To excel in science and academia and become a person of significance in those areas requires thorough knowledge of the subject you’re studying. Indeed, being knowledgeable, analytical, and clever are some of the major criteria required to be considered intelligent in our highly detail-oriented and rigorous educational system.
But taking a closer look at what actually drives the success of our most revered minds tells a surprisingly different story.
Here is a list of five of the greatest scientific achievers of our time, who have contributed the most to humanity. While they may fit the above criteria for intelligence, they were also intensely spiritual people.
1. Albert Einstein
Considered by Western society to be one of the smartest men who ever lived, Einstein was a physicist who spent his entire career trying to understand the laws of the universe, eventually making major scientific breakthroughs which have shaped our world ever since. But what our history and science textbooks don’t tell us is that he owes his scientific achievements to things decidedly unscientific.
“The finest emotion of which we are capable is the mystic emotion. Herein lies the germ of all art and all true science. Anyone to whom this feeling is alien, who is no longer capable of wonderment and lives in a state of fear is a dead man. To know that what is impenetrable for us really exists and manifests itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, whose gross forms alone are intelligible to our poor faculties – this knowledge, this feeling . . . that is the core of the true religious sentiment. In this sense, and in this sense alone, I rank myself among profoundly religious men.”
– Albert Einstein, letter to Hoffman and Dukas, 1946
2. Issac Newton
Issac Newton was the first to discover the laws of motion and the existence of gravity, and developed the worldview that the universe runs like a giant and mechanistic machine. Based on these achievements, it would be easy to assume him a solely rational man, yet of the 10 million words he wrote (almost all of his notes have been found and edited), nearly half are religious. Newton believed he was among the select few chosen by God to relay information about the Bible, and he was obsessed with the divinity of life, as he thought it marked the only way to find out how the universe works. A further 1 million words contain metaphysical writings about the search for immortality and enlightenment through the Philosopher’s Stone. (1)
“Atheism is so senseless & odious to mankind that it never had many professors. Can it be by accident that all birds beasts & men have their right side & left side alike shaped (except in their bowels) & just two eyes & no more on either side the face & just two ears on either side the head & a nose with two holes & no more between the eyes & one mouth under the nose & either two fore leggs or two wings or two arms on the sholders & two leggs on the hipps one on either side & no more? Whence arises this uniformity in all their outward shapes but from the counsel & contrivance of an Author? Whence is it that the eyes of all sorts of living creatures are transparent to the very bottom & the only transparent members in the body, having on the outside an hard transparent skin, & within transparent juyces with a crystalline Lens in the middle & a pupil before the Lens all of them so truly shaped & fitted for vision, that no Artist can mend them? Did blind chance know that there was light & what was its refraction & fit the eys of all creatures after the most curious manner to make use of it? These & such like considerations always have & ever will prevail with man kind to believe that there is a being who made all things & has all things in his power & who is therfore to be feared.” (2)
– Sir Issac Newton, A short Schem of the true Religion
3. Nikola Tesla
Thanks to the genius of Tesla we have electricity at our fingertips, and many of the new free energy technologies are derived from Tesla’s ideas as well. He is regarded as one of the greatest minds that ever lived, much ahead of his time, but he also explored mysticism extensively, particularly the Eastern Vedic traditions. In fact, he attributed much of his knowledge of the science of nature and energy to the concepts he learned through this research.
“When we speak of man, we have a conception of humanity as a whole, and before applying scientific methods to, the investigation of his movement we must accept this as a physical fact. These ties cannot be seen, but we can feel them. I cut myself in the finger, and it pains me: this finger is a part of me. I see a friend hurt, and it hurts me, too: my friend and I are one. And now I see stricken down an enemy, I care least for, and it still grieves me. Does this not prove that each of us is only part of a whole? The Buddhist expresses it in one way, the Christian in another, but both say the same: We are all one.”
– Nikola Tesla, The Problem Of Increasing Human Energy
4. David Bohm
David Bohm is considered to be one of the most accomplished physicists of the 20th century, noted primarily for his advancements in quantum mechanics. Yet few people knew that he eventually became fed up with orthodox theories of physics, turning instead to Eastern philosophies and spending time with wisdom sages like Jiddu Krishnamurti to look for better answers.
“I would say that in my scientific and philosophical work, my main concern has been with understanding the nature of reality in general and of consciousness in particular as a coherent whole, which is never static or complete, but which is in an unending process of movement and unfoldment.”
– David Bohm, Wholeness and the Implicate Order
5. René Descartes
Considered to be the father of modern science and Western philosophy, Descartes’ fascination with the spiritual and the mental (mind-body duality) world led him to create the groundbreaking theories which have since laid the foundation for modern thinking. But what really started it all for Descartes was the series of dreams he had, in which he claimed angels told him that the universe can be understood through numbers.
“That is why, as soon as I was old enough to emerge from the control of my teachers, I entirely abandoned scholarship. Resolving to seek no knowledge except what I could find in myself or read in the great book of the world, I spent the rest of my youth travelling, visiting courts and armies, mixing with people of different temperaments and ranks, gathering various experiences, testing myself in the situations that luck put me into, and always reflecting on whatever came my way so as to profit from it.”
What We Can Learn From This
Is it just a coincidence that so many great minds were both scientific and spiritual, or do these connections speak to a deeper truth about humanity? Our educational system is fragmented and compartmentalized. Everything is studied in isolation, despite nothing in life functioning in this way. Ironically, the greatest minds by Western standards were actually the greatest minds by ancient Eastern standards, which treat the whole rather than each part separately.
In our education system and in society as a whole, our culture desperately needs a shift in thinking, to encourage a more interconnected system of ideas, values, and lifestyles, and to foster a growth in creativity and intellectual wholeness.