Part of the Whole

I just read a passage from an article by Albert Einstein, titled On the Method of Theoretical Physics, that speaks to the interrelatedness of all things. He wrote:

A human being is part of the whole, called by us the “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest – a kind of optical illusion of his 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. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.

Einstein speaks a fundamental truth about the nature of human life, that of the inter-relationship of all beings. I think he is also correct that it is impossible for us as humans to completely free ourselves from the delusion of separation. We can, through various means “widen[] our circle of compassion”, but to be able to so completely widen it so as to embrace all living things is a task beyond our means.

We can, however, with God’s grace, grow in our love. Doing so requires that we start by grasping the enormity of God’s love for us. In the words of the First Letter of St. John, “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us.”

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