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Einstein got it right


Not only brilliant but wise, Albert Einstein was an active humanitarian with a reputation for compassion. When he was living in Princeton, working at the Institute of Advanced Study, people from around the world wrote to him asking for advice about their personal problems. (If he was around today, TV producers would probably hound him to host a talk show called something like “Dr. Al” or maybe just “Albert.”)


A rabbi wrote to Einstein,  saying that he could not console his 19-year-old daughter after her sixteen-year-old sister died. Einsteen sent him this reply:


“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “the 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 nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation, and a foundation for inner security.”


I don’t know if the rabbi found these words comforting, but I love them. I’ve had this quote  on my bulletin board for probably 20 years. It’s easy to grow preoccupied with our own daily struggles, forgetting that we are all part of a whole far more vast than our sense of “I.” It makes me think of the phrase “the One and the many,” a term used in SoulCollage, a process that I facilitate in creative workshops. Find out more on my website www.sunshinecoastsoulcollage.ca.

December 26, 2009 at 7:39 pm
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