Teilhard de Chardin believed that thinking is essential to evolution. How we think is how we evolve because thinking is the act of the mind creating new unities and new horizons of insight.
To think is to unify, to make wholes where there are scattered fragments; not merely to register it but to confer upon it a form of unity it would otherwise be without.
– PIERRE TEILHARD DE CHARDIN
As you engage with the Omega Center we encourage you to read and apply Ilia Delio’s instruction: READING FOR AN EVOLUTIONARY AGE: OMEGA LECTIO DIVINA.
by CYNTHIA BOURGEAULT
The Living Reality of Omega
The third and most powerful wellspring of hope that Teilhard has to offer us—for those with “eyes to see and hearts to hear”—is the assurance that this slow toiling of the planet toward Omega is not merely some hypothetical, futuristic theory. Omega is neither abstract nor hypothetical; it is already present, actively suffusing and permeating the earth with its telluric energy. “I probably would never have dared to consider or form the rational hypothesis of it,” Teilhard writes in The Human Phenomenon, “if I had not already found in my consciousness as a believer not only the speculative model for it, but its living reality.” (HP, 211).
by CYNTHIA BOURGEAULT
Don’t Co-exist, Coalesce!
The second hopeful resource that Teilhard brings to our unsettled political times is his unshakable conviction that evolutionary progress will unfold its ultimate triumph in the realm of the personal. While our postmodern temperament has a well-engrained tendency to regard the world through a filter of distrust, in which the bits and pieces inevitably appear “random” and disconnected—certainly impersonal—Teilhard encourages us to see our planetary home as a coherent and increasingly compassionate whole, steadily plying its way along its irreversible evolutionary trajectory. In the big picture, there is nothing to suggest that evolution has gone off track. But there is plenty to suggest that we are entering a critical new phase in which some old-order planetary survival strategies are giving way to a new and more intentional sense of mutual interdependence.
by CYNTHIA BOURGEAULT
Deep Hope Flows Over Deep Time
I don’t know what kind of divine nudge it may have been that prompted me in January 2015 to challenge the students in my Wisdom network to a deep dive into Teilhard, but the response was electric, to say the least. Over the ensuing eighteen months we collectively chomped our way through The Human Phenomenon, The Divine Milieu, and The Heart of Matter in both online formats and on-the-ground Wisdom schools and retreats. Students who really caught the Teilhard bug read even more widely, exploring the entire range of his canon from the magnificent early mystical upwellings in Writings in Time of War to the profound final synthesis in The Christic, completed less than a month before his death.
A reflection by BRIE STONER
As a millennial, I have to agree that our generation interacts with technology in an unprecedented way in human history. The shifts that have occurred in the last 50 years mean that we as humans are now thinking in a radically different way; in fact, even our brains are shaped differently because of it.
by ILIA DELIO
There are two questions that occupy my thoughts and I hope I can tie them together here. The first is the question of ethics or, better yet, why we have many committed people involved in social action but no significant changes in politics, culture, education or religion; and the second is whether or not our actions make any difference to God. In my mind these two questions are related but my challenge here is to articulate the connections to better understand why ethics needs evolution.
by HEIDI RUSSELL
“God never promised us that we would not suffer.” Those words struck a painful, but truthful, chord in me when a friend uttered them as we stood talking at the wake of a 27 year old woman, a mother of a one year old and wife who died of cancer way too young. We stood there witnessing the pain one instinctively feels no one should ever have to endure, if our God is a loving God — in fact, if our God is Love. And yet, the reality is that Christianity does not teach us that we will not suffer. The opposite is true. Love leads to suffering.
by WILLIAM THOMPSON-UBERUAGA
One of Teilhard de Chardin’s most appealing works, at least to this author, was The Divine Milieu, a kind of modern reformulation of the classical mystical journey from purgation to illumination to union. Yes, the divine milieu will plunge us into the purgative, into the cross. All authentic love is costly.
by ILIA DELIO
In the 1960s Gordon Moore, the cofounder of Intel, predicted that computing power would double every two years, increasing evolution at an exponential rate. Technology has radically changed our lives to the extent that we are evolving rapidly but not evenly. We can no longer presume the human person is a homogenous entity; rather every person is in a flow of becoming but the rate of flow differs depending on each person’s ability to expand in consciousness.
Audio recording with Ilia Delio and Cynthia Bourgeault
Ilia Delio and Cynthia Bourgeault enter into an engaging and lively conversation illuminating points brought forward in the vision and writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and sharing some of their own related life experiences that support those views. Topics of their dialogue include the transformational power of kenotic and sacrificial love, the centrality of ‘personhood’ in our relationship to God, and the co-creative impact of human choices and action on the unfolding future toward Omega. The dialogue starts with Cynthia asking Ilia to elaborate on Teilhard’s premise of love as a universal force of attraction.
by GREGORY R. HANSELL
Technology is all around us.
The Internet, in just over 20 years, has radically transformed human life and culture, changing how we do business, read the news, meet friends, and even fall in love. Smartphones—putting the power of the Internet in the palms of our hands—are owned by over 1.5 billion people worldwide, projected to reach 36% of the total human population by 2018. Massive scale social networks like Facebook and Twitter, with billions of users across the globe, have fundamentally changed the way we talk to and learn about each other, influencing everything from the frontlines of revolutions to the 2016 US Presidential election. Driverless cars, already on the road in the United States, will soon relieve much of the tedium of driving and even reduce traffic fatalities. Bionic lenses, available as early as this year, will cure vision problems with an eight minute out-patient surgery and provide superhuman sight three times 20/20. And in France’s rustic region of Provence, drones have started delivering the daily mail.
by JOHN F HAUGHT
“But the greatest of these is love."When I was in graduate school in the late 1960s, I came across the following passage from Jürgen Moltmann’s new book Theology of Hope:
“From first to last, and not merely in the epilogue, Christianity is . . . hope, forward looking and forward moving, and therefore also revolutionizing and transforming the present. [Hope] is not one element of Christianity, but it is the medium of Christian faith as such, the key in which everything in it is set, the glow that suffuses everything here in the dawn of an expected new day. . . . Hence [hope] cannot really be only a part of Christian doctrine. Rather, [hope] is characteristic of all Christian proclamation, of every Christian existence and of the whole Church. There is therefore only one real problem in Christian theology . . .: the problem of the future” [my emphases and elisions].To this day I believe that Moltmann, whose prolific writings still make him the greatest contemporary theologian of hope, is right on target in his understanding of what is most essential to Christian faith.
An Interview with Ilia Delio
In reflecting back to the month of December and looking ahead to the new year, Ilia Delio and Brie Stoner enter into conversation about some of the key issues arising for evolutionary thinkers at this particular time of transition.
Topics discussed include the relationship between past, present, future, and what the emerging times could bring. How might we face into these times of uncertainty, including what practices, choices, and ways of thinking and responding could be most useful. There is an invitation to pause and take a personal soul/consciousness/heart/mind inventory of how we are living, and how we are practicing presence. Do we have sufficient self-discipline? How might we build a greater sense of Trust, and become more spacious and open to the new? Even being attentive to how we use language can contribute in positive ways to the evolutionary unfolding.
by ILIA DELIO
We live in very strange times. Since the recent US presidential election and the wobbly markets impacting our economy, stress, anxiety, and uncertainty seem to mark the general milieu. There is a great sense of distrust in our midst that expresses itself either in reserved caution or outright resistance. When I speak to people of the Omega Center and its mission of exploring love at the heart of the cosmos, one of the first questions raised is, “what’s love got to do with it?” My brief response is, “everything”: we are born out of love, we exist in love and we are created for the fullness of love.
by TED PETERS
Love unites. Strife divides.
Unifying love and divisive strife are the two forces that set the cosmos in motion, at least according to the ancient philosopher from Sicily, Empedocles (490-430 BC). Was he right?
Our universe is expanding. Each minute each galaxy moves away from all the others. Scientists say this is due to dark energy. But, if Empedocles is right, then it's due to strife.
by RICHARD ROHR
Advent—from the Latin for “a coming, an approach, or an arrival”—is upon us. This season is more than a sentimental, reminiscent waiting for a new Baby Jesus. The need for adult Christianity and Jesus’ actual message is so urgent that we cannot allow the great feast of Christmas, and its preparation in Advent, to be watered down in any way. The suffering, injustice, and devastation on this planet are too great to settle for an infantile Gospel or Jesus. Jesus taught that the “reign of God” or the “kingdom of God” asks a great deal of us personally—surrender, simplicity, solidarity with suffering.
by BRUCE SANGUIN
The ancient Jewish mystical worldview is expressed in the Kabala, a system of secret teachings. Here, the Genesis passage affirming that humans are made in God’s image is taken most seriously. The first creation is the Human One, Adam Kadmon and the cosmos is born from and proceeds toward the realization of this Human. This doesn’t necessarily eliminate the scientific observation of a 13.8 billion year old evolutionary process, but it imbues it with meaning and purpose. The hidden meaning of evolutionary process is that it is a growth in and toward the Human One, the image of God...
by ILIA DELIO
The shock waves of our recent presidential election are still being felt around the country and around the world, as if the US just suffered a major heart attack. The election was revelatory of the deep distress in the country—the diminishing middle class, the widening gap between rich and poor, the feeling of abandonment—all signaling that government is no longer working for the people. Hence a majority of people thought it best to elect a businessman to run the country so we can make America great again.
An Interview with Ilia Delio
In this month’s interview Brie Stoner asks Ilia Delio for her thoughts on the transformative potential of love as we navigate through challenging times and the increasing complexity of a technology-based information culture. In the context of the divisive election results in the US, Ilia underscores the importance of rooting our responses in the depths of an inward, contemplative consciousness. She reminds us that only through the breaking down of the established order can something new arise, and that reaching out to others, staying connected, and remaining hopeful is essential as we face toward the future.
by RON COLE-TURNER
Expanding on our theme of love in an information culture and the role of technology to enhance our relations, Ron Cole-Turner considers the provocative Transhumanist suggestion that artificial enhancement provides a viable means to redress current moral shortcomings. Would such a means be acceptable if our underdeveloped morality potentially imperils the human species? If a method of moral enhancement becomes technically feasible, would we really find this an agreeable ‘solution’ (to use on ourselves or others) anyway?
by PETER ARMSTRONG
This past weekend, I killed three mice in one hour. The first time I came across one — a baby, just ambling along our hallway before it scurried away upon my approach — I had no idea what to do. By the time I had found, killed, found, killed, found, and killed all three mice in quick succession, I had become rather more adept at my gruesome art, the method of which I won’t go into here. But as my skill in quickly dispatching them grew, so too did my distress at having to take yet another animal’s life...
by ILIA DELIO
In an illuminative book written over twenty years ago called Following Christ in a Consumer Culture the late Jesuit philosopher John Kavanaugh examined the flattening out of the human person by the shallow lures of consumerism. The consumer society, he said, is a formation system and a training ground which educates us to a life of fragmented relatedness. It aims to squeeze us empty so we can be filled with useless things we mindlessly accumulate, although we have no real need of them. Consumerism has come to supplant human identity.
An Interview with Ilia Delio
For this bonus fifth Monday in October we're offering something a little different in the form of an audio recording. In this interview Brie Stoner dialogues with Ilia Delio on the October topic explored on the Omega Center: What does it mean to say ‘God is Love’ in a world of violence and suffering? As the conversation unfolds Brie and Ilia speak about the power of presence, embodiment, and imagination, and the importance of hope in the midst of current events and heightened friction in our world.
by CHARLOTTE A. TOMAINO, PHD
Being asked to discuss the question: What does it mean to say ‘God is Love’ in a world of violence and suffering? made me realize that this is actually a very personal question, one we each must answer for ourselves based on the meaning and beliefs we each have developed in our lives. To answer this, you must consider your own definition of God and Love, how you have experienced these, their place in your life and how you understand the meaning / purpose of suffering and violence. There are no two answers the same.
by PETER TREMBLAY
When confronted with the question and apparent contradiction of “A God of love in a world of suffering and violence,” we need to step back and examine the context by which we hear this question. This question, on the surface, appears to be a theological one. However, as I will show, theology is always based on physics and cosmology. As we wrestle with this question it will be important to recontextualize the issue in the light of a new quantum cosmology.
by PATRICK BELDIO, MFA, PHD
In the 1970s it was common to critically compare the thought of Teilhard de Chardin with Sri Aurobindo (née Aurobindo Ghose, 1872-1950). I discovered Sri Aurobindo and his spiritual partner the Mother (née Mirra Alfassa, 1878-1973) through another Catholic priest, Fr. Bede Griffiths. Griffiths writes that “In the integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo [and the Mother], the values of matter and life and [mind], and the experience of the personal God, are not lost in the ultimate Reality, the divine Saccidananda. Matter and life and [mind]… are seen to be evolving toward the divine life and the divine consciousness, in which they are not annihilated but fulfilled. This is [also] the goal of a Christian Yoga.”