Einstein as Mentor

I have been preparing for a Life Study workshop, a journaling workshop format developed long ago by Ira Progoff and refined and currently offered by Faye Schwelitz. In this workshop we work with a figure in history that inspires us. The first time I did this workshop a couple of years ago I chose Leonard Bernstein. For the workshop coming up in several weeks I had chosen Robert Oppenheimer, but for reasons I did not understand, recently changed to Albert Einstein. I have been using as my foundational biography Walter Isaacson’s Einstein: His Life and Universe.

Einstein is very different from Oppenheimer, and the latter had ridiculed the former for his stubbornness in holding to the belief that Quantum Theory, with its Uncertainty Principle, was leaving out part of the fundamental physics of the Cosmos. I am not drawn to this debate, nor do I sense that I have the mental apparatus to engage in such debates. What I am increasingly drawn to, however, is the man Einstein, his philosophy of life and of the Cosmos.

What draws me are some similarities I find in our philosophy, attitudes, and struggles. Let me innumerate some of them…

1. Einstein trusted his intuition about reality and the rules of the Cosmos rather than empiricism. This led to both his Special and General Theories of Relativity.

2. He believed in a Reasoning Source (God) that was behind the Cosmos and beyond the mind’s capacity to grasp.

3. While faithful to the ethnicity of his Jewish heritage, he did not ascribe to Jewish or any other religious dogma as a basis of Truth.

4. He despised autocratic rule wherever it showed up – academically, politically, in religions, etc. In this regard, Hitler was intolerable.

5. He worked best alone but engaged with a few peers to work out his ideas.

6. He was a nonconformist and a rebel against the establishment – especially academia

7. His relationships with women were complex and a struggle for him

8. He was a pacifist, against armament, yet flexible, changing his mind when Hitler came to power – seeing the need to stop Hitler’s aggression on all fronts.

9. He was indifferent about his appearance, often wore no socks, often out of style with his surroundings

10. He was an odd duck, even in his own mind, but comfortable in that way. Very much his own man.

I am so looking forward to the Life Study program where I can delve into these dimensions of Einstein and learn from him.  Regarding points 1) and 2) above, I was drawn to Lincoln Barnett’s The Universe and Dr. Einstein, recommended to me by a friend. See a section I relate to titled: Einstein on Mystery and God.

With love, Gary

PS Another interesting quote often attributed to Einstein (click here)