Apparently Albert Einstein, that brilliant physicist who became known for his theory of relativism and who provided the theoretical building blocks for the development of the first atomic bomb, towards the end of his life made this remarkable statement: “Now I see that the only question is: Is the universe friendly?…I have begun to discover its physical meaning, but the question th
Apparently Albert Einstein, that brilliant physicist who became known for his theory of relativism and who provided the theoretical building blocks for the development of the first atomic bomb, towards the end of his life made this remarkable statement: “Now I see that the only question is: Is the universe friendly?…I have begun to discover its physical meaning, but the question that haunts me is Is it friendly?”
What an extremely important question: whether our environment, our world, the universe that encompasses us, is hostile or benevolent.
Is it against us or for us? The answer to this very fundamental riddle will in the end determine the outcome and quality of our life on earth; will shape the basic sense, belief or instinct with which we enter into and handle each day.
If for instance we believe that everything out there is hostile and working against us then most of what we do will finally be dominated by fear.
Our life will become a constant effort to counter this fear by looking for ways to control it or insure our life against it.
Mistrust and anxiety will be our daily bread. If however we trust the opposite, accepting in the words of John O’Donohue, “…that at the deepest level of reality some intimate kindness holds sway” life becomes a space where we may explore and taste hope and love, beauty and trust, every day an opportunity to continuously open our lives to God’s grace and blessings.
In his book Everything Belongs the Franciscan priest Richard Rohr has a pertinent chapter in which he refers to Einstein’s question, reminding us that this is exactly the liberating perspective that those of us who claim to be true believers owe to the world.
“The gift of true religion is that it parts the veil, returns us to the garden and tells us our primal experience was trustworthy.
It reassures us that we live in a benevolent universe, and it is on our side. The universe, it reassures us, is radical grace. Therefore we need not be afraid. Scarcity is not the primary experience, but abundance.
Knowing this we can relax and let go…” In a way Rohr’s words remind us of Jesus’ remark when, parting from his disciples, he consoled them: “Do not be worried and upset: do not be afraid.
The world will make you suffer. But be brave! I have defeated the world.” (John 14:27) We need to demonstrate to the world, especially to those who feel lost, hopeless and desperate, that this is indeed true. We need to positively embrace the abundance of our universe and share it with others.
Carel Anthonissen Director, Centre for Christian Spirituality www.christianspirit.co.za