A History of the World 100 Objects







When Einstein Met Tagore


Collision and convergence in Truth and Beauty at the intersection of science and spirituality.


EINSTEIN: Do you believe in the Divine as isolated from the world?

TAGORE: Not isolated. The infinite personality of Man comprehends the Universe. There cannot be anything that cannot be subsumed by the human personality, and this proves that the Truth of the Universe is human Truth.

I have taken a scientific fact to explain this — Matter is composed of protons and electrons, with gaps between them; but matter may seem to be solid. Similarly humanity is composed of individuals, yet they have their interconnection of human relationship, which gives living unity to man’s world. The entire universe is linked up with us in a similar manner, it is a human universe. I have pursued this thought through art, literature and the religious consciousness of man.


EINSTEIN: There are two different conceptions about the nature of the universe: (1) The world as a unity dependent on humanity. (2) The world as a reality independent of the human factor.


TAGORE: When our universe is in harmony with Man, the eternal, we know it as Truth, we feel it as beauty.


EINSTEIN: This is the purely human conception of the universe.


TAGORE: There can be no other conception. This world is a human world — the scientific view of it is also that of the scientific man. There is some standard of reason and enjoyment which gives it Truth, the standard of the Eternal Man whose experiences are through our experiences.


EINSTEIN: This is a realization of the human entity.


TAGORE: Yes, one eternal entity. We have to realize it through our emotions and activities. We realized the Supreme Man who has no individual limitations through our limitations. Science is concerned with that which is not confined to individuals; it is the impersonal human world of Truths. Religion realizes these Truths and links them up with our deeper needs; our individual consciousness of Truth gains universal significance. Religion applies values to Truth, and we know this Truth as good through our own harmony with it.


EINSTEIN: Truth, then, or Beauty is not independent of Man?


TAGORE: No.


EINSTEIN: If there would be no human beings any more, the Apollo of Belvedere would no longer be beautiful.


TAGORE: No.


EINSTEIN: I agree with regard to this conception of Beauty, but not with regard to Truth.


TAGORE: Why not? Truth is realized through man.


EINSTEIN: I cannot prove that my conception is right, but that is my religion.


TAGORE: Beauty is in the ideal of perfect harmony which is in the Universal Being; Truth the perfect comprehension of the Universal Mind. We individuals approach it through our own mistakes and blunders, through our accumulated experiences, through our illumined consciousness — how, otherwise, can we know Truth?