Don’t Blame the NON-EXISTENT GOD, Focus on the Reality of LOVE

I’m sure many of us hear the following voices from time to time:

They say that I should trust my boyfriend and respect his personal space and freedom, but that’s easy for them to say. How would they treat their current partners if they had been cheated on by their former partners, not once, but time and again?

***

They say that I should respect my liberal leftist teacher, but every time I open my mouth to talk about my deepest right-wing traditionalist convictions I am accused of being a narcissistic racist by some of my classmates.

***

They say that we should respect the so-called traditional family, but what about my best friend who is a victim of incest?

***

They say that I should respect my rightist classmate, but they forget that I’ve been called a libtard, moron and nigger constantly by many right-wing people over the past few years.

***

They say that I should respect the so-called beauty of nature and that I shouldn’t kick my dog when he’s behaving badly, but what do they know about the earthquake that destroyed my aunt’s house and the horse that smashed my brother’s face to smithereens?

***

They say that I should respect the immigrants who stay in the adjacent refugee center, but that’s easy for them to say. My daughter who lives in another town is harassed, almost daily, by a foreigner on the way to work.

***

They say that I should respect their culture and that I should be able to speak and write in their language, but they are not even themselves capable of writing in their own language without mistakes. In fact, I am better at writing in their language. Why should I accept the instruction of my professor to read one of the so-called great literary works of their culture while my own culture has some great writers as well?

***

They say that I should respect and cherish the so-called god-given gift of life, but they don’t seem to consider my trauma: the people who are dearest to me lost their lives in a car-crash. Why should I respect and believe in a god who apparently let this happen?

Have you ever experienced, like the voices above, a rejection or betrayal of yourself or the ones you love by your family, your friends, your classmates, your colleagues, your government, your president, strangers, foreigners, people with another worldview, or even the universe itself? If so, you probably also already took out your anxieties and frustrations on others in revenge of that rejection, although they had nothing to do with the trauma you experienced.

Your new boyfriend is not the old one who cheated on you. Your teacher is not the classmate who offended you. Your friend’s foster parent is not the uncle who abused your friend. Your rightist classmate is not the racist who doesn’t respect your color. Your dog is not the horse that smashed your brother’s face. Your refugee neighbor is not the foreigner who harassed your daughter. Your professor is not the double-standard hypocrite who expects things from you he wouldn’t expect from others.

All these people are non-existent enemies. They are blamed for things they are not responsible for. In other words, they are scapegoats who suffer from revenge – which is an imitated evil. The ultimate scapegoat, of course, is the non-existent god people sometimes get angry at. There is no god who controls our fate or who can be manipulated to have control over our fate.

The tragedy is that we might become so obsessed with fighting non-existent enemies that we ultimately create the enemy we actually wanted to destroy in order to save ourselves. Innocent others might get traumatized by our anger, and they might end up getting angry at others as well. Trauma often inflicts trauma. We might even become so obsessed with fighting the non-existent god and his illusory belief systems that we end up being dictated by the illusion ourselves.

The non-existent all-controlling god cannot prevent car-crashes in which we lose our beloved ones, nor can he cause them. He is not real. The love that connects us with those beloved ones, through and beyond pain and suffering, is real though. Eventually according to the Bible it is that love which reveals who God really is.

Ultimately, we want to love others and we want the love of others. When we experience the lack of others we love or the lack of love from others, we are hurt to the bone because our deepest desire is not met. We don’t want the pain and the sadness when people hurt us, or when people we love are taken away from us. We want love, even if it is because of love that we are able to feel hurt and sad in the first place. Love carries us. Even if we try to fight love with hate and indifference love is always first. Love is equally the source of our joy and our sadness, as it is the source of our indignation and attempts at indifference.

Focus on Love

So instead of focusing on a non-existent god and non-existent enemies because of our hurt, our sadness, our fear and our anger, isn’t it better to focus on the reality of the love that is felt through and beyond our pain? Isn’t it better to focus on the love that moves us beyond our fear, envy, possessiveness and revengefulness?

Those who were not able to let love in our lives shouldn’t be persecuted in others (or ourselves!) who have nothing to do with their sin. And those who showed us glimpses of what love is and who passed away or said goodbye shouldn’t be buried under grief when they can be gratefully present in our ability to love, each and every day.

Easily said. Not always easily done.

Love casts out Fear

NEDERLANDSE VERTALING:

BESCHULDIG GEEN ONBESTAANDE GOD, RICHT JE OP DE REALITEIT VAN DE LIEFDE

Ik ben er zeker van dat velen van ons gelijkaardige stemmen als de volgende al aan het woord hebben gehoord:

Ze zeggen dat ik mijn vriend moet vertrouwen en dat ik zijn persoonlijke ruimte en vrijheid moet respecteren, maar zij hebben gemakkelijk praten. Hoe zouden zij hun huidige partners behandelen als ze bedrogen zijn geweest door hun vorige partner, en dat niet één keer, maar telkens opnieuw?

***

Ze zeggen dat ik mijn leraar met zijn linkse opvattingen moet respecteren, maar elke keer als ik mijn mond open om te praten over mijn rechtse, conservatieve overtuigingen word ik racist genoemd door sommige klasgenoten.

***

Ze zeggen dat we respect moeten hebben voor het zogenaamd klassieke gezin, maar ze denken daarbij niet aan mijn vriendin die een slachtoffer is van incest.

***

Ze zeggen dat ik respect moet hebben voor die klasgenote met haar rechtse opvattingen, maar ze vergeten dat ik de voorbije jaren vele keren vuile neger werd genoemd door rechts georiënteerde mensen.

***

Ze zeggen dat ik de zogenaamde schoonheid van de natuur moet respecteren en dat ik mijn hond niet mag schoppen als hij zich misdraagt, maar zeg dat eens aan mijn tante wiens huis door een aardbeving werd vernietigd, en spreek eens met mijn broer wiens gezicht door de trap van een paard aan gruzelementen werd geslagen.

***

Ze zeggen dat ik de immigranten moet respecteren die in het naburige vluchtelingencentrum verblijven terwijl mijn dochter bijna elke dag wordt lastiggevallen door een vreemdeling op de weg naar haar werk.

***

Ze zeggen dat ik hun cultuur moet respecteren en dat ik hun taal moet kunnen spreken en schrijven, maar ze zijn zelf niet in staat om in hun eigen taal zonder fouten te schrijven. Eigenlijk schrijf ik zelfs beter in hun taal dan zijzelf. Waarom zou ik dan de opdracht van mijn professor aanvaarden om een van de zogenaamd grote literaire werken van hun cultuur te lezen, terwijl mijn cultuur ook grote schrijvers heeft voortgebracht?

***

Ze zeggen dat ik het zogenaamd goddelijke geschenk van het leven moet respecteren en koesteren, maar ze schijnen mijn trauma niet te overwegen: de mensen die mij het nauwst aan het hart liggen, lieten het leven in een auto-ongeluk. Waarom zou ik respect hebben voor en geloof hebben in een god die dit blijkbaar liet gebeuren?

Heb je ooit, zoals de zopas gehoorde stemmen, een afwijzing of verraad ervaren van jezelf of van mensen die je bemint door je familie, je vrienden, je klasgenoten, je collega’s, je regering, vreemdelingen, mensen met een andere levensbeschouwing, of zelfs “het universum” zelf? Indien je inderdaad die afwijzing hebt gevoeld, dan heb je waarschijnlijk ook wel al eens je angsten en frustraties afgereageerd op anderen die eigenlijk niets met jouw trauma te maken hebben.

Je nieuwe vriendje is niet je ex-vriendje dat jou bedrogen heeft. Je leraar is niet de klasgenoot die jou beledigde. De pleegouder van je vriendin is niet de oom die haar misbruikte. Je rechtse klasgenote is niet de raciste die geen respect heeft voor je huidskleur. Je hond is niet het paard dat het gezicht van je broer verbrijzelde. De vluchteling uit je buurt is niet de vreemdeling die je dochter lastigvalt. Je professor is niet de hypocriet die met twee maten en twee gewichten weegt; hij is niet iemand die van jou iets anders verwacht dan van anderen.

Al die mensen zijn onbestaande vijanden. Ze worden beschuldigd van zaken waarvoor ze niet verantwoordelijk zijn. Ze zijn, met andere woorden, zondebokken die lijden onder onze onterechte wraakzucht (en door die wraakzucht imiteren we het kwaad dat ons is aangedaan). De ultieme zondebok is natuurlijk de niet-bestaande god op wie mensen soms kwaad worden. Er is geen god die ons lot controleert en die we kunnen manipuleren om controle over ons lot te krijgen.

Het tragische is dat we zo geobsedeerd kunnen geraken door het bevechten van onze niet-bestaande vijanden dat we uiteindelijk toch een vijand creëren. En eigenlijk wilden we die vijand vernietigen om onszelf te redden. Onschuldige anderen kunnen getraumatiseerd geraken door de woede waarmee we ons afreageren, en daardoor kunnen zij dan weer boos worden op anderen. Trauma’s brengen vaak nieuwe trauma’s voort. We kunnen zelfs zo geobsedeerd geraken door het bevechten van een niet-bestaande god en de valse geloofssystemen die met hem gepaard gaan, dat ons eigen leven uiteindelijk gedicteerd wordt door die illusie.

De niet-bestaande alles controlerende god kan geen auto-ongelukken verhinderen waarin we onze geliefden verliezen, en hij kan evenmin die ongelukken veroorzaken. Hij is niet echt. Daarentegen is de liefde die ons met die geliefden verbindt, doorheen en voorbij ons verdriet, wél echt. Het is die liefde die uiteindelijk volgens de Bijbelse geschriften openbaart wie God werkelijk is.

Uiteindelijk beantwoordt de liefde misschien wel aan ons diepste verlangen: we willen anderen beminnen en we willen door anderen bemind worden. Wanneer we mensen moeten missen die we graag zien, of wanneer we een gebrek aan liefde van anderen ervaren, worden we tot in het diepste van onze ziel gekwetst, precies omdat ons diepste verlangen niet wordt vervuld. We willen niet de pijn en het verdriet wanneer mensen ons kwetsen, of wanneer de mensen die we graag zien ons worden ontnomen. We willen liefde, zelfs als het de liefde is die ervoor zorgt dat we überhaupt pijn en verdriet kunnen voelen. De liefde draagt ons. Zelfs als we de liefde bevechten met haat en onverschilligheid is de liefde nog altijd eerst. Liefde is tegelijk de bron van onze vreugde en ons verdriet, alsook van onze verontwaardiging en pogingen tot onverschilligheid.

Dus in plaats van ons te focussen op niet-bestaande vijanden en een niet-bestaande god wegens onze pijn, ons verdriet, onze angsten en onze boosheid, kunnen we ons misschien beter focussen op de werkelijkheid van de liefde die doorheen en voorbij onze pijn voelbaar wordt. Is het niet beter om ons te laten bewegen door die liefde in plaats van door angst, jaloezie, bezitterigheid en wraakzucht?

We moeten onszelf en anderen niet haten omdat sommige mensen niet in staat bleken om ons liefde te geven. En zij die ons wél een glimp lieten opvangen van wat liefde is, maar van wie we afscheid moesten nemen, zouden niet mogen begraven worden onder jammerklachten. Zij kunnen immers aanwezig blijven in ons dankbaar vermogen om lief te hebben, elke dag opnieuw.

Dat is gemakkelijk gezegd, niet altijd gemakkelijk gedaan. Toch is de hoop op een gerespecteerd en respectvol leven een hoop die we blijvend mogen koesteren.

John Steinbeck on Rejection (quote from East of Eden)

 

 

 

 

To The Heart of the Christian Faith

Possessed by the Demon of Social Shame and Guilt

Bob was called to the principal’s office. Together with other students he took part in a display of troublesome behavior while being presented a movie in the school’s theater. He knew that the principal would punish him severely if the principal would find out that he had damaged some of the seats together with his friends. But Bob was clever in presenting his story. He could convince the principal that he and his classmates suffered from the bad influence of one student in particular: Oedipus. Oedipus, a rich, arrogant and bothersome boy eventually took the biggest chunk of the blame, although he had only yelled a bit together with the others. He certainly hadn’t damaged anything. So in fact he was a scapegoat, as he was wrongfully accused for being the worst perpetrator. But of course Oedipus bore his punishment with pride: he wouldn’t want to be called a detector by his friends. He’d rather be “the hero” who “took it like a man” than be known as a “coward” – that would be too shameful.

Oedipus stabs out his eyesIn short, what happens in this case is that Bob’s protection of his social profile and self-image leads to the scapegoating of Oedipus. And Oedipus, desiring to protect his social prestige as well, is willing to sacrifice himself for the group.

So the supposed “hetero-aggression” of the principal towards Bob leads to Bob’s “auto-aggression”: Bob cannot be honest about himself because he is too afraid of what will happen to him. Furthermore, because he is ashamed in front of his principal, Bob develops a kind of shamelessness towards his friend Oedipus. Backed-up by his friends, Bob is able to harm the reputation of Oedipus even more. Oedipus, in turn, on experiencing this “hetero-aggression” by his friends, is willing to perform a sort of “auto-aggression”. His “self-sacrifice” thus is an imitation of his sacrifice by the group of friends. Oedipus looks at himself through the eyes of the group who betrays him, and instead of standing up for himself he becomes ashamed of himself, eventually betraying himself in favor of a “social idol” that should gain him “respect”.

cool laughing stockThe story continues… Bob and his friends always looked at Oedipus as “the crazy one”, but also “the audacious one” and “the one who was way too cool to study for school”. And Oedipus was more than willing to meet the expectations of his class-mates, acting like the funny guy, doing all sorts of crazy things – in class, on the playground, with his locker, etc. After all, Oedipus truly was “different”, wasn’t he?

Well, that’s what all of them thought until they met Mahatma. Mahatma was an exchange student from India. He came from a poor family, but he studied very hard and had earned a scholarship to come to the States. Mahatma could have easily become the new laughing stock, but he simply was too fascinating, funny and caring to not be taken seriously one way or the other. Everybody ended up listening to what he, who appeared to be indeed very “different” at first glance, had to say.

Mahatma noticed how Bob, Oedipus and their friends all showed the tendency to cultivate the idea that “it is not cool to work hard for school”. Mahatma was quite sure that some of them studied hard, but it was like they were intercepting any possible disappointment and shame about themselves. No one likes to acknowledge that one studied hard when the grades are bad eventually – for it could be interpreted as a lack of intelligence or talent for a particular subject. Moreover, Mahatma noticed, whenever someone did acknowledge that he worked hard he was immediately somewhat excluded as a laughing stock. “Well,” Mahatma said, “I don’t understand why studying hard for school should be anything to be ashamed of. Even if it turns out that you are not performing too well for one particular subject, it still allows you to discover what your true talents are. And if you can be honest about yourself and realize that you are not that different from the hard working ‘nerd’ you’re making fun of, you can be more loving towards others – allowing them to be honest about themselves as well.”

How about that? Mahatma is doing nothing else than imitating the Christ of the Gospels. Jesus of Nazareth, the one who is called the Christ, reminds people of who they really are: not at all that different from the people they look down on. That’s why he says, “let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”

Jesus wants to replace the love for our untruthful self-image and the adherence to our “reputation” with the love for ourselves and others. We can be like the hard working student who feels ashamed of himself, even guilty of studying hard, and indeed develop the tendency to publicly and hypocritically loath or exclude other hard working students. On the other hand, if we no longer feel ashamed of ourselves, we can start feeling ashamed of the hurt we brought to others because we were too preoccupied with our social profile. That is what happens to Peter: after denying Jesus when the latter is imprisoned, Peter eventually feels ashamed because of the hurt he brought to his friend.

To get back to the story of Bob, Oedipus and Mahatma… Mahatma made something similar happen to his new friends from the States. He made Bob and the others see that they were not at all that different from Oedipus, and that they were all “addicted” to the same negative attitude towards “studying hard for school”. It was an attitude which possessed them like a demon. Mahatma was able to make them look at themselves through the eyes of the ones who were always mocked for being “nerds”. Confronted with the “cool nerd” that Mahatma was, those nerds turned out to be not that “uncool”, “boring” or “hypocritical” after all. Besides, from the point of view of the nerds Bob and his friends were the often uncool and boring hypocrites!

Jesus and Demoniac (Peter Howson)All of this dawned on Bob, Oedipus and their friends. Mahatma was THE nerd who enabled them to be honest about themselves. He could have easily condemned them for what they did to other nerds and other excluded people, but instead he forgave them before they even fully realized how they had hurt themselves and others because of their addiction to a “social idol”. What Mahatma did to them was confronting and liberating at the same time. The truth about how they had lived their lives hurt at first, but set them free as well. It made them independent of the shame others would try to transfer on them, and at the same time allowed them to take sides with and love the oppressed and vulnerable.

So Bob, Oedipus and the others became Mahatmas in their own way, imitating the love he gave them, and trying to reconcile people with each other. Their contagious work of creating a realm of forgiveness allowed people to acknowledge what they had done to others. It allowed people to no longer be ashamed of themselves in favor of a “social idol”. On the contrary, it allowed people to be ashamed and remorseful without being crushed under guilt, and to newly love the ones they had hurt. And finally, it allowed people to free themselves from the traumas they had suffered themselves. As more people experienced the forgiving love that enabled them to accept themselves, those people no longer felt the need to defend a certain self-image and became more capable (though not totally) of living lives without excluding or judging others.

Salvation by a Contamination with Divine Grace:

“Father, Son, Holy Spirit”

We are truly “godlike”

As hinted at earlier, the “Spirit” that “contaminated” the group of Bob and his friends, and that was created by the self-confident “Son” of India Mahatma (who is indeed carried by a “Fatherly” or “Motherly” Love that allows him to love himself in spite of possible social exclusion), was also the Spirit that contaminated the followers of Jesus. It was the “forgiving nerd” Mahatma – a forgiving “other” – that allowed Bob and his friends to “come to themselves” and “change”: acknowledging their “addictions”, they could free themselves and discover their own talents, paradoxically becoming like the “forgiving nerd” themselves in loving and reconciling people.

The New Testament writers believe that what Mahatma did for his new classmates, Jesus did for the whole of humanity. Jesus is the one who calls for the end of the sacrifice of every possible “Oedipus” by running the risk of being sacrificed himself. He is the ultimate “Other”, the “Mahatma par excellence” who, forgiving, enables us to be honest about ourselves. This makes possible the reconciliation and salvation of humanity as a whole, as there would be no need for a final “One Big Human Oedipus” (one big common enemy or sacrificed victim) to accomplish this. Resurrected, The Forgiving Crucified Jesus who does not simply avenge all the other “excluded” or “sacrificed” allows his disciples and all the rest of us to “do justice” to the ones we hurt, and to imitate him by forgiving those who hurt us – creating the possibility that they might do justice to us as well.

the weak can never forgive (Mahatma Gandhi)Jesus kills every “social idol”, meaning that he is guided by a Love which “desires mercy, not sacrifice.” He allows us to see ourselves through the loving eyes of “the One who cannot be reduced to our man-made world.” As Mahatma allows Bob and his friends to look at themselves through the eyes of a “loving nerd” who does not “crush them under guilt” (that would lead to the temptation to brush off the blame on a scapegoat again), Jesus allows us to look at ourselves through the eyes of a “Loving God” who “believes in us.” Like Mahatma allowed Bob and his friends to discover they were somewhat “nerds” themselves, Jesus allows us to discover we are truly “godlike”. The forgiveness of Jesus paradoxically “re-creates” and “changes” us by bringing us to our”selves”.

Of course, in this broken world we never fully realize our self-acceptance and the acceptance of others – the experience of God as Love (i.e. the experience of God at a human level) –, but we can follow the example of Christ the best we can (as far as it is possible for each of us): forgiving each other time and again, “seventy times seven”. For indeed, realistically speaking, none of us is perfect. So contrary to the famous line of one popular movie from 1970 (Love Story), “love means having to say you’re sorry…” It means being forgiven, “as we forgive those who trespass against us…”

The Prodigal Son (Rembrandt c1669)

To This Day

Shane Koyczan is a spiritual man. A man of poetry and gentle madness. A man of stories, a man of truth. A man of beauty. His poem To This Day would be a great way to end a first part of a journey with mimetic theory in high school, especially regarding what I’ve written so far on the film American Beauty. It could follow these posts:

  1. Mimetic Theory in High School (click to read)
  2. Types of the Scapegoat Mechanism (click to read)
  3. Scapegoating in American Beauty (click to read)
  4. Philosophy in American Beauty (click to read)
  5. Real Life Cases of Ressentiment (click to read)

quote A weed is but an unloved flower Ella Wheeler WilcoxTo This Day and Shane’s TED-talk contain many themes I’ve written about before, for instance in a post entitled Atheism: a lack of unbelief?:

A person’s worth cannot be determined solely by human perception and judgment. Man is not simply the child of a “social other”, i.e. the product of a man-made social environment in which he gains or loses a sense of (self-) worth. He’s also, following the thoughts of people like James Alison and Emmanuel Levinas, a child of “the other Other”, and we should postpone any final judgment on other people and ourselves.

It also reminded me of this famous quote: “Every finite spirit believes either in a God or in an idol” (Max Scheler, 1874-1928). I wrote about this in several posts before, for instance in a post entitled That is (not) the question, about rap star Diam’s conversion to Islam – it talks about how we have the tendency to sacrifice ourselves and others to the demands of a so-called admirable (self-)image that seeks confirmation and recognition:

quote Shane Koyczan Be the weedDiam’s discovered how she tried to live up to the expectations of her fans, and how this enslaved her. She was kneeling to an image of herself as the admirable idol her fans wanted her to be. Kneeling to Allah, on the other hand, apparently meant that Diam’s no longer bowed to the demands of the music and entertainment industry. It was a turning point in her life. It enabled her to free herself, and to criticize the priorities in her life. From now on, she would seek and explore another source of motivations for her life.

Finally, Shane Koyczan’s story is reminiscent of Peter Howson’s story in a post entitled Desert Moments with Peter Howson:

“I used to be very badly bullied at school and when I was a bouncer in a nightclub for quite a few years I changed in a false sense then, and became a bully myself.” In other words: Howson became the imitator of his persecutors… He followed the mimetic principle of vengeance.

CLICK TO WATCH the video To This Day (click here to read the lyrics in pdf):

I’d like to give some quotes from his TED-talk as well, because they illustrate some key insights from René Girard’s mimetic theory and they reminded me of those previous posts:

quote do not be conformed by this world RomansWe were expected to define ourselves at such an early age, and if we didn’t do it, others did it for us. Geek. Fatty. Slut. Fag. And at the same time we were being told what we were, we were being asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I always thought that was an unfair question. It presupposes that we can’t be what we already are.

See, they asked me what I wanted to be, then told me what not to be. And I wasn’t the only one. We were being told that we somehow must become what we are not, sacrificing what we are to inherit the masquerade of what we will be. I was being told to accept the identity that others will give me.

quote be this guyOne of the first lines of poetry I can remember writing was in response to a world that demanded I hate myself. From age 15 to 18, I hated myself for becoming the thing that I loathed: a bully. When I was 19, I wrote, “I will love myself despite the ease with which I lean toward the opposite.

CLICK TO WATCH Shane’s TED-talk:

Things I say… allegedly…

The secret to creativity (Albert Einstein)

Well, Einstein isn’t the only one with quotes :). Through several years of teaching, I’ve developed some expressions myself. Of course, it’s only my attempt to transmit the ideas of others. Anyway, hope to make you think. Enjoy!

about Jesus and Christianity

Jesus is often called a leader whose words and deeds are too otherworldly to be imitated. Indeed, our world produces one illusion after the other, and Jesus is too much of a realist to aspire to be a king of this world.

There are some whose ultimate goal it is to be loved, and they are willing to suffer in order to get to their paradise of happiness. There are others whose ultimate goal it is to love, and they are willing to bear suffering as a possible consequence of their refusal to sacrifice others. The last ones can be considered followers of Christ. The first ones can be considered masochists.

It’s better and healthier – maybe more ‘Christian’ even – to discard Christianity because of a lack of understanding than to accept an untruthful, unhealthy version of it.

quote on Jesus (Albert Einstein)

about truth and lies

Although you might have the opposite impression, as long as you have to take medication, the disease you’re suffering from is not cured. Any doctor who makes you think you are cured by taking drugs is selling pharmaceutical lies. In the case of chronic, still incurable diseases, scientific progress is needed to prevent the pharmaceutical industry of becoming an end in itself. The economics of the pharmaceutical industry, and the medications it produces, should serve the ultimate goal of medicine: cure people, which means making them independent of medications.

One aspect of truth is like a real gift. It’s not immediately necessary are necessarily useful, but it opens unexpected possibilities. The truth has the potential to set you free because you don’t need it.

Although some consider it to be a sign of freedom to be able to approach reality from the perspective of their supposedly very own needs, desires and interests, this is actually a sign of enslavement; for the things you need or learned to need are things you are dependent upon (otherwise you wouldn’t need them).

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift (Albert Einstein)

One aspect of truth is like love. It can hurt, for it does not flee when aspects of reality strike that you would rather do away with.

Truth does not have to be useful. It has to be true.

Some people are primarily interested in what they need. Others are primarily interested in gaining knowledge and finding truth.

There are only two ways to live (Albert Einstein)

about education

Education begins where one’s primary interests and certainties end. It’s a call to adventure.

It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education (Albert Einstein)

Some people think they know what’s true by pointing out what’s false. It’s the illusion of a man who dares not criticize and educate himself, afraid he’ll find out that he’s not a god.

The only sure way to avoid making mistakes... (Albert Einstein)

about scientism

Some give the impression that modern science will eventually answer all questions, thereby characterizing as irrelevant those questions science cannot answer. Well, that’s easy. If I can marginalize all questions that I cannot answer (by calling them “irrelevant”), I’ll be able to solve “all” questions immediately.

The important thing is not to stop questioning (Albert Einstein)

Strict scientism makes perfect sense, right? In the end, it considers “Butterflies evolve from caterpillars” a meaningful statement, while it considers “Butterflies are beautiful” meaningless. Should make perfect sense, but somewhere down the road, something apparently went wrong, nonetheless…

about desire and needs

If you desire to be everywhere, you end up being nowhere.

“I don’t need God!”, the atheist said, “I’m perfectly happy without Him!” – “I don’t need a house with electricity!”, the caveman cried, “I’m perfectly happy in my cave!”

[=> Okay, this one’s quite lame :); and of course, to love someone doesn’t mean that a desire for happiness drives you – love is ultimately concerned with the well-being of others, and we’re all unhappy if our beloved others are harmed; still, most of us won’t suppress love because of the possible sadness it provokes – meaning our desire to feel good and happy is less important than our desire for the well-being of the beloved others…].

about love (and utilitarianism)

If you love others, you’ll get hurt when you lose them, and feel sad when they suffer. Still, you will not stop loving them. Not because you enjoy sadness or suffering, but because you are willing to accept that your own happiness can only be a consequence of the happiness of others, and never an end in itself (contrary to utilitarianism).

I never said half the crap people said I did (Albert Einstein)

Yahweh

I found this video on youtube. It was made by ylbob – thank you for sharing this! – and shows text and images to the song Yahweh of U2. A great prayer before bedtime.

“Sleep tight. Don’t fear. Love.”