A Blaise of Buddha
Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) was French philosopher who died at the young age of 39. During his short life, he produced works on math, physics, and invented an early mechanical calculator. Obviously a born genius, he derived much of his inspiration from nature and, although framing his philosophy in Christian language, many of his conclusions about human experience were very Buddha-like. Below is one of my favorite quotes from his work, Pensées, which I edited a bit for today’s language.
Let everyone contemplate the whole of nature in her full and lofty majesty, let them turn their gaze away from the lowly objects around them; let them behold the dazzling light set like an eternal lamp to light up the universe, let them see the earth as a mere speck compared to the vast orbit described by this star, and let them marvel at finding this vast orbit itself to be no more than the tiniest point compared to that described by the stars revolving in the firmament. But if our eyes stop there, let our imagination proceed further; it will grow weary of conceiving things before nature tires of producing them. The whole visible world is only an imperceptible dot in nature’s ample bosom. No idea comes near it; it is no good inflating our conceptions beyond imaginable space, we only bring forth atoms compared to the reality of things. Nature is an infinite sphere whose center is everywhere and circumference is nowhere. In short it is the greatest perceptible mark of awareness that our imagination should lose itself in that thought.