The Illusion of Reality

Did Einstein write: “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one”?

Albert Einstein actually wrote:

“People like us, who believe in physics, know the distinction between past, present, and future is only an illusion, albeit a stubborn one.”

That quote has itself been a recurrent one, but, as a very accomplished acquaintance of mine, Tom McFarlane, has written:

“There is no source for that, because Einstein didn’t say it. It is not consistent with his views. For Einstein, reality is what is true, not what is illusory.

“However, Einstein did write something kind of similar to that. Here is what he wrote in a 1955 letter of condolence to the family of his recently deceased friend Michele Besso:

“‘Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.’

“And, just as he predicted, Einstein died soon after Besso.”

Another contributor to Quora answered (on the same question):

KB: “‘The distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion‘ sounds like the quote you have mentioned. The source of Einstein’s statement is his state of consciousness. He played the game throughout the twentieth century that many, many atheists are still playing. They cannot completely deny the idea of a creator, but for the sake of their social and financial standing they must go along with a finite, mechanical universe based solely on space and man-made time in seconds.

“Perceiving time by the standards of our clocks, keeps us locked in the impossible paradox of a finite and limited universe that allows us to experience infinite consciousness or intelligent potential. Einstein knew that he did not know what he did not know and for the sake of face (saving), he made ambiguous statements and jokes that sounded very intelligent. University students around the world do the same thing. For the average “Joe Blow”, it is difficult to have a reasonable conversation with a highly intellectual person. The difference is that ‘Joe Blow’ is aware of his emotional intelligence and possibly his own unique consciousness.

“Reality is in the eyes of the beholder [?]. It is a good time now to recognize the uniqueness of your consciousness if you ‘think’ that consciousness is a fundamental property of reality.”

[‘Unique consciousness’… ‘Property of reality’??].