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Center for Action and Contemplation

Love at the Heart of the Universe

Tuesday, October 31, 2017


Love at the Heart of the Universe
Tuesday, October 31, 2017

We used to believe that reality was comprised of little separate “elemental” building blocks, but now we realize that nothing exists in isolation; rather, as scientists like Franciscan sister Ilia Delio point out, everything exists as one interconnected whole. In today’s meditation, I want to share Ilia’s insights from the new science of quantum physics:

Quantum physics is based on the primacy of energy and the interconnectedness of all that exists. . . . Being is intrinsically relational and exists as unbroken wholeness. Each part is connected with every other part. . . . We are, fundamentally, wholes within wholes. [David] Bohm wrote:

The notion that all these fragments are separately existent is evidently an illusion, and this illusion cannot do other than lead to endless conflict and confusion. Indeed, the attempt to live according to the notion that the fragments are really separate is, in essence, what has led to . . . pollution, destruction of the balance of nature, over-population, world-wide economic and political disorder and the creation of an overall environment that is neither physically nor mentally healthy. [1]

The properties of the parts are not intrinsic properties, but can be understood only within the context of the larger whole. What we call a part is merely a pattern in an inseparable web of relationships. [Shifting from viewing parts to the whole requires us to transition from thinking about each thing around us as an object to seeing relationships. Everything around us is held in a system, which is, as Ilia describes,] . . . an integrated whole whose essential properties arise from the relationships between its parts. Nature is an interlocking network of systems, an “unbearable wholeness of beings,” as Steve Talbott wrote. [2] Nature is more flow than fixed, like a choreographed ballet or a symphony. Life evolves toward ever-increasing wholeness and consciousness, and something more—love. . . .

As life becomes more complex and conscious, it becomes more integrally whole. What accounts for evolution toward greater wholeness? Pierre Teilhard de Chardin identified an energy of centration, whereby elements unite and complexify into greater wholeness, and called this “love-energy.”

We are accustomed to thinking about love as a human sentiment or emotion, but Teilhard saw love as a passionate force at the heart of the Big Bang universe: the fire that breathes life into matter and unifies elements, center to center. “Love,” he wrote, “is the physical structure of the universe.” [3] It draws together and unites and, in uniting, it differentiates. Love is intrinsically relational, the affinity of being-with-being in a personal, centered way; a unity toward greater wholeness of being that marks all cosmic life. If there was no internal propensity to unite, even at a rudimentary level—indeed, in the molecule itself—Teilhard said, it would be physically impossible for love to appear higher up, in the human form. Love is the core of evolution.

Gateway to Silence:
We live, move, and have our being in love.

[1] David Bohm, Wholeness and the Implicate Order (New York: Routledge, 1995), 1-2.
[2] Stephen L. Talbott, “The Unbearable Wholeness of Beings,” The New Atlantis,
[3] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Human Energy, trans. J. M. Cohen (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1969), 72.

Ilia Delio, “Love at the Heart of the Universe,” “The Perennial Tradition,” Oneing, vol. 1, no. 1 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2013), 19, 20-21. No longer in print. Emphasis mine. See the Omega Center for more on Ilia Delio,

Image credit: The Starry Night (detail), Vincent van Gogh, Saint Rémy, June 1889. Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York.
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