Albert Einstein As Yoga Sage


Did you know that Albert Einstein had a very Yogic point of view?

Actually, this is true of many advanced physicists and other scientists, even if they don’t actually practice or study Yoga.  They are simply overwhelmed with what they have seen with their own eyes and minds, and come to the same conclusions as the early Yoga sages.

Here’s a typical Einstein quote:

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.

This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty”

Does that sound like the Yoga of the Upanishads or what?

By the same token, the ancient Yoga sages saw themselves as early scientists.  They openly rebelled against the overly elaborate, ritualistic, and irrational religious thinking of the time in favor of direct experience and experimenting with states of mind.

They defined spirituality in the same way Einstein did – absolute wonder in face of the unfathomable universe.  Yoga is, in many ways, a scientist’s vision of spirituality.

“The most beautiful and most profound experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sewer of all true science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead.

To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms – this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.”

(Albert Einstein – The Merging of Spirit and Science)

18 Responses to “Albert Einstein As Yoga Sage”

  1. So interesting! Prior to teaching my classes, I spend some time in meditation and yoga research. I share a quote or personal inspiration when closing practice. Einstein was one of my favorites this week “The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life – the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.” – AE – thanks for a great site and wonderful perspective. Namaste!

  2. Thanks, Tammy. So good to see that others have discovered Einstein spirituality as well.

  3. Good quotes…though, in terms of “Einstein spirituality” it should be mentioned that, contrary to the many who misappropriate Einstein (and physics in general) for their spiritual agendas, his “true religiousness” had little in common with any literal minded spiritual belief-system, as he also made clear: “I do not believe in the immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern without any superhuman authority behind it”…just as the word “positive,” as used in physics, has absolutely nothing to do with with way it’s used in discussing “positive attitudes,” nor does Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle have anything to do with looking at things in a “positive” or “negative” way…

  4. YogaforCynics. Since you use the term “many who misappropriate Einstein”, it’s not clear whether you think I am doing so or not.

    So for now, I’ll just say I don’t see anything in your comment that is inconsistent with the ancient Yoga texts. Before I try to go further, tell me, do you?

    (I don’t see anywhere in my blog where I mention or even imply “literal-minded spiritual belief system” or “immortality of the individual” or “ethics” or “superhuman authority” or “positive attitudes”)

  5. Bob,
    No, I didn’t think that’s what you were doing, and I apologize if my comment came off as if I did think that, or like I was criticizing or trying to start an argument with you (and, actually, looking at it again, I can certainly see how you’d read it that way…oops…many of my blog posts start as thoughtless, pissed off rants as well, which is why I edit and rewrite endlessly in order to get that mellow, stream of a good-hearted consciousness kind of tone I’ve become known for…). Actually, I don’t think I disagree with anything in your post…though, as far as the ancient yoga texts go, I’d say I don’t know if I agree or disagree (for now I’ll say that I’d like to read them in a way that corresponds with what you’ve written here…but have trouble getting past what seems to me like a lot of dogmatic religious language).
    Other than that, I just kind of springboarded off of your post to express irritation at what others have written or said on the subject (plus I was already really irritated by something completely unrelated I’d just read…creating what might be called a karmic snowball…though I certainly wouldn’t use a term like that).
    Anyway, sorry again for the unloading my angst in your general direction, particularly since I really liked this post.

  6. YogaforCynics, No problem. I’m glad I asked. We love your rants. Don’t filter them too much!

    As for the ancient Yoga texts, the right translation and modern commentary are essential to avoiding the “dogmatic religious language”. See my recommendations at RECOMMENDED READING

    It’s also critical to develop the skill I’ll call “instant metaphorization” of the text. (Knowing you, you probably get that without further explanation.)

  7. I actually have read Desikachar’s, which I found a lot more palatable than Swami Satchidinanda’s…though I didn’t exactly swoom over it…will have to look at it again to say anything more than that…and haven’t read the Gita in quite some time (though I did enjoy Ram Dass’s book…which kind of offered a whole potpourri of interpretations all at once, ranging from stuff that really resonated with me to the most utterly out-to-lunch and/or fundamentalist…whatever…honestly, if he’d been sitting next to me, I’d’ve been tempted to smack him upside the head when he repeated the old canard (and calling card of every corrupt abusive guru, bishop ,or cult leader) that, once someone’s reached enlightenment, he can do whatever he wants…).

  8. Oh, and yeah, I get what you mean by “instant metaphorization”…though there are certain metaphors (particularly the big one: “God”) I have mountains of troubles with…

  9. YfC, I particularly recommend the Eknath Easwaran Upanishads for you. He was a Professor of English and Comparative Literature in India before coming to the U.S.

  10. Oh yeah, I have this cheap mass market paperback of the Upanishads that was published in the 70’s …which has parts that I find kinda trippy, and some great lines like “what is within is also without and what is without is also within”…but, overall, I find it hard to get anything out of it but that old time religion…so, will certainly check out the Easwaran one…

  11. I’m trying to find the source, but I read somewhere that Einstein was actually very much a yogi. He hung out with some serious yoga headz back in the day and studied quite a lot of yoga philosophy…

  12. OH is that fascinating, Tobye. Please let me know what you learn. I’ve got the Issaacson biography, but haven’t started it yet.

  13. He and zillions of others, musicians, poets, scientists, authors might very well be re-incarnations of the rishis of the days when the veda’s, upanishads, the ancient knwoledge of the has been laid down.

    I am a fan of theidea of the “Akasha-Library”!

    It’s all there, alasy has and always will, tune on, tune in!

  14. Hi Bob,
    I am three weeks into an 8 month yoga teacher training program and would like to research further into Einstein’s philosophical views and how they parallel yogic yiews. I’m an engineer and have used my practice during work to find focus to solve difficult problems so I believe I will find Einstein’s ‘practice’ to be very useful. Can you recommend some good reading on this particular subject?

  15. Hi, Noah. Thanks for writing. I think you would love Issacson’s biography , especially the chapter “Einstein’s God”

    Plus this is perfect:

    Let me know what you think.


  16. Bob,
    Thank you for the recommendations. I am ordering the book and will surely share my thoughts with you for some good dialogue. The public radio link is great!
    Thanks again,

  17. I have read the books – WORLDS GREATEST MYSTICS & PSYCHICS, THE THIRD EYE, AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A YOGI, BAGHAVAD GITA and a host of mystical experience arousing articles like Dr. Albert Hoffman’s bicycle ride experience on LSD, the amerindians shamans’ PSYLOCYBIN MUSHROOMS and concluded none of you is wrong. I’m a light weight engineer, scientist, mathematician and intellectual.

  18. I have read the books – WORLD’S GREATEST MYSTICS AND PSYCHICS, THE THIRD EYE, AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A YOGI, BHAGAVAD GITA and a host of mystical experience articles on out body experience, near death experience, Dr. Albert Hofmann Bicycle ride experience on LSD, the Amerindian shamaman’s Psilocyiobin mushroom etc et al and conluded there is something worthwile which official dogmatic religions do not shed light upon. For example in christianity no pastors, bishops, priests even the papacy explains philosophical and scientific underlaying and profound scriptural verses other than urging one to follow in order to be acceptable in heaven taking the flock for kindergaten like minded kids. I’m interested in this thread as a religious light weight scientist, engineer, mathematician and an intellectual in part of the world that seem not to be in the rarder concerning hard religiophilosophical and scientific interests of the universe.

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