Being in New York for the Week of Spirituality and in particular for the grand coming-together at Tillman Chapel on October 28 was an incredible experience for me as it was for many who attended that event. A big part of what drew us together was a common belief that the world is evolving towards greater states of harmony and higher levels of consciousness and even love. This idea that all the disparate elements in the universe can somehow be synthesised by love, remains a source of hope and enthusiasm for so many that were drawn together for the UN Chapel event and the kick-off on the Road to 2020.
One man who has been especially influential through his writings and teachings in this regard was Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. I grew up in an Irish-Australian Catholic environment and Teilhard, himself a Jesuit Priest, has been my Father’s hero for as long as I can remember. My Dad, Jim Bowler is a Geologist, Teilhard was a Palaeontologist; Teilhard spend much of his working life in China, Jim travelled to China for work more than any other country. Teilhard’s study of fossils helped lead him to a grand philosophic vision of the evolution of the Cosmos and the unique role of consciousness, Jim’s discovery of Mungo Man sent him on a similar spiritual path. There is no one who has influenced my Dad more than Teilhard. He has a picture of him above his bed.
For myself I must have absorbed the message of Teilhard by osmosis. He got into trouble with his Vatican masters (often a good sign) by denying original sin and the fall-of-man, instead postulated a panoramic vision of the gradual upliftment of humanity and the “becoming-ness” of the entire Cosmos. Teilhard has inspired millions with this incredible vision laid out in his world-shaking 1955 book “The Phenomena of Man”. In this great work he talks about the “Noosphere” as the collective consciousness of humanity and the Omega point, a supreme convergence of consciousness and the coming-together of all things.
He is pretty “out there” Teilhard, – it is no surprise that he was barred from teaching Catholic doctrine at the time, also no surprise that he has become a massive influence for generations that followed him, especially in the fields of evolutionary consciousness and emerging spirituality. Today millions of people use his phrases such as “you are not a human being having a spiritual experience but a spiritual being having a human experience”.
So when my friend and mentor Dr Johnson mention to me that he was buried in a Jesuit cemetery in upstate New York I knew I had to make the journey to go see him. So on a rainy Sunday afternoon I set off with two friends north to Poughkeepsie. I found Teilhard in a beautiful place, and with leaves falling in the rain, I paid my respects, on behalf of my father, on behalf of myself and on behalf of all of us who believe in and yearn for a better world.