“Even with the littlest, most insignificant thing, when it comes from love, we begin. We begin with effort and the repose that follows effort, with silence or a solitary joy, with everything we do alone without anyone to join or help us, we begin Him whom we will not live to see…”
“The physical structure of the universe is love”
As we began exploring last week, French paleontologist, priest and mystic, Teilhard de Chardin, saw the world through an evolutionary lens. According to Teilhard, matter and spirit could no longer viewed as separate, but rather as “two states or two aspects of one and the same cosmic Stuff…” Teilhard also believed that process of evolution was bent on a track to create more complex wholes out of what was once a disordered “multiple.” Teilhard didn’t just believe the universe was converging; he believed it was converging toward greater consciousness– and that its physical structure is love.
Now, evolutionary convergence is a decent stretch for many scientists today, but from a philosophical perspective, it makes sense enough: things are growing in complexity as we create more and more systems of connection through technology and scientific discovery.
But the idea that all of this evolution is moving in a conscious direction, and that love is its guiding principle? Slow your roll!
But instead of running for the hills just yet, perhaps what Teilhard (and Rilke) intuited isn’t so much that the universe is comprised of a bunch of puzzle pieces that form the face of a white-bearded God when assembled properly – or that the molecular structure of reality is made up of Care-Bear shaped hearts. Rather,
the universe isn’t a mere mechanical system, randomly operating and bereft of the ultimate connecting complexifier: love.
It seems apropos enough for someone with the last name Stoner to be saying something like “the universe is made up of love, man”…but what if there’s some truth to it?
Love is the term we’ve given a certain kind of energy: the bonding energy of relationship. If we strip it down from all of the sentimentality and storylines that we’ve attached to it love-energy’s essential function is to generate an attraction between two or more elements, forming a relationship bonding two or more elements together, creating a new complex structure out of what was once more simplified and disparate elements.
Because it seems to me you could say that the energy of attraction, relationship, and new creation seems hardwired into this dimension, aka the physical structure of the universe is love.
If this energy of relationship is hardwired into the universe, then we can also understand how Rilke or Teilhard might feel more comfortable saying that we live in a relational universe that’s more of a “Thou” than an “it”.
The universe is a whole pulsating system forged in the deep-time of evolution; the heart of it all isn’t some mechanistic a-personal genetic code or relentless machinery, but something distinctly relational and personal.
When I get out of my head I am able to sense myself within the greater wholeness and coherence of life.
This is why I am drawn to contemplation and meditation. It develops the inner muscle memory of not getting trapped quite so often in the small storylines I create for myself. Meditation teaches me to perceive from a deeper sense of self, which is a relief dosage to all of the anxiety and fear I can sometimes get tangled in when I start seeing myself as somehow separate, isolated, or alone.
Even now as I type, when I “tune” my heart, I can sense the relationship at the intersection of my body and the long journey the breeze made before moving the strands of hair around my face; the length of the song of the bird chirping perched in the tree in my back yard and just how long that tree grew for decades to be there; the effort of the grass growing under my feet and the energy buzzing off the highway nearby.
I can, if I’m paying attention, sense the relationship to the “wholeness of things” every time I breathe: there is no “separate me,” for my very being is entirely reliant on its relationship with oxygen being drawn in from the outside. Can I ever really say “I” when millions of bacteria strains that I am host to depend on what I feed them to survive and in turn help me survive? It would be more scientifically (and spiritually) accurate to refer to ourselves in the first person as “we” instead of “I.”
Everything is in relationship, and we are swimming in relationality…or dare we say, love.
Perhaps if we begin by sensing the relational universe we live in (i.e. Love), we can begin to see all the ways our lives are not as disconnected as they seem. All of the longing, anguish, joy, and terror of being human is all actually part of the same energetic thrust that birthed our solar system. The messiness of being human belongs; we don’t have to fight it or run away from it.
Perhaps when we re-connect with the wholeness of life around and through us in our embodied, conscious awareness, we can make room for an even-greater unfolding of evolution, infusing us with a deep sense of trust: Even out of the greatest suffering, something new can be shaped and grown into.
Then whatever is on our plate today, whatever is ours to face and do….“Even with the littlest, most insignificant thing, when it comes from love, we begin.”