Jun 142014
 

chirhoaoThe modern world, with its prodigious growth of complexity, weighs incomparably more heavily on the shoulders of our generation than did the ancient world upon the shoulders of our forebears. Have you never felt that this added load needs to be compensated for by an added passion, a new sense of purpose? To my mind, this is what is “providentially” arising to sustain our courage – the hope, the belief, that some immense fulfillment lies ahead of us.

If Mankind were destined to achieve its apotheosis, if Evolution were to reach its highest point, in our small, separate lives, then indeed the enormous travail of terrestrial organisation into which we are born would be nor more than a tragic irrelevance. We should all be dupes. We should do better in that case to stop, or at least to call a halt, destroy the machines, close the laboratories, and seek whatever way of escape we can find in pure pleasure or pure nirvana.

But if on the contrary Man sees a new door opening above him, a new stage for his development; if each of us can believe that he is working so that the Universe may be raised, in him and through him, to a higher level  – then a new spring of energy will well forth in the heart of Earth’s workers. The whole great human organism, overcoming a momentary hesitation, will draw its breath and press on with strength renewed.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Future of Man, Life and the Planets

  4 Responses to “The Future of Man”

  1. Teilhard says, ‘The modern world, with its prodigious growth of complexity, weighs incomparably more heavily on the shoulders of our generation than did the ancient world upon the shoulders of our forebears.’ When any writer says something like this it brings out the sceptic in me. I start thinking, ‘ How can anyone possibly know a thing like that? Now he is going to try and persuade us of something’. He wrote many wonderful things, but I try never to forget that he was a Jesuit priest.

  2. One of the reasons I love Teilhard to Chardin is he sums things up so well. The statement you mention makes perfect sense to me, literally as a statement of the obvious, so in that respect I don’t experience a conflicting response wondering how he knows it….because I know it too. I also admire the fact that although he had deep felt Christian sentiments, knowledge and belief he maintained his independence of thought in the face of considerable opposition from within his own order. A truly free thinker and shining light for humanity, including the like of Terence McKenna – the new age would be horrified if they knew their guru was taking hints from the very same Jesuits the claim to abhor!

  3. A problem for me is that I notice a tendency in certain kinds of people. Often they are people whom I think of as ‘Platonic’ souls. They tend to picture the past as being in some significant way better than now. It is part of the great Platonic myth – the Golden Age which is always in the past. In contrast the Aristotelean souls often project their ‘Golden Age’ into the future.( for example, Sir Francis Bacon in The New Atlantis)
    i do not believe we can know whether , from an experiential point of view things were better in the past in some significant and all-embracing way, or not. We can only know our response to what we have and are now. This idea that the past was somehow better, really arises from the life of feeling. There can be no proof of it.
    I also distrust this idea as a guide to what is real because I think it takes our attention away from the existential dynamic we are actually living. I don’t doubt that Teilhard had interesting and worthwhile insights. But i also suspect he had an intention to persuade when he says things like, ‘ ‘The modern world, with its prodigious growth of complexity, weighs incomparably more heavily on the shoulders of our generation than did the ancient world upon the shoulders of our forebears.’
    It reminds me of the Victorian anthropologists who thought that the way of life of non-industrialised peoples was somehow simpler, or ‘primitive’ (to use those anthropologists own language). The notion of the ‘noble savage’ was still alive and kicking. They thought that pre-industrial people’s had a simpler, less complex, and therefore happier life. They were often thought of as being child-like.
    Maybe Teilhard’s intention to persuade was not conscious, but I ask myself why he felt the need to preface what he was going to say with an unverifiable generalisation.
    Sorry to be so argumentative.
    I nearly always like the things you put on here.

  4. No need at all to apologise, everyone is entitled to an opinion and it’s good to have debate in any case. As it happens I am in general agreement with you when it comes to the ‘everything was better back then’ attitude, which I find most stultifying in patriarchal groups that are devoted to what they call the ‘primordial tradition’ (doubtful), or among stridently pagan devotees who work on the basis that the ancient world was a magical marvel in comparison to the Christianised present that they despise.

    With respect to the case in point, however, I do think Chardin is being a lot more subtle and is also concluding that a truly golden age is awaiting in the future should mankind manage to rise to the challenge/opportunity posed.

    “if on the contrary Man sees a new door opening above him, a new stage for his development; if each of us can believe that he is working so that the Universe may be raised, in him and through him, to a higher level – then a new spring of energy will well forth in the heart of Earth’s workers”

    What he says regarding ‘complexity’ is, I believe, absolutely true at a cosmic level and also a noticeable effect in the microcosmic life of any conscious human. Is not childhood a simple matter compared to the existential dilemmas posed by adulthood? As far as the cosmic level goes, I am thinking of a certain complexity that comes from the increase of knowledge. This manifests not only as the accumulation of new technologies, methods, ideologies, etc, but also via an exponential growth in the demand placed on memory.

    Many esotericists are engaged with what is known as the ‘path of return’, which in no small part might entail an interior identification with – and conscious perception of – the spiritual history of the world as a reflection of the individual karma of the soul. From this perspective a great ‘multiplication’ does indeed become discernible at a certain point, which I would personally pinpoint to the post scientific enlightenment period. Not only did this result in a huge explosion of scientific and technical development – a curve of ‘progress’ that we know has become steeper and steeper (accelerating) up to the present day – but it also provided a backdrop to the consequential theosophical explosion in spirituality and culture.

    The opening of Pandora’s box that occurred during this period that gave rise to the ‘morning of the magicians’ – great or at least noteworthy adepts (of various orders) such as Blavatsky, Steiner, Tomberg, Gurdjieff, Crowley, Duenov, etc – who in turn opened even more doorways of consciousness from almost every conceivable angle. Put the UFO phenomenon into the mix – the requirement to explain rather than simply accept such things – and you have a spiritual/cultural/scientific tapestry that is more than rich, it amounts to a sensory overload that the mind is barely capable of processing.

    As far as I’m aware this mushrooming cloud of consciousness at some stages reaches an ‘omega point’ where it seeks a way back to simplicity – cuts the crap, so to speak – and this is the time when true spiritual impulse can lift the individual – and ultimately the entire human group – into a more elevated state of being that has reverted back to pure faith. Or to put it another way, if your mind was being blown by the amount of information coming into it, rather than take in more information you might rather opt to ‘fall back’ onto a certain sacramental ideal in order to rise more fully above the chaos.

    Tomberg talks about the moment coming when technological advancement catches up with spiritual knowledge and henceforth magic itself becomes the materialism of mages. This is the moment when a doorway must be found out of the ‘closed circle’ of magic into the living spiral of true spirituality.To a Christian, of course, the Master Jesus is this door.

    Not sure if any of that made sense, but I’ll try again if not! Thank you for your interest.

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