The Universe Is Really Telling You Something

Lessons from Einstein, Magritte, and the Tooth Fairy


Einstein as the tooth fairy

Being one with the universe is thought of as being a peaceful state, but the default state of oneness is being dead. Resting in peace, as they say. A snake eating you alive can teach you this as well as a sage, but nobody wants that. What we really want is the knowledge of death while holding on to our lives.

We want to explore the universe, but not be in the actual explosion. We want to see the vastness of the ocean, but we don’t actually want to fall in. We want to have our separate life and also experience the connection that can only really come from dying. This is the paradox of what we call consciousness. We want to know the real within the delusion, we want to tell the truth with lies.


Death is both the site of our greatest terror and the place we, literally, rest in peace. As Albert Einstein explained in a 1950 condolence letter:

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. Not to nourish the delusion but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind.”

This is indeed true, but it’s little condolence. If you tell someone that they never really existed, that energy is neither created nor destroyed, this is all deeply true, and deeply uncomforting. What we really want is that feeling before without dying. What we really want is not so much to overcome delusion but to experience truth within the delusion. This is a bit of a paradox, but gods know we try.

For example, my son was just asking about our long-dead dog. The boy barely knew him, but he lives on in stories. The boy asked if the dog was with our recently dead uncle, in heaven. I thought about this. They are certainly together, but in the disintegration of forms, not a reunion. When you are ‘one’ with the cosmos, there is no chance for ‘one-to-one’ meetings. The price of oneness is that you must give up youness and anyways, which…



Indrajit (Indi) Samarajiva is a Sri Lankan writer. Follow me at, or just email me at