Friday, March 15, 2024

Friday Ramble - Entelechy

This week's word is entelechy, and a lovely springtime word it is. Word and concept were coined by Aristotle, springing from the Ancient Greek  entelékheia, a combination of entelēs 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 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 having "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). It is 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.

A possibility is encoded within each of us at birth to become fully and completely ourselves, whatever shape that journey may take for us as individuals. In my own mind, I think of entelechy as being the instruction to "go forth and bloom". 

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.

It is a seed of truth about which I need a nudge now and again, a gentle reminder. The requirement for such things makes me crotchety and impatient, but that is all right, and it is part of the process too. My exquisite little beech seedling says it all.

1 comment: said...

This is so beautiful, Cate and you, as you do, have said it all. Nature is our teacher. I am grateful for your lovely reminders.