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July 06, 2008
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July 06, 2008

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Home > 2008 Issues > July 06, 2008

Think it Over

Einstein and Aurobindo: Convergence of thoughts

By M.S.N. Menon

In a letter to a friend, written in January 1954, a year before his death, Einstein gave his last thoughts on God and religion.What were his thoughts? He dismissed the idea of God as a ?product of human weakness? and the Bible as ?pretty childish.?

Childish or whatever, the Bible keeps millions in employment and many more millions under dope.

Was Einstein then an atheist? He was not. He believed in a cosmic mystery, in a power behind what we see, in an intelligence behind what moves about. What he rejected was not the ?intelligence?, but the organised religion, the organised Church. And the Bible is part of this organised religion. It provides authority for the false doctrines of the Church.

?For me,? he says in the letter, ?the Jewish religion, like all other religions, is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions.?

And what did he say of the claim that the Jews are ?God?s chosen people?? Einstein writes that ?the Jewish people, to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity, have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are also no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise, I cannot see any ?chosen people? about them.?

Einstein was no conventional theist. John Brooke, Emeritus Professor of Science and Religion at Oxford University, says: ?Like many great scientists of the past, he (Einstein) is rather quirky about religion and not always consistent from one period to another.?

Einstein is known for his pithy sayings. Here is one: ?Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.? A more truthful statement has never been said of religion and science.

Religion without an understanding of the universe and its laws is nothing but pure superstition. And Einstein is the only man who had a peek into the heart of the universe. He knew more of its laws than any religion in the world.

Einstein was emphatic on the kind of God he believed in. He says: ?I do not believe in the God of theology, who rewards the good and punishes the evil. My God created laws that take care of that.?

Einstein?s universe is made up of Laws. Prof. Brooke says that Einstein believed that ?there is some kind of intelligence working its way through nature.?

Einstein?s view kept changing, but there had been no change in its essence. Of his most expressive definitions of God, I like what is given below: ?My religion? he says, ?consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit, who reveals himself in the slightest detail we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power which reveal in the incomprehensible universe forms my idea of God.?

What then is God to Einstein? The ?superior reasoning power?. Aurobindo calls it ?super consciousness.? I must confess I am satisfied with this definition. It is the closest that any Western thinker has come to the Hindu idea of Advaita. Here is convergence of East and West.

Have I ever felt the need to give this ?superior reasoning power? a human shape? No. Never. I am more comfortable with a logical power, not one whimsical or arbitrary. Or, one who can be bought.

Aurobindo did not associate spirituality with the next world. His ?kingdom of God? is here on earth. And, above all, the evolution of a new divine race is to take place here on earth. (The Human Cycle)

The central theme of the ?Human Cycle? is the progressive divination of the human race. To Aurobindo, the end and beginning of all development is the spirit. Evolution began with the spirit and ends with its unfolding. ?All development is the unfolding of the spirit,? he says. And as it unfolds, the consciousness expands.

Man?s future evolution has thus to come from the growth of his consciousness. And ?the emergence of a high consciousness has to come from the freedom of consciousness?, he says. ?If the spirit,? he warns ?is stuck to some fixed mental idea or system of religious cult, then the emergence of a higher consciousness is not possible.? Which is why all religions based on books?Judaism, Christianity and Islam?are stuck to their books. They cannot go beyond them.

It is Aurobindo?s fundamental postulate that only that which is involved can evolve. He says: ?If it be true that the Absolute is involved in matter, then that Absolute must ultimately manifest itself through evolution as consciousness.? (The Life Divine).

It is this ?consciousness?, this ?intelligence?, this ?superior reasoning power? that Krishna talks about in the Gita. He says: ?At the end of the night of time, Call things return to my nature...?

But when the new day of time begins, Krishna says, ?I bring them into light.? This process rolls around in the circle of time.

Time is cyclic to the Hindu. It is linear to the West. But on this later.

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