Reason, of course, is weak, when measured against its never-ending task. Weak, indeed, compared with the follies and passions of mankind, which, we must admit, almost entirely control our human destinies, in great things and small. Yet the works of the understanding outlast the noisy bustling generations and spread light and warmth across the centuries. (Albert Einstein, Einstein on Humanism (New York: Carol, 1993), 77.)
A life directed chiefly toward the fulfilment of personal desires will sooner or later always lead to bitter disappointment,’ he said. ‘The banal goals of human strivings — possessions, superficial success, luxury — have always seemed contemptible to me. (The Expanded Quotable Einstein, ed. Alice Calaprice (Princeton: Princeton University, 2000), 148, 350).
I am absolutely convinced that no amount of wealth in the world can help humanity forward,
even in the hands of the most dedicated worker in this cause. The example of great and pure personalities can lead us to noble deeds and views. Money only appeals to selfishness, and, without fail, it tempts its owner to abuse it. (The Expanded Quotable Einstein, ed. Alice Calaprice (Princeton: Princeton University, 2000), 305).
Albert Einstein fully understood that instinct is stronger than intellect — that our impulsive nature, rooted in a sense-bound life, forms shackles of material bondage which do not allow us to develop a cosmic outlook free from egotism.
I am happy because I want nothing from anyone. I don’t care for money. Decorations, titles or distinctions mean nothing to me. I don’t crave praise. The only thing that gives me pleasure, apart from my work, my violin and my sailing boat, is the appreciation of my fellow-workers. I claim credit for nothing. I have no special gifts — I am only passionately curious. (11 March 1952, to biographer Carl Seelig; Alice Calaprice and Trevor Lipscombe, Albert Einstein: A Biography (Connecticut: Greenwood, 2005), front pages.)
The most important human endeavor is the striving for morality in our actions. Our inner balance and even our very existence depend on it. Only morality in our actions can give beauty and dignity to life. To make this a living force and bring it to clear consciousness is perhaps the foremost task of education. The foundation of morality should not be made dependent on myth nor tied to any authority, lest doubt about the myth or about the legitimacy of the authority imperil the foundation of sound judgment and action. (N Krishnaswamy, Einstein, His Papers and His Letter (Bangalore: Gandhi Centre of Science and Human Values, 2006), 118.)
‘Solicitude for man and his future must always be the main interest of all technical efforts; never forget this in the midst of your diagrams and equations,’ he once remarked. He often summed up his own efforts thus: ‘Only a life lived for others is worthwhile.’ He said this hundreds of times. His concern was always compassionately directed to the needy. (Responding to a question posed by the editors of the New York Times, 20 June 1932. The Expanded Quotable Einstein, 147.)
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