Never by hatred is hatred appeased, but it is appeased by kindness. This is an eternal truth. (Buddha)
Those sciences which govern the morals of mankind, such as Theology and Philosophy, make everything their concern: no activity is so private or so secret as to escape their attention or their jurisdiction. (Michel de Montaigne)
From the apparent usefulness of the social virtues, it has readily been inferred by sceptics, both ancient and modern, that all moral distinctions arise from education, and were, at first, invented, and afterwards encouraged ... in order to render men tractable, and subdue their natural ferocity and selfishness, which incapacitated them for society. (David Hume)
If religion is the establishing of a relationship between man and the universe, then morality is the indication and explanation of those activities that automatically result when a person maintains one or other relationship to the universe. (Leo Tolstoy)
There is nothing divine about morality;
it is a purely human affair.
If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed. What the individual can do is to give a fine example, and to have the courage to uphold ethical values .. in a society of cynics.
As Leo Tolstoy writes, the foundation for Morality is founded on our relationship with the Universe.
If religion is the establishing of a relationship between
man and the universe, then morality is the indication and explanation of
those activities that automatically result when a person maintains one
or other relationship to the universe. ...
Morality cannot be independent of religion, since it is not only a consequence of religion - that is, of the relationship a person has to the world - but it is also included in religion by implication. Every religion is an answer to the question of the meaning of life. And the religious answer includes a certain moral demand. (Leo Tolstoy, Confessions)
The idea of the individual being connected to the cosmos is expressed in the Latin root of the word religion, religare (to bind strongly). Many philosophers and religions in the past have deduced the morality for how we are to live from the Interconnection and Unity of the Universe. Such as the practical ethics of Confucianism & Taoism, Buddhism (Eastern philosophy) and Stoicism (Ancient Greek Philosophy), which emphasise self control, contentment, education and living a simple virtuous life in harmony with Nature. As Zeno, founder of Stoicism expresses;
All things are parts of one single system, which is called Nature; the individual life is good when it is in harmony with Nature. (Zeno)
Likewise Lao Tzu wrote;
Being One with Nature (the sage) is in accord with the Tao. (Lao Tzu)
Postmodern Human knowledge is founded on (has evolved from) a Science which studied the motion of particles and their forces in Space and Time (Metaphysics of Space and Time). The problem with this world view is that it does not explain how matter, as particles, interacts with all other matter in the universe (which it clearly does). This particle conception of matter prevented us from understanding our true connection to the Universe and the resulting moral behaviours which this would then determine. The solution (which is simple once known) is to discard the particle concept of matter and replace it with the Spherical Standing Wave Structure of Matter in Space.
Of great significance from the foundation of the Wave Structure of Matter
is the realisation that Matter and the Universe are One. Matter, existing
as Spherical Wave Motions of Space, determines the size of our Finite Spherical
Observable Universe within an Infinite Space. (See Cosmology)
This explains how Matter interacts with all other Matter in the Universe, and thus provides the logical foundations for the fundamental morality of all major Religions, 'Do unto Others as you would have done unto thy Self.'
Once we correctly understand the True conception of Self as Universe then we realise that this Morality is Necessarily True (a Tautology) for the Other is a part of the Self.
Albert Einstein realised that matter did not exist as discrete particles and was intimately interconnected with all other matter in the universe. (His error was to represent matter as spherical force fields in Space-Time rather than spherical wave fields in Space.) He writes;
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. The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive. (Albert Einstein,)
Likewise Schrodinger (famous for his Wave Equations of Quantum Theory) realised the underlying unity of reality.
The world is given to me only once, not one existing and one perceived. Subject and Object are only one. The barrier between them cannot be said to have broken down as a result of recent experience in the physical sciences, for this barrier does not exist. (Erwin Schrodinger)
In fact Self as Universe (ALL is ONE) is an ancient idea, from which foundations philosophy first flourished.
All things come out of the One and the One out of all things (Heraclitus, ~500BC)
All phenomena link together in a mutually conditioning network. (Buddha, ~500BC)
Though One Brahman is the Cause of the Many. ... Behold but One in all things it is the second that leads you astray. (Kabir)
When the Ten Thousand things are viewed in their Oneness we return to the Origin and remain where we have always been. (Sen T'sen)
Frequently consider the connection of all things in the universe. .. We should not say ‘I am an Athenian’ or ‘I am a Roman’ but ‘I am a citizen of the Universe. (Marcus Aurelius, 170 A.D.)
So long as people do not consider all men as their brothers and do not consider human life as the most sacred thing, which rather than destroy they must consider it their first and foremost duty to support; that is so long as people do not behave towards one another in a religious manner, they will always ruin one another’s lives for the sake of personal gain. (Leo Tolstoy, Confessions)
My doctrine means that I must identify myself with life, with everything that lives, that I must share the majesty of life in the presence of God. The sum-total of this life is God. .. Man is not at peace with himself until he has become like unto God. The endeavor to reach this state is the supreme, the only ambition worth having. And this is self-realisation. This self-realisation is the subject of the Gita, as it is of all scriptures… to be a real devotee is to realise oneself. Self-realisation is not something apart. (Gandhi)
We have to treat others as part of who we are, rather than as a ‘them’ with whom we are in constant competition. (Robert Bellah)
To be able to transcend the notion of separateness of oneself from the multiplicity of things and events in the world and to identify all with the absolute reality is true enlightenment, true self-realisation. (Sudhakar S.D, I am All)
The most important characteristic of the Eastern world view - one could almost say the essence of it - is the awareness of the unity and mutual interrelation of all things and events, the experience of all phenomena in the world as manifestations of a basic oneness. All things are seen as interdependent and inseparable parts of this cosmic whole; as different manifestations of the same ultimate reality. (Capra, The Tao of Physics)
Understanding our connection to the universe is a beautiful and profound spiritual experience - understanding this through reason and the sciences simply confirms this previously intuitive / mystical knowledge (which many people have experienced). Nonetheless, there is a certain psychological danger in dismissing the 'naive real' world of our senses (the world of change and illusion as the ancients wrote) and asserting that only the One Absolute (Space, Brahman, Tao, God) is real, as Radhakrishnan importantly observes;
Brahman alone is real, and to many thinkers it has seemed to follow that the many (the ordinary world) are unreal, even an illusion (maya) and so unworthy of attention. Radhakrishnan was deeply conscious that nondualism has sometimes been so interpreted as a justification for ignoring the world and its suffering, and this he regarded as morally unacceptable. (Collinson, Fifty Eastern Thinkers, 2000)
While it is beautiful to realise that all is One and Interconnected, this
does not necessarily mean that all things existing in the universe are
good for us and our societies. Just as cancers of the body cause harm,
likewise there are many harmful things within us as structures of the universe
- from asteroids that may harm life on earth, to incorrect ideas that lead
to overpopulation, starvation, war and the brutality that comes with the
collapse of moral laws.
While the Wave Structure of Matter in Absolute Space explains matter interactions, the moral concepts of right and wrong, good and evil, are human constructions of the mind. (Wave Motions are neither good nor bad.) As Schrodinger (a fine moral physicist) wrote;
There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so. (Erwin Schrodinger, 1967)
Life itself is neither a good nor an evil: life is where good or evil find a place, depending on how you make it for them.
Thus it seems to me that a valid moral purpose of life is to promote
the good and eliminate the bad within yourself, and thus as a logical consequence,
within the universe. We have evolved a wonderful moral sense, it would
be immoral if we did not use this for the betterment of ourselves, and
thus Humanity and Nature.
Geoff Haselhurst, Karene Howie, Email
Quotations from Confucius, Seneca, Michel de Montaigne, David Hume, Bertrand Russell, Sigmund Freud, Erwin Schrodinger
Fine words and an insinuating appearance are seldom associated with true virtue. (Confucius, Analects)
Have no friends not equal to yourself. (Confucius, Analects)
What the superior man seeks is in himself; what the small man seeks is in others. (Confucius)
When anger rises, think of the consequences. (Confucius)
Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles. (Confucius, Analects)
If a man takes no thought about what is distant, he will find sorrow near at hand. (Confucius, Analects)
Life itself is neither a good nor an evil: life is where good or evil find a place, depending on how you make it for them. (Seneca)
Moral philosophy is nothing else but the science of what is good, and evil, in the conversation, and society of mankind. Good, and evil, are names that signify our appetites, and aversions; which in different tempers, customs, and doctrines of men, are different. (Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, 1651)
Men are more moral than they think and far more immoral than they can imagine. (Sigmund Freud)
I have found little that is 'good' about human beings on the whole. In my experience most of them are trash, no matter whether they publicly subscribe to this or that ethical doctrine or to none at all. That is something that you cannot say aloud, or perhaps even think. (Sigmund Freud)
And I loathe people who find it harder to put up with a gown askew than with a soul askew and who judge a man by his bow, his bearing and his boots. (de Montaigne)
What our species needs, above all else, is a generally accepted ethical system that is compatible with the scientific knowledge we now possess. (Derek Freeman)
Ever since men became capable of free speculation, their actions, in innumerable important respects, have depended upon their theories as to the world and human life, as to what is good and what is evil. This is true in the present day as at any former time. To understand an age or a nation, we must understand its philosophy, and to understand its philosophy we must ourselves be in some degree philosophers. There is here a reciprocal causation: the circumstances of men's lives do much to determine their philosophy, but, conversely, their philosophy does much to determine their circumstances. (Bertrand Russell)
There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so. (Erwin Schrodinger)
.. the voice of nature and experience seems plainly to oppose the selfish theory. (David Hume, 1737)
How could politics be a science, if laws and forms of government had not a uniform influence upon society? Where would be the foundation of morals, if particular characters had no certain or determinate power to produce particular sentiments, and if these sentiments had no constant operation on actions? (David Hume, Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding, 1737)
It seems then, say I, that you leave politics entirely out of the question, and never suppose, that a wise magistrate can justly be jealous of certain tenets of philosophy, such as those of Epicurus, which, denying a divine existence, and consequently a providence and a future state, seem to loosen, in a great measure, the ties of morality, and may be supposed, for that reason, pernicious to the peace of civil society. (David Hume, Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding, 1737)
I deny a providence, you say, and supreme governor of the world, who guides the course of events, and punishes the vicious with infamy and disappointment, and rewards the virtuous with honour and success, in all their undertakings. But surely, I deny not the course itself of events, which lies open to every one's inquiry and examination. I acknowledge, that, in the present order of things, virtue is attended with more peace of mind than vice, and meets with a more favorable reception from the world. I am sensible, that, according to the past experience of mankind, friendship is the chief joy of human life, and moderation the only source of tranquility and happiness. I never balance between the virtuous and the vicious course of life; but am sensible, that, to a well-disposed mind, every advantage is on the side of the former. And what can you say more, allowing all your suppositions and reasonings? (David Hume, Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding, 1737, p140)
It is still open for me, as well as you, to regulate my behavior, by my experience of past events. (David Hume, Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding, 1737, p140)
There has been a controversy started of late, much better worth examination, concerning the general foundation of Morals; whether they be derived from Reason, or from Sentiment; whether we attain the knowledge of them by a chain of argument and induction, or by an immediate feeling and finer internal sense; whether, like all sound judgement of truth and falsehood, they should be the same to every rational intelligent being; or whether, like the perception of beauty and deformity, they be founded entirely on the particular fabric and constitution of the human species. (David Hume, Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding, 1737, p 170)
Truth is disputable; not taste: what exists in the nature of things is the standard of our judgement; what each man feels within himself is the standard of sentiment. Propositions in geometry may be proved, systems in physics may be controverted; but the harmony of verse, the tenderness of passion, the brilliancy of wit, must give immediate pleasure. No man reasons concerning another's beauty; but frequently concerning the justice or injustice of his actions. (David Hume, Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding, 1737, p 171)
These arguments on each side (and many more might be produced) are so plausible, that I am apt to suspect, they may, the one as well as the other, be solid and satisfactory, and that reason and sentiment concur in almost all moral determinations and conclusions. (David Hume, Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding, 1737, p 172)
.. that which renders morality an active principle and constitutes virtue our happiness, and vice our misery: it is probable, I say, that this final sentence depends on some internal sense or feeling, which nature has made universal in the whole species. (David Hume, Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding, 1737, p 173)
But in many orders of beauty, particularly those of the finer arts, it is requisite to employ much reasoning, in order to feel the proper sentiment; and a false relish may frequently be corrected by argument and reflection. There are just grounds to conclude, that moral beauty partakes of this latter species, and demands the assistance of our intellectual faculties, in order to give it a suitable influence on the human mind. (David Hume, Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding, 1737, p 173)
We may observe that, in displaying the praises of any humane, beneficent man, there is one circumstance which never fails to be amply insisted on, namely, the happiness and satisfaction, derived to society from his intercourse and good offices. (David Hume, Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding, 1737, p 178)
In all determinations of morality, this circumstance of public utility is ever principally in view; and wherever disputes arise, either in philosophy or common life, concerning the bounds of duty, the questions cannot, by any means, be decided with greater certainty, than by ascertaining, on any side, the true interests of mankind. If any false opinion, embraced from appearances, has been found to prevail; as soon as farther experience and sounder reasoning have given us juster notions of human affairs, we retract our first sentiment, and adjust anew the boundaries of moral good and evil. (David Hume, Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding, 1737, p 180)
He sees such a desperate rapaciousness prevail; such a disregard to equity, such contempt of order, such stupid blindness to future consequences, as must immediately have the most tragical conclusion, and most terminate in destruction to the greater number, and in a total dissolution of society to the rest. (David Hume, Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding, 1737, p 187)
Thus, the rules of equity or justice depend entirely on the particular
state and condition in which men are placed, and owe their origin and existence
to that utility, which results to the public from their strict and regular
observance. Reverse, in any considerable circumstance, the condition of
men: Produce extreme abundance or extreme necessity: Implant in the human
breast perfect moderation and humanity, or perfect rapaciousness and malice:
By rendering justice totally useless, you thereby totally destroy its essence,
and suspend its obligation upon mankind.
The common situation of society is a medium amidst all these extremes. We are naturally partial to ourselves, and to our friends; but are capable of learning the advantage resulting from a more equitable conduct. Few enjoyments are given us from the open and liberal hand of nature; but by art, labour, and industry, we can extract them in great abundance. Hence the ideas of property become necessary in all civil society: Hence justice derives its usefulness to the public: And hence alone arises its merit and moral obligation. (David Hume, Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding, 1737, p 188)
.. that a rule, which, in speculation, may seem the most advantageous to society, may yet be found, in practice, totally pernicious and destructive. (David Hume, Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding, 1737, p 193)
It must, indeed, be confessed, that nature is so liberal to mankind, that, were all her presents equally divided among the species, and improved by art and industry, every individual would enjoy all the necessaries, and even most of the comforts of life; nor would ever be liable to any ills, but such as might accidentally arise from the sickly frame and constitution of his body. It must also be confessed, that, whenever we depart from this equality, we rob the poor of more satisfaction than we add to the rich, and that the slight gratification of a frivolous vanity, in one individual, frequently costs more than bread to many families, and even providences. (David Hume, Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding, 1737, p 193)
But, historians, and even common sense, may inform us, that, however specious these ideas of perfect equality may seem, they are really, at bottom, impracticable; and were they not so, would be extremely pernicious to human society. Render possessions ever so equal, men's different degrees of art, care, and industry will immediately break that equality. Or if you check these virtues, you reduce society to the most extreme indigence; and instead of preventing want and beggary in a few, render it unavoidable to the whole community. (David Hume, Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding, 1737, p 194)
We may conclude, therefore, that, in order to establish laws for the regulation of property, we must be acquainted with the nature and situation of man; must reject appearances, which may be false, though specious; and must search for those rules, which are, on the whole, most useful and beneficial. (David Hume, Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding, 1737, p 194)
The observance of justice, though useful among them, is not guarded by so strong a necessity as among individuals; and the moral obligation holds proportion with the usefulness. (p206)
From the apparent usefulness of the social virtues, it has readily been inferred by sceptics, both ancient and modern, that all moral distinctions arise from education, and were, at first, invented, and afterwards encouraged, by the art of politicians, in order to render men tractable, and subdue their natural ferocity and selfishness, which incapacitated them for society. (p214)
Whoever has passed an evening with serious melancholy people, and has observed how suddenly the conversation was animated, and what sprightliness diffused itself over the countenance, discourse, and behavior of every one, on the accession of a good-humoured, lively companion; such a one will easily allow that cheerfulness carries great merit with it, and naturally conciliates the good-will of mankind. No quality, indeed, more readily communicates itself to all around; because no one has a greater propensity to display itself, in jovial talk and pleasant entertainment. The flame spreads through the whole circle; and the most sullen and morose are often caught by it. (p250)
In all polite nations and ages, a relish for pleasure, if accompanied with temperance and decency, is esteemed a considerable merit, even in the greatest men; and becomes still more requisite in those of inferior rank and character. (p251)
There is no man, who, on particular occasions, is not affected with all the disagreeable passions, fear, anger, dejection, grief, melancholy, anxiety, &c. But these, so far as they are natural, and universal, make no difference between one man and another, and can never be the object of blame. It is only when the disposition gives a propensity to any of these disagreeable passions, that they disfigure the character, and by giving uneasiness, convey the sentiment of disapprobation to the spectator. (p251 footnote)
.. a sublimity and daring confidence; which catches the eye, engages the affections, and diffuses, by sympathy, a like sublimity of sentiment over every spectator. (on the utility of courage) (p254)
Where a man has no sense of value in himself, we are not likely to have any higher esteem of him. (p254. footnote)
Of the same class of virtues with courage is that undisturbed philosophical tranquility, superior to pain, sorrow, anxiety, and each assault of adverse fortune. Conscious of his own virtue, say the philosophers, the sage elevates himself above every accident of life; and securely placed in the temple of wisdom, looks down on inferior mortals engaged in pursuit of honours, riches, reputation, and every frivolous enjoyment. These pretensions, no doubt, when stretched to the utmost, are by far too magnificent for human nature. They carry, however, a grandeur with them, which seizes the spectator, and strikes him with admiration. And the nearer we can approach in practice to this sublime tranquility and indifference (for we must distinguish it from a stupid insensibility), the more secure enjoyment shall we attain within ourselves, and the more greatness of mind shall we discover to the world. The philosophical tranquility may, indeed, be considered only as a branch of magnanimity. (p256)
..in like manner, the eternal contrarieties, in company, of men's pride and self-conceit, have introduced the rules of Good Manners or Politeness, in order to facilitate the intercourse of minds, and an undisturbed commerce and conversation. Among well-bred people, a mutual deference is affected; contempt of others disguised; authority concealed; attention given to each in his turn; and an easy stream of conversation maintained, without vehemence, without interruption, without eagerness for victory, and without any airs of superiority. (p261)
But, in order to render a man perfect good company, he must have Wit and Ingenuity as well as good manners. (p262)
That cheerfulness, which you might remark in him, is not a sudden flash struck out by company: it runs through the whole tenor of his life, and preserves a perpetual serenity on his countenance, and tranquility in his soul. (p269)
The notion of morals implies some sentiment common to all mankind, which recommends the same object to general approbation, and makes every man, or most men, agree in the same opinion or decision concerning it. (p272)
But these principles, we must remark, are social and universal; they form, in a manner, the party of humankind against vice or disorder, its common enemy. (p275)
.. and by these suppositions and views, we correct, in some measure, our ruder and narrower passions. (p275. footnote)
Who can dispute that a mind, which supports a perpetual serenity and cheerfulness, a noble dignity and undaunted spirit, a tender affection and good-will to all around; as it has more enjoyment within itself, is also a more animating and rejoicing spectacle, than if dejected with melancholy, tormented with anxiety, irritated with rage, or sunk into the most abject baseness and degeneracy? (p277)
... what theory of morals can ever serve any useful purpose, unless it can show, by a particular detail, that all the duties which it recommends, are also the true interest of each individual? (p280)
That honesty is the best policy, may be a good general rule, but is liable to many exceptions; and he, it may perhaps be thought, conducts himself with most wisdom, who observes the general rule, and takes advantage of all the exceptions. (p282-3)
And in a view to pleasure, what comparison between the unbought satisfaction of conversation, society, study, even health and the common beauties of nature, but above all the peaceful reflection on one's own conduct; what comparison, I say, between these and the feverish, empty amusements of luxury and expense? These natural pleasures, indeed, are really without price; both because the are below all price in their attainment, and above it in their enjoyment. (p283-4)
One principal foundation of moral praise being supposed to lie in the usefulness of any quality or action, it is evident that reason must enter for a considerable share in all decisions of this kind; since nothing but that faculty can instruct us in the tendency of qualities and actions, and point out their beneficial consequences to society and to their possessor. (p285)
Reason judges either of matter of fact or of relations. (p287)
In the disquisitions of the understanding, from known circumstances and relations, we infer some new and unknown. In moral decisions, all the circumstances and relations must be previously known; and the mind, from the contemplation of the whole, feels some new impression of affection or disgust, esteem or contempt, approbation or blame. (p290)
.. and to convince you, that fashion, vogue, custom and law were the chief foundation of all moral determinations. (p333)
What wise difference therefore, in the sentiments of morals, must be found
between civilized nations and Barbarians, or between nations whose characters
have little in common? How shall we pretend to fix a standard for judgements
of this nature?
By tracing matters, replied I, a little higher, and examining the first principles, which each nation establishes, of blame or censure. (p333)
Science has therefore been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust. 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. (Albert Einstein, 1930)
There is nothing divine about morality; it is a purely human affair. (Albert Einstein, 1954)
The existence and validity of human rights are not written in the stars. The ideals concerning the conduct of men toward each other and the desirable structure of the community have been conceived and taught by enlightened individuals in the course of history. Those ideals and convictions which resulted from historical experience, from the craving for beauty and harmony, have been readily accepted in theory by man- and at all times, have been trampled upon by the same people under the pressure of their animal instincts. A large part of history is therefore replete with the struggle for those human rights, an eternal struggle in which a final victory can never be won. But to tire in that struggle would mean the ruin of society. (Albert Einstein, 1954)
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction. (Albert Einstein)
Communities tend to be guided less than individuals by conscience and a sense of responsibility. How much misery does this fact cause mankind! It is the source of wars and every kind of oppression, which fill the earth with pain, sighs and bitterness. (Albert Einstein, 1934)
We all know, from what we experience with and within ourselves,
that our conscious acts spring from our desires and our fears.
Intuition tells us that that is true also of our fellows and of the higher animals.
We all try to escape pain and death, while we seek what is pleasant.
We are all ruled in what we do by impulses; and these impulses are so organised that our actions in general serve for our self preservation and that of the race.
Hunger, love, pain, fear are some of those inner forces which rule the individual's instinct for self preservation.
At the same time, as social beings, we are moved in the relations with our fellow beings by such feelings as sympathy, pride, hate, need for power, pity, and so on.
All these primary impulses, not easily described in words, are the springs of man's actions.
All such action would cease if those powerful elemental forces were to cease stirring within us.
Though our conduct seems so very different from that of the higher animals, the primary instincts are much alike in them and in us.
The most evident difference springs from the important part which is played in man by a relatively strong power of imagination and by the capacity to think, aided as it is by language and other symbolical devices.
Thought is the organising factor in man, intersected between the causal primary instincts and the resulting actions.
In that way imagination and intelligence enter into our existence in the part of servants of the primary instincts.
But their intervention makes our acts to serve ever less merely the immediate claims of our instincts. (Albert Einstein)
I cannot conceive of a personal God who would directly influence the actions of individuals, or would directly sit in judgment on creatures of his own creation. I cannot do this in spite of the fact that mechanistic causality has, to a certain extent, been placed in doubt by modern science. [He was speaking of Quantum Mechanics and the breaking down of determinism.] My religiosity consists in a humble admiration of the infinitely superior spirit that reveals itself in the little that we, with our weak and transitory understanding, can comprehend of reality. Morality is of the highest importance -- but for us, not for God. (Albert Einstein, The Human Side)
If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed. (Albert Einstein)
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. (Albert Einstein)
I do not believe in immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it. (Albert Einstein, The Human Side)
I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the kind that we experience in ourselves. Neither can I nor would I want to conceive of an individual that survives his physical death; let feeble souls, from fear or absurd egoism, cherish such thoughts. I am satisfied with the mystery of the eternity of life and with the awareness and a glimpse of the marvelous structure of the existing world, together with the devoted striving to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the Reason that manifests itself in nature. (Albert Einstein, The World as I See It)
Realising the healthy international relations can be created only among populations made up of individuals who themselves are healthy and enjoy a measure a independence, the United Nations elaborated a Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly on December 10, 1948. (Albert Einstein, 1951)
In talking about human rights today, we are referring primarily to the following demands: protection of the individual against arbitrary infringement by other individuals or by the government; the right to work and to adequate earnings from work; freedom of discussion and teaching; adequate participation of the individual in the formation of his government. These human rights are nowadays recognised theoretically, although, by abundant use of formalistic, legal manoeuvres, they are being violated to a much greater extent than even a generation ago. (Albert Einstein, 1954)
Quotes from Johanna Macy, 'World as Lover World as Self' and 'Fifty Eastern Thinkers', Collinson, Plant and Wilkinson
.. the Buddha's metaphysical conception of the impermanence and interdependence of all things profoundly influences his teaching about the conduct of daily life and the nature of human salvation. .. By those who practice it, Buddhism is often spoken of as 'dharma'. The word derives from the root dhr, 'to uphold', and has numerous meanings. Chiefly it refers to the ultimate reality of nirvana, the law or nature of the universe, the moral life, right conduct and teaching, and the insights of enlightened understanding. (Collinson, Fifty Eastern Thinkers, 2000)
In the Benares Sermon the Buddha's teaching begins with the enunciation
of the Four Noble Truths.
These truths are: that suffering is everywhere (known as the truth of dukkha), that misplaced desire (attachment) is the cause of suffering; that its cure lies in removal of the cause (the Possibility of Liberation from Difficulties exists for everyone); and that the cause may be removed by following the Noble Eightfold Path.
As shown previously, Buddhism recognizes that humans have a measure of freedom of moral choice, and Buddhist practice has essentially to do with acquiring the freedom to choose as one ought to choose with truth: that is of acquiring a freedom from the passions and desires that impel us to distraction and poor decisions. In this end, the Buddhist dharma enjoins:
..to tread the Noble Eightfold Path, the course of conduct that can end suffering. The path requires one to live a life based on a right view, right thought, right speech, right conduct, right vocation, right effort, right attention and right concentration. The details of Buddhist practice are to be derived from this framework and worked out by reference to the principle of seeking the Middle Way in all things. In following the Middle Way, extremes are repudiated since they constitute the kind of ties and attachments that impede progress towards release.
It is the nature of life that all beings will face difficulties; through enlightened truthful living one can transcend these difficulties, ultimately becoming fulfilled, liberated and free. (Collinson, Fifty Eastern Thinkers, 2000)
The Noble Eight-Fold Path is the path of living in awareness. Mindfulness is the foundation. By practicing mindfulness, you can develop concentration, which enables you to attain understanding. Thanks to right concentration, you realize right awareness, thoughts, speech, action, livelihood and effort. The understanding which develops can liberate you from every shackle of suffering and give birth to true peace and joy. (Thich Nhat Hanh, Old Path White Clouds)
All the factors of our lives subsist, then, in a web of mutual causality.
Our suffering is caused by the interplay of these factors, particularly
by the delusion, aversion and craving that arise from our misapprehension
of them. Hence, the Four Noble Truths: We create our own bondage by reifying
and clinging to what is by nature contingent and transient. Being caused
in this way, our suffering is not endemic. It can cease. The causal play
can be reversed. This is achieved by seeing the true nature of phenomena,
which is their radical interdependence. This is made possible by the cleansing
of perception through meditation and moral conduct. (Joanna Macy)
Confirming an intuitive sense I’ve always felt for the interconnectedness of all things, this doctrine has provided me ways to understand the intricate web of co-arising that links one being with all other beings, and to apprehend the reciprocities between thought and action, self and universe. (Joanna Macy)
While all the worlds and planes of existence teem with consciousness, human mentality presents a distinctive feature: the capacity to choose, to change its karma. That is why a human life is considered so rare and priceless a privilege. And that is why Buddhist practice begins with meditation on the precious opportunity that a human existence provides - the opportunity to wake up for the sake of all beings. The Dharma vision of a co-arising world, alive with consciousness, is a powerful inspiration for the healing of the Earth. It helps us to see two important things: It shows us our profound imbeddedness in the web of life, thus relieving us of our human arrogance and loneliness. And, at the same time, it pinpoints our distinctiveness as humans, the capacity for choice. (Joanna Macy)
‘Wherefore, brethren, thus must ye train yourselves : Liberation
of the will through love will develop, we will often practice it, we will
make it vehicle and base, take our stand upon it, store it up, throughly
set it going.’ (Buddha)
In the early Buddhist view, then, a persons identity resides not in an enduring self but in his actions (karma)- that is in the choices that shape these actions. Because the dispositions formed by previous choices can be modified in turn by present behaviour, this identity as choice-maker is fluid, its experience alterable. While it is affected by the past, it can also break free of the past. (Joanna Macy)
We have to treat others as part of who we are, rather than as a ‘them’ with whom we are in constant competition. (Robert Bellah)
The crisis that threatens our planet, whether seen from its military,
ecological, or social aspect, derives from a dysfunctional and pathological
sense of self. It derives from a mistake about our place in the order of
things. It is a delusion that the self is separate and fragile that we
must delineate and defend its boundaries, that it is so small and so needy
that we must endlessly acquire and endlessly consume, and that it is so
aloof that as individuals, corporations, nation-states, or species, we
can be immune to what we do to other beings.
This view of human nature is not new. Many have felt the imperative to extend self-interest to embrace the whole. (Joanna Macy)
(Le Monde diplomatique, November 1999)
If a government is more concerned with strategic security than with that
of its citizens and gives priority to military spending to the detriment
of social expenditure, the result is human misery. Which two countries
had the highest ratio of military to health and education spending in 1980?
In descending order they were Iraq (8 to 1) and Somalia (5 to 1). How effective
is Unesco in trying to reverse these priorities? by RAMÓN-LUIS ACUÑA
'Citizens of the world, stop killing each other'.
This could be the unofficial motto of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) which formally elects its new director-general on 12 November (1).
Founded on 4 November 1946, this Paris-based UN agency seeks to encourage closer cooperation between nations through cultural and educational development. Its special concerns are literacy, the dissemination of free and compulsory education, fighting racial, religious and sexual discrimination, encouraging scientific research, preserving mankind's heritage and promoting a culture of peace. This was defined in 1995 as "a culture of friendliness and sharing, based on the principles of freedom, justice and democracy, tolerance and solidarity. A culture that rejects violence and seeks to prevent conflicts at source and to solve problems by dialogue and negotiation. In fact, a culture that allows everyone to exercise all their rights fully and to participate fully in the endogenous development of society" (2).
From that point of view, this year has been singularly painful owing to the proliferation and gravity of the conflicts that have cast such a tragic shadow over the world. Director-General Federico Mayor, whose second term of office at the head of the organisation is ending after 12 years at the helm, describes these wars and their sinister train of atrocities as "a failure for Unesco and for all humanity". They are also, he says, "a setback to our generation's plans for civilisation, and a terrible disappointment for all who want not only more peace but more ethics and greater harmony between the world's citizens".
The world is still armed to the teeth. Despite the various disarmament agreements, the world as a whole spends around $820 billion a year on defence. True, the end of the cold war saw world military expenditure fall by an average of 3.6% a year between 1987 and 1994, so that in 1997 it came to no more than 2.6% of the world's gross national product. But spending is still substantial, amounting in 1998 to nearly $2.5 billion a day. So there is no cause for celebration, especially since the savings made on military budgets by the rich countries have not been diverted to the development of the poorest but have frequently been translated into lower taxes for the most well-off. And on average, defence budgets are still as high as they were at the end of the 1970s. It is often the countries that have the greatest need to invest in their own development that devote the largest sums to buying arms - money that could have been spent on those keys to development, education and infrastructure, and on communications, safeguarding the environment and cultural progress.
The United States, which no longer belongs to Unesco (3), recently decided to boost defence credits significantly (4.2%), making a $12 billion increase in 2000 and a total of $110 billion by 2005. At the same time, their aid for the development of poor countries is falling steadily. In his book Mayor writes: "In the developing countries, the risks of death due to deficiencies in social policy [malnutrition or lack of preventive medicine] are 33 times higher than the risk of dying during a war of aggression launched by a foreign country. On average, these countries have 20 soldiers for one doctor and all too often those same soldiers turn against the population; whereas at the beginning of the century around 90% of war victims were soldiers, today 90% are civilians" (4).
War or education?
Since 1945 wars and armed conflicts have caused the deaths of more than 20 million people. The world's children, in particular, will pay the price of these conflicts for a long time to come with barbaric and unmerited mutilations. Experts reckon there are between 65 and 110 million unexploded antipersonnel mines buried in different parts of the world, ready to explode. They kill or injure around 26,000 people a year, one victim every 20 minutes. Angola has more than 10 million mines hidden all across the country, one for every member of the population. According to Handicap International, over the last 20 years almost 1 million people have been injured by mines, 600,000 of them civilians. The wounds are gruesome: blast mines, the most common type, riddle the victims' legs and bodies with shrapnel mixed with earth, stones and pieces of vegetation; if they are not killed outright, their blood-drained limbs have to be amputated. In 1997 the Nobel peace prize was awarded to the International Campaign To Ban Landmines, a body headed by Jody Williams to which over 1,000 non-governmental organisations belong. Since then, many countries have promised to destroy their anti-personnel mines, but a few large countries, the US among them, are still refusing, invoking an outdated concept of security. Let us hope that the Nobel prize awarded this year to the humanitarian organisation Médecins sans frontières will also attract a following.
"We need a different concept of security," Mayor writes, "that sees international security in terms other than armed aggression. It is foolish to spend astronomical sums on weapons that are often intended to protect us from threats that no longer exist while at the same time claiming to have sufficient resources to relieve the quarter of the world's population that lacks the most basic goods and services" (5). In fact, security now depends on an inextricable tangle of political, economic, social, scientific, cultural, environmental, health, military and even spiritual strands. Nothing is worth so much as education for ensuring a lasting peace. At least, that was what Léon Blum told the London conference at which Unesco was created back in 1946: "Education, resolutely geared to peace, must be at the heart of what we do".
If a government is more concerned with strategic security than with that of its citizens and gives priority to military spending to the detriment of social expenditure, the result is human misery. Which two countries had the highest ratio of military to health and education spending in 1980? In descending order they were Iraq (8 to 1) and Somalia (5 to 1). Is it at all surprising that these two countries experienced severe troubles in the 1980s and launched into military adventures with the most tragic consequences for their populations and those of some of their neighbours?
How much do the developing countries spend on arms? During 1994 alone, the UN estimates a total of $125 billion. But, again according to UN sources (6), only 12% of that amount would be enough to provide basic care for all, to vaccinate every child, eliminate the serious forms of malnutrition, reduce the mildest ones, and supply the whole world with drinking water. Eight percent of the same amount would be enough to provide a set of basic family planning services to all couples that wanted them and to stabilise the world population in the year 2015.
Finally, just 4% would make it possible to cut adult illiteracy by half,
make primary education universal and give women the same level of education
as men (7). Yet in 1997 the developing countries spent
three times more on buying arms than they would have needed to guarantee
their children a basic education. Ultimately, the dividends of peace are
development itself and the freedom that flows from it. Advocating a culture
of peace, as Unesco does, therefore means asking the poorest countries
to secure for themselves a better future by ceasing to invest in war and
investing instead in the intelligence and well-being of their people: by
educating them, caring for them and offering them the opportunity of better
living conditions. Peace has a price - the price of development, and of
the material and moral prosperity of humankind.
* Writer and journalist
(1) On 20 October last, the Executive Board of Unesco elected Japan's
ambassador to France, Koichiro Matsuura, to be its new
director-general, but this decision is to be confirmed by secret
ballot of the organisation's 185 members at Unesco's general
(2) See Federico Mayor, Un monde nouveau, Odile Jacob, Paris, 1999.
(3) The US left Unesco in 1984.
(4) Federico Mayor, op. cit.
(7) Human Development Report, United Nations Development Programme,
UNDP, New York, 1994.
Translated by Malcolm Greenwood
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 1999 Le Monde diplomatique
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