhauer, A., no

science, 8, 16-17, 20, 90, 119, I92n;
Church's dislike of, 29-30; West
spearhead of, 144

secularization, 41

self, gift of, 105

sense of the Christian, 12, 33

sense of the earth, 95, 96, 202

sense of evolution, 6in, 202

sense of man, 12, 96, 202; appearance
and awakening, 13, 21-2, 24-5,
34-6; nature of, 23; and sense of
the Christian, 12, 33; and spirit of
Christianity, 31, 38-9

sense of the species, 202

Sermon on the Mount, 51

sexuality; moral significance, 67; and
sin, 64

sexual relations, Christian empiri-
cism, 62-6

Shackleton, Sir Ernest, 122

Siddheswarananda, I39n

sin, 34, 57, 64, 197. See original sin

Sinanthropus, 176

social phenomenon, 182, 184; bid-
logical nature, 149, 150-1; and
ultra-socialization, 191

social sciences, 24

socialization, 9, 175-81, 182, 203n

Solo Man, 176

soul, 102-3

space, 128, 169a

speciation, 212

spirit; convergence of, 102; Far East
and problem of, 141; manifesta-
tions within mankind, 7-8; and
matter, 48, 68-9, 78, 2o8n; primacy
over matter, 54; religion of the,
67; synthesis in, 169; 'trans-
matter', 106

spiritual energy, 9, 156

spiritualization; of man, 6in, 62,



spiritualization (contd.)

183-4; by passing through matter,

Steele, W. B., 126-7
sublimation, 46-8, 52
suffering, 32-3, 57, 64, 197, 19711; of

annihilation, 211
Sufism, 209
super-centration, 117, 119-20, 124,

125-6, 142, I78n, i83n
super-charity, 19711, 206
super-evolution, n
super-hominization, 152
super-humanization, 151
super-involution, I78n
super-mankind, 9, 100, 120, 157
supernatural, the, 101, 104
supernaturalization, 103
super-reflection, 180
Syllabus Errorum, 29

Tagore, R., 144

Tao, 145

Taoism, 135

technology, 8, 89, 213

Termier, Pierre, 123, 125

theism, Hindu, 138

theology; abstract, 38; and sense of

man, 26
theosophy, 44, 48
Thomas Aquinas, St, 14
thought, 90, 165, 16511, 170,

183; emergence into Omega, 185,

time, 17; new concept, 18, 19, 47,

69, 128; 'true*, i69n
totalization, 144, 160, 174, 175, 17811,

182, 18211, 183, i83n
Trinitization, I93n, 194, 196
truth, essential criterion, 165
tutiorism, 64, 64a

ultra-personalization, i8yn

ultra-reflection, 19m, 214. See

unanimization, 143

unification; culmination, 143; of
mankind, 9, 83, 181-2; and pro-
gress, 82

union; through convergence, 47, 50;
and differentiation, 54

unity; conquest by Western man, 49;
of convergence, 50; divine, 48;
and domination of the multiple,
55; evolutive structure of uni-
versal, 57; movement of reflective
consciousness towards, 137-9, 141-
2; of nature, 43; return to and
search for world's, 40-2, 43; two
converse forms, 56-7

universe; convergent structure, 143;
the expanding, 150, 168; human
function in, 36; mankind's devo-
tion to, 21; modern concept, 10;
as quantum of psychic energy,
133; revision of Christian views,
58; of thought, 192

Upanishads, 135

vacuity, 44-5, 48, 49. 135

Valensin, Auguste, S.J., 39

Vedanta, 135, 13911, 201

Virgin Mary, 66

virginity, 61, 67; value of, 79* 82,

viruses, 174

war, 175

well-being, 107, I32n
Weltanschauung, 130, 164 185,

West, road of the, 42, 45-50, 138,

141, 200, 20m, 202, 205, 210;

and Christianity, 51-6; confluence

of Eastern road with, 145-6
whole, the, 36, 37, 123



woman, spiritual fertility, 70, 78-9 World War 1, 9

world; belief in future of, 26; worship, man's need to, 24, 189;

cephalization and totalization, 144; and personalization, 120-3

continuing creation of stuff of,

103; crisis of growth and trans- yoga, 139ml

formation, 93-4; end of, 153, 155, Younghusband, Sir Francis, 22n

18m; individualistic and static

view, 14-16, 17, 101; involuting, Zen Buddhism, 136

170; meaning and value, 148; new zest; for evolution, 214; for living,

idea of detachment from, 32; 36, 37, 55, 151; for unity and

secularization, 41 action, 50


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Toward the Future
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--- DICTIONARIES (in Dictionaries, in Quotes, in Chapters)

--- QUOTES [0 / 0 - 96 / 96] (in Dictionaries, in Quotes, in Chapters)

KEYS (10k)


   3 Thich Nhat Hanh
   3 Michel de Montaigne
   3 Jeffrey R Holland
   2 Seneca
   2 Robin S Sharma
   2 Rainer Maria Rilke
   2 Pope Francis
   2 Nicholas Sparks
   2 Nhat Hanh
   2 Jennifer Senior
   2 Colleen Houck
   2 Arthur Golden
   2 Anonymous
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   2 Amanda Howells
   2 Albert Camus

*** NEWFULLDB 2.4M ***

1:Everything is drawn inexorably toward the future. ~ Kip S Thorne,
2:Desire and hope will push us on toward the future. ~ Michel de Montaigne,
3:I could not look toward the future if I lived in the past. ~ Jennifer L Armentrout,
4:Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present. ~ Albert Camus,
5:Biodiversity starts in the distant past and it points toward the future. ~ Frans Lanting,
6:Real generosity toward the future consists in giving all to what is present. ~ Anonymous,
7:Real generosity toward the future consists in giving all to what is present. ~ Robin S Sharma,
8:True generosity toward the future consists in giving everything to the present. ~ Albert Camus,
9:You can only take steps toward the future you want. It's not guaranteed to be there. ~ Amanda Howells,
10:The fool's life is empty of gratitude and full of fears; its course lies wholly toward the future ~ Seneca,
11:The fool's life is empty of gratitude and full of fears; its course lies wholly toward the future. ~ Seneca,
12:The fool’s life is empty of gratitude and full of fears; its course lies wholly toward the future. ~ Epicurus,
13:Real generosity toward the future,” as Camus famously put it, “lies in giving all to the present. ~ James Carroll,
14:I'm always interested in looking forward toward the future. Carving out new ways of looking at things. ~ Herbie Hancock,
15:Albert Camus once said that ‘Real generosity toward the future consists in giving all to what is present. ~ Robin S Sharma,
16:I think the most well-adjusted people live in the present with an eye toward the future - I'm not among those. ~ Emily Giffin,
17:We are never present with, but always beyond ourselves; fear, desire, hope, still push us on toward the future. ~ Michel de Montaigne,
18:A pioneer is not someone who makes her own soap. She is one who takes up her burdens and walks toward the future. ~ Laurel Thatcher Ulrich,
19:We have to change the whole job structure of America. We have got to basically reorient our economy toward the future. ~ William J Clinton,
20:When you pray, move your feet.” Prayer without action, like optimism without engagement, is passive aggression toward the future. Even ~ Al Gore,
21:Awareness means to be in the moment so totally that there is no movement toward the past, no movement toward the future—all movement stops. ~ Osho,
22:But the railroads are a new force. No hatred is in their history. They heal the wounds of the past, and they reach toward the future. ~ Pearl S Buck,
23:Stars are out and there is sea
enough beneath the glistening earth
to bear me toward the future
which is not so dark. I see. ~ Frank O Hara,
24:It was a marriage of two minds, of two ... spirits tilting as gently and inescapably toward the future as paper whites tilt toward the sun. ~ Amor Towles,
25:People look to time in expectation that it will eventually make them happy, but you cannot find true happiness by looking toward the future. ~ Eckhart Tolle,
26:Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. ~ Nhat Hanh,
27:Becoming an adult means leaving the world of your parents and starting to make your way toward the future that you will share with your peers. ~ Alison Gopnik,
28:Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh,
29:Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh,
30:Conservatism cherishes tradition; innovation fetishizes novelty. They tug in different directions, the one toward the past, the other toward the future. ~ Jill Lepore,
31:It was a marriage of two minds, of two metropolitan spirits tilting as gently and inescapably toward the future as paper whites tilt toward the sun. And ~ Amor Towles,
32:"Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves — slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future." ~ Thich Nhat Hanh ^,
33:All you can do is your inch. We grab everyone we can carry, put each other onto our backs, and crawl toward the future. Inch by inch—it’s all we can do. ~ Steven Kotler,
34:The general rule is that my life is focused on the present, and very little on the past. If anything, I'm a little bit more focused toward the future. ~ Nicholas Sparks,
35:Everyone is moving at the same speed toward the future. But your children are moving at that same speed with their eyes closed. So you're the ones who've got to steer. ~ Jennifer Senior,
36:I must say that though other days may not be so bright, as we look toward the future, that the brightest days will continue to be those we spent with you here in Ireland. ~ John F Kennedy,
37:Time had been something we feared, but with the babies the things that held time together - the years, the months, the weeks, the days - melted and flowed toward the future. ~ Kao Kalia Yang,
38:It is with this surety that we must stand with Haiti, a country whose spirit and people will never be broken, and work in solidarity toward the future the Haitian people deserve. ~ Paul Farmer,
39:At the halfway point of any drunken night, there is a moment when an Indian realizes he cannot turn back toward tradition and that he has no map to guide him toward the future. ~ Sherman Alexie,
40:Life is an operation which is done in a forward direction. One lives toward the future, because to live consists inexorably in doing, in each individual life making itself. ~ Jose Ortega y Gasset,
41:Exchange information, learn to talk sensibly about any subject, learn to express your thoughts, accept new ones, examine them, analyze. Think objectively. Think toward the future. ~ Anne McCaffrey,
42:Exchange information, learn to speak sensibly about any subject, learn to express your thoughts, accept new ones, examine them, analyze. Think objectively. Think toward the future. ~ Anne McCaffrey,
43:We don’t even have a goldfish.” “You’ve got to think toward the future.” My dad smiled at me. “Maybe one day you’ll move out and your mom and I will get a golden retriever to replace you. ~ Robin Benway,
44:The only thing a person can ever really do is keep moving forward. Take that big leap forward without hesitation, without once looking back. Simply forget the past and forge toward the future. ~ Alyson Noel,
45:I am a strong believer that as one moves toward the future, the strongest and clearest way to do it is if you have a good sense of your past. You cannot have a very tall tree without deep roots. ~ Cesar Pelli,
46:An artist cannot get along without a public; and when the public is absent, what does he do? He invents it, and turning his back on his age, he looks toward the future for what the present denies. ~ Andre Gide,
47:promised myself I would never cry again for this cause. I would not attend anymore to my guilt, or my regrets about the past. I would turn my face away from all that and look toward the future. ~ Phyllis T Smith,
48:Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it’s the axis on which the earth revolves–slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future; live the actual moment. Only this moment is life.” – Thích Nhat Hanh ~ S J Scott,
49:God would have us look toward the future so that we might delay pleasure for the sake of a greater good. It is right to appreciate the good gifts of God, but these gifts are not satisfying as ends in themselves. ~ Anonymous,
50:At this moment” is a rare thing because only sometimes do I step with both feet on the land of the present; usually one foot slides toward the past, the other slides toward the future. And I end up with nothing. ~ Clarice Lispector,
51:Learn to love the moment you are in. Treasure your experiences, for precious moments too quickly pass you by, and if you are always rushing toward the future, or pining for the past, you will forget to enjoy and appreciate the present. ~ Colleen Houck,
52:There is a design working behind the curtain of the stars, and we are fulfilling it, drawn toward the future on the tide of time, toward our destiny as the first settlers of a new world."
The room was still. He has them, she thought. ~ Amy Kathleen Ryan,
53:Whom will you cry to, heart?
More and more lonely,
your path struggles on through incomprehensible
mankind. All the more futile perhaps
for keeping to its direction, keeping on toward the future,
toward what has been lost. ~ Rainer Maria Rilke,
54:It expresses an inveterate hopefulness and openness toward the future that has often been hard to sustain in the three decades since its publication but which characterizes Lefebvre’s philosophically induced intellectual and political optimism. ~ Henri Lefebvre,
55:the sun stands low in the cloudless eastern sky, a fat, confident yellow-white ball advancing as ever for the first time toward the future and leaving in its wake the steadily accumulating past, which darkens as it recedes, making blind men of us all. ~ Stephen King,
56:I think I kind of get it," I say. "Your Wanderlove thing."
"Oh Yeah?"
"It's about always looking toward the future. You can appreciate the good things all around you, but the best part is imminent, just out of reach. Like... perpetual anticipation. ~ Kirsten Hubbard,
57:We are never at home, we are always beyond. Fear, desire, hope, project us toward the future and steal from us the consideration of what is, to busy us with what will be, even when we shall no longer be."

-from "Our feelings reach out beyond us ~ Michel de Montaigne,
58:Where can you find purpose? Like success and happiness, our purpose exists in the present, and we constantly strive toward the future to maintain it. What it is for which we strive is up to each of us. The important thing is that we strive toward something. ~ Philip Zimbardo,
59:Sometimes we believe that happiness is not possible in the here and now, that we need a few more conditions to be happy. So we run toward the future to get the conditions we think are missing. But by doing so we sacrifice the present moment; we sacrifice true life. ~ Nhat Hanh,
60:My policy has always been to burn my bridges behind me. My face is always set toward the future. If I make a mistake it is fatal. When I am flung back I fall all the way back—to the very bottom. My one safeguard is my resiliency. So far I have always bounced back. ~ Henry Miller,
61:When we teach our children that their success in life is dependent on their performance, childhood becomes geared toward the future instead of being experienced simply as childhood. Children learn that who they are, as they are, isn’t enough in the adult world. ~ Shefali Tsabary,
62:Omni is not a science magazine. It is a magazine about the future...Omni was sui generis. Although there were plenty of science magazines over the years...Omni was the first magazine to slant all its pieces toward the future. It was fun to read and gorgeous to look at. ~ Ben Bova,
63:I'm not sure this will make sense to you but I felt as though I'd turned around to look in a different direction so that I no longer faced backward toward the past but forward toward the future. And now the question confronting me was this: What would the future be ~ Arthur Golden,
64:The ghost of a smile appeared on her face. “Learn to love the moment you are in. Treasure your experiences, for precious moments too quickly pass you by, and if you are always rushing toward the future, or pining for the past, you will forget to enjoy and appreciate the present. ~ Colleen Houck,
65:All the great spiritual leaders in history were people of hope. Abraham, Moses, Ruth, Mary, Jesus, Rumi, Gandhi, and Dorothy Day all lived with a promise in their hearts that guided them toward the future without the need to know exactly what it would look like. Let's live with hope. ~ Henri Nouwen,
66:Our country is still young and its potential is still enormous. We should remember, as we look toward the future, that the more fully we believe in and achieve freedom and equal opportunity - not simply for ourselves but for others - the greater our accomplishments as a nation will be. ~ Henry Ford,
67:God works to over throw the ungodly, and increasingly the world will come under the dominion of Christians, not by military aggression, but by godly labor, saving, in vestment, and orientation toward the future... This is where history is going. The future belongs to the people of God, who obey His laws ~ David Chilton,
68:It's best to not confuse optimism with hope. Optimism is a psychological attitude toward life. Hope goes further. It is an anchor that one hurls toward the future, it's what lets you pull on the line and reach what you're aiming for and head in the right direction. Hope is also theological: God is there, too. ~ Pope Francis,
69:You can only take steps toward the future you want. It's not guaranteed to be there.

This is why you have to live inside each beautiful or terrible thing as it happens to you because the present may be all you've got. And if there's more ahead then the present is where you can really shape your future. ~ Amanda Howells,
70:The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead and remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. ~ Jeffrey R Holland,
71:The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead; we remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. ~ Jeffrey R Holland,
72:It was not until after the coming of Christ that time and humans could breathe freely. It was not until after him that people began to live toward the future. Humans do not die in a ditch like a dog-but at home in history, while the work toward the conquest of death is in full swing; they die sharing in this work. ~ Boris Pasternak,
73:Looking toward the future, there are two possibilities. If I’m wrong and the MUH is false, then physics will eventually hit an insurmountable roadblock beyond which no further progress is possible: there would be no further mathematical regularities left to discover even though we still lacked a complete description of our physical reality. ~ Max Tegmark,
74:Don’t wait for tomorrow. Tomorrow may be too late. If we know how to live according to the insight of impermanence, we will not make many mistakes. We can be happy right now. We can love our beloved, care for her, and make her happy today. And we won’t run toward the future, losing our life, which is available only in the present moment. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh,
75:Anxiety and desire are two, often conflicting, orientations to the unknown. Both are tilted toward the future. Desire implies a willingness, or a need, to engage this unknown, while anxiety suggests a fear of it. Desire takes one out of oneself, into the possibility or relationship, but it also takes one deeper into oneself. Anxiety turns one back on oneself, but only onto the self that is already known. ~ Mark Epstein,
76:....hope is 'that virtue by which we take responsibility for the future.' ...hope is our positive orientation toward the future, a future in which we simultaneously recognize difficulty, responsibility, and delight. Hope is not relative to the present situation, nor is it dependent upon a specific outcome... Hope is not an antidote to despair, or a sidestepping of difficulty, but a companion to all these things. ~ Lyanda Lynn Haupt,
77:Ideas are the finery we wrap our brains in, to hide the reptile core that we can’t escape. The reptile brain, Ron, is a vestige of the past from which we can’t seem to slip loose. We chug-chug-chug toward the future, and the world of ideas grows exponentially, but we are still base creatures at times. We all have those sad, tragic moments where we neglect thought and act on old, withered snippets of instinct. ~ Jeremy Robert Johnson,
78:I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead and remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. ~ Jeffrey R Holland,
79:Whom will you cry to, heart? More and more lonely,
your path struggles on through incomprehensible
mankind. All the more futile perhaps
for keeping to its direction,
keeping on toward the future,
toward what has been lost.

Once. You lamented? What was it? A fallen berry
of jubilation, unripe.
But now the whole tree of my jubilation
is breaking, in the storm it is breaking, my slow
tree of joy.
Loveliest in my invisible
landscape, you that made me more known
to the invisible angels. ~ Rainer Maria Rilke,
80:I also came to see that I should not worry about tomorrow, next week, next year, or next century. The more willing I was to look honestly at what I was thinking and saying and doing now, the more easily I would come into touch with the movement of God's Spirit in me, leading me to the future. God is a God of the present and reveals to those who are willing to listen carefully to the moment in which they live the steps they are to take toward the future. "Do not worry about tomorrow," Jesus says, "tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own" (Matthew 6:34). ~ Henri J M Nouwen,
81:But these things now belonged to the past, and he was flying toward the future. As they banked, Dr. Floyd could see below him a maze of buildings, then a great airstrip, then a broad, dead-straight scar across the flat Florida landscape—the multiple rails of a giant launching track. At its end, surrounded by vehicles and gantries, a spaceplane lay gleaming in a pool of light, being prepared for its leap to the stars. In a sudden failure of perspective, brought on by his swift changes of speed and height, it seemed to Floyd that he was looking down on a small silver moth, caught in the beam of a flashlight. ~ Arthur C Clarke,
82:I'm not sure this will make sense to you, but I felt as though I'd turned around to look in a different direction, so that I no longer faced backward toward the past, but forward toward the future. And now the question confronting me was this: What would that future be? The moment this question formed in my mind, I knew with as much certainty as I'd ever known anything that sometime during that day I would receive a sign. This was why the bearded man had opened the window in my dream. He was saying to me, "Watch for the thing that will show itself to you. Because that thing, when you find it, will be your future. ~ Arthur Golden,
83:Jesus no longer belongs to the past but lives in the present and is projected toward the future; Jesus is the everlasting "today" of God. This is how the newness of God appears to the women, the disciples, and all of us: as victory over sin, evil, and death - over everything that crushes life and makes it seem less human. And this is a message meant for me and for you, dear sister, you, dear brother. How often does Love have to tell us, "Why do you look for the living among the dead?" Our daily problems and worries can wrap us up in ourselves, in sadness and bitterness...and that is where death is. That is not the place to look for the One who is alive! ~ Pope Francis,
84:Where does it come from, this sickliness? For man is more sick, uncertain, changeable, indeterminate than any other animal, there is no doubt of that — he is the sick animal: how has that come about? Certainly he has also dared more, done more new things, braved more and challenged fate more than all the other animals put together: he, the great experimenter with himself, discontented and insatiable, wrestling with animals, nature, and gods for ultimate domination — he, still unvanquished, eternally directed toward the future, whose own restless energies never leave him in peace, so that his future digs like a spur into the flesh of every present — how should such a courageous and richly endowed animal not also be the most imperiled, the most chronically and profoundly sick of all sick animals? ~ Friedrich Nietzsche,
85:The ego is continuously, zealously, in search of the world. Compelled to navigate among beacons emitting conflicting and fragmentary signals and exposed to internal pressures of its own, it seeks to extract as much information from its sensations and perceptions as it can. It works to ward off dangers and to repeat pleasures. It organizes, with impressive efficiency, the individual's capacities for response and his encounters with men and things. It reasons, calculates, remembers, compares, thus equipping men to grope their way toward the future. Its appraisals are never beyond suspicion; they are bound to be distorted by conflicts and compromised by traumas. Thus the outside world never really enters the mind unscathed; the impressions with which the individual must work are so many mental representations of the real thing. But the ego, obeying its appetite for experience, bravely continues to determine what is and more difficult, what can be. ~ Peter Gay,
86:I am struck by what a tawdry magician’s trick Time is after all. I am sixty-six years old. Viewed from your coign of vantage—facing toward the future—sixty-six years is a great deal of time. It is all of the experience of your life more than three times over. But, viewed from my coign of vantage—facing toward the past—this sixty-six years was the fluttering down of a cherry petal. I feel that my life was a picture hastily sketched but never filled in . . . for lack of time. Only yesterday—but more than fifty years ago—I walked along this river with my father. I can remember how big and strong his hand felt to my small fingers. Fifty years. But all the insignificant, busy things—the terribly important, now forgotten things that cluttered the intervening time collapse and fall away from my memory. And I remember another yesterday when my daughter was a little girl. We walked along here. At this very moment, the nerves in my hand remember the feeling of her chubby fingers clinging to one of mine. ~ Trevanian,
87:When I was a young woman with four children, I was always living ahead of myself,” she said. “Everything I was doing was projected toward the future, and I was so busy, busy, busy, preparing for tomorrow, for the next week, for the next month. Then one day, it all changed. At thirty-eight years old, I found I had breast cancer. I can remember asking my doctor what I should plan for in my future. He said, ‘Diane, my advice to you is to live each day as richly as you can.’ As I lay in my bed after he left, I thought, will I be alive next year to take my son to first grade? Will I see my children marry? And will I know the joy of holding my grandchildren?” She looked out over the water, barefoot, her legs outstretched; a white visor held down her short, black hair. “For the first time in my life, I started to be fully present in the day I was living. I was alive. My goals were no longer long-range plans, they were daily goals, much more meaningful to me because at the end of each day, I could evaluate what I had done. ~ Terry Tempest Williams,
88:We grossly overestimate the length of the effect of misfortune on our lives. You think that the loss of your fortune or current position will be devastating, but you are probably wrong. More likely, you will adapt to anything, as you probably did after past misfortunes. You may feel a sting, but it will not be as bad as you expect. This kind of misprediction may have a purpose: to motivate us to perform important acts (like buying new cars or getting rich) and to prevent us from taking certain unnecessary risks. And it is part of a more general problem: we humans are supposed to fool ourselves a little bit here and there. According to Trivers’s theory of self-deception, this is supposed to orient us favorably toward the future. But self-deception is not a desirable feature outside of its natural domain. It prevents us from taking some unnecessary risks—but we saw in Chapter 6 how it does not as readily cover a spate of modern risks that we do not fear because they are not vivid, such as investment risks, environmental dangers, or long-term security. ~ Nassim Nicholas Taleb,
89: Peanuts
“Correct! The photo is important! I say, Listen, they have nothing
When I get an idea. Then sit down and I make
Peanuts – meaning that every time I open my mouth,
one blank turn of events
after the next bends cunningly toward me
as I go twirling
my baton toward the future –
I personally, I impersonally, I personified and so on, lurching
querulously across each brief tableau
begat by scarecrows
in this wilderness of thorns. You get the picture
framed and mounted and all that patching
starts to make a kind of sense.”
A hush fell over the locker room
is one way to describe it. Another way, my way,
is a warm gap between bleachers
“Like to earn a hundred dollars? ”
took two loads of an astonishment. There were big deals
just beyond me, zooming in then out then in again
in a mad giddy rush while I
let a guy rope down from the scaffolding I’d
constructed as a kind of house. But it was him again,
deserted. Terrifying
soul of our surroundings, how innumerable your ripples,
to which my glances corresponded, pocketing
what they’d find!
~ Chris Edwards,
90:God Sees You Differently When we focus on our shortcomings and limitations, it doesn’t leave us with much of a reason to believe in ourselves. Under personal, honest scrutiny, we don’t look like winners. But God sees you differently than you see yourself. While we tend to focus on outward evidence, God focuses on the heart. We analyze the past and present, but God looks toward the future. As we make a list of our mistakes and failures, He identifies crevices where potential exists. “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9). When God looks at us, He doesn’t see lost opportunity. He doesn’t see failure. God looks at us through eyes of love. When someone loves you and you yield to that love, you feel comfortable in their presence. Your confidence mounts. You know you’re accepted. And where room for improvement exists, someone who loves us will encourage us to step out with boldness and make progress. If we feel unworthy or unqualified, if fear tries to cripple us, we can choose to move forward in spite of it. ~ John Herrick,
91:Wilma P. Mankiller No writer has more clearly articulated the unspoken emotions, dreams, and lifeways of contemporary Native people than Vine Deloria. This collection of Deloria’s works takes the reader on a fascinating journey through Indian country as Deloria responds to some of the most important issues of the last three decades. Deloria’s literary gift is amply demonstrated in pieces that are a mix of logic, humor, irreverence, and spirituality. But it is his clarity of thought and stunning ability to express complex concepts in a simple, straightforward manner that captivate the reader. One of the most compelling pieces in the collection, “If You Think About It, You Will See That It Is True,” reminded me of the phrase coined by Alice Walker, “looking backward toward the future.” With flawless logic and adroit use of language, Deloria examines the way many traditional Native people look at the universe, the connectedness of all living things, and our own insignificance in the totality of things compared to the objective, segmented way scientists in the academy view the universe. Deloria points out that “everything that humans experience has value and instructs in some aspect of life. . . . The ~ Vine Deloria Jr,
92:But young children, whose prefrontal cortexes have barely begun to ripen, can’t conceive of a future, which means they spend their lives in the permanent present, a forever feeling of right now. At times, this is a desirable state of consciousness; indeed, for meditators, it’s the ultimate aspiration. But living in the permanent present is not a practical parenting strategy. “Everybody would like to be in the present,” says Daniel Gilbert, a social psychologist at Harvard and author of the 2006 best-seller Stumbling on Happiness. “Certainly it’s true that there is an important role for being present in our lives. All the data say that. My own research says that.” The difference is that children, by definition, only live in the present, which means that you, as a parent, don’t get much of a chance. “Everyone is moving at the same speed toward the future,” he says. “But your children are moving at that same speed with their eyes closed. So you’re the ones who’ve got to steer.” He thinks about this for a moment. “You know, back in the early seventies, I hung out with a lot of people who wanted to live in the present. And it meant that no one paid the rent.” In effect, parents and small children have two completely different temporal outlooks. Parents can project into the future; their young children, anchored in the present, have a much harder time of it. This difference can be a formula for heartbreak for a small child. ~ Jennifer Senior,
93:It was this hierarchy—so central to Western cosmology for so long that, even today, a ten-year-old could intuitively get much of it right—that was challenged by the most famous compendium of all: Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert’s eighteen-thousand-page Encyclopédie. Published between 1751 and 1772, the Encyclopédie was sponsored by neither the Catholic Church nor the French monarchy and was covertly hostile to both. It was intended to secularize as well as to popularize knowledge, and it demonstrated those Enlightenment commitments most radically through its organizational scheme. Rather than being structured, as it were, God-down, with the whole world flowing forth from a divine creator, it was structured human-out, with the world divided according to the different ways in which the mind engages with it: “memory,” “reason,” and “imagination,” or what we might today call history, science and philosophy, and the arts. Like alphabetical order, which effectively democratizes topics by abolishing distinctions based on power and precedent in favor of subjecting them all to the same rule, this new structure had the effect of humbling even the most exalted subjects. In producing the Encyclopédie, Diderot did not look up to the heavens but out toward the future; his goal, he wrote, was “that our descendants, by becoming more learned, may become more virtuous and happier.”

It is to Diderot’s Encyclopédie that we owe every modern one, from the Britannica and the World Book to Encarta and Wikipedia. But we also owe to it many other kinds of projects designed to, in his words, “assemble all the knowledge scattered on the surface of the earth.” It introduced not only new ways to do so but new reasons—chief among them, the diffusion of information prized by an élite class into the culture at large. The Encyclopédie was both the cause and the effect of a profoundly Enlightenment conviction: that, for books about everything, the best possible audience was the Everyman. ~ Kathryn Schulz,
94:STAY ON COURSE …Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead (Philippians 3:13). Well-trained athletes would never expect to win the race by constantly looking over their shoulder. They know in order to win they must keep focused on the finish line. As believers we cannot run the race always looking to the past. We must focus our attention toward the future. We can learn from the past, while living in the present, and focusing on the future. When it comes to past experiences there are two basic attitudes: First, some learn from the past and are helped. When Paul said he was, “ forgetting what is behind,” he was not suggesting a memory failure. God did not create us with an erase button behind our ears so we can eliminate hurtful memories. That’s not what it means at all. It means to no longer be influenced or affected by our past. When God said He would not remember our sins and iniquities (see Hebrews 10:17), He was not saying He will have a memory lapse. That is impossible with God. What He is saying is that our sins will no longer affect our standing with Him. Second, some people live in the past and are hindered. Sadly, there are many believers who never progress any further in their walk with God because all of their time is spent on painful memories. No doubt there were things in Paul’s past that could have been too heavy for him to carry into his future (see 1 Timothy 1:12-17). Instead of allowing his past memories to hurt him, they became inspirations to push him forward! Paul could not change what had happened to him in his past. But he determined to gain a new understanding of what they meant. He is a perfect example of a runner who refused to run the race backward! Without the power of the Holy Spirit it is impossible to break the shackles of past regret and hurt. No amount of “mind power” can accomplish what only God’s power can do. While we cannot change past events, like Paul, we can change how they affect us today. Father, I know I am easily distracted by hurtful memories. I pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to break their influence. Amen! ~ Paul Tsika,
95:My Dearest, Can you forgive me? In a world that I seldom understand, there are winds of destiny that blow when we least expect them. Sometimes they gust with the fury of a hurricane, sometimes they barely fan one’s cheek. But the winds cannot be denied, bringing as they often do a future that is impossible to ignore. You, my darling, are the wind that I did not anticipate, the wind that has gusted more strongly than I ever imagined possible. You are my destiny. I was wrong, so wrong, to ignore what was obvious, and I beg your forgiveness. Like a cautious traveler, I tried to protect myself from the wind and lost my soul instead. I was a fool to ignore my destiny, but even fools have feelings, and I’ve come to realize that you are the most important thing that I have in this world. I know I am not perfect. I’ve made more mistakes in the past few months than some make in a lifetime. I was wrong to deny what was obvious in my heart: that I can’t go on without you. You were right about everything. I tried to deny the things you were saying, even though I knew they were true. Like one who gazes only backward on a trip across the country, I ignored what lay ahead. I missed the beauty of a coming sunrise, the wonder of anticipation that makes life worthwhile. It was wrong of me to do that, a product of my confusion, and I wish I had come to understand that sooner. Now, though, with my gaze fixed toward the future, I see your face and hear your voice, certain that this is the path I must follow. It is my deepest wish that you give me one more chance. For the first few days after you left, I wanted to believe that I could go on as I always had. But I couldn’t. I knew in my heart that my life would never be the same again. I wanted you back, more than I imagined possible, yet whenever I conjured you up, I kept hearing your words in our last conversation. No matter how much I loved you, I knew it wasn’t going to be possible unless we—both of us—were sure I would devote myself fully to the path that lay ahead. I continued to be troubled by these thoughts until late last night when the answer finally came to me. Oh, I am sorry, so very sorry, that I ever hurt you. Maybe I’m too late now. I don’t know. I love you and always will. I am tired of being alone. I see children crying and laughing as they play in the sand, and I realize I want to have children with you. I am sick and sad without you. As I sit here in the kitchen, I am praying that you will let me come back to you, this time forever. ~ Nicholas Sparks,
96: The Pure Norwegian Flag
Tri-colored flag, and pure,
Thou art our hard-fought cause secure;
Thor's hammer-mark of might
Thou bearest blue in Christian white,
And all our hearts' red blood
To thee streams its full flood.
Thou liftest us high when life's sternest,
Exultant, thou oceanward turnest;
Thy colors of freedom are earnest
That spirit and body shall never know dearth.Fare forth o'er the earth!
'The pure flag is but pure folly,'
You 'wise' men maintain for true.
But the flag is the truth poetic,
The folly is found in you.
In poetry upward soaring,
The nation's immortal soul
With hands invisible carries
The flag toward the future goal.
That soul's every toil and trial,
That soul's every triumph sublime,
Are sounding in songs immortal,To their music the flag beats time.
We bear it along surrounded
By mem'ry's melodious choir,
By mild and whispering voices,
By will and stormy desire.
It gives not to others guidance,
Can not a Swedish word say;
It never can flaunt allurement:Clear the foreign colors away!
The sins and deceits of our nation
Possess in the flag no right;
The flag is the high ideal
In honor's immortal light.
The best of our past achievements,
The best of our present prayers,
It takes in its folds from the fathers
And bears to the sons and heirs;
Bears it all pure and artless,
By tokens that tempt us unmarred,
Is for our will's young manhood
Leader as well as guard.
They say: 'As by rings of betrothal
We are by the flag affied!'
But Norway is
no one's promised bride.
She shares her abode with no one,
Her bed and her board to none yields,
Her will is her worthy bridegroom,
Herself rules her sea, her fields.
Our brother to eastward honors
This independence of youth.
knows well that by it only
Our wreath can be won in truth.
When we from the flag are taking
His colors,
knows 't is no whim,
But merely because we are holding
Our honor higher than him.
And none who himself has honor
Will seek him a different friend;
Our life we can for him offer,
But naught of our flag can lend.
Respectful I seek a hearing,
With trust in your temper sane,
And plead now our cause before you
In words that are calm and plain:
If, Sweden,
were the smaller,
Were young your freedom's renown,
flag a mark of union
That pressed you still farther down
By saying that you, as little,
Were set at the greater's board
(For this is the mark's real meaning,
By no one on earth ignored),
Yes, if it were you,-and your freedom
Not hallowed by age, but young,
And a century's want and weakness
Still heavy in memory hung,
The soul of your nation harrowed
By old injustice and need,
By luckless labor and longing,
-And did you its meaning heed;
Yes, if it were you, whose duty
To teach your people were tried,
To honor their new-born freedom,
To find in their flag their guide:
Would longer you suffer it sundered,
Leave foreign a single field?
Would you not claim it unplundered,
Your independence to shield?
Would not to yourself you say then:
'If one has high lineage long,
If greater his colors' glory,
The more alluring his song.
Oh, tempt not him who from trouble
Is rising with new found might;
With pure marks direct him, rather,
To honor's exalted height.'
would speak, elder hero,
home abode;
Your wont is the way of honor,
You fare on the forward road.
From eighteen hundred and fourteen,
And down to the latest day,
So oft for our independence
We stood like the stag at bay,
Brave men have risen among you,
And scorning the strife that swelled
Have talked for our cause high-minded,
Like Torgny to them of eld.
You say, it is 'knightly duty,'
The fight for the flag to share,I hold you full high in honor,
is our own affair!
For just because we encounter
The storm-blasts of slander stark,
It's 'knightly duty' to free now
The flag from the marring mark.
The 'parity' that mark preaches
Flies false over all the seas;
A pan-Scandinavian Sweden
Can never our nation please.
From 'knightly duty' the smaller
Must say: I am not a part;
The mark of my freedom and honor
Is whole for my mind and heart.
From 'knightly duty' the greater
Must say: A falsehood's fair sign
Can give me no special honor,
No longer shall it be mine.
For both it is 'knightly duty,'
With flags that are pure, to be
A warring world's bright example
Of peoples at peace, proud and free.
~ Bjornstjerne Bjornson,

--- IN CHAPTERS (in Dictionaries, in Quotes, in Chapters)


   3 Integral Yoga

   3 Satprem

   2 Sri Aurobindo or the Adventure of Consciousness

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