Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla was raised a Serbian Orthodox. His family was likely devout as his father was a priest in the church. At just 7 years old, however, young Nikola witnessed the death of his older brother Dane in a horse-riding accident. This seminal event seems to have influenced a mystical awakening in him. In the years following the tragedy, Tesla began seeing visions of the air around him “filled with tongues of living flame.” By his teen years, Tesla learned to exercise his willpower to control the visions, but in later life he would spend much of his time feeding and, he claimed, mystically communicating with New York City’s pigeons. Despite these eccentricities, Tesla seemed to reject any specific religion, favoring more omnistic and pantheistic interpretations:

“While I am not a believer in the orthodox sense, I commend religion, first, because every individual should have some ideal–religious, artistic, scientific, or humanitarian–to give significance to his life. Second, because all the great religions contain wise prescriptions relating to the conduct of life, which hold good now as they did when they were promulgated.”

There is no conflict between the ideal of religion and the ideal of science, but science is opposed to theological dogmas because science is founded on fact.”

As an adult, Tesla went on to develop a very nuanced view of religion and mankind’s place in the universe. His personal philosophy seemed closer to a Buddhist or pantheistic orientation, with unity and oneness primary to his beliefs:

“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. But can anyone doubt to-day that all the millions of individuals and all the innumerable types and characters constitute an entity, a unit? Though free to think and act, we are held together, like the stars in the firmament, with ties inseparable. 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, a lump of matter which, of all the lumps of matter in the universe, I care least for, and it still grieves me. Does this not prove that each of us is only part of a whole?
For ages this idea has been proclaimed in the consummately wise teachings of religion, probably not alone as a means of insuring peace and harmony among men, but as a deeply founded truth. The Buddhist expresses it in one way, the Christian in another, but both say the same: We are all one. Metaphysical proofs are, however, not the only ones which we are able to bring forth in support of this idea. Science, too, recognizes this connectedness of separate individuals, though not quite in the same sense as it admits that the suns, planets, and moons of a constellation are one body, and there can be no doubt that it will be experimentally confirmed in times to come, when our means and methods for investigating psychical and other states and phenomena shall have been brought to great perfection. Still more: this one human being lives on and on. The individual is ephemeral, races and nations come and pass away, but man remains. Therein lies the profound difference between the individual and the whole.”

As his prowess in electrical inventions grew, so did his confidence in the ability of science to provide answers:

“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”

He never completely abandoned his metaphysical leanings, however, frequently referring to mysteries beyond humankind’s capacity to understand:

“My brain is only a receiver, in the Universe there is a core from which we obtain knowledge, strength and inspiration. I have not penetrated into the secrets of this core, but I know that it exists.”

“Everyone should consider his body as a priceless gift from one whom he loves above all, a marvelous work of art, of indescribable beauty, and mystery beyond human conception, and so delicate that a word, a breath, a look, nay, a thought may injure it.”

While Tesla continued to make comments throughout his life that showed the influence of his earlier mystical and religious experiences, it seems clear that his view of God ultimately evolved to be more pantheistic than anything else:

“What one man calls God, another calls the laws of physics.” ~ Nikola Tesla

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