Monday, June 18, 2018

Interesting article: Einstein's Mystical Ideas about God, Death, Afterlife, and Reincarnation


Einstein's Mystical Ideas About God, Death, Afterlife, and Reincarnation

"I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, …Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotism.
~ Albert Einstein, as quoted in his New York Times Obituary, April 19, 1955)

Albert Einstein


Albert Einstein was not only a great scientist but a wise philosopher and a pragmatic "true mystic" … "of a deeply religious nature." (New York Times Obituary, April 19, 1955)

Einstein did not believe in a formal, dogmatic religion, but was religiously and reverently awed and humbled with a cosmic religious feeling by the immense beauty and eternal mystery of our Universe.

He often commented publicly on religious and ethical subjects, and thereby he became widely respected for his moral integrity and mystical wisdom, as well as for his scientific genius.

In an essay collection entitled The World As I See It, first published 1933, Einstein explained his reverence for God as Eternal Universal Intelligence. But he rejected prevalent religious ideas of individual survival of physical death, reincarnation, or of reward or punishment in heaven or hell after physical death. He said:

I am a deeply religious man. I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the type of which we are conscious in ourselves. An individual who should survive his physical death is also beyond my comprehension, nor do I wish it otherwise; such notions are for the fears or absurd egoism of feeble souls. Enough for me the mystery of the eternity of life, and the inkling of the marvelous structure of reality, together with the single-hearted endeavor to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the reason that manifests itself in nature. [The World As I See It]


On learning of the death of a lifelong friend, Einstein wrote in a March 1955 letter to his friend's family:

"Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion."


Einstein's rejection of afterlife contradicted many religious teachings and credible experiential accounts of individual afterlife and reincarnation. But it was consistent with Einstein's revolutionary scientific paradigm and with highest non-dualistic Eastern religious teachings, the most ancient extant of which is Hindu Advaita Vedanta philosophy.

Einstein revolutionized Western science with his 1905 groundbreaking theory of relativity that "mass and energy are both but different manifestations of the same thing"; that there was an equivalence between all matter and energy in the universe, quantifiable by the simple equation e = mc2. On his arrival in New York in 1919, Einstein summarized his theory of relativity in the single sentence:

"Remove matter from the universe and you also remove space and time."
Clark R.W., Einstein: His Life and Times (1973)

Though Vedic rishis or seers had anticipated Einstein by millennia, their teachings were largely unknown in the West until shortly before Einstein revolutionized Western science. The ancient Vedic Advaita teachings were first brought to large Western audiences by Swami Vivekananda – who came to the West as Indian delegate to the 1893 Parliament of World Religions.

Vivekananda, who was principle disciple of nineteenth century Indian Holy Man Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, eloquently explained that according to Advaita philosophy this impermanent and ever changing world is an unreal illusion called maya or samsara; and, that "all that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream"… 

In an eloquent New York City lecture called "The Real and the Apparent Man",he equated maya or samsara with "time, space, and causation" and presciently predicted scientific confirmation of the ancient Vedic non-dual philosophy of One Infinite Existence. He said:

"According to the Advaita philosophy, ..this Maya or ignorance–or name and form, or, as it has been called in Europe, time, space, and causality–is out of this one Infinite Existence showing us the manifoldness of the universe; in substance, this universe is one. So long as any one thinks that there are two ultimate realities, he is mistaken. When he has come to know that there is but one, he is right. This is what is being proved to us every day, on the physical plane, on the mental plane, and also on the spiritual plane.

"What then becomes of all this threefold eschatology of the dualist, that when a man dies he goes to heaven, or goes to this or that sphere, and that the wicked persons become ghosts, and become animals, and so forth? None comes and none goes, says the non-dualist. How can you come and go? You are infinite; where is the place for you to go?

"So it is with regard to the soul; the very question of birth and death in regard to it is utter nonsense. Who goes and who comes? Where are you not? Where is the heaven that you are not in already? Omnipresent is the Self of man. Where is it to go? Where is it not to go? It is everywhere. So all this childish dream and puerile illusion of birth and death, of heavens and higher heavens and lower worlds, all vanish immediately for the perfect. For the nearly perfect it vanishes after showing them the several scenes up to Brahmaloka. It continues for the ignorant."

"Time, space and causation are like the glass through which the Absolute is seen. In the Absolute there is neither time, space nor causation."

"Science and religion will meet and shake hands…When the scientific teacher asserts that all things are the manifestation of one force, does it not remind you of the God of whom you hear in the Upanishads? Do you not see whither science is tending?"

"…this separation between man and man, between nation and nation, between earth and moon, between moon and sun. Out of this idea of separation between atom and atom comes all misery. But the Vedanta says that this separation does not exist, it is not real."

"Your own will is all that answers prayer, only it appears under the guise of different religious conceptions to each mind. We may call it Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, but it is only the Self, the 'I'."

~ Swami Vivekananda – Jnana Yoga


Einstein's non-mechanistic science was very difficult for Western materialist minds to comprehend because his mystical view questioned the substantiality of matter and the ultimate reality of space, time and causality. Like Vivekananda, he said:

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


"Our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness."


"Space and time are not conditions in which we live, they are modes in which we think"

"Concerning matter, we have been all wrong. What we have called matter is energy, whose vibration has been so lowered as to be perceptible to the senses. There is no matter."



"There is no place in this new kind of physics for the field and matter, for the field is the only reality."





"That which is impenetrable to us really exists. Behind the secrets of nature remains something subtle, intangible, and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion."



Thus, Einstein's rejection of prevalent religious ideas about God and individual survival of physical death and afterlife was consistent with his revolutionary science as well as with Eastern non-dualistic teachings explained by Vivekenanda that apparent separation between subject and object is an unreal "optical illusion of consciousness." 

Did Einstein's psyche survive his death? Was he surprised on his demise?

Though Einstein didn't believe in individual survival of physical death, he may have been surprised on his demise. Conservation of energy is basic to physics. So Einstein must have realized that his subtle energetic essence was indestructible and could only be transformed from one state to another. But we don't know how that knowledge may have influenced his opinion about what happens on individual death, or his experience thereafter.

Except for very rare Buddha-like people who transcend all desires, it is probable that all humans survive physical death as psyches or mental bodies, irrespective of their beliefs. So the Dalai Lama has said:

"[Physical qualities] cannot be carried over into the next life.
The continuum of the mind, however, does carry on.
Therefore, a quality based on the mind is more enduring. …
So, through training the mind, qualities such as compassion, love, and the wisdom realizing emptiness can be developed."
~ H.H. Dalai Lama, from Practicing wisdom: the perfection of Shantideva's Bodhisattva way


Thus, Buddhists say that Gautama Buddha experienced countless incarnations over eons of time before ultimately transcending the cycle of birth and death. And the Dalai Lama has said:

"We are born and reborn countless number of times, and it is possible that each being has been our parent at one time or another.  Therefore, it is likely that all beings in this universe have familial connections."
~ H. H. Dalai Lama, from 'The Path to Tranquility: Daily Wisdom".


But, rather than wondering if on demise of Einstein's physical body and extraordinary brain, his subtle mental body survived – with its unfulfilled desire to find a single simple "unified field" formula explaining phenomenal reality from perspective of 'the mind of God' – let us honor his immense evolutionary accomplishments and take inspiration from his compassionate social activism, and pragmatic wisdom.

And thereby let us learn to live ever more peacefully, harmoniously and skillfully, in this ever changing phenomenal world of space, time and causation, as together we evolve out of the darkness of ignorance and into the light of Eternal Awareness.

And so may it be!


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Sunday, June 17, 2018

New Yorker article on the movie "Coco"


 





I love this movie and was happy to see this article today in the New Yorker magazine.  The film is a heart-toucher in so many ways.


Highly recommended!




"Coco," a Story About Borders, Life, Death and Love, Is a Definitive Movie for This Moment

Coco" is a movie about borders more than anything—the beauty in their porousness, the absolute pain produced when a border

locks you away from your family.

One weekend last fall, my boyfriend, Andrew, whose favorite movies include "Deliverance" and the original "Texas Chain Saw Massacre," went off to go see the Pixar movie "Coco," by himself, and came back in a delirium of happy, wistful tears. "What's going on with you?" I asked, watching him wheel his bike back into the living room. I hadn't moved from my permanent station behind my computer monitor, a hub for the ongoing erosion of my belief in human good. "You have to go to see 'Coco,' " he croaked. "You have to. It's, like, the best movie of all time."

I assumed that he was being hyperbolic, until a night in April when I invited three friends over to watch "Coco," all of us first-time viewers with high expectations. People we knew—people in their twenties and thirties, few of them with children—had been freaking out about "Coco" in group texts and random conversations, saying things like, "I cried so hard I started choking," and "I've watched it five times this month on airplanes." "Hey ppl over here getting drunk and watching Coco just fyi," I texted Andrew, who was still at the office. In return, I received a series of panicked instructions to not start without him. "You have already seen it…." I texted. "I DON'T CARE!!!!!!!" he texted back. "DON'T START WITHOUT ME!!!!"

We started without him. Andrew came home a third of the way into the movie, cracked a beer, and silently sat down on the floor of the living room to watch. By the end, every one of us was crying through a manic grin. "I told you," he said. "It's the best movie of all time."

In the weeks since that viewing, "Coco" love has continued to spread among my demographic—thanks, in part, to the movie's release on Netflix in May. "Coco" is unlike any film I can think of: it presents death as a life-affirming inevitability; its story line about grudges and abandonment makes you feel less alone. The protagonist, Miguel, is a twelve-year-old boy in the fictional Mexican town of Santa Cecilia—named for the patron saint of musicians—and he is trying to get out from under the shadow of his great-great-grandfather, who left his family to pursue a career as a musician. His wife, the ferocious Mamá Imelda, was left to take care of their young daughter, Coco. She instituted a permanent household ban on music and started making shoes.

We meet Coco as an old woman. Her daughter, Miguel's grandmother, now runs the family and its shoemaking business with an iron chancla. Earnest, sweet Miguel teaches himself to play the guitar in the attic, watching and re-watching tapes of the bygone star Ernesto de la Cruz. On the Day of the Dead, he accidentally shatters a framed photograph on the family ofrenda, then spots a hidden detail in the picture, one that makes him suspect that his wayward ancestor was in fact de la Cruz himself. He sprints to the town mausoleum, hoping to borrow de la Cruz's guitar and prove the value of music to his family. Instead, the guitar turns Miguel invisible, and whisks him across a skybridge covered in thick, soft marigold petals that glow like lava. He falls to his knees in the petals, and then looks up to see a grand floating metropolis, confetti-colored in the darkness: the Land of the Dead.

The second and third acts of the movie are mostly set in this city of jubilant sugar-skull skeletons, where you exist only as long as you are remembered by the living. (You can cross over to the living world on the Day of the Dead, but only if your photo is on display.) Miguel joins up with a raggedy show-biz hustler named Héctor, who's desperate to get his picture back up on an ofrenda, and who says he can bring Miguel to de la Cruz. Héctor lives in a waterfront shantytown filled with people who are about to be forgotten; at one point, he begs a guitar for Miguel off an ill-tempered cowboy named Chicharrón, who vanishes as soon as Héctor finishes singing an old dirty song.

Eventually, Miguel realizes that Héctor is his real ancestor, and the movie sprints to a conclusion that's as skillfully engineered to produce waterworks as the montage at the beginning of "Up." But until the end, "Coco" is mostly, wonderfully, a mess of conflict and disappointment and sadness. Héctor seems to have failed everyone who takes a chance on him. Miguel's face, painted in skeleton camouflage, often droops as if he were a sad little black-and-white dog. "Coco" is animated by sweetness, but this sweetness is subterranean, bursting through mostly in tiny details: the way that both Mamá Imelda and Miguel's grandmother brandish shoes when they're angry; or how the daffy Xolo dog that accompanies Miguel on his adventure is named Dante; or how the skeletons return to their city through the Day of the Dead's efficient T.S.A. system, declaring the churros and beer that their families gave them for their journey home.

Before "Coco" hit theaters, it was easy to doubt that the movie would present Mexican culture as expansively and gorgeously as it does, with such natural familiarity and respect. It is Pixar's nineteenth movie, but their first with a nonwhite protagonist; Lee Unkrich, the director and creator of the initial story, is white. The movie's working title was "Día de los Muertos," and, in 2013, Disney lawyers tried, absurdly, to trademark that phrase. But Unkrich and his team approached their subject with openness and collaborative humility: they travelled to Mexico, they loosened Pixar's typical secrecy to build a large network of consultants, and, after the trademark controversy, they asked several prominent critics to come onboard. "Coco" is the first movie to have both an all-Latino cast and a nine-figure budget. It grossed more than eight hundred million dollars worldwide, won two Oscars, and became the biggest blockbuster in Mexican history.

"Coco" is also a definitive movie for this moment: an image of all the things that we aren't, an exploration of values that feel increasingly difficult to practice in the actual world. It's a story of a multigenerational matriarchy, rooted in the past—whereas real life, these days, feels like an atemporal, structureless nightmare ruled by men. It's about lineage and continuity at a time when each morning makes me feel like my brain is being wiped and battered by new flashes of cruelty, as though history is being forgotten and only the worst parts rewritten. It feels like myth or science fiction to imagine that our great-great-grandchildren will remember us. If we continue to treat our resources the way we are treating them currently, those kids—if they exist at all—will live in a world that is ravaged, punishing, artificial, and hard.

This world is hard enough already: its technological conditions induce emotional alienation, and its economic ones narrow our attention to questions of individual survival. As it is, I haven't assembled the ofrenda I ought to. I barely feel like I'm taking adequate care of the people I love right now, and I mean the ones I know personally. I feel certain that I'm failing the people I don't know but that I love nonetheless—the people in our national community, and the people who are seeking to become a part of it.

"Coco" is a movie about borders more than anything—the beauty in their porousness, the absolute pain produced when a border locks you away from your family. The conflict in the story comes from not being able to cross over; the resolution is that love pulls you through to the other side. The thesis of the movie is that families belong together. I watched it again this week, reading the news that Donald Trump is considering building an unregulated holding camp for migrant children, that ice showed up on the lawn of a legal permanent resident and initiated deportation procedures, that a four-month-old baby was torn away from her breastfeeding mother. If justice is what love looks like in public, then love has started to seem like the stuff of children's movies, or maybe the stuff of this children's movie—something that doesn't make sense in the adult world, but should.

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Friday, June 15, 2018

Very important warning article: We can't keep looking the other way

Many psychiatrists and psychologists are deeply concerned with what they observe in Trump's unstable speech and behavior. Following is an interview with a prominent psychiatrist that ought to raise the hairs on the back of anyone's neck. The alarm is being loudly sounded, but Trump's supporters refuse to hear it, and we are all being held hostage by a man with great power and increasing mental deterioration. What can possibly go wrong?  Read the following and find out:

Excerpt: 

What role does Donald Trump's mental health play in how he governs? Is the stress of Robert Mueller's investigation and the other scandals swirling around Trump's White House accelerating his mental decline? Why are so many of Trump's supporters and other members of the general public still in denial about the global and national crisis that is Trump's assault on American democracy? Can anything be done about a president who appears unstable yet still maintains the unilateral power to order the use of nuclear weapons?

In an effort to answer these questions, I recently spoke with Dr. John Gartner, a former professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University Medical School. 



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Monday, June 11, 2018

A 4-minute video on Finland, where people are the happiest

Enlightening video on how life can be so much better for everyone with socialism!  The weather may be cold in Finland, but the people are secure, no matter what their income.

On Bernie Sanders Voices channel:

Why Finland is the Happiest Country - Author Anu Partanen ... - YouTube

▶ 4:20
Apr 27, 2018 - Uploaded by Anu Partanen
The Bernie Sanders Voices channel features Anu Partanen, author of "The Nordic Theory of Everything: In ...
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Saturday, June 09, 2018

The sad truth: the US is a rogue state under Trump

Right wing voter ignorance plus Russian interference in the election has given us this:

A Meet-and-Greet, Not a Summit. A Rogue State, Not a Superpower.
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by P.M. Carpenter | June 9, 2018 - 6:18am

With her usual flair for alternative facts, presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway said this, on Wednesday, of Trump's preparation for the U.S.-North Korea meeting: "It is structured, it is extensive, it is, at this point, intense."

On Thursday, Trump said "I don't think I have to prepare very much. It's about attitude, it's about willingness to get things done. So this isn't a question of preparation." Voila. "I think I'm very well prepared."

For weeks I maintained that a Trump-Kim summit would not come off. I was both wrong, and right. The two will meet, but this is no summit in any traditional sense of the word. This is but a farce, a pretense, a joke — an all-networks episode of reality TV. Trump needed this meeting to save face, and Kim, knowing he could glibly "handle" the unprepared president, happily agreed to it. After all, the present score is in Kim's favor, 1-0. He has already accomplished what his blood predecessors so desperately sought: diplomatic equality with the United States — which Trump sacrificed to Kim at no cost whatsoever.

Trump always insisted he would operate an "unpredictable" foreign policy. For once, he was truthful. Major concessions in the absence of reciprocity are scarcely the stuff of predictability to anyone even cursorily schooled in the art of international give and take. Kim and his goons are unquestionably laughing at Trump and his goons. Who knew that imperialist dogs were such a pushover?

The future of talks hinges on North Korea's denuclearization, which ain't gonna happen. So the jig is up before they sit down. Kim's challenge, then, is to bamboozle Trump into easing economic sanctions while making mere promises of denuclearization, and perhaps scaling back his arsenal by some insignificant measure. Trump, being a largemouth bass going for the bait, will gleefully declare such "concessions" a major personal victory. (What of retiring US troops from the peninsula, or withdrawing our nuclear umbrella from South Korea? One shivers to think of the indifference with which this president could betray yet another U.S. ally.)

Trump has said he "would certainly like to see normalization" with North Korea. That would be normalization with this, from the Wall Street Journal's reporting: "Torture and starvation are routine in a vast network of North Korean prison camps.... Around 100,000 people are held in five camps…. Tales from the gulag are grim. One inmate of a North Korean labor camp from 2015 to 2016 described having to bend bodies in half to fit as many as possible in an incinerator.... It wasn't clear how the prisoners died, but disease, starvation and work accidents can kill swathes of inmates." There has been no indication that Trump will bring up these grotesqueries.

Yesterday, French President Emmanuel Macron said he and other members of the G-7 might omit the United States from a statement of unity at the conclusion of their summit this weekend, because only six members "represent values." The United States once led Western civilization in the promulgation of international values. Now, under Trump, the U.S. is just another rogue state, like Kim's.


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Thursday, May 24, 2018

A Marvelous TED talk about the brain and our perception of who we are: what a brain scientist learned from her stroke

Don't miss this incredible talk by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain scientist who tells of her experience of having a stroke -- and how it changed her perception of herself and the world.  It's only 18 minutes long, but is one of the most powerful talks I've ever heard. She gave this talk in Monterey, California in 2008, and it is probably the most popular TED talk ever given anywhere at any time.  If you click on the link below and watch it, you will see why.  She is amazing, and her story is magically told--and unforgettable. The audience was riveted -- and I was, too, watching it here online tonight. She calls her experience A Powerful Stroke of Insight.  I think you will agree with her that it was that -- and More.  I'm grateful that she lived to share it with the world.

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