Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

Is the Universe Friendly?

--by Albert Einstein (May 07, 2012)

 "I think the most important question facing humanity is, ‘Is the universe a friendly place?’ This is the first and most basic question all people must answer for themselves.

"For if we decide that the universe is an unfriendly place, then we will use our technology, our scientific discoveries and our natural resources to achieve safety and power by creating bigger walls to keep out the unfriendliness and bigger weapons to destroy all that which is unfriendly and I believe that we are getting to a place where technology is powerful enough that we may either completely isolate or destroy ourselves as well in this process.
"If we decide that the universe is neither friendly nor unfriendly and that God is essentially ‘playing dice with the universe’, then we are simply victims to the random toss of the dice and our lives have no real purpose or meaning.
"But if we decide that the universe is a friendly place, then we will use our technology, our scientific discoveries and our natural resources to create tools and models for understanding that universe. Because power and safety will come through understanding its workings and its motives."
"God does not play dice with the universe,"
--Albert Einstein

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On May 5, 2012 Conrad P. Pritscher wrote:
 The following Einstein quote says much: "A human being is a 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 of mankind an optical delusion 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 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 the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security."
Quoted in H Eves Mathematical Circles Adieu (Boston 1977).
My study reveals that Einstein thought the universe and God were one. That is similar to Gandhi's notion:
"If you don't see God in the next person you meet, it is a waste of time looking for him further." gun these ideas similar to Einstein's idea that the true value of a human being can be found in the degree one liberates oneself from one's self (one's ego).
What appears to be random may simply be in order not yet found. I can't think of any of my beliefs I would change. Most most of my behavior is unconscious and I would like to better be generous and helpful, be patient and bear and forbear the wrongs of others, and be persevering, and use any wisdom I may have  for the benefit of everyone and everything. These notions are  elaborated on in the book, Einstein and Zen: Learning to Learn, Peter Lang Publisher, 2010.

On May 5, 2012 Navin sata wrote:
 GOD= GENARATES INFINITE ENERGY,O=OPERATES WITH THIS ENERGY , D= DESTROYS, in hinduism we call it brahma,vishnu,mahesh,one god three function for our limited understanding,our lord is always SAT{TRUTH} CHIT{AWERNESS} ANAND{BLISS} with this solid faith I look at universe ,enjoy Nature and beauty in everything,his hands that paints the sky ,smile on childrens faces ,every seasons of nature and Life,some wise person said look for god within,than around you in family friends,and than every where in universe , when one has faith along this belief than we want have any question .God is every where so he does not  play dice with universe. as long as we have greed we will have war in and out all around us. How much money world spends on weapons and war in last one century ,half that money if we spend on needs of humanity ,?????????? Eternal can not be control by limited selfish mankind always love navin

On May 5, 2012 Xiaoshan wrote:
 Is universe friendly? I truly do not know the answer. I will try not even come up with an answer. 

On May 6, 2012 David Doane wrote:
For me, the universe is friendly.  That doesn't mean it is all nice, all peaches and cream.  The universe is like the weather, like any person, like the unconscious, like me -- warm, cold, peaceful, sunny, violent, destructive, changing, full of surprises -- it is a mixed bag of all that is.  That's its nature.  It's free, uncontrolled.  It is bigger than me.  It's powerful.  I am part of it.  What's mine is to go with it, be responsive to it, work with it, appreciate it, enjoy it, respect it, learn from it.  In that frame, it is friendly.   It is me.  I am an expression of it.  To fight it is to fight me, and is to lose.  To realize I am part of it and work with it is to realize it is friendly, and grow.  As for randomness, I believe that all that is is interconnected -- the interconnectedness and intereffecting of all that is is beyond my ability to see, but I believe it is.  Random for me means no interconnectedness, means irrelevant incongruent happenings, and I don't believe that is the case.  I guess God does not play dice with the universe was Einstein's way of saying that the roll of the dice is random and that is not how the universe is or how God operates.  But the metaphor is faulty in that the way the dice land is the result of innumerable interrelated and interconnected factors, and thus not random (even if it looks that way).     

On May 6, 2012 Ganoba wrote:
 The essential and fundamental error is to consider the universe to be separate from us, "the other".
We try to correct this error by asking whether it is friendly or otherwise.
This question springs from a false premise and hence deserves no consideration. Any answer would be a wrong answer as the question itself is wrong.
Albert Einstein the philosopher is going against Einstein the scientist.
We are part of the universe and not apart from it.
Philosophically we can also say, in the same breath, that the universe is within us.
God is also not an entity separate from the universe.
Philosophically the universe is seen as the body of God.

On May 6, 2012 rahul wrote:
A true friend is one who acts for your benefit.  So before you can answer whether the universe is friendly, you must deeply consider both the nature of what benefits you most and the question of who or what "you" are.

If your concept of self is individualistic, then achievements, ambitions, dreams, fame, power, possessions, pleasures, successes, etc are the things that seem to benefit you the most.  From this lens, the universe is a decidedly unfriendly place, as all of these things come into your grasp only fleetingly, with circumstance, people, or time ultimately snatching or shattering them all.  Most of us begin our journey's as true believers in an individualistic self, only to be repeatedly crushed or slowly sapped by the universe until we're thoroughly convinced that we've swallowed a flawed or incomplete picture.

If you begin with the truth that all you have will be taken from you, then you are forced to re-evaluate your notion of self and self-benefit.  The interconnection and interdependence you witness from acceptance of the inescapable impermanence around you and inside you are a pleasant ways of saying that you will both eat and be eaten in every domain of your existence.  Your first food was your mother's body through nursing, and this eating and being eaten were filled with affection, joy, even pleasure for both.  If you can get past the guilt of eating and the fear of being eaten, you begin to touch the joy of witnessing the flow of life.  And the more you witness that joy, the more it seems to be the only thing that makes sense about who you are and why you're here.

The universe manifests you, maintains you for a while, and then mercilessly chews and crushes you until you have no choice but to burst with joy and wonder at every second and every square inch of the humming, buzzing symphony of existence.  And that chewing is probably the most friendly thing that's ever happened to you, even if feels like pain in every bite.

On May 8, 2012 Roberto Becerra Bereijo wrote:
 The entire Einstein passage simply points to the silliness of the games the mind plays when it ponders the ineffable.  The fact that one of the greatest minds of our species  could not resolve the mystery of God nor transcend the illusion of "purpose" should encourage us all to abandon thinking and live in the open heart.  God is not a "thing".  He neither plays nor does not play dice.  The Universe is not a "thing".  It is neither friendly nor unfriendly.  Mine is the God of Job.  The unquestionable one who does not answer to you or to me.  The one upon whose will peace depends upon at times enduring, and bliss upon abandonment and adoration.  The Lord of Hosts.  May you find him here and now.

On May 8, 2012 Chris wrote:
The universe is an infinite flow of creative energy that changes forms as it's usefulness diminishes or the actions of other energy around it changes it's form as it is connected to all other types of energy.  Almost like a giant recycle bin.  As humans, we have the choice of how we want to co-create with the energy that is present now.  The amount of inner awareness of this universal energy and the principles that seem to guide it, allow the human energy force a unique opportunity to observe the difference between reality and illusion, and subsequently love and fear.  As we as humans surrender to the fact that we do not control the workings of the creative universe, a sense of humility is realized and wonder that surrounds the love of what is.  It is what motivates us , excites and fascinates us.  It makes violence, hatred and fear seam so useless in comparison.  It is time to move on or change our form, which ever the universe rolls with. 

On May 8, 2012 Daryl wrote:
 What we think we believe is often different from what we have internalized as our working view. An easy way to self-check how we see the universe is to inquire as to whether we would really like to escape or "get out of here" through some element of our religious view. The Judeo-Christian mindset is quite strongly escapist -- and most of the world has been deeply influenced by this perspective. I suspect that if I truly believe the universe is friendly, or even neutral, then my intent will be to more and more fully interact with such an environment. If it is not friendly, then hell yes! Let me get out of Dodge any way I can and the sooner the better!

On May 8, 2012 Thierry wrote:
Do we need to think in terms of an either friendly or unfriendly universe? When earthquakes and tsunamis happen on this planet, when tremendous tension and energy is released at the surface of its comparatively thin mantle. Just underneath, an abyss of magma in fusion! From such awesomely unfriendly premises life emerged and managed to sustain itself and evolve for millions  and millions of years. Science, which studies measurable phenomenas, claims to know barely 2 per cent of the observable universe: are these 2 per cent friendly or unfriendly? Still, it does its best to be predictive and to find proper tools, such as a seismic alert system, to minimize the impact  of 'unfriendly' natural catastrophes. 
To decide that the universe is friendly is somewhat similar to the famous 'Pari de Pascal' : decide that God exists, you will feel better about life (or more in tune with it) and eventually you will be better off in the end if He does.
But  to know as the only observable fact that chaos, a certain randomness, is  part of the order of the universe does not deny this order; it makes it increasingly more difficult if not impossible to know.
If God, the Unknowable, according to religion, does not play dice with the universe then he might feel terrible about humanity doing so with it's own future.  

On May 8, 2012 terri wrote:
 The universe is a very friendly place full of love.  It is just that people forget and start doing mean stuff to each other.

On May 8, 2012 Veena Vasista wrote:
I really valued ijourney's take on this Einstein piece - the first steer given in the seed questions for reflection, because this is  the aspect of what Einstein is saying here that resonates with me the most: what we believe directs our behaviors, actions, creations. In my own work, I've grappled with the question 'What are my beliefs about human nature? After a long, challenging journey of about twenty years of conscious inquiry, I've landed with the belief that essentially says: the human spirit is intrinsically compassionate, collaborative and creative (I recently wrote about this: Our Direction is our Destination). Directed by this belief, I try to seek out and nourish the spirit in myself and in everyone around me. This belief is now a core component not just of my social change professional work, but of how I try to interact with people generally. 

With the question 'Is the Universe Friendly?',  the prompt for us to become aware of our fundamental beliefs, and the conclusion that 'God does not play dice with the universe', Einstein directs us to take responsibility for our creations. This idea front of mind, I cannot help but join up Einstein's conclusions with Gandhi's direction to 'Be the change you wish to see.' I'm increasingly getting the sense that we - social activists/changemakers - often let ourselves down by not digging deeply enough into our own beliefs and the corresponding behaviors and creations they are generating.

At the risk of perhaps repeating what Einstein's wisdom sets out above, I am inclined to observe that we easily forget the reality that if we are moving through the world thinking the world/universe is unfriendly, out to get us or simply doesn't care one way or the other - we are really thinking that our fellow human beings are unfriendly or uncaring. Believing this, we become defensive, afraid and aggressive. Driving change from this position - a position of fear, insecurity, doubt - takes us in circles - creates revolutions take us back to where we started. This is, after all, the danger of revolution - implicit in the word itself - which can refer to 'a turn that takes you back to its starting point.'  

I would like us - social activists - to give more time, space, energy over to checking in with our beliefs - what they are and if/how they align with our actions and our visions for the world. Social activists are no different than anyone else - that is, we all harbor beliefs that aren't always serving us and others well. What does serve us well is to do the work that brings those beliefs into consciousness. Einstein and Gandhi both call out to us to be more self-aware and with that awareness take greater responsibility for our creations - which, speaking of coming full circle, also brings us back to last week's ijourney post: Response vs. Reaction. 

On May 12, 2012 Thierry wrote:
What I understand this great scientist to say is that you cannot conclude from studying its laws that the universe is either friendly or unfriendly. From the strictly objective point of view of the scientist the universe has no manifest intention. Mentioning  randomness,  the author says that he sees it as 'non  essential'. Yet the  randomness observable in nature, cannot be accounted for scientifically, least of all philosophically. Or can it? Present day genetics see randomness (through recombination of genetic material) as both life sustaining and life threatening (new unknown viruses , etc.) That's a long way from Darwin's theory which saw evolution as following a direction of progress.
Scientific knowledge does not answer the question of whether the universe is friendly or unfriendly. Scientific knowledge is a tool that can serve both survival or destruction. It's up to us to decide that the universe is friendly rather than unfriendly and it is the only sensible option if we want to learn more about its workings and its motives.  

On May 12, 2012 Thierry wrote:
 Albert Einstein, the great physicist, is saying: what the predicament we are in demands is an act of faith. Not belief, which comes from the outside, but faith. Faith! The universe through his voice is saying: Have faith!
From physics to metaphysics, a deeply challenging passage.

On Sep 2, 2013 Malcolm Dean wrote:

 Einstein never said this. See Wikiquote, under subheading "Misattributed:"

"[T]he idea that the most important question we can ask is "Is the universe friendly?" dates back much earlier than the attribution to Einstein, for example in Emil Carl Wilm's 1912 book The Problem of Religion he includes the following footnote on p. 114: 'A friend proposed to the late F. W. H. Myers the following question: "What is the thing which above all others you would like to know? If you could ask the Sphinx one question, and only one, what would the question be?" After a moment's silence Myers replied: "I think it would be this: Is the universe friendly?"'

On Nov 21, 2013 Fabrice wrote:

My point of view is to look at the universe as a home, and i am sure we all love our homes and we do everything possible to make our home a better place to live! The Universe is a Home to our home, to me it is the Mother of my home. We have to love the Home of our home as much we love our mothers 
I love my Home, my mother, he provides all i need!
Let us educate our children to love and respect the universe!

On Mar 12, 2014 Michael wrote:

 What is the citation? I hear this quote quite often, by see no proof. If you can provide a source, please send it to me:

On Apr 30, 2014 Mashael wrote:

since it was written BEFORE him, then there is a chance that Einstein knew of the question about a "friendly or unfriendly" universe and was simply expressing his viewpoint. We often do the same today when we consider interesting thoughts of others. 

On Jul 1, 2014 HEENA wrote:

 your response is in keeping with the philosophy of "ADVAITA" non-dualism . it states that it is this " energy which flows through us and leads us rather than we leading life. this is truly humbling and encouraging . it puts all of lifes mighty questions to rest. this philosophy goes back a thousand years and is described in all of the upanishads; the geeta; and ofcourse the most recent living sagee " ramana maharishi";  nisaragadatta maharaj;.

On Jul 1, 2014 Michael Bogar wrote:

 It seems to me as though we are not forced to choose been duality and non-duality. The fact that people debate the two issues proves the existence, in some form, of a duality. The fact that we can conceive of the opposites being reconciled appears to prove that it is all one. Quantum physics suggests that somehow light is both particle and wave--a single form manifesting in two ways. The human soul-making endeavor requires both duality and non-duality. The reality behind this reality likely includes both perspectives, and is constructed of ideas that we are currently incapable of perceiving except by the imagination.

On Aug 7, 2014 Anne wrote:

It is obvious to me that the universe is a friendly place - after all, we are living on the cushiest place in the known Universe. A system that is abundant, takes care of our needs and constantly balances and recycles Itself. What more evidence do we need? it's AWESOME. 

On Aug 8, 2014 xiaoshan wrote:

 Awesome perspective! For those who think think the universe is not friendly, perhaps they meant the human world is not friendly :) 

On Aug 17, 2014 Anne wrote:

 That's a good point.  People are so preoccupied with the small picture that they are blind to how amazing the big picture is.

On Aug 19, 2014 Rebekah wrote:

I like the way you talk about God. I too love the God of Issac, Jacob, and Abraham (and Job!) He is in charge, and we are here to learn to serve Him if we choose to.
I think of it like this:  

The Journey of Life

What if one day you were going to work, or walking in the woods, or whatever...and someone told you that the way to end all of your problems and those of everyone else, would be to give up your plans for your life and join the team of  the all knowing  most powerful ruler of the universe, Who is called Jesus.

 By volunteering for this, you are given more and better spiritual awareness, not only of the perfection and goodness and love of our leader (Jesus), but  that the battle for goodness is not relying on you. However, you can make a difference, and help to advance His will for good through you, if you yield your body and mind in submission to His work to accomplish His plan, not your own. You must do this out of love, not fear.

You also realize that lots of others have been a member of the team (who are known as Christians) throughout the history of the world, and that you have been made aware of this because God loves you and wants your participation while you are on this planet to overcome evil and be prepared to work for Him and fellowship in unconditional love and health forever, when He comes and the battle/journey is over. Now how hard is the choice?

If you believe enough to want that to be true, all you have to do is ask and agree to be a vehicle for His presence in the here and now. It is a journey just for you, that nobody else has. The necessary tool for the journey directions is the Bible. Open it with an open heart for the journey to begin. The journey is the special trip you must take during this life, to allow God to train you through all you experience, that He has organized for you alone, to become the agent of goodness He knows you are to become, by His grace.

If you will trust and persevere through the good and bad parts of the journey, relying on Him alone to get you to the place and person He wants you to be, without forgetting your purpose and jumping off the journey trail.(Alas, if this happens, as it usually does to most people, He will arrange the journey so that you can get back to His purpose and back onto your journey when you realize that you are lost and ask for His help.)  At the end of your journey (not someone else's), you will be granted the wisdom and great loving kindness and beauty to belong in His perfect kingdom of wonders beyond all understanding forever with Him! And you will understand it all!

All of the other team members that have also been on their own journeys in this choice, are going to be with you, and you will be able to understand everything at this time. You will be able to see how you looked in your heart before the journey began and how much progress you have made because of it. You will fully see and realize for the first time, that you have fought the good fight and finished the race. You are a winner!!! Everyone there is a winner!! And everyone is able to see the King of all Kings, who led them on their individual journeys, designed just for them, in love, so they could be together with Him here now. 

I don't know about you, but the choice for my journey with Him was the Only choice. And it still is.

On Feb 4, 2015 Gamini Wijesinghe wrote:

 It is very clear that Einstein doesn't know either universe or man. The entire universe is a man. Don't think visible objects around you. Think first about yourself. Inside your body that entire universe is contained.

On Aug 9, 2015 E. Slaske wrote:

We get what we expect. If you think negative thoughts, you will get negative responses. Guard your thoughts! 

On Jan 13, 2016 Stact wrote:

 Totally agree.  Everything gets Einstein's name slapped on it.  In what published work does this appear?  Thank you.

On Jan 13, 2016 Stacy wrote:

 Ah, thank you.

On Mar 4, 2016 Bryan Brabham wrote:

 The universe must be very friendly to human life, else all life would perish.  In fact, the universe is uniquely constructed, not only for life, but also for the evolution of life.  As we learn and grow, newer aspects of our fundamental findings, beliefs, reasoning, hopes aspirations and thought will be forthcoming.  For such choices as we have from the universe, what else could we reasonably want.  But the universe sets against the free gift of life and consciousness, the strict rule that we must strive and learn and seek understanding.  So if we are not learners and seekers we will become lost in the vast landscape that we call the universe.  I do not feel that this (getting lost in the universe) is the plan of the creator.  Life is a gift in that, through life, we gain an impression of the mind of GOD through his greatest creation, the universe.  For God could have always created a Universe, but to have crreated a universe with intelligent beings to become in it, gave god feedback on his greatest effort.

On Aug 5, 2016 DSK wrote:

 There is actually a one word answer to the question.

The purpose of chaos.
The same answer to the question,  If someone hits me on the right cheek why should I turn the other?
Everything is realized through understanding that word.  It's the purpose of life.  So yes, the universe is friendly.  It keeps giving us the opportunity. to let go of the constraints of space and time and be one with it.

On Nov 21, 2016 Terrel R. Davis wrote:

 I love that quote. I have "proof" that not only is it friendly, its sum and substance is kindness. That is part of my thesis and the conclusion of my book "The Creation Code." I am looking for people to read and review my work. TRDavis

On Mar 2, 2017 Bruh wrote:

 cool story bruh

On Mar 14, 2017 gerald wrote:

1. Keep in mind that if a person is a genius in the area of physics or chemistry for example, there is no reason to assume that such a person has all the answers to all of the questions in every area of thought.
2. Can the above quotation be positively ascribed to Dr. Einstein?
3.Are we all agreed on a definition of "God"? This is important. We cannot have a discussion unless we define our terms.Until we do, the quotation means nothing and any comments on the subject mean nothing.

On Apr 24, 2017 MICHELLE WALLOCONNOR wrote:

 Wish Trump would read this! And all his old cronies....

On Apr 24, 2017 MICHELLE WALLOCONNOR wrote:

 Is it very long?  Could you send it email and I could read it online? Sounds interesting and I'll give you feedback if you want it...

On Jun 27, 2017 Chip Boyd wrote:

 I really enjoyed reading the comments here.  There is intelligence, passion and imagination in all of them.  I wish our political discourse could have some of the nuance, respectfulness and insight found here.  We do not need to see important, fundamental things the same way to be enlivened and nourished by the thoughts of others.  As to the question of order in the universe:  In a book called "Leadership and the New Science," author Margaret Wheatley includes a photo of a "three-winged bird."  It is a beautiful image of a graphed system of a million points.  At a mere one-hundred thousand points, we would see nothing but an apparently random set of dots- and even at five-hundred thousand points would not see a clear pattern. Only when enough points have been graphed do we see an amazing and beautiful pattern.  This may apply to directly to our understanding of the universe.  We are still at the beginning in some ways, seeing only randomness in many situations when deeper patterns and potential unity may exist beyond our limited comprehension. In any case, the world we know is full of beauty and terror, of pattern and accidents. We know enough to see we are not rivals in existence and should strive for the highest levels of love, cooperation and compassion of which we are capable.  And in the final analysis, we need a political definition of these things, a social contract that brings out the best in human beings.

On May 21, 2018 Sarah wrote:

 I believe Universe is order and order is peace. Everything is connected.

On May 21, 2018 Hannah wrote:

 I think that if you are friendly to the universe, so the universe will be friendly to you.

On Jul 3, 2018 Rathna M Jayalath wrote:

 Is rebirth true?

On Jan 17, 2019 farhan wrote:
  Please continue this great work and I look forward to more of your awesome blog posts. Kontakt Grill

On Jan 24, 2019 aesthetic clothing wrote:
  Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful for me.