Chapter 9: Ye Shall Live Also
That is true. The original mind is absolutely simple, its taste is one, it has no duality. And because there is no duality there is no possibility of dialogue, argument. And because there is no possibility of argument and dialogue, there is no possibility of understanding. With the conflict, with friction, one evolves. So from one, man becomes dual; from unity, duplicity: from duplicity, triplicity: from triplicity, multiplicity. That’s how man goes on growing - complication.
Man’s consciousness is one in the original state, then it becomes many. Through the many.the growth; that is the Hegelian concept of growth, and Marxian too. Hegel calls it “the dialectical process”: thesis creates its antithesis, antithesis and thesis join into a synthesis, and the synthesis becomes a thesis and creates its antithesis. And this is how it goes on.
You cannot grow if your consciousness is unitary. It has to create a conflict in itself. With the conflict, energy is created. Conflict creates energy, friction creates energy. You strike two stones and fire is born. You strike two dry woods and fire is possible. You rub your hands and electricity is born. All energy is created through friction. So the original human consciousness has to become divided, has to become split, has to become dual. And the more evolved a mind man has, the more fragments he will have. So a thinker is almost a crowd. He is not one, he is not two, he is not three, he is many.
The second state Chardin calls “concentration”, because once the unity is lost and man has become many, there arises chaos and one loses one’s identity. One does not know who one is, then an identity is needed, a self is needed, an ego is needed to hold all these fragments together. Otherwise they will start falling apart and you will not be able to survive - hence the ego.
Ego is an effort to create a kind of unity inside yourself. The natural unity is lost. Now you have to create an unnatural, synthetic unity. The ego is a synthetic self, a created self, a managed self. One part of your being becomes the master and forces other parts to be slaves. A kind of government arises inside you.
Complexity creates energy. Concentration creates a possibility to use that energy; otherwise there will be no use for it. Energy will be there, and energy will kill you. It will be too much and it will be in so many directions. All those directions have to be focused in one direction, the whole energy has to be channelized into one. This is what Chardin calls “concentration”; unification around a center; a self is born, ego is born, discipline is born.
And the third he calls “direction”. Once the ego is there, once you have a kind of self, a kind of unity - although managed, but still a unity - then the goal is possible. You can become an arrow, you can have a target in the future.
These three steps Chardin thinks are enough to explain human consciousness. They are not. They are important but not complete.
The Hindu vision of life is far more complete. Chardin’s vision is linear: unity, then complexity, then concentration, then direction. And the direction goes on and on, the arrow goes on and on and on, and there is no end to it. It is linear. The arrow goes on for infinity, it never comes back. This is not true. This is logical, but not natural.