Thursday, February 10, 2011

Let's increase the peace (Einstein's Zen)

Wisdom Quarterly
The goal of our evolution is greater peace, not grander war (Wisdom Quarterly).

"I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."
- Albert Einstein

"The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend personal God and avoid dogma and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity [nonduality, oneness]. Buddhism answers this description. If there is any religion that could cope with modern scientific needs it would be Buddhism" (Albert Einstein).

Einstein may be the third most famous Jew of all time [behind the tribal "God" of Israel and his mother, the [Mother Goddess/Gwan Yin in the guise of the) Virgin Mary.] But like St. Issa, he was fond of Zen koan-like pearls of wisdom, particularly on peace and unity.

Einstein was an atheist
Einstein was an atheist. He was not denying something greater than what we see, just our limited conception of it. Einstein, a peace activist and vegetarian, used the word "god" in the Eastern Philosophical sense of Brahman -- the unseen reality behind the illusion of our experience -- never as Brahma, a personal God that beings are separate from and go back to heaven to rejoin. It may sound like hair splitting, but it's a vital distinction in Eastern Philosophy.

Attaining the experience of connectedness is a Oneness, a heaven here and now, a non-dual state of joy; people frequently refer to it as an experience of being one with GOD (a word for the entire Universe, all we're capable of, the Source of our interdependent lives linked to everything and everyone) or the "Godhead" (godhood or divinity within us all), as Hindus explain and St. Issa taught before getting crucified for saying so.

"Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind" (Albert Einstein, "Science, Philosophy and Religion: a Symposium," 1941).

In a letter Einstein made his position perfectly clear: "I am, of course, and have always been an atheist."*

"A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty -- it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man" (Albert Einstein).

"I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being."**

If extraterrestrials came down and said, "Kill those people over there because God wants you to," would we do it? Yes, you bet, we would and we have been doing it for millenia on account of visitations by "angels" and archangels, gods and the God of gods.

The insanity wrought in the name of religion is not easy to fathom. It bears little relation to the peace preached by the Buddha, St. Issa [Jesus in India], Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Thich Nhat Hanh, Aung San Suu Kyi, and sages everywhere.

Like us, though Buddhist, Einstein liked and respected the mythic and mystic version of Christ. It might not be historical, but it is a great story that sweeps the world in the service of a harmful religion purporting to be in his name:

To what extent are you influenced by Christianity?

As a child I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene [a reference to Jesus of Nazareth].

Have you read Emil Ludwig’s book on Jesus?

Emil Ludwig’s Jesus is shallow. Jesus is too colossal for the pen of phrasemongers, however artful. No man can dispose of Christianity with a bon mot [a witty remark].
You accept the historical existence of Jesus?

Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.”

In a letter to the Episcopal Bishop Edward R. Wells in 1945, Einstein wrote concerning the behavior of the Christian Church during the Holocaust.

“Being a lover of freedom… I looked to the universities to defend it, knowing that they had always boasted of their devotion to the cause of truth; but, no, the universities immediately were silenced" (Bonya).

A religion that will not stand up for peace, what kind of religion is that? Islam is wonderful in this way, too. Just because the figure of Mohamed is used to justify war and barbarism does not lessen the fact that there are countless gentle Muslims who promote peace, unity, and compassion.

These are found in Islam, too, though one would never guess from the way the religion of the prophet is given treatment in the popular imagination of nonbelievers and antagonists. Just look at formerly Buddhist countries that have become peaceful Islamic states, such as Malaysia and the largest Muslim country in the world, Indonesia.

*Albert Einstein, letter to G.H. Raner Jr., July 2, 1945, responding to rumor that a Jesuit priest had caused Einstein to convert from atheism; quoted by Michael R. Gilmore in Skeptic, Vol. 5, No. 2.
**Albert Einstein, letter to Guy H. Raner Jr., Sept. 28, 1949, quoted by Michael R. Gilmore in Skeptic, Vol. 5, No. 2.

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