Einstein said it, so it must be true

Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.
— erroneously attributed to Albert Einstein, born this day in 1879

Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible.
— erroneously attributed to Albert Einstein, born this day in 1879

The person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.
— erroneously attributed to Albert Einstein, born this day in 1879

The sidewalk in front of Einstein’s house was just paved, when two neighborhood boys come to make hand impressions in the wet cement.  Einstein runs out of the house to chase them away.  A man passing by remarks, “Dr Einstein, you have a reputation as a man who loves children.”  He responds, “I do love children, but in the abstract, not in the concrete.”      — appocryphal

Education is what is left after you have forgotten all you have learned in school.
— erroneously attributed to Albert Einstein, born this day in 1879

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.
— erroneously attributed to Albert Einstein, born this day in 1879

Everything should be made as simple as it can be, but not simpler.
— erroneously attributed to Albert Einstein, born this day in 1879

How strange is the lot of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people — first of all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness is wholly dependent, and then for the many, unknown to us, to whose destinies we are bound by the ties of sympathy. A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.
— This one is real (1931)

Today’s Daily Inspiration sourced by the Quote Investigator

Image result for einstein tongue

This is a photo of actor Ben Kingsley, made up to look like Einstein.

Scientific Objectivity

Since the time of Roger Bacon, Science has defined its unique contribution to understanding of the world by the practice of objectivity, meaning separation of the observer from the observed.  The pinnacle of success for this paradigm was in the 19th Century perspective of the world as a machine, in which atoms bumping against atoms were to explain all.

Physics was thus queen of the sciences, with claim to provide a deep explanation for chemistry and biology, not to mention geology and astronomy.  But as physical theory became more accurate, more successful, and more universal, a funny thing happened.  The quantum theory (1925) was able to account for properties of atoms and subatomic particles only by letting go of objectivity.  There is no longer any fixed reality independent of the questions we ask about it.  In fact, the question helps determine the answer.

This is a conclusion that physicists fought for decades, before J.S. Bell proved it was unavoidable in 1964.  Since then, science has not died, but it is now on a tenuous foundation.  Scientists cannot agree among themselves what to make of the fact that there is no way to separate the experiment from the experimenter.  They go about their business as if it does not matter.  Henry Stapp has one idea how to reconcile the quantum with the scientific method.

Quantum mechanics accounts with fantastic accuracy for the empirical data both old and new. The core difference between the two theories is that in the earlier classical theory all causal effects in the world of matter are reducible to the action of matter upon matter, whereas in the new theory our conscious intentions and mental efforts play an essential and irreducible causal role in the determination of the evolving material properties of the physically described world. Thus the new theory elevates our acts of conscious observation from causally impotent witnesses of a flow of physical events determined by material processes alone to irreducible mental inputs into the determination of the future of an evolving psycho-physical universe. In this orthodox quantum mechanical understanding of the world our minds matter!

Thus quantum mechanics assigns to mental reality a function not performed by the physical properties, namely the property of providing an avenue for our human values to enter into the evolution of psycho-physical reality, and hence make our lives meaningful.

Henry Stapp is a quantum physicist at University of California and Lawrence Berkeley Lab

We are accustomed to a world in which science says that the world is indifferent to us, while mystics say that we are creating our own reality. What will we think if science says we are co-creating our own reality?


A fragment of parchment

Last year, after the death of my mother, I discarded a great number of papers from her attic, and distributed keepsakes to friends and family.  Among the contents of a khaki footlocker, my attention was drawn to a fragment of parchment, apparently torn from a much larger scroll, and covered with an unfamiliar cursive.  I needed only to post an image of the writing on a listserve of classical linguists to find, within days, a Georgetown professor who volunteered to render its contents comprehensible to me.  Reproduced herewith is the text that he returned to me the following day in an email attachment. It remains for me only to apprise the reader of a family tradition, according to which my mother’s father’s father was conscripted briefly at the close of the Great War, and was stationed in a region called at that time South Asia, which would correspond to present-day Iran or, possibly, Afghanistan.

In the nine and sixtieth year of my sojourn, I beg forgiveness of the Beloved and from my teacher, Govralendim Biri, the Annointed One, blessed be his soul.  These sacred teachings which have been entrusted to me through the patient generosity of my teacher and countless teachers before him, I undertake herein to commit to writing.  I do this in violation of tradition and of good sense, and in spite of the affliction that will most certainly attend any who read this scroll, now or in the distant future.

In rampant disregard of my reader’s wellbeing, I separate these teachings and instructions for practice from the rituals and discipline that alone can render mind and body strong enough to contain them.  

To you, my dear reader, I owe the deepest atonement; for I have opened a window, and it is certain that anyone who once observes reality through this window will be rendered mad, as madness is ordinarily understood.  He will be unfit for the intercourse of human society, commerce, or any trade (though it may be that his innate capacity to till the earth will survive unimpaired). It is far less certain that to him will accrue any compensatory understanding, any wisdom or ascendance*.

Yesterday, alas, the pestilence has claimed the last of my three disciples, and being too infirm to commence undertaking the education of another, I have determined to assume the risk of transcribing my received heritage in written form.  It is certain that this teaching will be the downfall of many a worthy soul. My loyalty is not to future scions of Allah, but only to the tradition itself, which might otherwise be lost. Accordingly, the reader—no matter how strong his constitution—is cautioned to seal this scroll and to read no further, or should he be determined to read on, most assuredly not to attempt the exercises described herein, lest he…

* The word here translated as “ascendance” is “جشن گرفتن”, and in Sufi usage, it refers to a consciousness that includes remembrance of past lives and anticipation of future lives.

— Josh Mitteldorf


Day of the Woman in Iceland

Today, March 8 is International Women’s Day – a global day celebrating the economic, political, and social achievements of women past, present, and future. It is a day to recognize women’s achievements and acknowledge the challenges they continue to face in the quest for gender equality.

The roots of International Women’s Day go back to the labor movements of the 1900s in North America and across Europe, but since then, it has taken on a global, international focus – especially since 1977, when the United Nations General Assembly invited Member States to recognize March 8th as an annual UN Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.

While we celebrate the milestones and achievements of all women, we want to highlight one particular woman who has made an impact in her country as the Prime Minister of Iceland, Leader of the Left Green Movement and the only ruling Green PM in the world, Katrín Jakobsdóttir.

Jakobsdóttir, Iceland’s second female prime minister, has made great strides strengthening Iceland’s policies to ensure gender equality – in a country that is already deemed the best in the world to be a woman. In 2018, Iceland became the first country in the world to make it illegal to pay men more than women for the same job.

The World Economic Forum published a piece written by Jakobsdóttir, called “How to build a paradise for women. A lesson from Iceland”. It is worth a read as it describes the ways that Iceland is still working towards building a country – and subsequently a world – where women are free to reach their full potential.

Take some time to think about the ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.

Jody Grage, National Secretary of the Green Party USA


Maurice Ravel, born this day in 1875, was among the most significant and influential composers of the early twentieth century. Although he is frequently linked with Claude Debussy as an exemplar of musical impressionism, and some of their works have a surface resemblance, Ravel possessed an independent voice that grew out of his love of a broad variety of styles, including the French Baroque, BachMozartChopin, Spanish folk traditions, and American jazz and blues. His elegant and lyrically generous body of work was not large in comparison with that of some of his contemporaries, but his compositions are notable for being meticulously and exquisitely crafted. He was especially gifted as an orchestrator, an area in which he remains unsurpassed.

Carl Jung and Alan Watts

Watts was a voice from the 1960s bringing Eastern spirituality to the West.  Here he reads from a Jung essay and puts it in context.  Summary, in my words:

Christian morality and, actually, all of Western morality are based on the individual harnessing the good within himself and conquering the evil through an act of will.  In the Daoist tradition, on the other hand, good and evil are interdependent and inseparable.

Jung’s psychology emphasized acquainting oneself with the dark side of one’s own personality.  Watts says that Jung had mastered this in his own personality.  Jung was able to understand and help people with their own dark impulses because he had made peace with his own.

This doesn’t mean that the distinction between good and evil is arbitrary.  Watts speaks paradoxically about political struggles in the real world.  We can fight passionately with all our being for what we know is right, and still recognize that in doing so we are playing a role in a grand drama, and that the drama as a whole is “good” in a way that transcends the good/evil dichotomy within it.

Acceptance of oneself is the essence of the moral problem, and the acid test of one’s whole outlook on life.  That I feed the beggar, that I forgive an insult, that I love an enemy in the name of Christ All these are undoubtedly great virtues.  What I do to the least of my brethren, that I do unto Christ.

But what if I should discover that the least among them all, the poorest of all beggars, the most impudent among all offenders, yea, the very Fiend himself, that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness?  That I, myself, am the enemy who must be loved.  What then?

Then, as a rule, the whole truth of Christianity is reversed. There is then no more talk of love and long suffering. We say to the brother within us: Rocca, and condemn and rage against ourselves. We hide him from the world. We deny ever having met this least among the lowly in ourselves. And had it been God himself who drew near to us in this despicable form, we should have denied him a thousand times before a single cock had crowed.