Like millions of others in the global village, I tuned out the hyped royal wedding. But after the pomp and ceremony was over, excerpts from the sermon by the Most Rev. Michael Curry caught my eye.
The Episcopalian bishop apparently stole the show. But it was his references to the Jesuit priest, scientist and philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin that interested me.
Speaking in an animated, southern African-American style, without reading or notes for what was a clearly highly prepared and polished sermon, the Most Reverend’s delivery was captivating.
Reverend Curry’s message of love was momentarily stirring, though by the looks on most of the highborn, super-rich or global celebrity faces, it didn’t move them.
It didn’t move me either. For one thing, the romantic love and sentimentality that Curry cited as “forms of love” have nothing to do with the completely impersonal love one feels when one dies to everything one knows.
“Don’t over-sentimentalize love,” Bishop Curry said. But sentimentalism is merely an imitation of love. Having grown up in cycle of violence followed by sentimentality, I was inoculated against that false flag of love.
There wasn’t any discernible insight in the sermon, and the ‘God this’ and ‘God that’ talk rang hollow. So why did Curry close his sermon with references to the obscurities of Teilhard de Chardin’s philosophy?
“French Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was arguably one of the great minds, great spirits of the 20th century,” Curry said, adding the descriptors, “Jesuit, Roman Catholic priest, scientist, a scholar, a true mystic.”
Arguably is right. There was painful contradiction between de Chardin being a Roman Catholic priest and a scientist, and there is an inherent contradiction between being a Jesuit and “a true mystic.”
I’m not even sure what a mystic is. But I’m sure organized religion has nothing to do with it. Perhaps this definition is as good as any: “A person who seeks by contemplation and self-surrender to obtain unity with or absorption into the absolute, and who believes in the spiritual apprehension of truths that are beyond the intellect.”
After citing de Chardin’s ideas about fire and how it gave the human species technology and even made us human, Curry went on to quote Teilhard: “Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.”
This quote comes closer to what one feels when the mind falls completely silent and the heart is completely vulnerable: “I want to teach people how to see God everywhere, to see Him in all that is most hidden, most solid, and most ultimate in the world.”
The mystic’s perennial problem is that experiencing the numinous seems to have nothing to do with this world, including the Roman Catholic Church.
To grow as human beings we must let go of our attachments and accumulations. Allowing the senses to fully open and be in harmony in nature, attention grows into a fire that consumes every thought and emotion as they arise. Love flows into the stillness and space, because love, beyond the word and the personal dimension, is the essence in the universe.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was mistaken in asserting a natural progression of consciousness from inanimate to animate, from animal to human, from human to the “Omega Point” or Christ consciousness. The truth is that the cumulative psychological content of consciousness is suffocating the human spirit, and inducing a regression in consciousness we see nearly everywhere today.
With complete sensory activity and negation in meditation however, there is, at least temporarily, a breakthrough into a different order of consciousness altogether.
Stillness and emptiness are the wellspring of love, not some self-projected deity into which we project our hopes and desires for a better world.