Friday, March 22, 2019

Friday Ramble - Entelechy

Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)
This week's word is entelechy, and a lovely springtime 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", using the word to describe the conditions and processes by which all things attain their highest and most complete expression. French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit priest, renowned paleontologist, geologist and physicist, described entelechy as "something inside you like a butterfly is inside the caterpillar".

Think of entelechy as the prime motivation or dynamic purpose within something, the potential within a nut or acorn to grow into a tree (have always had a "thing" about acorns and oak trees), the directive within a bulb to sprout after a long cold winter and burst into flower, the desire 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 is the possibility encoded in each of us at birth to become fully and completely ourselves and reach enlightenment, whatever form that enlightenment might take for us as individuals. In my own mind, I think of entelechy as the instruction to "go forth and bloom".

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 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 constant need for reminders makes me crotchety and impatient sometimes, but that is part of the process too.

3 comments:

Barbara Rogers said...

Thanks for being so knowledgable about words...and philosophy! I am awestruck by the thoughts you engender in me. Suddenly I think "we must have impatience in order to know patience." Have a great day and weekend.

Kay G. said...

That is a wonderful word and one that is especially meaningful to me after my Father's death. He was 91 and had such a full life.

Kate Sommerville said...

Cate, your appreciation and expression of beauty indicates to me that you might be more advanced spiritually than you say. The way you've shared this for years is beautiful too.
Many blessings and thank-you.