After the recent attacks in Beirut, Paris, and San Bernardino, there has been for many a sense of dread about further attacks and an anxiety about where our world is headed. After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Einstein was gripped with similar angst about the human race’s newfound capacity to destroy itself. In a telegram asking two hundred prominent Americans to join his effort to raise money for world peace, Einstein wrote: “We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.” The genius who ushered science into a post-Newtonian understanding of the material universe had turned his attention toward discovering a cognitive shift that could give a troubled world hope for what we might call a post-dystopian world order.
A letter Einstein wrote a few years later to a father grieving his son’s death from polio contains, I believe, the substantially new manner of thinking the human race needs to survive:
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—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion. (Einstein's letter to Robert Marcus, dated February 12, 1950)
This shift of consciousness from separate me to unified we is crucial both for the urgent need to care for Earth, our common home, and for realizing our dream of creating a world at peace. Many will say that dreaming about world peace is pie in the sky, but if we will not allow ourselves to dream it, we have little chance of creating it. I’m with John Lennon: “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”
What can you or I do other than block out the madness or wait in dread for the next horrific attack? Each of us, regardless of nationality or religion, can participate in the spiritual evolution of our species toward peace by pausing for one minute daily to remember the Oneness of humankind. I’m calling this one 4 One, and I invite you to join me in taking one minute daily to help create the substantially new manner of thinking we need to survive.
To be part of one 4 One, just spend one minute each day stepping through the following four-part sequence:
Pause to interrupt your scattered, stressed or “doing” consciousness for a moment of just being. Place your hands in the prayer position (palm to palm) over your heart.
I am one: Focus on a few slow, deep breaths. Sense the wholeness or oneness beneath your busy mind by simply noticing your one body supported and grounded by the one Earth. Notice that your two hands over your heart may begin to feel more like one hand.
I am Oneness expressed as one: Take a few more deep breaths and remember that you are an expression of a source of life much bigger than yourself. See your unique life as a manifestation of a larger Oneness—“a part of the whole called by us ‘Universe.’” Notice that the ocean of oneness all around you sustains you from moment to moment in your breathing.
We are Oneness manifested as one human family: Take a few more deep breaths and remember that the Oneness expressed in your life is also manifested in every other human life. Recall that the common Oneness that gives life to us all joins us as one human family.
The substantially new manner of thinking we need will not come from the top down; the problem of world peace will not be solved by political leaders or treaties. The transformation our world needs begins with our individual inner transformation. When people all over the world embrace an awareness of the oneness of the human family and raise their children with this consciousness, we will be within reach of creating a world at peace. I hope you will join me in making one 4 One a part of your day every day in the new year.