Many / One

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Compiled by JoAnn Kite

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The Phenomenon of Man
Pierre Teilhard deChardin

1 "The stuff of the universe, woven in a single piece according to one and the same system, but never repeating itself from one point to another, represents a single figure. Structurally, it forms a Whole."

2 "Races, peoples and nations consolidate one another and complete one another by mutual fecundation."

3 "The human group – all those races, those nations, those states whose entanglements defy the resourcefulness of anatomists and ethnologists alike – there are so many rays in that spectrum that we despair of analysing them. Let us try instead to perceive what this multiplicity represents when viewed as a whole. If we do this we will see that its disturbing aggregation is nothing but a multitude of sequins all sending back to each other by reflection the same light."

4 "Each element of the cosmos is positively woven from all the others."

5 "To see life properly we must never lose sight of the unity of the biosphere that lies beyond the plurality and essential rivalry of individual beings."

6 "Each cell divides (by mitotic or amitotic division) and gives birth to another cell similar to itself. First, a single centre; then two. Everything in the subsequent development of life stems from this potent primordial phenomenon."

7 "All around us, as far as the eye can see, the universe holds together, and only one way of considering it is really possible, that is, to take it as a whole, in one piece."

8 "What is the work of works for man if not to establish, in and by each one of us, an absolutely original centre in which the universe reflects itself in a unique and inimitable way? And those centres are our very selves and personalities."

9 "Man progresses by slowly elaborating from age to age the essence and the totality of a universe deposited within him."

10 "Love in all its subtleties is nothing more, and nothing less, than the more or less direct trace marked on the heart of the element by the psychical convergence of the universe upon itself. This, if I am not mistaken, is the ray of light which will help us to see more clearly around us."

11 "However far science pushes its discovery of the 'essential fire' and however capable it becomes some day of remodelling and perfecting the human element, it will always find itself in the end facing the same problem – how to give to each and every element its final value by grouping them in the unity of an organised whole."

12 "Consciousness is a dimension to which it is inconceivable and even contradictory to ascribe a ceiling or to suppose that it can double back upon itself. There are innumerable critical points on the way, but a halt or a reversion is impossible, and for the simple reason that every increase of internal vision is essentially the germ of a further vision which includes all the others and carries still farther on."

13 "No evolutionary future awaits man except in association with all other men. The dreamers of yesterday glimpsed that. And in a sense we see the same thing."

14 "The inner face of the world is manifest deep within our human consciousness, and there reflects upon itself."

15 "First the molecules of carbon compounds with their thousands of atoms symmetrically grouped; next the cell which, within a very small volume, contains thousands of molecules linked in a complicated system; then the metazoa in which the cell is no more than an almost infinitesimal element; and later the manifold attempts made sporadically by the metazoa to enter into symbiosis and raise themselves to a higher biological condition. And now, as a germination of planetary dimensions, comes the thinking layer which over its full extent develops and intertwines its fibres, not to confuse and neutralise them but to reinforce them in the living unity of a single tissue."

16 "However tenuous it was, the first veil of organised matter spread over the earth could neither have established nor maintained itself without some network of influences and exchanges which made it a biologically COHESIVE whole. From its origin, the cellular nebula necessarily represented, despite its internal multiplicity, a sort of diffuse super-organism."

17 "At this cross-roads where we cannot stop and wait because we are pushed forward by life – and obliged to adopt an attitude if we want to go on doing anything whatsoever – what are we going freely to decide?"

18 "Resonance to the All – the keynote of pure poetry and pure religion."

19 "Evolution, by becoming conscious of itself in the depths of ourselves, only needs to look at itself in the mirror to perceive itself in all its depths and to decipher itself."

20 "To reach the sun nothing less is required than the combined growth of the entire foliage. The outcome of the world, the gates of the future, the entry into the super-human – these are not thrown open to a few of the privileged nor to one chosen people to the exclusion of all others. They will open only to an advance of ALL TOGETHER, in a direction which ALL TOGETHER can join and find completion in a spiritual renovation of the earth."

21 "No element could move and grow except with and by all the others with itself."

22 "Man…carries the world's fortune in himself and a limitless future stretches before him in which he cannot founder."

23 "Considered in its physical, concrete reality, the stuff of the universe cannot divide itself but, as a kind of gigantic 'atom', it forms in its totality…the only real indivisible."

24 "Though the proliferations of living matter are vast and manifold, they never lose their solidarity. A continuous adjustment co-adapts them from without. A profound equilibrium gives them balance within. Taken in its totality, the living substance spread over the earth – from the very first stages of its evolution – traces the lineaments of one single and gigantic organism."

25 "In any domain – whether it be the cells of a body, the members of a society or the elements of a spiritual synthesis – union differentiates. In every organised whole, the parts perfect themselves and fulfill themselves."

This body of quotes compiled by JoAnn Kite