Perhaps the most important lesson the world has learned in the past fifty years is that it is not true that "human nature is unchangeable." Human nature, on the contrary, can be changed with the greatest ease and to the utmost possible extent. If in this lies huge potential danger, it also contains some of the brightest hopes that we have for the future of mankind.
It is not enough to hold that God did great things for our fathers: not enough to pride ourselves on the inheritance of victories of faith: not enough to build the sepulchres of those who were martyred by men unwilling, in their day of trial as we may be in our own, to hear new voices of a living God. Our duty is to see whether God is with us; whether we expect great things from Him; whether we do not practically place Him far off, forgetting that, if He is, He is about us, speaking to us words that have not been heard before, guiding us to paths on which earlier generations have not been able to enter. There is - most terrible thought! - a practical atheism, orthodox in language, reverent in bearing, which can enter a Christian church and charm the conscience to rest with shadowy traditions; an atheism which grows incessantly within us if we separate what cannot be separated with impunity, the secular from the divine, the past and the future from the present, earth from heaven, the things of Caesar from the things of God.
. . . this mind, through endless kalpas without beginning, has never varied. It has never lived or died, appeared or disappeared, increased or decreased. It's not pure or impure, good or evil, past or future. It's not true or false. It's not male or female. It doesn't appear as a monk or a layman, an elder or a novice, a sage or a fool, a buddha or a mortal. It strives for no realization and suffers no karma. It has no strength or form. It's like space. You can't possess it and you can't lose it. Its movements can't be blocked by mountains, rivers, or rock walls. . . . No karma can restrain this real body. But this mind is subtle and hard to see. It's not the same as the sensual mind. Everyone wants to see this mind, and those who move their hands and feet by its light are as many as the grains of sand along the Ganges, but when you ask them, they can't explain it. It's theirs to use. Why don't they see it? . . . Only the wise know this mind, this mind called dharma-nature, this mind called liberation. Neither life nor death can restrain this mind. Nothing can. It's also called the Unstoppable Tathagata, the Incomprehensible, the Sacred Self, the Immortal, the Great Sage. Its names vary but not its essence.
When mortals are alive, they worry about death. When they're full, they worry about hunger. Theirs is the Great Uncertainty. But sages don't consider the past. And they don't worry about the future. Nor do they cling to the present. And from moment to moment they follow the Way.
I was always matching wits with authority. Pondering over my past and present hassles, I began to wonder why my life had taken the direction it had. What cosmic forces had led me to this precise moment that saw me, once again, dancing on the rim of the volcano? The answers started to come to me as my life flashed before my eyes. I think it all started when I was arrested as a pyromaniac.
As I have discovered by examining my past, I started out as a child. Coincidentally, so did my brother. My mother did not put all her eggs in one basket, so to speak: she gave me a younger brother named Russell, who taught me what was meant by "survival of the fittest."
It is because modern education is so seldom inspired by a great hope that it so seldom achieves great results. The wish to preserve the past rather than the hope of creating the future dominates the minds of those who control the teaching of the young.
The study of logic becomes the central study in philosophy: it gives the method of research in philosophy, just as mathematics gives the method in physics. . . . All this supposed knowledge in the traditional systems must be swept away, and a new beginning must be made. . . . To the large and still growing body of men engaged in the pursuit of science, . . . the new method, successful already in such time-honored problems as number, infinity, continuity, space and time, should make an appeal which the older methods have wholly failed to make. The one and only condition, I believe, which is necessary in order to secure for philosophy in the near future an achievement surpassing all that has hitherto been accomplished by philosophers, is the creation of a school of men with scientific training and philosophical interests, unhampered by the traditions of the past, and not misled by the literary methods of those who copy the ancients in all except their merits.
Bertrand Russell (1872 - 1970)
Source: Our Knowledge of the External World, as a Field For Scientific Method in Philosophy