This year marks the centennial of the birth of Dr. Albert Einstein, modern Merlin of physics and acclaimed humanitarian. That his life is still an inspiration to all who come in contact with his ideas or his work, is proved by the glowing tributes accorded him by various institutes, societies, newspapers and magazines all over the world. Einstein fathered relativity and heralded the new nuclear age with his now famous formula: E=mc2. At the same time he spoke out courageously against social injustice. His life is that of the saint and sage for it encompasses karma, bhakti, and gyana yoga.
Einstein's work stands on its own as the greatest achievement in science since Newton started the whole business. The genius attributed to him was not evident as an intellectual or academic capacity when he was a child, as one of his school teachers told him: "You will never amount to anything", while mathematician Hermann Minkowski called him a "lazy dog". His rebellious nature made him cut classes, read what he pleased, tinker in school labs and generally incur the wrath of his teachers. He only graduated in 1900 through the help of a classmate who had kept scrupulous notes.
It thus seems that genius, creativity and the ability to perceive the world clearly are not in the province of intellectual and academic training. These are not things you can learn from books. According to yoga the mind can be developed but it requires a certain attitude and a unique way of thinking. It requires constant and steady practice, as in meditation, for example, in order to initiate the mind into a new and higher way of thinking and perceiving the world.
That Einstein possessed an original mind is obvious in his unique and stunning theories of the relationship between time, space and energy. Even at an early age he showed signs of interest in the world and insight into the forces of nature working around him. At the age of five he was fascinated by the mysterious force influencing the needle of a compass and by the age of sixteen he had devised one of his first "thought experiments". These cannot be performed in a laboratory, only in the mind; for example, he imagined what a light wave would look like to an observer riding along with it.
Einstein's thought experiments were based on laboratory work of the other physicists before him and were translatable into concrete equations which later transformed science. They were based on solid facts and were not mere imaginings; rather they were the product of an advanced, ordered and creative mind. Einstein's love of philosophy, physics and basic maths gave him a stable base from which to channel his physical, emotional and mental energies. It is the dissipation of these energies and the resulting imbalance which leads many young people to emotional and identity crises that may later result in emotional cripples and mental pygmies.
Einstein's love of exploration of the world around him is typical of the gyana yogi who seeks to investigate the universe in which he lives so as to better approximate reality, and gain a vision of the truth. At the same time this attitude led him to work for work's sake, for the sheer joy and pleasure that can be derived from putting one's vision into practice, and not for the results. This is pure karma yoga. He is quoted as saying: "My scientific work is motivated by an irresistible longing to understand the secrets of nature and by no other feelings. My love for justice and the striving towards the improvement of human conditions are quite independent from my scientific interests."
One cannot help but be amazed at the mental processes involved in his most famous equation: E=mc2, published in 1905. This states in effect that matter and energy are not only equivalent but also interchangeable and that even a small amount of matter holds the explosive power of tons of TNT, thus opening the door for the nuclear age to emerge. At the same time the output of work in the year 1905 was as astounding as its implications. His mind was working at a fantastic pace.
Even today scientists marvel at the mental processes Einstein used to develop his theories. Richard Feynman, a Nobel Laureate of Cal Tech (USA) states: "I still can't see how he thought of it". Einstein was able to visualise a curved four dimensional space-time continuum in which massive bodies, such as the sun, warp the space-time around them so that the planets move along pathways of space-time. Many of the implications of his theories are still to be worked out.
That Einstein was a developed yogi cannot be doubted for his ability to use the mind led him to transcendental, mystical and intuitive experiences that were later analysed and made logical by his rational side. His perception of energy as the substratum of matter is the same as that of the ancient sages who realised through meditation that the whole universe is energy or prana shakti, the creative force. As a gyani he would say: "I know from my own painful searching, with its many blind alleys, how hard it is to take a reliable step, be it ever so small, towards the understanding of that which is truly significant". However, a mystical and religious side emerged from his study of the universe, a side which aptly sums up the bhaktas attitude: "Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe - a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble".
Thus Einstein emerges more and more as a model of the advanced human being, a balanced individual who had spiritualised his life by using his mind to expand his consciousness. The more he expanded the more human he became and the more humble. Einstein himself said: "With fame 1 become more and more stupid, which of course, is a very common phenomenon. There is far too great a disproportion between what one is and what others think one is. With me every peep becomes a trumpet solo." There can be no doubt that he was a great man.
Though he is generally acclaimed for his work, his genius, and the depth of his feelings for humanity, one facet of his personality has not been given the importance it warrants. This facet is the way in which he developed his ideas- his way of thinking. Einstein developed a powerful visualising capacity from an early age plus an ability to carry through logical ideas. From this capacity to think constructively, with purpose and individual will, he developed strength of mind and the ability to transcend the mundane problems of everyday life which cause us so much worry and anxiety. He said: "When I have no special problem to occupy my mind, I love to reconstruct proofs of mathematical and physical theorems that have long been known to me. There is no goal in this, merely an opportunity to indulge in the pleasant occupation of thinking."
Unfortunately most of us lose our powers of imagination, visualisation, concentration and so on, at an early age and then forget how to reanimate them. Few of us possess the zeal and interest of an Einstein to explore physics and mathematics, however, this is not at all necessary in the quest for higher consciousness. We all have the seed of genius latent within our deeper personality but have not developed our own individual potential, whether in the field of art or science or whatever.
For most of us our minds are occupied with thoughts of the past, the future, present economic difficulties, family problems and so forth. So much of this thinking is unnecessary and eventually destructive. Even if problems exist it is of no use worrying about them. This only results in a speeding up of the brain and mind into a state of ongoing tension that is unrelieved even by periods of rest or sleep. We need to learn to think constructively with a broader vision so as to put things in their correct perspective. But first we need a method to relax the mind from its tensions and worries, to achieve the relaxing and enjoyable state experienced by Einstein in which he made his mind his friend, a friend that afforded him endless pleasure and practical results in what turned out to be a rewarding and useful existence.
"For the most part I do the thing which my own nature drives me to do. It is embarrassing to earn so much respect and love for it."