Teilhard and Cardenal on Love in the Cosmos

We continue to listen to Nicaraguan poet and mystic Ernest Cardenal alongside French mystic and scientist Teilhard de Chardin.  Today, on the subject of love in the cosmos. Says Cardenal:

Interdependence: the honey bee pollinates a cucumber flower and brings nectar back to the hive. Kathy Keatley Garvey, UC Davis Department of Agriculture

Look at the birds in the sky and the lilies in the fields. Look at the sea anemone, at the humble protozoon and at the Omega Centaurus: they all do neither sow nor reap; they do not have warehouses or bank accounts or life insurance policies!

You forget that Someone at every moment takes care of every sinew of your body, controls the circulation of your blood and the functioning of all your glands. And you seem convinced that some small problem of your daily life can be solved by no one in the universe but yourself!

Nature teaches us many lessons. Few creatures need warehouses, bank accounts, or life insurance to live full lives. Even our bodies work for nothing and do a pretty good job of things. With a cosmic awareness we rediscover how interdependent we are with the whole history of the universe. We realize that beings are caring for us even in the toughest of times.

Says Teilhard:

To understand the world, knowledge is not enough. You must see it, touch it, live in its presence and drink the vital heat of existence in the very heart of reality.

Billions of monarch butterflies gather in sacred forests to overwinter after a multi-generational migration. Video by Natural Habitat Adventures

Teilhard urges us to move beyond knowledge–knowledge is “not enough.” We must taste life and make it very personal and erotic and unforgettable. Interestingly, the word for “wisdom” in both Hebrew and Latin derives from the word for “taste.” “Taste and see that God is good” sings the Psalmist. Teilhard, too, is inviting us beyond knowledge to wisdom, and for wisdom to occur, we must taste life in all its dimensions — “see it, touch it, live in its presence and drink the vital heat of existence.” Teilhard continues:  

Let us advance one step further. What name should we give to this physio-moral energy of personalization to which all activities displayed by the stuff of the universe are finally reduced? Only one name is possible, if we are to credit it with the generality and power that it should assume in rising to the cosmic order: love…. The conclusion is always the same: Love is the most powerful and still the most unknown energy of the world.*

“This is our grace, to be a note, in the exact chord that animates creation. An ocean of mind, moving, forward and back, forward and back…” Mandlovu Mind, sung by Jami Sieber. Video posted by saldek2.

Teilhard places love in the context of not just the personal and psychological but of cosmology. He sees love, the “physio-moral energy of personalization,” abounding in the universe. Have we made this shift also? What are some implications of this change of consciousness around the word “love”? How does it affect our experience of “falling in love”? And of religion itself?

Cardenal speaks:

Every poet who celebrates his beloved in song, all the love poetry of the world, all human love and even the non-rational love of animals, the fertilization process of plants and the cohesive force of inert matter is a form and type of divine love.**

*Teilhard de Chardin, The Heart of Matter, p. 71Human Energy, p. 72; Letters to Two Friends, p.182.

**Ernesto Cardenal, To Live Is to Love: Meditations on Love and Spirituality, pp. 52f., 80f.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Christian Mystics, # 348, 227f., 340.

Banner Image: Two remarkably smooth galaxies performing the gravitationally choreographed merger dance with no apparent dust or star formation regions to be seen. Image by Judy Schmidt on Flickr

In what ways are you drinking the vital heat of existence? In what ways would you like to?

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6 thoughts on “Teilhard and Cardenal on Love in the Cosmos”

  1. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    The words “love is the most powerful and still the most unknown energy in the world”, speaks to me in today’s DM. And yet, this love desires to be known. Is it not a continuous invitation, initiated by love itself, a universal call to relationship with? Is not the gift of life given itself, the journey of discovering and learning of the many ways in which we are being loved to love? Is this not the meaning and purpose of our very existence? In response to this reality do we not become that which we seek to know, that which also desires to be known… henceforth giving birth to the unknown power of love… already there, present in its essence within? I personally take comfort in this mutually shared desire, within this infinite unfolding of knowing this eternal love.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, and in addition to what you write about love here, I add the words of St. John: “Beloved, let us love one another. For love is of God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Those who love not, know not God for God is love.” (1 John 5: 7-8).

  2. Avatar

    I want to thank you so much for your meditations that I have followed since March 2020. Also I have returned to your offerings during the years since the 80’s. I find my home in creation, cosmic spirituality and I trace this back to my childhood- always being led deeper. Your offerings and reflections deepen and nourish my spirit . I have learned so much through you and of others you introduce to us. No words can express my gratitude – so I DANCE with all of creation literally! ❤️?

  3. Avatar

    For many mystics, divine Love is the unitive essence…the energy of the soul.

    “The soul lives by that which it loves rather than in the body which it animates. For it has not its life in the body, but rather gives it to the body and lives in that which it loves.” St. John of the Cross C

    [on the diversity of religions] “The lamp is different, but the light is the same. Love alone can end their quarrel. Love alone comes to the rescue when you cry for help against their arguments.” Rumi I

    “Spiritual love is different. …it leads to unity with the beloved. This unity in love remains forever and ever, always alive, both within and without, and each moment you live in love. It will swallow you completely until there is no ‘you.’ There is only love.” Amritanandamayi H

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