I have been wanting to attend a meeting of the American Teilhard Association (ATA) for some time. I have been a member of the association for several years and enjoyed reading their newsletter and monograph series. I was also able to combine my travel to NYC for this year’s meeting with wonderful visits with dear friends and my son, which made the event all the more meaningful.
If you look at the ATA Web site, the first thing you’ll see are the words “energies of love” and the following famous quote from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin:
The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides, and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, we shall have discovered fire.
From “Toward the Future,” 1936, XI, 86-87
I felt those energies of love so clearly and powerfully at the meeting on that warm and sunny Saturday in mid-May. Strangers immediately became colleagues and friends as we chatted about the mystical holy man who brought us together, Teilhard. Simply thinking about it and especially writing about it now is reconnecting me with that amazing energy.
Many scholars and devotees have dedicated their lives to interpreting, understanding, and extending the writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Some of these scholars are named on the Teilhard Project site, a PBS documentary in development now. Studying Teilhard’s voluminous work can be an avocation or a vocation, however, the experiential knowledge of the energy of love is readily available to all of us. I’ll explain.
Georgetown’s John Haught gave the keynote address this year. A highlight of Haught’s talk for me was coming to a deeper understanding of Teilhard’s claim that he was a “pilgrim of the future,” a statement he made to Jean Houston. (Houston met Teilhard when she was a teenager. They took regular walks together in the City’s Central Park.) Dr. Haught explained that the future is calling all of us to be more, to strive, to evolve. “Love is a force of attraction that works through evolution,” says Haught. “It is only through the force of love that something more wonderful can be brought about.”
Haught explained that we need to go through a personal transformation to move up the hierarchy of consciousness. Think about it. For better or worse, most personal transformation comes from pain, challenges, and obstacles. One of my favorite quotes from Teilhard is: “What would we do without our enemies?” They are like sandpaper–they rub us shiny and smooth. They help free us release the baggage that holds us back.
Haught used the work of the integral theorist Alfred North Whitehead to build his argument about the “insideness of things.” I have used integral theory to develop new ideas about the news environment, our newsphere is how I describe it. Basically, integral theory explains the power of connectedness and explores our different relationships. We are always, always, in relation to ourselves, one another, and the world. We just don’t always recognize and move from that understanding. I believe Teilhard did.
Haught explained it like this: “In the synthesis of elements you will find meaning, connection with others in the future.” The world is being drawn toward unity, coherence, and intelligibility from ‘up ahead,’ according to Haught. “Only the eyes of hope can see life,” he told the ATA audience. “Life is only possible when something is trying to achieve.”
And he made it very real for all of us. “We need a vision of reality so we can get up in the morning and realize our lives matter,” says Haught. Is this the “Journey of the Universe” that the ATA promotes? I believe it is. “It makes narrative sense to look inside, look ahead, but you have to wait,” says Haught. “If the universe is a drama, you need to be patient and to wait for it to unfold.”
I can wait for the unfoldment, but not to access this wonderful energy. I am practicing connecting this way as much as I can.