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

Fundamentalism, one step from atheism

“Sometimes I feel like God isn’t mentioned enough… when ppl are asking for help we are reminded that we are not alone. That God is sitting right next to us.”

In a scene starting at, “Two decades earlier, I sat on the top step in an apartment swimming pool while a foot away Joseph…” here, I the father was “sitting right next to” my child. I did not feel like I was not mentioned enough (which is the whole point of that article). When Joseph nearly drowned and was “asking for help, [he was] reminded that [he was] not alone. That [Dad] is sitting right next to [him].

Before I was a father, I was an ardent, militant, falsely pious, self-righteous, dogmatic “soldier of Christ.” I was going to give God God’s due, and be sure that others did too. I’m not so much now. It doesn’t seem to me that Christ needs me. Not that way, anyway. It seems, specifically NOT that way.

As each of us parents sit next to our children, do we want them to know we are there? I think too often, too much. I think it is a distorted impulse that we want our children to “know” they are loved and ok. Look at them when they are full of joy. They don’t give two shits about feeling safe under the watch of their parents. WE are the ones who create paranoia in them by over-emphasizing the value of safety at the expense of joy. It is OUR need for them to be safe, not their need. And it is OUR delusion that we can keep them safe from everything. Before they were our child, they were Someone Else’s.

I think this is very much where we get our distorted militant sense of God’s need to be worshiped. God’s need to be mentioned. God’s need to be thanked. We have that distorted. It is actually US who NEED to worship something larger than ourselves, to express thankfulness, and to feel safe. Not God needing it. Our prayers are for our OWN benefit also, we forget too easily. We are comforted by the notion of a Higher Power in charge of things we lust to control. We grasp at being God.

Yeah, God sits there next to us all the time. Not just the times when we notice it. But I don’t think God cares nearly as much as we do about whether God is noticed. That does not seem to be God’s nature. God’s nature seems to be entirely aimed at us, not aimed at our attention to God. I bet God is moved with gratitude when we return love, sure. That surely seems to be what love is, and there is no reason that God’s love needs to be any different than our love for God. I don’t think it is by chance that we have given God a parental label. The natural order of things, by which parents love their children unconditionally, seems prudently ordained:-)

When I am watching my child pour out joy, the last thing I care about is whether my child notices my watch. I myself do not even realize I am watching. That’s the infectiousness of innocent, child-like joy. Why would I deny that God gets lost in our joy that same way? Jesus sure seemed to enjoy wedding receptions, and wanted the wine to keep flowing.

The child does not have to know who the Parent is for the Parent to know who its child is. Even when an atheist experiences joy in creation, I don’t think God gives two shits about being credited. That care is ours. I’m cautious about ascribing that care to The Love.

So, yeah, I sometimes wish more people would mention God. Just so *I* can be reminded what’s inside each of us… Inside me…

Neil D. 2021-01-28

Goodness is NOT from God “alone”

Don’t be too quick to summarily ascribe all of your good fortune to God/God’s will. That’s a perilous fundamentalism which leaves many empty when they aren’t feeling “rewarded” by God’s will.

There is absolutely such a thing as too much dependency on God. It fosters a failure to recognize our own immeasurable agency as God’s creatures.

A reminder:
God has ordained creation such that WE are to be cooperative participants.

Paradoxically humble pride is a sort of satisfaction and gratitude we feel for accepting that invitation—for God’s ever-readiness to have us back and to work with and through us to unfold Love in creation:

“With God, we can;
but without us, God won’t.”

The notion that God is in charge like a watchmaker or puppeteer, and God does all the good things in our lives, is an incomplete notion. It is a failed attempt to reduce mystery and paradox to a fundamentalism. It is the fragile ego clinging to oversimplification. It is cowardice, not glorification of God.

The indicting evidence against any reduction of divine principles is universal and incontrovertible: No mythical hand comes down from heaven. Instead, God’s own children are God’s hands in this world.

The longer we believe that God’s power comes from somewhere else, the longer we perpetuate a disconnection between our minds and hearts—our egos and souls. Our souls are the home from which our creator has ordained our agency as sacred and divine.

Our soul is the canvas on which the divine image and likeness appears.

Neil D. 2021-01-28

Shitty Giver boardgame

Another game from the makers of “The Shitty blame boardgame

Here’s the game. We each sit on a different side of the gameboard. We all start with an equally-sized pile of “sacrificial giving” in front of us. Each time we win a move, we get to move a piece of our pile in front of another player. The winner is the one who gives all of themselves away to others first.

Piles of false giving are piles of shit. At the end, the one who moved the most shit by giving and giving and giving has the shittiest hands. Anybody want to play?

Neil D. 2021-01-27

Hypocrisy, Judgmentalism, Compassion, and The Shadow

Hypocrisy is a tricky thing, isn’t it? It’s like a force that constantly tugs from one side of a very thin line. The line of judgmentalism. We hate to think of ourselves as judgmental, yet we cross that line often and easily. Blindly.

We get our judgmentalism from seeing our Shadow projection in others. Our Shadow is where we stuff undesirable traits we have recognized in ourselves, repressing them from our awareness into our unconscious. That means we have been, at least at some point, intimately familiar with those characteristics and ways of thinking. We have identified them as part of ourselves too distasteful to cope with psychologically. But our intimate familiarity makes it easier for us to see those qualities in others. This underlies the maxim, “You spot it, you got it.”

When we are ready to confess this maxim, we understand the depth of our own hypocrisy. This doesn’t make “it” OK in you, nor the others in whom you spot it. We only “spot” it because our own eyes spot our own guilt, and spot in someone else the very trait or complex we own darkly.

This self-recognition of our hypocrisy is one of countless ways the Higher Power makes goodness out of badness. It is the enormous value of coming to see our own dark parts, and can connect us with others much more deeply, and with our own identities. Realizing our imperfections and frailty, we realize everyone else also carries their own burdensome Shadow.

This growth in awareness informs our attitude and actions toward others, and is called “compassion.” Often, the eyes of our compassion fall lastly on us ourselves. But self-compassion seems absolutely required for our other-centered compassion to be authentic. If we look upon others compassionately, and we haven’t recognized our own frailty, it is fake compassion. It is acting piously without being pious, which is quintessential hypocrisy of the darkest order, which keeps us small and unreal. That underlies our resentment of others, and our own self-loathing.

Our Higher Power stands beside us as we dip into our own darkness (excavating shame), slowly reassembling us from fragments into the whole we are created to be. And doing it only with our cooperation. “In recovery,” what are we recovering? The broken fragments of us.

Neil D. 2021-01-27

Humpty Hypocrisy

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

Perched atop a wall, we look down on others. They’re broken. Not like us. They lie in fragments beneath the very wall whence cast we judgment.

Judge Humpty, in time, will fall and fragment.

Even all the wealth of a king cannot provide what it takes to restore another to wholeness. Especially if we are unwilling to look about us for the fragments of ourselves.

We loathe to look thus about us, for our own fragments lie scattered atop the dust of others further ground by our fall.

Yet, knowing whence we’ve presently come, the best of us look up and move beneath the next lofty judges, to lovingly break their falls…

How can that be a path to wholeness exceeding royal riches?
Neil D. 2020-01-25