When Albert Einstein gave lectures at U.S. universities, the recurring question that students asked him most was: “Do you believe in God?”
And Einstein always answered: “I believe in Spinoza’s God, who reveals Himself in the lawful harmony of the world, not in a god who concerns himself with the fate and the doings of mankind.”
“The philosopher whom Einstein admired most was Baruch (later, Benedictus) Spinoza, the seventeenth-century Jewish philosopher, who was excommunicated by the Amsterdam synagogue and declined the Heidelberg professorship in order to live as a lens grinder, leading an independent life dedicated to philosophical reflections… Einstein was most influenced by Spinoza’s thesis of an unrestricted determinism and the belief in the existence of a superior intelligence that reveals itself in the harmony and beauty of nature.”“Einstein and Religion”, Max Jammer
(Spinoza) God would say:
What I want you to do is go out into the world and enjoy your life. I want you to sing, have fun and enjoy everything I’ve made for you.
Stop going into those dark, cold temples that you built yourself and saying they are my house. My house is in the mountains, in the woods, rivers, lakes, beaches. That’s where I live and there I express my love for you.
Stop blaming ME for your miserable life; I never told you there was anything wrong with you or that you were a sinner, or that your sexuality was a bad thing. Sex is a gift I have given you and with which you can express your love, your ecstasy, your joy.
So don’t blame me for everything they made you believe.
Stop reading alleged sacred scriptures that have nothing to do with me. If you can’t read me in a sunrise, in a landscape, in the look of your friends, in your son’s eyes… ➤ you will find me in no book!
Stop asking me “will you tell me how to do my job?” Stop being so scared of me. I do not judge you or criticize you, nor get angry, or bothered. I am pure love.
Stop asking for forgiveness, there’s nothing to forgive.
If I made you… I filled you with passions, limitations, pleasures, feelings, needs, inconsistencies… free will.
How can I blame you if you respond to something I put in you?
How can I punish you for being the way you are, if I’m the one who made you?
Do you think I could create a place to burn all my children who behave badly for the rest of eternity? What kind of god would do that?
Respect your peers and don’t do what you don’t want for yourself. All I ask is that you pay attention in your life, that alertness is your guide
My beloved, this life is not a test, not a step on the way, not a rehearsal, nor a prelude to paradise. This life is the only thing here and now and it is all you need.
I have set you absolutely free, no prizes or punishments, no sins or virtues, no one carries a marker, no one keeps a record.
You are absolutely free to create in your life. Heaven or hell.
➤ I can’t tell you if there’s anything after this life but I can give you a tip. Live as if there is not. As if this is your only chance to enjoy, to love, to exist.
So, if there’s nothing after, then you will have enjoyed the opportunity I gave you. And if there is, rest assured that I won’t ask if you behaved right or wrong, I’ll ask. Did you like it? Did you have fun? What did you enjoy the most? What did you learn?…
Stop believing in me; believing is assuming, guessing, imagining.
I don’t want you to believe in me, I want you to believe in you.
I want you to feel me in you when you kiss your beloved, when you tuck in your little girl, when you caress your dog, when you bathe in the sea.
Stop praising me, what kind of egomaniac God do you think I am?
I’m bored of being praised. I’m tired of being thanked. Feeling grateful? Prove it by taking care of yourself, your health, your relationships, the world. Express your joy! That’s the way to praise me.
Stop complicating things and repeating like a parrot what you’ve been taught about me.
What do you need more miracles for? So many explanations?
The only thing for sure is that you are here, that you are alive, that this world is full of wonders.
Baruch de Spinoza
This article was originally published Syed Akbar Ali in his blog OutSyed The Box and reproduced with permission.
Editor’s note: It’s interesting to consider that western philosophers post-renaissance were still influenced by Muslim philosophers who came before them – ibn Tufayl among others – as discussed in an article in the NYT, which notes
“Among the admirers of Ibn Tufayl’s work were the Enlightenment philosophers Baruch Spinoza, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and John Locke, who were trying to advance a sense of human dignity in a Christendom long tormented by religious wars and sectarian persecutions.”The Muslims Who Inspired Spinoza, Locke and Defoe, New York Times, April 5 2021
As they flourished, the Muslim philosophers faded, and the reason for this could be the subject of deep investigation.