When conserved, the potential symbol
reflects all. In reflecting all, the symbol contains the profound
paradox inherent in existence and this is seen in the conflicting
definitions associated with the symbol. It is variously defined as
“having possibility, capability or power” and “capable of being,
but not yet in existence” or “possible – as opposed to
The conflict occurs because human thought and words
cannot fully countenance paradox. The question arises: how can we
transcend this limitation and conserve the potential symbol?
The answer resides in our experience of compassion.
Compassion enables us to enjoy the humility required for our acceptance
of our limitations as mortal beings. It also provides us with a spirit
most open to possibilities. That spirit probably flourishes most in the
ancient Indo-European poti symbol, from which comes Greek posse
symbol – “to be able”.
Thus the potential symbol means all that
could possibly be, which includes all that is. The potential includes
all that is actual (realised) and all that non-actual (non-realised). In
any moment only a trace element of the total potential is realised. In
this spirit of inclusiveness we are most able to realise the potential.
It is interesting to observe that the potential
symbol became divorced from “the actual” in late 14-15C in Europe.
This enables the adoption of the Descartian notion “I think, therefore
I am”, as against “I act, therefore I am”. This in turn enabled
the modern use of the science symbol in which science is defined
as a way of thinking, divorced from a state of being.
It is now common, for instance, for self-described
“science educators” to teach that there exists multiple forms of
energy – including thermal energy, kinetic energy, gravitational
energy and potential energy. This is evidence of a gross denial of our
roles as stewards amidst the universal change inherent in the potential
Conserve the potential of the potential
symbol so our children can know hope (possibility) and be more at one
Etymology potential, potent
[Middle English potencial, from Old French
from Late Latin potenti
lis, powerful, from
power, from pot
ns, potent-, present
participle of posse,
to be able; see potent.]
potential: late 14c., "possible" (as
opposed to actual), from L.L. potentialis
"potential," from L. potentia
"power" (see potent). The noun, meaning "that which is
possible," is first attested 1817, from the adj.
potentially: early 15c., “in possibility,”
opposed to actually; from potentially + ly.
Meaning “powerfully” is recorded from 1540s.
potent: [Middle English, from Latin pot
present participle of posse, to
be able; see poti- in Indo-European roots.]
the rewards of being a conservator of the potential of our greatest
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