Friday, July 03, 2015

Friday Ramble - Entelechy

The word for this week is entelechy, and a lovely word it is. Both word and concept were coined by the Greek philosopher Aristotle, springing from the Late Latin entelecheia, thence the Greek entélos meaning "complete, finished, perfect”, and télos meaning end, fruition, accomplishment, plus ékhō meaning simply "to have".

Aristotle defined entelechy as "having one's end within", and he used the word to describe conditions and processes by which all things attain their highest and most complete expression. French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, also a renowned paleontologist, geologist, physicist and priest, 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 grow into a great tree, within a bulb to sprout after a long cold winter and burst into flower.  It's the power within a lotus seed sleeping in the murky depths of a pond to awaken and make its way to the surface, blooming gloriously when it comes into the presence of light.  It's the possibility encoded in each of us at birth to bloom, to become kind and thoughtful earthlings, to become fully and completely ourselves and reach enlightenment, whatever form that enlightenment takes for us individually.

OK, the enlightenment may not take place in this lifetime, and some of us have a long, long way to go (am thinking of myself here), but we are already on our way, and all along the winding trail before us 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 another one of those seeds of truth about which I need reminding now and again. My forgetfulness and the need for reminders makes me crotchety and impatient with myself sometimes, but that is part of the process too.

3 comments:

sarah said...

What a fabulous word with a wonderful meaning. I've never encountered it before and am always so delighted to learn new words. Thank you for sharing this one.

Aisling said...

That is a new word to me, but one I believe I will think if often now that you have shared. Thank you!

terri st. cloud said...

have i told you lately how much i love your soul?! :)