Expanding Paradigms - Fall 1995
Einstein was once asked "What is the most important question in life a person can ask?" I was a kid when I read this article and I was quite excited because my father (a physics teacher) had raised me to believe that questions were far more important than answers. And now Einstein, one of my idols, was going to share real wisdom with me... the most important question in life.
I was disappointed with Einstein's response. "The most important question that a person can ask is... (drum roll) ... Is the universe a nice place?" I was expecting a question about relativity, the unified field theory, gravity, or perhaps the big bang... It was only much later that I slowly began to understand the significance of Einstein's question.
To understand Einstein's question we must first understand the nature and power of paradigms. A paradigm is the filter through which one sees the universe. Two people can look at a mountain range. A snow skier sees the best path down the side of the nearest mountain, while an engineer notices a bottleneck in the valley that could be easily dammed to make a lake and provide electricity for thousands. One reality, but two very different experiences of it. Each person's paradigm colors and shapes their experience of reality.
Robert Anton Wilson once said, "The prover proves what the thinker thinks!" This is a very powerful statement. This statement puts the cart before the horse. Surely we believe what is proven to be true, but the fact is that at a very deep and often unconscious level, we will prove to be true that which we already believe.
Both Einstein's question and Robert Anton Wilson's theorem will clarify each other if you take a moment to follow these instructions:
1) Think of someone you know who would answer Einstein's question with a resounding, "No, the universe is not a nice place." Now think about how you feel and act around this person. If they are looking for someone to go to lunch, do you jump at the chance? Can you see that other people and even animals probably feel and act in a similar way around this person? Can you see how from their perspective you help prove them right? Everywhere they look, the universe pulls away from them, and seeing this they feel justified in their belief that the universe is not a nice place.
2) Now think of someone you know who would answer Einstein's question with a resounding "Yes!" How do you feel and act around this person? Can you see how you help to prove them right in their belief? Can you see how the entire universe reaches out to them joyfully, and thus they too are proven right in their belief.
The prover proves what the thinker thinks. What do you think? Is the universe a nice place?
Through increasing specialization humanity is using science and technology to unleash vast powers, but the very specialization that has made this possible has resulted in a lack of vision when we need it most. We cannot see the forest for the trees. Never has the future looked so dark, and never has the future held such promise. It is just a matter of perspective.
Humanity must balance specialization with vision, and cultivate the wisdom to use it's power for the benefit all.
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