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Research on Contemplative Life Forum
Subject: Teilhard De Chardin
You asked about a quote from M. Teilhard de Chardin involving the relationship between Spirit and Matter, so here's one from "A Sketch of a Personalistic Universe." De Chardin was, as most of you know, a Jesuit priest who was exiled to China for his revolutionary writings in relating science to theology...once in China, he helped unearth the Peking Man. Some individuals just can't be held down.
"In a concrete sense there is not matter and spirit. All that exists is matter becoming spirit. There is neither spirit nor matter in the world; the stuff of the universe is *spirit-matter*. No other substance but this could produce the human molecule. I know very well that this idea of spirit-matter is regarded as a hybrid monster, a verbal exorcism of a duality which remains unresolved in its terms. But I remain convinced that the objections made to it arise from the mere fact that few people can make up their minds to abandon an old point of view and take the risk of a new idea. ... Biologists or philosophers cannot conceive a biosphere or noosphere because they are unwilling to abandon a certain narrow conception of individuality. Nevertheless, the step must be taken. For in fact, pure spirituality is as unconceivable as pure materiality. Just as, in a sense, there is no geometrical point, but as many structurally different points as there are methods of deriving them from different figures, so every spirit derives its reality and nature from a particular type of universal synthesis. Whatever its "purity", however great its purity, it is the crown and expression of a genesis. The "higher" a being is in duration, the greater and more finely unified the complexity that it contains in its solid parts. The reality of spirit-matter is inevitably translated into and confirmed by a *structure of the spirit*."
"That the personalization of the universe, having at this moment reached the human stage in ourselves, is irreversible we shall soon recognize, step by step, as the conditions of internal coherence particular to a personal universe yield to our analysis. In this way, the "inalterability" of the person, so rightly defended by spiritualist philosophers, will at the same time be preserved and attached to an intelligible physical theory."
A final quote from "The Phenomenon of Spirituality":
"Life represents the goal of a *transformation* of great breadth, in the course of which what we call "matter" turns about, furls in on itself, *interiorizes* the operation covering, so far as we are concerned, the whole history of the earth. The phenomenon of spirit is not therefore a sort of brief flash in the night; it reveals a gradual and systematic passage from the unconscious to the conscious, and from the conscious to the self-conscious. It is a cosmic *change of state*. This irrefutably explains the links and also the contradictions between spirit and matter."
I apologize for the random nature of these quotes as a full explication of De Chardin's theory far exceeds these disparate citations. The most complete version is the well-known *Phenomenon of Man* and the *Divine Milieu*.