Category: Inspiration


A Favorite Quote

I wanted to share with you one of my favorite quotes…

A human being is part of the whole, called by us ‘Universe’; a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.

This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and affection for a few persons nearest us.

Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

Nobody is able to achieve this completely but striving for such achievement is, in itself, a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security

Albert Einstein

Your thoughts? Do you connect to this as much as I do?

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  • Brent Baumeister

    I don’t know if you’ve studied much philosophy, but this quote of Einstein’s is a fairly straightforward restatement of the essence of G.W.F. Hegel’s social/political philosophy, which can perhaps be summed up with a simple quote of his: “The truth is the whole.” By this he meant that the individual human is not the primary social entity, but that the collective is. More specifically, in his framework the primary social unit was the State.

    Hegel’s influence was very profound, and his social/political views directly influenced many other thinkers and political movements, especially in Germany, such as Adolf Hitler on the right, who believed it was Das Deutches Volk, Karl Marx on the left, who believed the primary collective was the International Proletariat, and a biologist-philosopher named Ernst Haeckel, who founded the modern ecology/environmentalist movement in which the primary unit is the whole of Nature. Although he wasn’t much of a philosopher, Einstein takes this collectivist one-upmanship one step further and proclaims that the primary unit is the Universe.

    All collectivist philosophies share the same fundamental viewpoint that some broader collective is the true primary social/political entity, varying in their beliefs of what constitutes the primary collective.

    All of them share the necessary and explicit opposition to individualism, the idea that the individual is the primary social/political unit. Einstein talks of “widening our circle of compassion”, which is part of the same theme running through all such collectivist ideologies that our narrow self interests are harmful to the greater good. Einstein refers to them as a “delusion” and “a prison”. If only individuals could grasp the bigger picture and sacrifice their narrow selfish interests for the greater collective, human society could reach its true potential. That has been the moral ideal common to every collectivist movement.

    November 7 marked the 100th anniversary of the 1917 Russian Revolution. So this blog post of yours is an interesting coincidence. Despite its tragic record of over 100 million documented deaths, Communism persists to this day in attracting many admirers. Its allure is its promise to put fully into practice the moral ideal of collectivism. And that if individuals do not voluntarily choose to subordinate their interests, they should necessarily be forced to do so.

    The poverty, oppression, war and mass death caused by Communism weren’t a result of its mis-implementation. They were the logical outcome of a philosophy that subjugates the value of individual interests to the collective.

    Environmentalism, when it is eventually consistently put into practice, will have the same result, but on a much larger scale.

    That’s the deeper historical meaning of Einstein’s quote and what it would it will mean if put into practice.

  • DJ Helriggle

    Dr. Perlmutter – This sounds very much like Buddhist philosophy. I love it! Thanks so much for sharing.

    • David Perlmutter

      Glad to know you agree!

  • Andrea Tiktin-Fanti

    That is stated so beautifully. I try to live my life this way and wish everyone did. I am going to copy this in calligraphy and hang it on my wall so that I do not forget it. Thank you for sharing

  • julia

    That is an a beautifull and enormous idea, to practice and live embracing all our humain races. I try day to day, and at nigth after to sleep I ask me, what I do in this sence

  • Jean

    I do connect with this. I’ve always felt a strong connection to nature and wildlife. I encourage everyone to check out the cams at explore.org. I’ve fallen in love with brown bears, eagles, owls and more. What a loving Creator we have who has provided so much for us to love and care for.

  • Sandra Clagett

    That was very inspirational!
    Thank you.

    • David Perlmutter

      Glad you can find inspiration here Sandra.

  • Silvia Hüglin-Bartholomew

    Yes absolutely. We are part of a an interdependent whole. Our goal is oneness with the Creator of the Universe that includes everything and everybody. I like your quote of Albert Einstein. Thank you.

    • David Perlmutter

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Silvia.

  • Lynn Dell

    Thanks for sharing this. I agree with everything except the “optical delusion” of being separate. We are at the same time separate, and part of the natural world in which we live, which sustains us. I guess I disagree with “optical delusion” of our separate nature is because I believe there is evil and good in the world, and God calls me to destroy it in myself, and to, if not fight evil, to at least promote good and help for others as I can. I think of all the brave people that gave up their lives and security because they fought Hitler, for example. To do that, you have to stand against very real, powerful forces that exist, and to do that you can’t constantly be trying to find the inter-connectedness in everything. I strongly agree that our affections must not be so self-serving and self centered.

  • Sally

    What a beautiful, deep thought by one of my favorite historical people. How awesome that we are reminded by each other, if we listen, to remember that we are a part of the all. Thank you for sharing!

    • David Perlmutter


  • Franciscu

    Is the awareness within each of our consciousnesses just “optical delusion”? Or, perhaps – as dramatized in movies such as The Matrix – or speculated over by thinkers such as Elon Musk – is our ‘subjective consciousness’ of ourselves and the world/universe more akin to a ‘simulation’. As Musk would say it, a ‘simulation’ somehow emanating from ‘base reality’? The ultimate question always goes back to the nature of the ‘base reality’. What is it? How does it exist without previous causation? Is base reality just a random and mindless fluctuation of nothingness? Or, if not just an accidental burp of somethingness out of nothingness, then could base reality conceivably be its own intentional unsimulated consciousness? And, if so, then what is ‘Its’ intention for running this dependent simulation in which we find ourselves existing?

  • John Halderman

    Yes, we are all One Something, innately connected, as research is finding …we humans and everything, are made of the same “stuff”.

    Though it seems our need to find comfort in describing and defining life and self leads us to perceptively separate out of the Whole.

    As the many different parts of your body makeup your Whole body, where no differences in the parts cause an actual separation …you, I, and everyone are parts of the One Whole Humanity, with differences yet never separate.

    Consider how different your behavior and interaction is with someone you feel connected with versus someone you feel separate from …how Inclusive or Exclusive are you?

    The more people you feel connected with as ONE, the more you will perceive, consider, and treat as yourself.

    The degree that you feel connected or disconnected to others is rooted in your Foundational Perceptions about life and self, which is the basis of how you are operating your life …affecting your subconscious patterns, reactions, awareness, perspective, thought, and behavior.

    We all are innately One Humanity, one All That Is, yet we acquired a learned perception of some degree of separation through growing up with the people and environment we were immersed in.

    …perceptions of separation can be changed when you seek to re-recognize your innate Oneness with All, rather than validate, justify, and defend the separation just because it may be what you are accustomed to!

  • Pup Mom

    “widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” I believe this is true and for this reason I’ve been vegan for more than 32 years. I am deeply disappointed that Dr. Perlmutter advocates the brutal slaughter of other sentient beings for food referring to animals with the euphemism “meat”. How can anyone look at a peaceful, innocent cow, lamb or pig calmly grazing in their pasture and decide to hack the animal to death to eat? Our Creator gave us “all the vegetation of the earth” for food. Even if you don’t believe in a greater power, then from a scientific perspective, look at the Blue Zones and the 7th Day Adventists right here in California. The incidence of Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease in these centenarians is rare. They are vegetarians, eschew eating all animals, are physically and socially active and live a happy, full life without participating in the wholesale slaughter of other sentient beings. That is truly “embracing all living creatures and the whole of nature and beauty.”

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