Friday, July 11, 2014

Friday Ramble - Entelechy

This week's word is entelechy, and a lovely word it is. Word and concept were coined by the Greek philosopher Aristotle, and they spring from the Late Latin entelecheia, thence the Greek télos meaning "end or purpose", and échein, meaning simply "to have".

Aristotle defined entelechy as "having one's end within", and the late Swedish Secretary General of the United Nations, Dag Hammarskjold, described it in his posthumously published diary Markings as "existing in the fleet joy of becoming".  French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, also a renowned paleontologist, geologist and physicist, described entelechy as being "something inside of you like a butterfly is inside a caterpillar".

Entelechy is the potential within a nut or acorn to become a tree, within a bulb to sprout after a long cold winter and burst into flower.  It's the power within a seed sleeping in the depths of a pond to awaken and make its way to the surface, blooming as a lotus or waterlily when it comes into the presence of light.  It's the possibility encoded in each of us at birth to become kind and thoughtful earthlings and reach enlightenment, whatever form that enlightenment takes.

Our enlightenment may not take place in this lifetime, and some of us have a long way to go (thinking of myself here), but we are on our way, and all along that winding trail are nuggets of wisdom, wild knowing and shy discernment. To use the words of Emily Dickinson, we "dwell in Possibility", although we manage to forget it most of the time. Here is one of those seeds of truth and becoming about which I need reminding now and again.  How often I seem to need such reminders.  I am frequently crotchety and impatient with myself, but that is part of the process too.

A summer water lily would have been an excellent image for this morning's ramble, but I posted my recent spatterdock captures a few days ago, and besides, I craved the burnished mahogany smoothness of last autumn's acorns. Now they are taking root on a sunny hillside in the Lanark Highlands, and this doddering tree shepherd will tend them on their way to becoming stately oaks.

1 comment:

Kameshwari said...

Oh! This is big. So many of my friends and I have been discussing our lives lately. Perfect post to add to our discussions about potential.