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the Wanderling

Over and over, for some reason, people seem interested in my comments regarding Albert Einstein. My Uncle first met Einstein in January or February of 1931 or 1932 in Pasadena, California, while both were traveling on the west coast. Although I am not sure of the specific circumstances surrounding their meeting, it was related somehow to Einstein visiting California Institute of Technology and my uncle being in the same general area at the same time. It is said the two of them had lunch in the Athenaeum at the Institute together. Why, I don't know. They both did have, at least at one time, similar or parallel political feelings, and may have met or been put together through a mutual third party. As well, my uncle had studied under John Sloan, who also had similar political views, and including Sloan, counted many upcoming and well established artists within his circle. Einstein's daughter Margot, who eventually studied sculpture with Oronzio Maldarelli at Columbia University, was in her early 30s at the time and an aspiring sculptor. My uncle, who had studied art at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, was friends with the prominent artist of African-American descent, Selma Burke, who he met when she came to Philadelphia as a nurse and began hanging out with the then up and coming artist establishment of which my uncle was a part. They continued their friendship into the later years when both began participating in the depression era WPA arts program. Burke, became close friends with Margot Einstein from the time she was studying sculpture at Columbia and was, pretty much around the sametime, a graduate student assistant of Maldarelli, so, all tied together, there may have been mutual acquaintances there. [1]

As to their meeting, in January of 1932, in an extremely rare weather event, downtown Los Angeles was hit with two inches of snow --- and the foothills of Pasadena a few miles northeast of downtown were peppered even harder. Einstein, who was at Cal Tech in Pasadena at the time, has been quoted as saying in jest that if he wanted snow he would have stayed in Germany. In January of 1949 I was a kid living in Los Angeles and once again the city was covered in snow. I remember being totally amazed by it all as well as my uncle saying the last time it snowed like that in L.A. he had just met Albert Einstein.[2]

The meeting between Einstein and myself occurred two decades after that initial meeting between my uncle and Einstein. It took place near a dock that was close to what I was told was a boat house, along some lake near, I guess, Princeton, on the day of a new moon night of August, 1952.[3] Most of the conversation centered around small talk, getting caught up and the like. However, I remember the timing of the meeting specifically because there was a brief discourse regarding the new moon Sun-Moon-Earth alignment and gravitational tidal attraction between them. It was brought up in conjuction with a much larger discussion between Einstein and my uncle. The scientist had been sailing a small boat and there was some joking about him coming in on the tide or what the tide brought in or some such thing (the lake not having a tide per se' of course). I was quite proud of myself for being able to cull out the meaning from the much larger conversation using astronomy stuff I had gleaned over the years through my association with my uncle and famed mathematician, meteorite hunter, and astronomer, Dr. Lincoln La Paz. I also remember Einstein knew my uncle well enough we could walk alone. At the time I didn't think much of it one way or the other, but as I look back now it always seems odd that a person could just walk up and start talking to someone with such stature as Albert Einstein. To me he seemed very old and quite frail. When he spoke he was hard to understand as his words were slow and heavily accented. He wore funny shoes and no socks. While we strolled along I was either way up ahead or dropping behind exploring or throwing rocks. Although he didn't attempt it himself, Einstein seemed totally amazed, sometimes engrossed, at my ability to skip stones across the surface of the lake, some with up to four or five bounces. As Einstein spoke with my uncle, all the while ensuring that I was within easy earshot, he recalled how he used to summer in Maine regularly several years before, and how he had a friend there he would walk with on the beach nearly everyday who, it seemed, could easily skip rocks a half dozen times before they eventually sank into the water.[4] Our tranquil walk was interupted by a man Einstein seemed to know who was walking with a woman, a fellow professor or scientist that I wasn't introduced to, named Immanuel Velikovsky.(see)

Although I didn't know it at the time the meeting with Einstein and my uncle that summer would be the last time my uncle and I would meet in flesh for 18 years.[5] He became my guardian before I was 10 years old and at this meeting the two of us together would end until I was an adult and he was heading into his final years. I have nothing but fond memories of my childhood with my uncle, our adventures and times together and the many great people I met along the under his auspices --- from the likes of Franklin Merrell-Wolff to Einstein. When I think back to that warm summer afternoon walking with Einstein, with his funny shoes, no socks, and his seeming fascination with my stone-skipping skills, I am reminded of a comment attributed to Larry Darrell, the main character in the novel The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham wherein at the end of the all-important Chapter Six Larry says:

"Nothing that happens is without effect. If you throw a stone in a pond the universe isnít quite the same as it was before. . . It may be that if I lead the life Iíve planned for myself it may affect others; the effect may be no greater than a ripple caused by a stone thrown in a pond, but one ripple causes another, and that one a third; itís just possible that a few people will see that my way of life offers happiness and peace, and the they in turn will teach what they have learnt to others."

I can't help but thinking Einstein had similar thoughts that afternoon, from seeing my stone throwing that day to the effects of his own theories on mankind.






Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where
we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience
and then make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.













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Footnote [1]

My uncle's mother was a Quaker. Even though he was raised in the religion he never followed it nor practiced it. However, through her practice of the religion his mother met and knew a woman by the name of Gretchen Green. Green was a nurse who just so happened went to India and opened, then ran, a health clinic for a major Indian personage by the name of Rabindranath Tagore. Tagore's father was a Maharshi and Tagore himself was an artist and international renowned poet, Tagore having received the Nobel Prize Laureate in Literature in 1913.

In October of 1930 Tagore was in the United States doing educational fundraising and exhibiting his artwork, with shows in Boston, Philadelphia, and New York. Through the long standing connection between my uncle's mother and the nurse Gretchen Green, a steadfast healthcare professional who Tagore had an exceptionally high opinion of, my uncle, who first heard of Tagore through the British portrait artist William Rothenstein, was able to finagle an introduction --- an introduction that turned out to be much more destiny filled than just a mere passing handshake in a crowded, cold gallery.

While it is true my uncle never told me directly, it is my belief that it was through Tagore that my uncle was able to set HIS first meeting with Einstein. In July of 1930, about four months before my uncle met Tagore, Tagore Interviewed Einstein. It is thought, by extrapolating inferences over time from my uncle, that it was through the Tagore-Einstein connection the initial meeting between my uncle and Einstein unfolded, inturn setting the stage for the meeting between the scientist and myself as outlined above. The whole introduction thing worked much more smoothly because my uncle had met and knew William Rothenstein and Rothenstein had done portraits of both Tagore AND Einstein and my uncle brought up the fact to Tagore.

Below are the portraits of Einstein and Tagore, circa 1920s and 1912 respectively, done by Tagor's friend William Rothenstein:


Tagore traveled in all the right circles, writers, artist, politicians, mystics, gurus. Among others he met Shunyata, who, in 1974, I met as well. Equally interesting, during his 1930 visit, Tagore appeared on stage with the interpretive dancer Ruth St. Denis at the Broadway Theater in New York City. Inturn, twenty-four years later, it was St. Denis who, in 1954, introduced me to Swami Ramdas.

Although Tagore was not an Enlightened being nor did he present himself as such, he did play to the hilt the Indian side of things by strongly portraying himself as a mystic poet and philosopher --- which in all reality, he was. There was something soothing or mystic-like about him my uncle sensed while in his presence. In the process my uncle was taken by Tagore and, for awhile, immersed himself into Indian religious thought.

For my uncle, raised in a Quaker tradition, eastern spiritual thought seemed so open and exotic. About ten years before meeting Tagore the groundwork for things spiritual on the eastern side of things had been set into motion, generously, in an odd sort of way, opening the door for a much more receptive attitude by my uncle when Tagore came along.

From my uncle's early post high school years through to the end of the depression he was a struggling artist. He did everything he could to earn a few bucks as long as it was art related. In the early 1920s he took a job doing minor art resoration for Edward I. Farmer. Farmer was an art dealer in New York City with upscale galleries at both 5 West Fifty-sixth Street and 16 East Fifty-sixth Street. He offered a variety of Chinese works of Art as well as European antiques. He is remembered for the most part for mounting fine Chinese porcelains and jades into decorative lamps and desk accessories. While my uncle was working in the gallery studios he met a Japanese man by the name of Yeita Sasaki that was sculpting jade for Farmer. Sasaki, who at the time was a formost Zen adept and one of the first major Zen Buddhists in America, would, in 1928, become a full-fledged Zen master known as Sokei-an, receiving Inka Shomei from his teacher Sokatsu Shaku.

Sokei-an was an advocate of Direct Transmission, as was his student and follower Mary Farkas. If you have gone to my page on Alfred Pulyan you may recall he too was an advocate of "direct transmission." You may also recall that Pulyan's Teacher, the mysterious woman most responsible for his transformation, was a friend of Farkas. About "direct transmission," Sokei-an, in his own words, says:

"I am of the Zen sect. My special profession is to train students of Buddhism by the Zen method. Nowadays, there are many types of Zen teachers. One type, for example, teaches Zen through philosophical discourse; another, through so-called meditation; and still another direct from soul to soul. My way of teaching is the direct transmission of Zen from soul to soul."

Years later, because of a still lingering sub-surface lean toward Zen Buddhism and Indian philosophy-religion, and knowing I had been to India and returned in a somewhat can't quite put your finger on it altered state, it is my belief that my uncle talked with my father about his concerns, putting an India type philosophic-like spin on things. In the process he must have informed my dad that he had taken me to see Paramahansa Yogananda at his Self-Realization Fellowship near San Diego. My father never heard of Yogananda, but it just so happened he knew Franklin Merrell-Wolff, the two of them having met when they were both gold prospectors together in the old days. Talking with my uncle my dad remembered that Merrell-Wolff had some sort of a spiritual epiphany. Knowing him both before and after that epiphany, and remembering after that Merrell-Wolff exhibited similar --- as my father called them, fucked up tendencies --- he sent me and my uncle to see him. See The Tree.

For the reader's own edification, while at fellowship center of Yogananda's near San Diego I met another young boy, albeit a few years older, in his teens, that would soon leave for India and Sri Ramana's ashram, spending three years there. Later, the young boy after he and I reaching manhood would once again cross paths, he then an Enlightened master in his own right. See:



Footnote [2]

The National Weather Service records weather data in downtown Los Angeles and the surrounding area, including L.A. International Airport twenty miles west of the city, and the city of Long Beach, some twenty miles south of the city. These three locations seldom experience snow. However, discounting a number of what were not much more than observable flurries or minor traces, measurable snow has been recorded only three times in Los Angeles: January 12, 1882, January 15, 1932, and January 8-11, 1949. The greatest amount of snow recorded in downtown Los Angeles was 2 inches (5.08 cm) during the 1932 storm. The 1949 snowfall accumulating in the downtown area measured 1.5 inches (3.8 cm). The same storm completely covered the hills just north of the city center, all along the slopes and gullies surrounding the Hollywood Sign some miles west of the city as well as the Griffith Observatory parking lot and adjacent property a few miles east of the sign. So widespread was the storm that on January 11, 1949 the Los Angeles Unified School District declared its one and only district-wide Snow Day, dismissing classes.


Footnote [3]

When the meeting between Einstein and myself occurred, as stated above, it was the day of a new moon night of August, 1952. That day and date was Wednesday, August 20, 1952.

On Monday, July 21, 1952 exactly one full lunar month to the day BEFORE that new moon meeting with Einstein found me riding across the Mojave high desert as a passenger in a pick-up truck in the middle of the night hauling a horse trailer containing two horses that were to be delivered to a rancher the next morning even farther out into the desert. The truck went out of control and swerved up and over the graded gravel berm marking the edge of the road. When the driver over corrected the truck turned over on its side throwing me out into the dirt. The trailer came loose, albeit staying upright, while the truck continued to skid along seemingly in ultra slow motion on the drivers side creating an on and off stream of sparks over the rocks and small bounders until coming to a halt diagonally across the road against some Joshua tree. Then, with the dust settling through the light from the still on headlights the engine quit running, the tires stopped spinning and everything around me got engulfed in an oppressive quiet.

I ended up in the pick-up truck because a few days before I had packed up a few things and ran away from the home of the foster couple I was living with. I left for a number of reasons, but mainly I wanted to be with my stepmother, and following the wreck that's exactly what happened --- me ending up at the doorstep, or gate as the case may be, to her ranch, albeit much to her surprise and totally unannounced. In that she and my father had only just divorced, she wasn't really sure if he would go for the idea of me being there. Unable to reach him she contacted my dad's brother, my uncle, who said he was willing to take me until things could be hammered out. In that my uncle lived in New Mexico and I was in the Mojave on my stepmother's ranch in the high desert of California, and she felt time was at an essence and knowing I might not stay on a bus if she put me on one, she arranged for me to be flown to Santa Fe. She had a pilot she knew fly into a close-by one-time, albeit long abandoned military airfield called Victory Field and pick me up. The pilot, a former P-47 Thunderbolt jockey was flying a two seat North American AT-6. It was the first time I had ever been off the ground and into the air in any kind of a World War II aircraft, so for me the trip to my uncle's was not only highly memorable, it was as well white-knuckle exciting.

Recalling those events and the most powerful earthquake to hit Southern California in the 20th century and the largest in the nation since San Francisco's in 1906 associated with it please see:



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Footnote [4]

Several years after my above article on Einstein appeared for the first time on the web a reader of my works emailed me an article she came across regarding Einstein that she thinks discusses the same summer "rock skipping event" in Maine that he alludes to in my article. I submit the incidents so alluded to in both articles are uncanny in their comparison, so much so I think it could very well be the same event(s) as mentioned. For your own edification please go to:

A Single Drop of Water Helps to Swell the Ocean

The article is attributed to one Jason Emma Sattler who writes for Ten Car Train and a number of other web based sites --- usually found under a number of pseudonyms. At onetime, on his Stumbleupon Homepage, he provided the following:

Jason is a 32 year old guy in a relationship from Lafayette, California, USA. Member since Feb 06, 2007 I think Stumbleupon is the best thing to happen to my web browser since Google.

I am a writer and a teacher in Northern California. I read wildly and compulsively. Right now I'm in the middle of Middlemarch, Brothers K, Superfudge, The Four-Hour Workweek, How to Write a Damn Good Novel, Naked Lunch, a book on Faulkner and the Modernist novel and, finally and ironically, Getting Things Done. If you Stumble humor or fiction stuff, you may see some of my stories from, or around. The opinions on and quality of both my writing and teaching vary. Verily I say to you, if you like one thing I write, you'll like something about most if it. If you hate it, your hatred will fester and seethe like a scar on Harry Potter's forehead. Now, I return to Stumbling.


Although my uncle first met me when I was a toddler, I really don't recall a whole lot about him until he came to help my grandmother and me sometime after my mother died. Even then it was mostly after my father remarried several years later and my Stepmother asked him, because I was showing a fairly high level of artistic ability at the time for a young boy, to come oversee me that I remember him the most. So, as it was, him being in my life started off sort of slowly or intermittently at first, turning into more full time when I was around eight years old or so and continuing on and off up through the end of the summer just before the start of my freshman year of high school. It was two years later, the summer between my sophmore year and junior year of high school that I met my Mentor. My mentor had been a pilot during World War I, having crossed over into Canada and joining the military at age sixteen by lying about his age. An American, he flew for the British against the Germans and was wounded twice.

At the start of the war William Somerset Maugham, who chronicled my mentor's life, joined a Red Cross unit in France and served as an ambulance driver, becoming one of what later became to be known as the Literary Ambulance Drivers. In August of 1917 the U. S. Army absorbed the ambulance units. Up to that time the volunteers had been treated like officers. Under the army's umbrella they would be no more than privates, so a good portion of volunteers either left or transfered out, including Maugham.

In The Razor's Edge Notes as well as found in the novel, Maugham mentions the wounds only briefly. The nature of those wounds or how he received them are not discussed --- nor did my mentor ever mention any such wounds. However I came across him meditating in the living room of his house one afternoon and I noticed his left front chest shoulder area was covered by scar tissue as large as a man's hand that looked as though it had healed from a burn. One day when I inquired about the scar he simply replied, "Jousting with dragons." Later I figured out, in that he had been a pilot in World War I, he meant doing battle with the giant hydrogen filled airships called Zeppelins.

I have speculated that in the process of one or the other or both wounds my mentor was picked up by Maugham PRIOR to Maugham's departure from the ambulance service. Now Maugham might not have remembered him, but my mentor most likely would have "remembered" Maugham --- at least enough to recognize him on sight. Any army medic, or Maugham as an ambulance driver, could have, in the process of their duties, assisted hundreds if not thousands of wounded, and in turn, most of those wounded would eventually become not much more than just a blur. The opposite would happen to the person wounded. I say so because of my own experience being found in a ditch unconscious with my stomach ripped open. The very second I saw the staff sergeant that found me for the first time after recovering from the incident, even though I knew I didn't "know" him, I "recognized" him instantly.

When the gist of the above paragraph was discussed in conversation between my mentor and me one day, neither Somerset Maugham nor The Razor's Edge came up. However, without elaborating the extent of his wounds or how bad he was hurt he did mention a medical orderly in his recovery he remembered quite well, a man by the name of William Rothenstein. Rothenstein was an official war artist for the British Government War Propaganda Bureau. He was in the Somme in France covering a good part of the British Expeditionary Force's bloody eight and a half month battle to make it over the 19 km between the French town of Albert and it's objective Bapaume. He then moved to the British Fifth Army during the German Spring Offensive of 1918. It was during the Spring Offensive he was recruited as an unofficial medical orderly, and most likely when he and my mentor crossed paths.

In 1927, nine years after the war, Rothenstein showed up in the United States for a short period teaching art history for a semester or two at the University of Pittsburgh. A few years before that time my uncle had met the artist John Sloan and had started following him back and forth to Santa Fe, New Mexico before finally deciding to stay permanently. My uncle had attended Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh studying art on the studio side of things and somewhere along the line he heard about Rothenstein, an accomplished portrait artist teaching art history at the University of Pittsburgh --- two areas my uncle felt he was weak in. Liking the idea of a studio artist teaching art history my uncle began sitting in or auditing Rothenstein's classes whenever the chance arose. During that period he heard about Rothenstein's friendship with Rabindranath Tagore and that he knew Albert Einstein.

The most interesting part of it all is that in WILLIAM SOMERSET MAUGHAM: Travels In India, which substantiates his always controversial travels in India (i.e., when he left England, when he arrived in India, how long he was there, when he left India, and when he arrived back in Europe, etc.), and of which is pretty much proven or confirmed by letters he wrote and mailed along the way during his trip, has as his first letter, one to William Rothenstein dated January 11, 1938. In so saying, it is quite clear that Maugham KNEW Rothenstein, at least enough to write him. If he knew Rothenstein in the manner I have so suggested is not known.

Footnote [5]

"Although I didn't know it at the time the meeting with Einstein and my uncle that summer would be the last time my uncle and I would meet in flesh for 18 years."

I was not yet in my-mid teens during the summer I met Einstein and it was not until I reached young adulthood that my uncle and I were to see each other again --- although he did try and arrange a meeting over the phone regarding the 1953 Kingman, Arizona UFO crash --- a meeting that my father squelched before it even started.

In 1968, and by that time me being a young-adult-plus, I was able to make my own decisions about meeting or not. It was during a years later second attempt that, except for the phone call, revolved around a completely unrelated aspect of the first attempt. Again he requested I meet him in Kingman, Arizona, mainly because it was about half way between where he lived in Santa Fe and I lived in California. After catching up for most of the day, before we parted he gave me a small taped up cardboard box and told me to deliver it to a man in Laguna Beach. Which I did. That man turned out to be Dr. Timothy Leary, major guru of LSD and psychedelic fame. That 1968 meeting between my uncle and I reopened the doors for the two of us to see each other on a regular basis as adults after years of not seeing each other. Below are several links related to our adult meetings and attempts thereof except for the Kingman UFO with me still being in high school. The much later 1968 phone call that relates to meeting Timothy Leary can be found by going to the Bhagavan Das link. The other two links relate back to the subject matter of the Kingman and Leary links. The very bottom link, The Roswell Ray Gun, was toward the end of his days and one of the last times my uncle and I got together:

Their Life and Times Together