We have spent the past few weeks following Teilhard’s use of meditation to the finding of God. We have followed this thread as it appears in the science of Psychology, noting the evolution of Psychology as ‘assisted secular meditation’, and saw how it can lead us to an understanding of the person that Kierkegaard believed “to be that self that one truly is”.
This week we will address how relating to this universal ‘principle of being’ that manifests itself in us can be seen as ‘Love”. Now that we have identified how God, the principle of existence, can be understood as a principle of life within us, we can explore what it can mean to say that such a ground of being can be ‘loved’.
A Relook at Love
(The subject of Love and evolution is addressed in more detail in the blog “The Phenomenon of Love” (http://www.lloydmattlandry.com/?page_id=57) which addressed the concept of love from Teilhard’s evolutionary standpoint.)
In today’s culture, it would seem that few things are less obvious and more ubiquitous than love. Our culture is rife with references to it: it is used to sell things, explain behavior, understood as a prompt to procreation, as fodder for poems and music, as themes to movies and books, as an emotional, sentimental feeling. Articulated thusly, it seems to offer a poor mechanism for connecting to the ‘ground of being’ that is active at the basis of our lives.
Even our western religion has problems with it. For many Christians, the emotional aspect of Love far outweighs the ontological aspect: Love is more a sentimental ‘feeling good’ about God and Jesus than the facet of the universal energy which effects our growth as it brings us together.
Teilhard notes that the systematic and ever repeating act of evolution is the increasing of complexity which results from simple union. Over and over in evolution, from the big bang to the human person, the same phenomenon can be seen:
Two entities of like complexity unite, and the product is an entity of higher complexity and greater potential for union.
Science observes this phenomenon as active in the evolution of simple matter from the first bosons to the very complex molecules which underpin life. Natural Selection observes the continuation of this rise of complexity, at a much higher rate, in the evolution from simple cells to the neurons which underpin the human characteristic which we call ‘consciousness’. Without such a fundamental principle of existence, evolution as we know it would not be possible. Without it, the universe would still be a ball of unorganized energy.
Love As The Energy Of Evolution In The Human
As we have mentioned several times in this blog, we can hardly expect such a powerful and inexorable upwelling of complexity to stop with the human person: this agent of evolution is just as active in humans today as it has been throughout the history of the universe. The question remains: how can we see it as active in our lives?
Teilhard observes that evolution proceeds via the ‘activation of energy’. The unions of evolution that raise the level of complexity do not occur in isolation: they are influenced and effected by the wash of energy which pervades the universe. Atoms are unified by the strong and weak atomic forces, complex atoms by the fusion forced by gravity, atoms into molecules under the play of chemical forces.
These energies are manifold, and different types of energy come into play at different rungs of complexity. For example, gravity was unable to have an effect on evolution until particles acquired mass. The forces of chemistry were mute until the arrival of molecules. And the forces of love could not play their part until the entities of evolution became conscious. Love, therefore is the energy which effects our own ‘complexification”.
Seen through Teilhard’s eyes, the increasing complexity in living things, resulting as it does in the phenomenon of consciousness, results in entities subject to the play of energies so subtle as to be immeasurable yet so powerful as to power the ascent of complexity which is ‘consciousness aware of itself’.
The Next Post
Teilhard addresses how this concept of love is ‘the energy which unites persons in such a way as to continue the rise of complexity in evolution’. Next week we will take a look at how he sees it at work in our lives, and how we can see cooperation with this energy as ‘loving God’.