Three Problems and a Funeral? Spring 2014 – edit June15.
One watches the colours of life – bright over here, muted over there; ocean tides on beach and estuary; birds busy in the trees; the coming seasons; night and day; surely nothing much can be wrong? Nothing to worry about?
This paper is drafted from a grumpy old man’s perspective for younger generations who inherit a world gone crazy; the legacy of a creative generation who could have made a positive difference, but many of whom were corralled into rabid materialism, glitz, runaway techno-toys, selfishness, and the cancerous envy, fear & greed that inhabit politicians, financial moguls, business, and many of us.
Some might argue that it is the wanting, and wanting more that characterises the human race, and that drives us to extraordinary achievement. Others might see it not only as our self-inflicted downfall, but as a virus dangerous to life as we know it. The likelihood is that both are true. Thus, we need to find ways first of listening to an intuition that can keep us safe and sensible; and then of expressing our, and listening to others’, reasonable wants, and of recognising and controlling our collective madness before it consumes us and so many other life forms.
It seems to me there are three principal problems, and that none of them are simple.
- World Population – too many people page 2
- Levels of CO2 in the atmosphere – too high page 4
- Human Inadequacy … page 6
- Funeral? page 8
- Solutions? page 10
- Conclusion page 13
And, before we go any further, I think we need to ask ourselves if we believe any modern Governments’ politically-motivated data releases?
- Massaged statistics? – [lies, damn lies, and statistics!]
- Academic & Scientific Reports paid-for by interested parties?
- Ambitious scientists building one uncertainty upon another?
I’m not sure I do.
1. WORLD POPULATION
A. If there were roughly
- 300m people on planet Earth in 1000 CE
- 500m in 1500 + 200m in 500 years
- 600m in 1750 + 100m in 250 years
- 1bn in 1800 + 400m = + 67% in 50 years
- 3bn in 1850 + 30% in 50 years
- 65bn in 1900 + 27% in 50 years
- 5bn in 1950 + 52% in 50 years
- 4bn in 1974/5 + 60% in 25 years
- 5bn in1987 + 12.5% in 5 years
- 6bn in 2000 + 20% in 5 years
- 7bn in 2011 + 17% in 11 years
Logically, one might imagine there will be between
- 5bn to 9bn people on planet Earth in 2025, or more.
[N.B. UN predictions for world population in 2025 range from ‘low’ 7.1bn to ‘high’ 8.4bn.]
B. Even if people have fewer babies per family, there are so many more families naturally wanting babies that the upward pressure on numbers will increase until parity is achieved between the number of child-bearing adults and the number of children they produce between them. A reduction would be better still.
C. The anthropological argument – that healthier and wealthier families have less children, (because of a higher survival rate) – is evidential, but only minorly relevant in the ballpark of world population – see figures at A above. The argument, that exponentially higher levels of health and wealth in the last century have or will naturally reduce the levels of increase in world population is self-evidently optimistic.
D. Modern styles of living encourage people to consume too much energy, food, water, resources, with the consequence of ever-greater industrial emissions, notably CO2 – see below, no. 2.
The consequence of too many people and over-consumption thus far has been major ecological damage and destruction. Homo ‘coca-colans’ expansion has caused widespread eco-system degradation and is causing one of the greatest mass-extinctions in the history of planet Earth.
E. The absolute maximum number of humans planet Earth can provide for, at the degradation and expense of other life-forms, eco-systems and the environment, has been media-hazarded unrealistically at somewhere between 7.5bn and 10bn, and by some questionable individuals crazily higher.
The Roman Catholic Church is thought to argue that an unlimited number of people can be sustained with a fairer distribution of resources and wealth, (its own?).
What do the experts imagine a sustainable number of people on the planet would be?
- Richard Heinburg: “about one billion”.
- David Fleming: “about one billion”.
- James Lovelock: “500 million to one billion”.
‘An informed, but inexpert, guess might hazard Human Population on Planet Earth to be reasonably sustainable somewhere between 750,000,000 and 2,750,000,000 – a reduction of approx. 75% of the present world population.’ RG. ‘Imagining Future Life on Earth’, July 2006.
F. In other words, there are presently around four times too many people on the planet than is thought to be sustainable healthily; and there are likely to be approximately six times too many people on the planet in 2025.
- LEVELS OF CO2 IN THE ATMOSPHERE – THE AIR AROUND PLANET EARTH
A. Historical levels of CO2 in November adapted from a table by Dr. Pieter Hans –
- 1960 315 ppm.
- 1970 324 10 years + 9 ppm.
- 1980 337 10 years + 13 ppm.
- 1990 353 10 years + 16 ppm.
- 2000 368 10 years + 15 ppm.
- 2005 378 5 years + 10 ppm.
- 2010 389 5 years + 11 ppm.
- 2013 395 3 years + 6 ppm.
2016 ? 402 ? 3 years + 7 ppm ?
2019 ? 409 ? 3 years + 7 ppm ?
2022 ? 417 ? 3 years + 8 ppm ?
2025 ? 425 ? 3 years + 8 ppm ?
B. In other words, it’s hard to imagine we will avoid a level of c. 425 ppm CO2 by 2025, about 40% higher than is sustainable for modern interconnected high-tech, high population human society on planet Earth.
C. From a letter by Dr. Ralph Keeling, 24dec13,
I am writing as the director of the Scripps CO2 and O2 programs, which keep track of how these vital gases are changing in the atmosphere over time. The CO2 measurements include the iconic Mauna Loa record, now commonly known as the “Keeling Curve”, which was started by my father in the late 1950s.
The O2 measurements, carried out on samples from Mauna Loa and many other stations, also provide critical information about how the planet is changing. The measurements show that the world’s O2 supply is slowly decreasing, and have helped prove that the CO2 increase is caused by fossil fuel burning, but offset by natural sinks of CO2 in the land and oceans.
… The planet is undergoing dramatic changes, unprecedented for millions of years. This past year, our group reported that CO2 topped 400 parts per million at Mauna Loa for the first time. We also reported a shockingly large and unexpected increase in the seasonal swings in CO2 between summer and winter at high latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere. The boreal forests are evidently behaving very differently than 50 years ago. Meanwhile, the oceans are acidifying, ice is melting, sea level is rising, and the frequency of extreme storms seems to be increasing.
D. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change released a media alert on 13th May 2013 that said,
“With 400 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere, we have crossed an historic threshold and entered a new danger zone. The world must wake up and take note of what this means for human security, human welfare and economic development. In the face of clear and present danger, we need a policy response which truly rises to the challenge. We still have a chance to stave off the worst effects of climate change, but this will require a greatly stepped-up response across all three central pillars of action: action by the international community, by government at all levels, and by business and finance.”
E. From a paper by Dr. James E. Hanson, President Obama’s Science and Technology Advisor,
If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted, paleo-climate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from (current levels) to at most 350 ppm.
- HUMAN INADEQUACY
One of the consequences of advancing industry, science and technology is the increase in the number and availability of weapons, (like old cars); and the ever-developing sophistication of new-tech and bio-chem weaponry.
A possible consequence of more and new weaponry, and of diminishing natural resources, is the likelihood that politicians around the globe will seek advancement for themselves, or their ‘party’, or their business interests, in fabricating grounds for going to war.
Recognised consequences of the above can be:
- Decreasing standards of ethics, honour, and morality in many walks of life
- Increasing competition of a negative nature
- Increasing propaganda and advertising
- Increased greed in banks and business
- Increased manipulation of power and wealth
- Increasing greed in arms manufacturers and dealers
- Increase in the funding of weapons – development and purchase by governments
- Increasing government controls
- A cycle of confusion, debt, insecurity, and so forth …
- Decreasing civil liberties and social cohesion
- Decreasing options for ‘everyday peoples’
- Widening gap between governments and peoples
- Broadening opt-outs as alternative lifestyles and activities
- Major disruption of families and communities
- Loss of property and destruction of property
- Loss of loved ones
- Abandonment, Betrayal, Humiliation, Mutilation, and Torture
- ‘Ethnic cleansing’
The problem is exacerbated nowadays in that large businesses see economic and ‘cyber’ warfare as ways to disrupt or eliminate their competitors. And the same syndrome has trickled down into competitive management within companies. Some warped doctrine – ‘survival of the most corrupt’ – has invaded modern life. No one knows whom they can trust. Worldwide, there are breakdowns in relationships of all kinds. We might ask ourselves, “Was it always like this? Are humans inherently corrupt? Violent?”
Added to which the world has fractured into tiny camps of fabulous nouveau wealth, and the dislocation of large populations. What might earlier have been seen as obscene motivations have found a place in societies: envy, fear, greed and pride have become the drivers of the materialist world. We are led to believe there are disastrous levels of debt in national governments; in companies large and small; and in some private lives. Everywhere are seen collapses in public services, welfare, the law, policing, education and health. And our political leaders, obsessed with ‘short-termism’, meaning they keep a weather-eye on the next election, snipe cheaply at each other, addressing the roots of any difficulty only as best suits their personal and political advantage. The media are largely corrupt, flashy, glitzy, materially-motivated, shallow and unreliable.
The ‘Rule of Law’ calls itself into question: whose law? Does the law seek to serve the people; some faction or other; politicians; lawyers; or whom? It clearly does not at all serve ‘Everyday People’ – people living normally positive lives, possibly outside capital cities – nor has it that intention. That the ‘Rule of Law’ is everywhere seen to have become corrupt, unaffordable and unworkable has become an everyday matter and is the cause of widespread confusion, dissension, distress and instability.
Human society – particularly the politicians, financial markets and businesses of all sizes – has lost its way; has become corrupt and paranoid.
We have become unfit: unfit for survival; and fat.
It seems that only ‘everyday people’ are able to see that, managing to survive as best they can amidst the shifting sands.
2025 is just around the corner.
A. There are already four times too many people alive on the planet than is thought to be sustainable healthily.
B. Our CO2 emissions are well above a sustainable level, and out of control; to which must be added the effect of other poisonous and greenhouse gases.
C. World political leaders occupy themselves with short-term-ism and conflict – wars; inter-party differences and personal rivalries – and preening their own advancement, seemingly careless of the effects of their negative leadership on the lives of ‘everyday people’.
D. Modern, ‘everyday people’ everywhere are confused, distressed and divided.
E. There has been no noticeable change in any of this for fifty odd years, other than escalation. Are we now to imagine a total turn-around inside the next eleven years?
I THINK WE HAVE PASSED THE ‘TIPPING POINT’.
We can expect increasing difficulties:
- Further aggravation and breakdown of all the above
- Crazy Climate: wild storms, wild fires, floods, drought; unusual, changing seasons
- Mass extinctions – 18,000 species said to be presently at risk
- Shortages of all resources, particularly food, water, energy, basic materials
- Over-harvesting, particularly the oceans; blight of essential land crops; famine
- Increasing health challenges and pandemics
- Shorter life of some popular tech-equipment
- Collapse of businesses and economies
- Violence on the streets and on the land
- Collapse of national governments
- Terrible wars – water wars, oil wars, resource wars, land wars – nuclear wars?
- Nature’s retribution as unusual manifestations – geological, pandemic, etc.
It is said that the increase in the number of seismograph stations, and the more timely receipt of data, and improvements in communications, have allowed the public to learn more about earthquakes and tsunamis. We can expect about 17 major earthquakes (7.0 – 7.9) and one great earthquake (8.0 or above) in any given year; and about 50 quakes every day worldwide.
While landslides can be connected to local Climate Change, there is no long-term data to declare that earthquakes and tsunamis have increased in number or size over the past fifty years. We may, however, speculate on the geological effects of extreme mining activities, oil extraction, shale-fracking, nuclear testing, and the like.
A period of ‘CATACLYSM’ devastating the world and its population can be expected roughly between 2030 and 2050, the worst of it spanning possibly eight years, before any stability might begin to be found in smaller populations, and in profound revolutions of consciousness.
Our children and grand-children are likely to suffer dreadfully.
“Planet Earth stands on the cusp of disaster and people should no longer take it for granted that their children and grandchildren will survive in the environmentally degraded world of the 21st century. This is not the doom-laden talk of green activists but the considered opinion of 1,300 leading scientists from 95 countries … “ The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, March 2005.
“It is important for the human race to spread out into space for the Survival of the Species. Life on earth is at the ever increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster such as sudden global warming, nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus, or other dangers we have not yet thought of.”
Stephen Hawking, theoretical physicist, June 2006.
“We are the infection. We are the diseased cells in our own societies. Can we shake-off the shackles of consumer sickness and become newly energized, positive life-forms, as in the dawning of a new day, the coming of a new spring?
“Might it never happen? After all, humankind has jogged along for hundreds of thousands of years, etc. and survived everything, including Hiroshima and Nagasaki; plague; famine; natural disasters; financial crashes, and so on. Natural human inclination and behaviour is to continue as best we can, as though nothing too serious has happened, and to adapt swiftly to new circumstances. We have known only times of accelerating change, from one crisis to another, and are used to them. And we are at our best in a crisis. Besides, looking around, who wants to believe in the imminence of global catastrophe?” RG. ‘Imagining Future Life on Earth’, July 2006.
Creation of Local Assemblies based first on SELFLESSNESS and PROFOUND LISTENING.
Different communities will need to find their own parameters for regeneration and renewal – replacement levels of child-birth, collective cultures, and understandings on ‘growth’ – and to develop clear, compassionate and sensible frameworks that can be accepted everywhere.
Immediate minimalisation of all fossil fuel use; (beware procrastination!)
Immediate destruction of all weaponry, and outlawry of arms manufacture and trading
Progression of ‘Natural Farming’ and local food diets
Progression of local scale ‘Renewable Energies’ particularly Solar, Tidal, Wind, Anaerobic Digesters and the positive use of all ‘waste’
Decide which modern technologies to preserve and develop as essentials, and which to discard. (Cars, cell-phones, ‘tablets’, TV – modern tech – ‘the busy-busy’ – are high energy and resource needy; take-up a lot of our time, and confuse our metabolism).
Taken from, ‘Imagining Future Life on Earth’, July 2006 to May 2008 –
“We need to start learning how to communicate from our hearts, (not from our egos), with each other in group situations; to be able to listen; to be able to hear each other and the truth.
“We need to start talking about population and the issues that confront us, our neighbours and our region.
“Possibly a voluntary code of population control, with mild social expectations attached, will come into being to stabilize regional and global populations according to the essential resources available, (food, water, etc). A new and healthier approach to Death might recognise little point in living to a great age, particularly for the infirm and uncomfortable. Similarly, a more hard-hearted view may come to be taken about infirm infants; organ transplants; and euthanasia.
“We have to link towns to their surrounding countryside for food production and consumption. Our diets and dietary expectations will have to change. Local, seasonal foods from local farms and markets can become our staples. Cooking will need to be fuelled by carbon-footprint-free fuels, e.g. suitable bio-fuels and bio-mass, when constant re-growth absorbs and neutralizes carbon emissions. We will need to keep our foodstuffs cool with our own windmills and solar panels and in underground storage.
“We The People – the public, you and me – have to take control of our lives and destinies.
“National politics will become a thing of the past. Nation states will become largely irrelevant. In the wake of the crisis, we can expect local communities, and later regions, to re-create their own constitutions and laws and infrastructures, which we may hope will re-commence from natural intelligence. Party political national and local governments, as we have known them, will become obsolete.
“Transportation will come to be viewed in a genuinely economic framework, with most supplies being produced locally rather than transported from far a-field. People will propel ‘solos’ (individual micro-vehicles) by a mix of stored energy, (air under pressure?), solar charged, cell-powered motors, and gravity-cum-pedal-power. Long distance transportation of people, goods and materials may be driven by bio-fuel and methane powered ships and railways.
“With a very much smaller population, electricity will be able to be generated by what today are thought of as alternative sources only. Future energy needs will be met by a mix of conservation measures and clean, safe, renewable energy technologies. There will be no need at all for nuclear power, which must not be permitted in any form.
“One would hope that following a cataclysm, any existing barriers between peoples and cultures, (Muslims & Jews, et al), would disappear. If they don’t, we’ll slide back into another similar mess with all the attendant suffering. If we succeed in realising our truly wonderful selves, and in living harmonious, positive, caring, creative, communicative, contributive, fair, just, honest, happy and healthy lives, perhaps the cataclysm will come to be seen retrospectively as a righting of misguided human ways and a re-balancing of damaged but essential ecosystems.
“What can Warriors of the Rainbow do now?
- Be ourselves!
- Talk openly.
- Encourage conversations with others.
- Create spaces for others to feel safe enough to move into.
- Communicate broadly but gently.
- Remind people of the things that really matter to them.
- Constantly repeat the words and images that describe the intangibles – beauty, wisdom, love, truth, peace, grace, etc.
- Contemplate, meditate and pray.
- Care for children.
- Free people as best we can.
- Offer environments for people to gather and exchange thoughts.
- Start regular conversation groups in your towns and villages.
- Involve everyone.
- Move to simple living.
- Make personal connections with your local farmers and fisher-folk.
- Re-build your families.
- Work on community, whatever form that may take.
“Welcome and accept new earthy approaches to health and healing. Grow in relationship to the ‘Great Spirit’. Become wiser and more thoughtful. Do your own spiritual work.
“We need to re-learn how to live without the selfish gene, the money gathering, hoarding virus that threatens to destroy us all. We need to re-learn how to give ourselves. We need to re-learn the secrets and mysteries of real life, which are natural. We need to re-learn humility, so that we can re-take our rightful place in the ecosystem of all things.
“We are approaching a historic, even epochal, culture clash, that of the Brain-driven, ego-motivated people – those who believe implicitly that humans are the sole directors of their destiny, and have the cerebral wherewithal to control and manage life; and those who know a broader, deeper and higher life experience connected to mystery, wonder, and a shared conscious ‘spirituality’ like the air we breathe, infinity beyond the ‘known universe’, beginnings and endings which are unknown and eternal, and which permeate a profound sense of rightness.
“Many of the public will be inclined to cling to whatever they have accepted, and invested in, as ‘security’ to a bitter ending. We have to find gentle but firm ways of showing that the security movies we were sold were no more than propaganda for people taking advantage of us; that that path has led to the imminent self-destruction of our species and many creature life forms. This is a fearsome thought, often too much for people to comfortably, mentally handle. We all know it’s true; but too many of us have compromised with it, half sold out to it, feel too old to do anything about it, have other consuming interests, feel only able to put our heads in the sand. That won’t help our grand-children.
“The only safe way forward for the future may be to seek a New Approach to Spirituality, an open, honest and profound field for being, doing, communicating and decision-making.
“People of a special caliber and altruistic instinct will emerge to provide shelter and succour for others, to help shepherd survivors, to help find a way. ‘Warriors of the Rainbow’ will surely come to recognise one another and be recognised.”
[The above taken from, ‘Imagining Future Life on Earth’, July 2006 to May 2008.]
Potential Solutions need to be discussed and explained carefully to the public, as to the solutions background, need, and their essential efficacy.
‘Imagining Future Life on Earth’ (2006) and many papers like it have been written by people around the globe for decades; and ‘everyday people’ say “Yes, how interesting! Isn’t it awful!” to such things, and go about the next thing in their lives, soon forgetting, because the situation seems to be beyond them – too big and too powerful; too threatening – and because they feel inadequate to do anything about it; and because they may be ‘occupied’ by their business, or obsessed with their own ‘personal movie’; or because it’s easier to live with if we imagine that ‘science’ will solve it – science, the cause of it all; or because it is easier just to ‘put one’s head in the sand’.
We are not helpless.
We are sovereign souls.
You – the younger generations and ‘everyday peoples’ – are the future. We can be sure that politicians won’t move a muscle to address any of the problems significantly. It is we ourselves that alone can and will make the differences that Nature demands for our survival.
The questions are,
- Will ‘we’, the younger generations and ‘everyday people’, address things now?
- Or wait until the horror of cataclysm?
- Will we, ‘the oldies’ leave our children and grand-children to sort-out the mess the most fortunate generation of all time has bequeathed them, to suffer horribly?
- What can we do, other than ‘own-up’, and care?
Our families and friends are one.
The future depends on us all.
The human spirit is indomitable, given freedom and appropriate responsibility.
Freedom is personal integrity.
Awaken in yourselves the intuition to keep you safe.
Go to it today, for all our tomorrows, and Good Luck!
With thanks to Derek Moss for his advice. firstname.lastname@example.org
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EmCeeCubed? – ‘Editing Einstein’ updated 30Dec16.
Still vitally interesting, these quotations are randomly collected. Some are curtailed in the interests of brevity and modern understanding, some chopped and pasted. The text headings are mine.
Albert was born in 1879 into a Jewish family living in Germany. He was unimpressed by education, and moved to Italy in 1894 and Switzerland in 1895, becoming a Swiss citizen in 1901. A theoretical physicist, he won a Nobel Prize in 1921 for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect, essentially for his work on relativity. He married twice, and had two sons, and moved to USA in 1933, becoming a citizen in 1940. He saw himself as a humble atheist-cum-pantheist, and ardent, lifetime pacifist. In1947, Einstein said, “Had I known that the Germans would not succeed in producing an atomic bomb, I would not have lifted a finger”; in 1948, “If I had foreseen Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I would have torn up my formula in 1905; and in 1954, “I made one great mistake in my life – when I signed the letter to President Roosevelt recommending that atom bombs be made; but there was some justification – the danger that the Germans would make them …”. Most of the following thoughts of his were spoken or written between 1930 and 1954.
STATE OF THE WORLD
When considering the actual living conditions of present day civilised humanity from the standpoint of even the most elementary religious commands, one is bound to experience a feeling of deep and painful disappointment at what one sees. For while religion prescribes brotherly love in the relations among the individuals and groups, the actual spectacle more resembles a battlefield than an orchestra. Everywhere, in economic as well as in political life, the guiding principle is one of ruthless striving for success at the expense of one’s fellow men. This competitive spirit prevails even in the school and, destroying all feelings of human fraternity and cooperation, conceives of achievement not as derived from the love for productive and thoughtful work, but as springing from personal ambition and fear of rejection.
There are pessimists who hold that such a state of affairs is necessarily inherent in human nature; it is those who propound such views that are the enemies of true religion, for they imply thereby that the religious teachings are utopian ideals and are unsuited to afford guidance in human affairs
And the traditional religions worry me. Their long history proves that they have not understood the meaning of the commandment: Thou shalt not kill. If we want to save this world from unimaginable destruction we should concentrate not on the faraway God, but on the heart of the individual. We live now in an international anarchy in which a Third World War with nuclear weapons lies before our door. We must make the individual man aware of his conscience so that he understands what it means that only a few will survive the next war.
I am absolutely convinced that no wealth in the world can help humanity forward, even in the hands of the most devoted worker in this cause. The example of great and pure characters is the only thing that can produce fine ideas and noble deeds. Money only appeals to selfishness and always tempts its owners irresistibly to abuse it.
The trite objects of human efforts – possessions, outward success, luxury – have always seemed to me contemptible.
Our entire much-praised technological progress, and civilization generally, could be compared to an axe in the hand of a pathological criminal.
The scientific method can teach us nothing else beyond how facts are related to, and conditioned by, each other. The aspiration toward (such) Objective Knowledge belongs to the highest of which man is capable, and you will certainly not suspect me of wishing to belittle the achievements and the heroic efforts of man in this sphere. Yet it is equally clear that knowledge of What Is does not open the door directly to what should be. One can have the clearest and most complete knowledge of What Is, and yet not be able to deduce from that what should be the goal of our human aspirations. Objective Knowledge provides us with powerful instruments for the achievements of certain ends, but the ultimate goal itself, and the longing to reach it, must come from another source.
A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels.
No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.
A man’s ethical behaviour should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.
The individual feels the futility of human desires and aims and the sublimity and marvellous order which reveal themselves both in nature and in the world of thought. Individual existence impresses him as a sort of prison and he wants to experience the universe as a single significant whole.
A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of 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 the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
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.
The most beautiful and most profound experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms – this knowledge, this feeling is at the centre of true religiousness.
The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self.
Science can only be created by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration toward truth and understanding. This source of feeling, however, springs from the sphere of religion. To this there also belongs the faith in the possibility that the regulations valid for the world of existence are rational, that is, comprehensible to reason. I cannot conceive of a genuine scientist without that profound faith. The situation may be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.
All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man’s life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom.
Scientific research is based on the idea that everything that takes place is determined by laws of Nature, and therefore this holds for the action of people. For this reason, a research scientist will hardly be inclined to believe that events could be influenced by a prayer, i.e. by a wish addressed to a Supernatural Being.
By way of (the) understanding he achieves a far-reaching emancipation from the shackles of personal hopes and desires, and thereby attains that humble attitude of mind toward the grandeur of reason incarnate in existence, and which, in its profoundest depths, is inaccessible to man. This attitude, however, appears to me to be religious, in the highest sense of the word.
It was the experience of mystery – even if mixed with fear – that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds: it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity. In this sense, and only this sense, I am a deeply religious man.
I see a pattern, but my imagination cannot picture the maker of that pattern. I see a clock, but I cannot envision the clockmaker. The human mind is unable to conceive of the four dimensions, so how can it conceive of a God, before whom a thousand years and a thousand dimensions are as one?
The idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept which I am unable to take seriously.
A doctrine which is able to maintain itself not in clear light but only in the dark, will of necessity lose its effect on mankind, with incalculable harm to human progress. In their struggle for the ethical good, teachers of religion must have the stature to give up the doctrine of a personal God, that is, give up that source of fear and hope which in the past placed such vast power in the hands of priests. In their labours they will have to avail themselves of those forces which are capable of cultivating the Good, the True, and the Beautiful in humanity itself. This is, to be sure, a more difficult but an incomparably more worthy task. After religious teachers accomplish the refining process indicated they will surely recognise with joy that true religion has been ennobled and made more profound by scientific knowledge. If it is one of the goals of religion to liberate mankind as far as possible from the bondage of egocentric cravings, desires and fears, scientific reasoning can aid religion in yet another sense.
I feel the Churches have much guilt. She has always allied herself with those who rule, who have political power, and more often than not, at the expense of peace and humanity as a whole.
My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.
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.
When the answer is simple, God is speaking.
Then there are the fanatical atheists whose intolerance is the same as that of the religious fanatics, and it springs from the same source . . . They are creatures who can’t hear the music of the spheres.
What separates me from most so-called atheists is a feeling of utter humility toward the unattainable secrets of the harmony of the cosmos.
What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of ‘humility’. This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism.
The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed.
It is very difficult to elucidate this cosmic religious feeling to anyone who is entirely without it … The religious geniuses of all ages have been distinguished by this kind of religious feeling, which knows no dogma and no God conceived in man’s image; so that there can be no church whose central teachings are based on it … In my view, it is the most important function of art and science to awaken this feeling and keep it alive in those who are receptive to it.
The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.
Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.
We know nothing about God, the world at all. All our knowledge is but the knowledge of schoolchildren. Possibly we shall know a little more than we do now. But the real nature of things, that we shall never know, never.
Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.
Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.
Don’t think about why you question, simply don’t stop questioning. Don’t worry about what you can’t answer, and don’t try to explain what you can’t know. Curiosity is its own reason. Aren’t you in awe when you contemplate the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvellous structure behind reality? And this is the miracle of the human mind—to use its constructions, concepts, and formulas as tools to explain what man sees, feels and touches. Try to comprehend a little more each day. Have holy curiosity.
I believe in intuition and inspiration … At times I feel certain I am right while not knowing the reason. When the eclipse of 1919 confirmed my intuition, I was not in the least surprised. In fact I would have been astonished had it turned out otherwise.
A new idea comes suddenly and in a rather intuitive way. But intuition is nothing but the outcome of earlier intellectual experience.
A child with great intuition could not grow up to become something worthwhile in life without some knowledge. However there comes a point in everyone’s life where only intuition can make the leap ahead, without knowing precisely how.
Indeed, it is not intellect but intuition which advances humanity. Intuition tells man his purpose in this life.
There is nothing divine about morality; it is a purely human affair.
The foundation of morality should not be made dependent on myth nor tied to any authority lest doubt about the myth or about the legitimacy of the authority imperil the foundation of sound judgment and action.
Human knowledge and skills alone cannot lead humanity to a happy and dignified life. Humanity has every reason to place the proclaimers of high moral standards and values above the discoverers of objective truth.
Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly.
Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.
The really valuable thing in the pageant of human life seems to me not the political state, but the creative, sentient individual, the personality; it alone creates the noble and the sublime, while the herd as such remains dull in thought and dull in feeling.
The ideals that have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth.
There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
A man’s value to the community depends primarily on how far his feelings, thoughts, and actions are directed towards promoting the good of his fellows. We call him good or bad according to how he stands in this matter.
Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people – first of all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness is wholly dependent, and then for the many, unknown to us, to whose destinies we are bound by the ties of sympathy.
Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.
In living through this ‘great epoch’, it is difficult to reconcile oneself to the fact that one belongs to that mad, degenerate species that boasts of its free will. How I wish that somewhere there existed an island for those who are wise and of good will! In such a place even I should be an ardent patriot!
I am quite aware that for any organization to reach its goals, one man must do the thinking and directing and generally bear the responsibility. But the led must not be coerced, they must be able to choose their leader.
Let everyman be respected as an individual and no man idolized.
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.
Be a loner. That gives you time to wonder, to search for the truth. Have holy curiosity. Make your life worth living.
If one holds these high principles clearly before one’s eyes, and compares them with the life and spirit of our times, then it appears glaringly that civilized mankind finds itself at present in grave danger. In the totalitarian states it is the rulers themselves who strive actually to destroy that spirit of humanity. In less threatened parts it is nationalism and intolerance, as well as the oppression of the individuals by economic means …
Every one who is seriously engaged in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that the laws of nature manifest the existence of a spirit vastly superior to that of men, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble.
If we want to improve the world, we cannot do it with scientific knowledge, but with ideals. Confucius, Buddha, Jesus and Gandhi have done more for humanity than science has done. We must begin with the heart of man – with his conscience – and the values of conscience can only be manifested by selfless service to mankind.
Only the individual can think, and thereby create new values for society – nay, even set up new moral standards to which the life of the community conforms. Without creative, independently thinking and judging personalities the upward development of society is as unthinkable as the development of the individual personality without the nourishing soil of the community.
If the longing for the achievement of the goal is powerfully alive within us, then shall we not lack the strength to find the means for reaching the goal and for translating it into deeds.