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Einstein's quote on the Self - what does it mean?
January 24, 2007
12:03 am
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Anonymous
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Tez,

Quantum physical effects are not observable once you get very far above the subatomic level, and they certainly do not apply to creatures the size of people. Besides, these effects do not necessarily apply to things that are not of our physical universe, such as God.

For these reasons, it's hard to see how advances in quantum physics will have any bearing on religion at all.

Incidentally, Einstein never accepted quantum physics. He didn't believe that God played dice with the universe, as he put it.

Seeker

January 24, 2007
5:47 pm
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on my way

On the 23-Jan-07 you said:

"But if Buddhism has no god, doesn't that in a sense make Buddhists their own little gods?"

No ... in no sense does that conclusion necessarily or logically follow on from your initial premise.

Let me see if I can explore your logic. I know that it is presumptuous of me to do so. But in the interests of clarification ... ... I believe that your logic goes something like this:

1.It is self-evident that there must be in existence at least one God, otherwise nothing would exist at all.(False)

2. It is also self evident that God is completely separate from and independent of us. (False)

3. Buddhists study logic at their universities, are quite expert at debating and employ debating techniques in order to seek the truth about the nature of reality.(True) Whether they are successful or not is another issue altogether.

4. Buddhists also employ altered states of consciousness to gain access to the wisdom mind in their attempts to see reality at its deepest level.(true)Again whether they are successful or not is another issue altogether.

5. Since Buddhists are both highly logical and insightful people then since they don't believe in the existence of a God it must follow that they must believe they themselves to be God(s).(False)

Firstly, the initial premise No 1 is false. It is not self-evident that any God must exist for the universe to exist. Premise #1 is highly debatable.

Premise #2 is also false. Even if God does exist it is quite possible that we are manifestations of that God in ignorance of our own divinity. We could well be God in the process of knowing vulnerability, fear etc.

Premise #3 and #4 are both true.

Premise #5 is false. Just because intelligent atheists don't believe in God, it doesn't follow that they think that they are God. I think they would be aghast at that proposition. G_G might be the exception though. 🙂

And you said:

"How can one be a god, and at the same time, rid oneself of the 'self'? Isn't this a contradiction of sorts?"

It is irrational to think that any "one" can be a God by the Christian definition of the characteristics of their God and the world exist as I observe it to be at the same time.

However, if the Christian God did exist then by definition he is omnipotent, omniscient and therefore can do all things including getting rid of the delusion of self-hood.

Besides, getting rid of delusions of self does not require omnipotence, or omniscience only the disciple to practice mindfulness in meditation and in daily life to the extent that the delusion of there existing a separate, independent, entity that we think of as our self, becomes evident and the truth abundantly clear.

Please don't confuse what I say for nihilism - it isn't. I'm not denying the existence of bodies, brains or minds any more than I am denying the existence of a process called a 'motorcar'. But a process is hardly qualifications for self-hood.

Consciousness deludes the 'mind' into thinking that is possesses a body; therein it maintains the delusion of self-hood even going to the extent of inventing the existence of the soul in order to try to maintain its illusion of independent integrity even after death.

And you said:

"I guess it all boils down to what one believes, lives and supports...what one's reality is and what it is based on."

Perhaps for many it does. Ever since I realized that I was duped by Christianity into believing unquestioningly and finding out how wrong those beliefs were, I now question my beliefs on an ongoing basis, never presuming them to be complete or 100% accurate. Now I see that 'seeing' for myself firsthand is the way to go.

Blind faith in the truthfulness of any 'revelation' of any kind is abhorrent to me, divine or otherwise.

The Buddha never said: "My teachings are divine revelation, the inspired words of God - believe it or else." The Buddha said that the deluded mind creates false perceptions of reality. He advised exploring your own mind to see for yourself how it does this. The Buddha said not to take his word for it. The Essence of Mind is purity and clarity. You only need to let go of all of the 'defilements' of delusion to see what you really are; that is, that pure Essence of Mind. Don't try to change your past conditioning. Let go of it altogether by following a way that I have found to do so. This is the Buddha's message. We are our own saviors. No one has to be nailed on a cross to save us - the idea is barbaric and primitive Judaism at its worst.

To label the 'Essence of Mind' as being God is still further ignorance and delusion being perpetuated by a deluded mind.

A massive paradigm shift in thinking is required to grasp even a hint of what the Buddha was really on about. That paradigm shift is the complete loss of the ego-self-reference when seeing with the mind's eye, Suchness.

I abhor and decry my total inadequacy to describe the indescribable using mere words.

January 24, 2007
6:05 pm
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seekerw
24-Jan-07

Tez,

"Quantum physical effects are not observable once you get very far above the subatomic level, and they certainly do not apply to creatures the size of people. Besides, these effects do not necessarily apply to things that are not of our physical universe, such as God."

Hmmm!! If that is what you believe - what can I say.

"For these reasons, it's hard to see how advances in quantum physics will have any bearing on religion at all."

Given your above belief, I'm not surprised by that.

"Incidentally, Einstein never accepted quantum physics. He didn't believe that God played dice with the universe, as he put it."

I don't believe that any God plays dice with the universe either.

I'm not sure of the relevance of this to what I have written. I believe that Einstein had insights into quantum physics even though he was very stubborn in his non-acceptance of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle.

January 24, 2007
6:09 pm
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Hey Tez

I don't agree with you!! When you say "I abhor and decry my total inadequacy ..." You are more than adequate.

This caught my attention the most -
"Even if God does exist it is quite possible that we are manifestations of that God in ignorance of our own divinity. We could well be God in the process of knowing vulnerability, fear etc."

In ignorance of our own divinity.

January 24, 2007
6:28 pm
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BevDee.

"In ignorance of our own divinity".

This is not my belief now but one that I once held years ago when I was trying to reconcile the concept of the Christian God with the suffering in the world. I was just offering an alternative to demonstrate just one possible 'falsication' of the statement # 2.

Thus assuming for the sake of the discussion we humans are all God in ignorance of our true nature then all the suffering in the world would imply God doing it to Himself, albeit to those parts of Himself in ignorance.

The problem with this belief is that to hold it we must also believe that, that part of God that is not in ignorance is a sadomasochist, a sick fuck of some divine kind! This clashes with the concept of an omniscient God who intimately understands sadomasochism and its causes and cures. An omniscient God who is also omnipotent would not suffer from such a debilitating illness. Thus there is a contradiction here.

I abandoned that belief as a result of this obvious contradiction.

January 24, 2007
9:17 pm
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Tez,
Thank you for taking the time to write such lengthy responses. I take it as a compliment in a way at times. You are extrememly intelligent and I actually understand what you write. I suppose I chould clarify though. I am not seraching for another way to believe, I believe in the God that you say you do not. When I search and question, most of my searching is the fact that I have been spoon-fed religion by people who practice 'religion' and have no other means of freedom. Actually, to me 'religion' is a prison of sorts because it teaches knowledge, and/or what one must do to obtain some level of a relationship with oneself, and God. And even in your writings to me, I still see you hanging on to the Catholic/Vatican God. Just for posterity sake..I don't believe in that kind of God. I just beleive in the God of the NT, and respect the God of the OT. I don't forsee myself practicing Buddhism because it isn't for me. Some of the beliefs are similar, but Buddha wrote his, and God wrote His. At the end of my life I think I will face God (looking forward to it) not Buddha. We both meditate, we both strive to be better people.
I admire and respect you, and love to read what you write.

However again, we agree to disagree. I don't beleive in Buddhism, you don't believe in God. If you ever change your mind, I hope you know you can ask.

Many hugs your way,
omw

January 24, 2007
9:41 pm
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Tez,

{"Quantum physical effects are not observable once you get very far above the subatomic level, and they certainly do not apply to creatures the size of people. Besides, these effects do not necessarily apply to things that are not of our physical universe, such as God."

Hmmm!! If that is what you believe - what can I say.}

You just sidestepped the entire issue. If you don't believe I'm right, why not refute me instead of dismissing what I said out of hand? Refuting is the in spirit of science after all -- dismissing is in the spirit of ignorance.

{"Incidentally, Einstein never accepted quantum physics. He didn't believe that God played dice with the universe, as he put it."

I'm not sure of the relevance of this to what I have written.}

Here's the relevance. You'd said this earlier:
{This is why I think Einstein made the above statement about theistic religions not "coping" with advances made in the field of quantum physics.}

I thought you were saying with the above that Einstein spoke about how quantum physics somehow disproved God. That's why I thought it was relevant.

Seeker

January 25, 2007
4:20 pm
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Yeaa, I agree with Seeker. What does Quantum physics have to do with my life right now? It belongs in the physics lab. If you need anything else, common sense is all you need.

I hate this phenomena of people uttering the phrase "Quantum physics" and thinking their intellect or whatever has increased now by 20 points. Come on now, have you heard of K.I.S.S ?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Q.....ontroversy

Is the whole thing about this Quantum stuff about 'determinism' and 'free will'? Well, again, use simple common sense: Can you lift your finger? Yes you can. Thats how much control you have in life - a lot. Just have fun.

I dont know what Quantum physics has to do with OUR lives, minus what goes on in the resarch labs.

So thats my thoughts on this Quantum stuff. Really people, KISS, its the best thing. Everything in life has a solution and the simplest solution is the best. Everything can be simplified, thats my belief.

January 25, 2007
4:36 pm
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And what I mean to say, ofcourse there's determinism. Everything has a cause and effect on everything else and there are these chains of events that occured one after the other, but you do have control over what happens right NOW in your life, and thats all you need to know. You cant control the driver in the other lane, but you can control your OWN car.

January 25, 2007
6:05 pm
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on my way
24-Jan-07

"However again, we agree to disagree. I don't beleive in Buddhism, you don't believe in God."

Yep! Unlike the days of the inquisition, within the limits of the degree of our childhood indoctrination and socialization, we do have somewhat of a choice these days.

"If you ever change your mind, I hope you know you can ask."

After having trod the Christian road for so long with so much determination to find something in it, I doubt that I ever will change my mind in that direction now.

"Many hugs your way, omw"

That's very nice. And a big hug for you too. ((((OMW))))

January 25, 2007
6:28 pm
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seekerw

On the 24-Jan-07 you said:

"You just sidestepped the entire issue."

What I sidestepped was your total misunderstanding of what I wrote. Like Guest_guest you haven't a clue about that which I speak. I don't feel that I can bring you up to speed without extremely lengthy discourses on the fundamentals of Buddhism and what they have in common with some of the theories proffered by Modern Science, Quantum physics in particular. I haven't the motivation for that.

Let me fill you in on the history of this thread.

Guest_guest quoted Einstein in establishing this thread with a question regarding same.

No one, including yourself came forward with even a plausible explanation for why Einstein said what he did.

I offered up what I think is the reason. For want of a better explanation, I still believe it to be so.

You can take it or leave it. As far as I'm concerned, it makes no difference to me whichever you choose.

Come up with a better explanation ... if you can. I challenge you openly here and now.

I await your learned response.

January 25, 2007
9:20 pm
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Yea! Come up with a better explanation if you can, please. Here's Tez post again of Jan 19, worth repeating:

---------------------

guest_guest

On the 15-Jan-07 you quoted Albert Einstein as saying:

"The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which he has attained to liberation from the self."

Then you asked:

"... please give a good explanation that makes sense and which tells me what exactly he was talking about."

Albert Einstein explains his above statement this way:

"A human being is part of a whole, called by us the 'universe', a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate 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 affectation for a few people near us.

Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion, to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty." - Albert Einstein.

He also said:

"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." - Albert Einstein.

There it is in a nutshell!

----------

(bold mine) Thats what he basically meant. Really to me, this is nothing special and not difficult. Plus there are many generous kind people (unlike ME hehe) and thats simply what he was talking about. That comes from being at peace with ourselves and then with others. After that you'll have a general attitude of kindness towards everything, a positive gentle attitude towards everything and everyone (except criminal but even there, there is a difference in attitude - 1) peaceful firm disapproval and 2) negative anger).

Its not rocket science or something as unattainable as Buddha's Nirvana (in my opinion). I refuse to believe that the best way to live life is very hard to understand and that only a chosen few can do it. I believe that its within everyone's reach and its very simple and again, it starts with us being at peace withoutselves. Thats the only way.

Its the same: in order to love externally, you must experience yourself as pleasant to yourself. If you're in internal chaos and turmoil, nothing is going to happen, nothing.

January 26, 2007
4:17 pm
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Tez,

I don't know why Einstein said what he did about the self. I missed what you'd said about Buddhism, and if it is compatible with quantum physics, more power to it. I have no quarrel with it.

However, I did read your allegation to the effect that Einstein thought quantum physics is not compatible with theistic religions. I was offering my rebuttal to that thought, not about Buddhism.

And BTW, Einstein toward the end of his life said that the more he learned about physics, the more he believed there was a God.

I guess you've been talking about apples and I about oranges.

Seeker

January 27, 2007
8:24 pm
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Seekerw.

On the 26-Jan-07 you said:

"However, I did read your allegation to the effect that Einstein thought quantum physics is not compatible with theistic religions. I was offering my rebuttal to that thought, not about Buddhism."

You are probably right, about this point of Einstein not agreeing with quantum physicists on the ultimate nature of reality and therefore him not considering Quantum theory relevant to the "coping" of theistic religions with scientific advances.

Being out of step with many physicists of his day, I believe Einstein 'painted himself into a corner' towards the end of his life trying to prove his Unified Field Theory and thus the unity of all things. This may be relevant, however. Einstein did see something fundamental in Buddhism that prompted him to write:

“The religion of the future should transcend a personal God and avoid dogma and theology. Covering both natural and spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity. Buddhism answers this description…If ever there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs it would be Buddhism.” -Albert Einstein

Does Christianity "transcend a personal God"?

No, not as I understand that religion.

Does Christianity "avoid dogma and theology"?

No, not as I understand that religion.

Is Christianity "based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity"?

No, not in my experience of it, Christianity isn't. The God of the Christians is a separate entity from his creation - is He not? Such a "meaningful unity" of God with all things is called pantheism - as I understand it, that is.

I don't think, Islam, Hinduism or any other deity(s) based religion fares any better than Christianity in Einstein's eyes.

Does Buddhism "transcend a personal God"? It certainly does.

Does Buddhism "avoid dogma and theology"?

The versions that I am familiar with certainly does avoid it at all costs.

Is Buddhism "based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity"?

Yes, the Buddhism with which I am familiar, regards experiencing the Essence of Mind as underpinning all in a very meaningful unifying way.

Buddhism regards 'wisdom and compassion' as being the two essential wings for the Buddhist bird to fly. In this regard, Einstein wrote:

"A human being is part of a whole, called by us the 'universe', a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate 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 affectation for a few people near us.

Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion, to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty." - Albert Einstein.

Buddhist wisdom would concur with Einstein's above statement especially in that the Buddha taught that the false view that we have of the 'self' is delusional. This delusion of 'selfhood' is a prison that sets up this sense of duality, of subject and object, of self and other. I think Einstein understood this aspect of Buddhist thought.

When we expand our "circle of compassion" to encompass others in a perceptual way as opposed to a cognitive way, we expand the boundaries of the mind. First love is a time when we encompass our loved one within such boundaries. At such times those boundaries seem to momentarily encompass the world. How brief is this experience.

The ego constrains our "circle of compassion". Ego is just another name for our mind's sense of having 'self hood'. To the degree to which we can lose this mindset of 'self' in relation to other and to see the interdependence and inter-being(Ven. Thich Nat Hanh) of all, to that degree will the power of the mind expand. Though Einstein was not a Buddhist, I think Einstein understood this Buddhist perspective when he said:

"The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which he has attained to liberation from the self." - Albert Einstein.

Chew on that lot of old ... .

January 27, 2007
9:24 pm
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Tez,

"transcend" means to exceed or surpass. I find it difficult to see why one would want to try to surpass a personal God, if one has such a relationship with him. It would be like trying to surpass one's earthly father, if one has a good relationship with him. Trying to do so would be counterproductive.

I talk to God a lot, and he often talks to me, too. He sometimes prompts me to do things that I don't want to do, but I always like hearing from him. I can't imagine anything that could surpass this relationship I have with God.

For the record, I see nothing wrong with Buddhism. I don't have the patience to try to follow along with a lot of philosophy, though, which is why I never get into deep discussions here about much of anything, with just a few exceptions.

January 28, 2007
5:56 pm
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Seekerw

On the 27-Jan-07 you said:

"I talk to God a lot, and he often talks to me, too."

What can I say? Errrrrrr ...

As for my introducing Buddhism into this thread, I used a quote of Einstein's which included a reference to Buddhism because the Buddhist concept of liberating the mind from bondage of 'self' by wisdom and compassion explains Einsteins other quote that started this thread. I believe that I have provided strong circumstantial evidence that explains what Einstein meant. At least it seems to have satisfied G_g who started the thread.

Put simply if one understands Buddhist thought on sunyata and bodhicitta as well as understanding Einstein's leaning towards Buddhist beliefs, then understanding Einstein's statement, "the true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which he has attained to liberation from the self", follows naturally.

February 3, 2007
4:21 pm
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Einsteins quote is about freeing yourself from yourself. The only sense I can gather from that would be that we ouselves allow to be in these types of relationships. We have to value ourselves enough to expect respect and love from our partners. So the quote is quite fitting for this sight.

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