Evolution Happens Together
Practicing Teilhard’s Movements of Evolution – Part Two: Decentration
How do we actually engage ourselves in evolution?
Last week we saw that the first movement of evolution described by Teilhard de Chardin was the inner path of centration, the ever-expanding journey to your true, divine selfhood, which is usually intuited in our gut. Our next movement carries this ground of being up into our heart. The practice is inter-personal, a connection to and intensification of the space between us: decentration.
Before the introverts quit reading and the extroverts get too excited, here Teilhard is not talking about social life. He is not talking about social action or service—though those things are important in the work of evolution. He is not even talking about good relationships and friendships.
The act of de-centering is a movement specific to the expansion of our hearts and consciousness through the intensification of frequency that happens when we actively and inter-personally engage with others in the experienced reality of our always underlying unity.
As we practice it, this is a collective experience in the subtle realm that increases our capacity for love and consciousness.
In our over-individualized Western culture, spirituality has often become hyper-personal. So often even our spiritual gatherings and churches are largely an individual experience surrounded by other people. This acquaintance “community” far too often does not meet the deeper needs of our essential self, nor does it take us into an experience of collective growth and evolution.
Our consciousness waits to expand when we might “unite” with others on a deeper spiritual level, driven by the surge of love. Teilhard explains that the reason for this is because we are actually not in our nature individual, separate from one another. He says that “man [sic] like everything else that exists in nature, is essentially plural.” We might say that our deepest identity is divine, which is not a separate entity, but a connection and oneness with all things. Decentration is not just knowing this, but experiencing it on an inter-personal level with others.
Is this possible? How would we even do that?
Practicing in Love
While centration is movement to our divine identity in our gut, decentration is a movement out from the heart into the “centers” or energy fields of others. If this sounds a little scary, that’s because it kind of is! Opening ourselves up to others on such a deep level is vulnerable and risky. Our minds can raise lots of “what ifs.” Our protective self can set off all sorts of alarm bells and fears in our minds.
In truth, we’re constantly interacting with the energy of one another through our words, feelings, body language, unspoken intentions, and much more. Far too often we’re either unconscious of these dynamics, or we play the social games on the level of ego.
But underneath all of that our heart longs to expand, to deeply connect. The more we restrict and encase our hearts, the less human we become. The more we can enact our deep connection and oneness with others, the more human we are. This is because in reality we know that we are not separate from others, and all of the moves we make to close ourselves off, hide our deeper identities, or push people away—often for healthy reasons—ultimately only serve to make us a little less human in the end if we can’t find ways to move out, to de-center in authentic, meaningful ways.
The best type of spiritual community gives us a place to take those steps out again. It’s rare, especially in our individualized culture. So rare it sometimes may almost feel impossible.
While finding a church or spiritual community for this may be quite difficult, the truth is that we can practice this with Jesus and our other spiritual guides. We can find this oneness in the safest place imaginable, with our most trusted spiritual presence—whether that be Jesus or someone else. You can do this however you like, but here is one practice you can follow:
Heart Oneness with Jesus
1. Allow yourself to sink into heart Presence.
If you have trouble being in your heart, place your hand on your heart or tap your fingers from your head down into your heart until you are experiencing from your heart (for further guidance, click here).
2. Become aware of the presence of Jesus, Father/Mother God, or another spiritual guide.
If you feel drawn to a spiritual guide, you can ask for one if you haven’t ever experienced their presence before. Choose someone you already trust and perhaps even love. It may take a little time for you to become aware of the presence, or it may come instantly. Try not to overly think about or analyze it, but just sense from your heart.
3. Ask at least one of your guides, personally and directly, to give you energy, love, or any other need you may have in your heart.
Feel your guide close to you and receive freely and openly in trust.
4. Move your heart out in love into the energy field of your guide.
Or if that feels too difficult, invite Jesus into your space. What does it feel like to share yourself from this deep place? Is it freeing? Refreshing? Scary? Liberating? What are they inviting you into?
Taking this practice to the human level, the order of movements matters. Centration first, then decentration. Moving out to others without a strong sense of self can led to actions that are ultimately and deceptively self-serving. If we are reaching out to others simply in service of our ego identities, not only will we not see growth, we may damage ourselves and others along the way. We need to come from a healthy sense of self identity, rooted in our divine identity and loving connection.
Though certainly it is not one and then the other. We do not wait until we fully realize our divine self in united oneness, nor should we! But the movements work together in harmony, so that when we recognize the need for one or the other, we can respond by shifting our focus and not over-identifying with either act.
Decentration is in many ways the core of WeSpace practice. We are trying to enter into a collective expression of practice that integrates the mystical and the contemplative, the individual with the whole. We believe, like Teilhard, that “we cannot reach our own ultimate without emerging from ourselves” and into shared presence, experience of dissolved boundaries, and “through this union an added measure of consciousness.”
We don’t do this with just anyone, but with “specially favored centres” as Teilhard puts it. Other evolving Christians whose hearts burn with the eros of evolving love. Practicing this with other living people is possible only when we come from “the deep surge of love.” And not just an individual pouring out of love, but a reciprocal flow from all sides.
We come together in online WeSpace groups because too often our local spiritual communities are not doing this work of evolution. This is sorely missing in our churches and no work is more important. Our hearts long for deeper connection, for others who might soak with us in the divine flow of love. For those reaching out for the ultimate, longing for a better, more evolved world.
We also engage in these groups because we don’t want to just read or learn about that process, we want to do it! And the amazing thing is that we actually can. There are other Christians who are pursuing this expansion in loving evolution right now. You can too.