Constraint as an Essential Element of Evolutionary Development

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Cynthia Bourgeault:

"From his long view as a paleontologist, Teilhard observed that only when a system is put under external constraint is it forced to articulate itself internally. As long as it can simply expand outwardly, it will do so. Only when it finds itself enclosed within a limited space does the system buckle down to the task of organizing itself internally, creating greater and more intricate levels of interior “arrangement” through a process that Teilhard calls “enroulement,” or “folding in on itself.” We see this process at play across the board in the world around us: from the first divisions of a fertilized egg in reproduction to security lines in airports.

And of course, the greater the complexity of the interior articulation—“the greater the flow of information across more complex levels of relationship,” as Ilia Delio put it—the greater the candlepower of the consciousness manifested within that system. In just this way, constraint furnishes the backboard against which evolution steadily improves its game.

From the perspective of the Law of Three we can gain further insight into why this is so. Without second force—“denying force”—there is NO new arising. Nada. The unchecked flow of first force—“affirming” or “pushing” force—does not lead to evolutionary development. It does not lead to authentic new arising. It merely leads to aggressive, unresponsive growth in a single direction which rides roughshod over the whole and will eventually wind up killing the whole. When this happens in a human body we call it “cancer.”

If we start, then, from the assumption that constraint is an essential element in evolutionary development, we can move fairly easily to the second assumption: that the arising Integral structure of consciousness, inasmuch as it represents an evolutionary advance, will be no stranger to the principle of constraint."