Wednesday, June 25, 2008

THE question


Albert Einstein once said, "I think the most important question facing humanity is, 'Is the universe a friendly place?' This is the first and most basic question all people must answer for themselves." He continued:
"For if we decide that the universe is an unfriendly place, then we will use our technology, our scientific discoveries and our natural resources to achieve safety and power by creating bigger walls to keep out the unfriendliness and bigger weapons to destroy all that which is unfriendly-- and I believe that we are getting to a place where technology is powerful enough that we may either completely isolate or destroy ourselves as well in this process.

"If we decide that the universe is neither friendly nor unfriendly and that God is essentially 'playing dice with the universe', then we are simply victims to the random toss of the dice and our lives have no real purpose or meaning.

"But if we decide that the universe is a friendly place, then we will use our technology, our scientific discoveries and our natural resources to create tools and models for understanding that universe. Because power and safety will come through understanding its workings and its motives."

Thomas Merton once said, "Either you look at the universe as a very poor creation out of which no one can make anything, or you look at your own life and your own part in the universe as infintely rich, full of inexhaustible interest, opening out into the infitie futher possibilities for study and contemplation and praise."

The good people at Despair, Inc. have created this wonderful pessimist's mug so that you'll know the exact moment at which the glass becomes half-empty. Of course, this assumes an answer to the perennial question--that the glass is half-empty rather than half-full.

And yet, as I've written before, it's both. And, no doubt, the universe is both friendly and unfriendly, a "very poor creation" and "infinitely rich [and] full of inexhaustible interest." We live in a both/and universe--where light is both wave and particle and only "becomes" one when we look at it that way. Which way will you look at life? At your life?

In the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 30, God is remembered as telling the people, "I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. . . . I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses," and God then encourages them to "choose life."

Which do you choose? Which will you choose right now?

In Gassho,

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1 comment:

moreover said...

Ah, if only people could be taught to relish paradox, ambiguity, and to accept that many questions cannot be resolved. As an Atheist UU, I admit that I personally think that several of those 'mysterious' questions are also illegitimate questions (a la Wittgenstein: Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.
Come to think of it: teaching to accept ambivalence is often at the core of a good UU sermon.