Einstein on living a meaningful life

I’ve recently come across some of Einstein’s writings on life and politics. I thought his views on the meaning of life and religious experience was fascinating – here are some quotes:

‘The man who regards his own life and that of his fellow-creatures as meaningless is not merely unfortunate but almost disqualified for life’

‘we exist for our fellowmen – in the first place for those on whose smiles and welfare all our happiness depends, and next for all those unknown to us personally with whose destinies we are bound up by the tie of sympathy.’

‘There is a third state of religious experience…which I call cosmic religious feeling… the individual feels the nothingness of human desires and …[feels the] marvellous order which reveal themselves both in nature and in the world of thought… He looks upon individual existence as a sort of prison and wants to experience the universe as a single significant whole.’

‘Only those who realize the immense efforts and, above all, the devotion which pioneer work in theoretical science demands, can grasp the strength of the emotion out of which alone such work… It is cosmic religious feeling that gives a man strength of this sort.’

‘But the scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation… His religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection.”

 ‘A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which are only accessible to our reason in their most elementary forms – it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man.’

‘It is not the fruits of scientific research that elevate a man and enrich his nature, but the urge to understand, the intellectual work, creative or receptive.’

‘The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which he has attained to liberation from the self.’

‘the whole of our actions and desires are bound up with the existence of other human beings. We see that our whole nature resembles that of the social animals.We eat food that others have grow, wear clothes that others have made, live in houses that others have built.’

‘I am absolutely convinced that no wealth in the world can help humanity forward… Money only appeals to selfishness and always tempts its owners irresistibly to abuse’


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