Einstein on Compassion and Our Imprisoned Small Minds

I bet that if I showed you the quote below, and you didn’t see the title of this article, you could not guess who wrote it in 100 or 1000 tries.

Millions (or more) want to escape our “imprisoning delusions of consciousness.” Or so we say. I don’t think we entirely mean it. “Yeah, it would be nice, but it seems impossible…” I surely don’t disagree that it seems impossible, or that it may truly be impossible in this realm. But I think the part that we don’t entirely mean, is that we believe it. I don’t think we actually believe it. Like, it is too contrary to our experience for us to buy it. Or so impossible that it’s not even valuable to consider the plight as reality. It takes too much control away from our ego, if we admit it. It seems like, or we hope, it’s just a distorted or wrong way of thinking. And this is the real reason I offer the following quote, penned by whom most of us would agree is the most gifted scientific mind in our Western history. As desperately as you and I might not want it to be true, he certainly believes that it is:

“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
[condolence letter to Norman Salit, March 4, 1950. Reprinted in “The New York Times,” March 29, 1972]

Neil D. 2021-01-29

Published by Neil Durso

Just another mid-lifer sharing the journey...

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