3 - Issue 3
EINSTEIN AND BABA THE AVATAR
This is the first of the two part article, the second of which will appear in the next issue. We hope you enjoy reading it…..
If you want your life's work to be useful to mankind, it is not enough that you understand applied science as such. Concern for man himself must always constitute the chief objective of all technological effort, to assure that the results of our scientific thinking may be a blessing to mankind, and not a curse. — Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein stands as a precursor and example of the unique type of scientist so sorely needed in the world today, the type that Bhagavan is currently graduating from His Institute of Higher Learning. Under Swami's loving hand, these are "whole" scientists. Their aim is to benefit society and not merely accomplish selfish ends without thought to their work's impact upon humanity and the environment. These are scientists who combine spiritual awareness with state of the art training. Swami's graduates are at the leading edge of discovery in various fields. Three recent Ph.D.'s in physics had the unheard of experience of having their papers published in American physics journals within a year of receiving their degrees! Grounded in the truth that God is the source of all phenomena and knowledge, they maintain the perspective that the best path to understanding creation is to study the Creator.
Einstein also was this type of scientist, and his life was guided by this principle. His overriding goal was to "Understand how the 'Old One' thinks." And he devoted his life to the effort to gain "knowledge of the ultimate immu¬table essence that underlies the mutable, illusory world."
In the first part of this article I will mention some personal stories about my family, Baba and Einstein. The second part will include some of Einstein's thoughts on science, spirituality, education and character, as well as what Swami had to say about him during a recent interview.
Although Einstein was deeply saddened by the ironic fact that some of his work led to the development of nuclear weapons, we might also consider that the work also holds within it a scientific illustration of the spiritual truth. This article will conclude with some musings on how some of Einstein's work may be useful as one more 'tool' to help free us from Maya and accept the unseen Atma as the fundamental truth of life.
My father, Dr. Henry Abrams, opened his general medical practice in Princeton, New Jersey, in 1938. A year later, the physician who had been caring for Prof. Einstein, his daughter Margot and secretary Miss Helen Dukas, was leaving for further training. He approached my father and asked if he would care to take over, and he readily agreed. He cared for Einstein and the others until the out¬break of World War II.
Einstein died when I was six, and my recollections of him are few. I do remember that he had a very nice laugh, which he used often. For my fourth birthday, my parents and I were invited for a small celebration. My uncle took the opportunity to photograph the Professor and me dealing with the gifts that his secretary had obtained: a toy log cabin and a bag of foil covered chocolates in the form of "gold coins." It was this latter which occupied most of my attention. Professor Einstein worked on the log cabin, trying to fit the simple pieces of wood together. Interestingly, when I grew up and printed all the negatives, there was a picture of my mother leaning over Professor Einstein and the logs, showing him how the ends joined.
Of course at that young age I had no idea of what was so special about being around this nice old man. It wasn't until I was at college that I really began to appreciate the honour of being his Godson and to consider what his scientific work meant.
I discovered meditation at the age of twenty. As my spiritual journey proceeded I became intensely curious as to what my link was with such a luminous soul.
AND THE GITA
Baba, the consummate "tour guide", treated my wife Marsha and me to a host of travel experiences over the course of my first visit to India. We had no desire to be anywhere but where He was, and since He went to Delhi, Madras and Hyderabad we were overjoyed to be allowed to follow Him.
In Hyderabad a most interesting incident occurred during a discourse Swami was giving in a large auditorium. It was very hot and I had just eaten lunch. As time went on, I realized to my horror that I was being overtaken by a powerful drowsiness. As 1 was sinking into thamas, I projected a thought to the Lord: "Baba, the only thing that could keep me from falling asleep right now is if You were to mention Einstein...” I knew He could do it but didn't really expect it at all and continued my descent. Within sixty seconds, my head thrust backward as Swami's lilting pronunciation of the name "Einstein” entered my consciousness from His ongoing flow of Telugu.
I was awake then, and became riveted to the story He recounted of how a young Indian physicist during an appointment with Einstein eagerly probed for the ultimate in Western scientific wisdom. What he received from Einstein however, was, to roughly quote Swami, "Every major conclusion I’ve arrived at is contained in your Bhagavad Gita. Look there!"
My curiosity about the connection was inflamed anew! I was dying to get some insight into "why me?" As Swami's translator for the discourse was himself a nuclear physicist, I approached him afterwards hoping for some kernel of insight. He had nothing personally to share, and as far as learning more from Sai he said, "I counsel patience..." I was disappointed but left knowing I had received sound advice.
That was in 1978. More blessed interviews occurred in ensuing years and questions about more important matters were raised than about my Godfather. It was okay; I had become patient and accepted that He would reveal whatever I needed to know in its own best time.
After Professor Einstein's death in 1955, Miss Einstein and Miss Dukes remained patients of my father and friends of the family, remembering birthdays and attending my Bar Mitzvah at 13. My mother sometimes gave them rides around town as they did not drive.
For sometime I had had a yearning to visit Einstein's home to see his study. In 1983 my sister planned to get married in Princeton and this looked like a good opportunity. My father called Miss Einstein to arrange a visit and on a cold December day he, my stepmother and I spent about two hours chatting with this completely unassuming artist in the parlour of the house where she had lived for close to fifty years. She told us of her time spent studying art at a convent in Italy and showed us a beautiful little wax sculpture of Saint Francis, for whom she had a special affection.
As we left, my father recalled the time, years before, when he'd brought his brother in law Elliott Montroll over for what Einstein's formidable secretary had said would only be a three minute appointment. My uncle, who was to be later named to the Einstein Chair of Physics at the University of Rochester, would have been overjoyed just to have shaken hands, but Einstein offered them lunch. They declined. My uncle ended up spending half an hour at Einstein's dining room table, talking and laughing with him about physics, while my father beamed with joy, understanding not one word.
Always straightforward and humble in human dealings, Einstein came to accept and use the bewildering fame that was thrust upon him in the only way that made sense to him—service to humanity. He worked tirelessly throughout his life promoting peace, freedom, and respect for all people.
Dad recalled how
Einstein's efforts during the 1930's and World War II enabled a certain
number of Jews to escape Nazi persecution. The Professor also spent
many years working for the United Jewish Appeal in establishing the
state of Israel and accepted my father's invitation to co chair the
local fundraising campaign with him in Princeton for several years.
Soon after her return, Marsha and I were on a visit to my father and stepmother. When they asked her, "Tell us about your trip in India," she proceeded to do just that, with all the enthusiasm of one who had just returned from her first three months with the Avatar.
Producing photographs of Swami holding up the glowing Lingam, Marsha excitedly explained to this senior medical man how Sai Baba produced this unidentifiable object in His body, and then brought it forth from His mouth every year to the delight of His devotees. This was, to say the least, very difficult for my father to grasp or accept.
We did not know it at the time, but this conversation was a turning point in our relationship with our folks. Being so unfamiliar with anyone even remotely like Sai Baba they felt sure that we were being taken in by a master magician, and "feared for our sanity". As the years passed however, their fears abated when they perceived we had not given up personal control over our lives, and continued to develop as human beings.
IS THE LORD"
So, the sceptical doctor who so profoundly doubted Lord Siva's ability to produce a Lingam of crystal, had himself received crystal from a doctor named Sivalingam! And unknowingly participated in an exquisite first hand experi¬ence of what Einstein might have meant when he proclaimed, in referring to how "nature conceals her sublimity": "SUBTLE IS THE LORD..."
At the time I
could not even comment, finally bringing it to their attention two
or three years later.
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