Teilhard left Paris on April 6, 1923 for his first trip to China, where he had arrived three days earlier. Before his departure, he regularly visited Léontine Zanta, a philosopher, journalist and writer, who ” held a salon ” in Neuilly.

[…] More and more, I believe that the dilemma arises: either the world goes towards some universal absolute (and then it can continue to live and progress), – or, such a term does not exist (and then the Universe reveals itself unable to nurture the life it produced as soon as this life becomes capable of reflection and criticism; it is unbreathable and lacking).  But I cannot accept that the Universe, as a whole, is a failure, a ” failure “… This is why I believe in some Absolute, which, hic et nunc (Latin term : here and now), does not manifest itself to us except through Christ. You know, that’s my whole apologetic. And I can’t think of any other. […] I have found that for the best of unbelievers all morality boils down to the precept ” do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you”. But this morality, in my opinion, is purely lenitive and stationary. It lubricates the wheels, puts oil in them. This is not enough. The human machine should not only not squeak. It must move forward. It requires energy, ” gas”. This energy, this ”  essence” (i.e. the obligation to act, and the taste for action), is the whole moral problem of providing it. But I don’t see any other possible source than the submission to an ideal universal term(believed and hoped for, – not tangible – since it is universal and future, whereas we are in the individual and the present).

You see I’m still letting myself get pedantic with you. You know that I do it without ” smugness “, only to talk with you, and to tell you what I think, what I tell myself daily. I would like to know that, on your side, you are completely well, physically and morally. Write and think as much as you can: you need this to be good, and to do good, and this is the duty that God imposes on you above all else. Continue to believe absolutely, without hesitation, that the best sacrifice you can offer to our Lord is the offering of your intelligence and activity, so that they may both grow as much as possible, – and so that they may be limited where stronger Causes than you will come to bring you divine restraint.  I have told you many times: the secret of having peace, and never suffocating (even in the midst of the worst banalities), is to arrive, with God’s help, at a glimpse of the One Necessary Element that circulates in all things, and that can give itself to us (with its joy and freedom) through any object, provided that this object is brought before us by fidelity to life, and that faith in the divine presence and operation transforms it.

[…] Farewell, – I often think of the small living room near the balcony, from which one sees the sun descend on the valley of the Seine. I took there more strength maybe than you think. Thank you and faithfully yours in Christo.                                                Teilhard s.j.