Friday, July 08, 2016

Friday Ramble - Entelechy

This week's word is entelechy, and a lovely summery word it is. Word and concept were coined by 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, a Jesuit priest as well as a renowned paleontologist, geologist and physicist, described entelechy as "something that is inside of you like the butterfly is inside the caterpillar".

Think of entelechy as dynamic purpose coded within something, the potential within a nut or acorn to grow into a tree, within a bulb to sprout after a long cold winter and burst into flower.  It is the power within a lotus seed sleeping in the silty depths of a pond to awaken and make its way to the surface, blooming when it comes into the presence of light.  It's the possibility encoded in each of us at birth to become fully and completely ourselves and reach enlightenment, whatever whatever form that enlightenment might take for us as individuals.

OK, the enlightenment may not come in this lifetime, and some of us have a long way to go (thinking of myself here), but we are on our way, and 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 constant need for reminders makes me crotchety and impatient sometimes, but that is part of the process too.

1 comment:

sarah said...

what a wonderful word, I've never heard it before. so inspiring!