Last night, Einstein came to me in a dream. He was very happy.
“I have finally discovered the Unified Field Theory,” he said.
“Show me, “I said, ever the skeptic.
He walked me through a mindboggling array of amazing theorems, concepts, mathematical formulae and calculations, until it was all proven and clear. I understood everything. I had a couple of questions, which he answered immediately.
“What do you think?” he asked.
“Brilliant! You must be very proud,” I remarked.
“Now I need your help.”
“For you, anything!”
“Since I no longer have a physical body, I can no longer demonstrate this to anyone else. The world should know this. You must disseminate this for me.”
At that point, I realized I was in a dream for such things can happen only in a dream.
“Look,” I said, measuring my words, “I would love to help you but I cannot.”
“Why not?” he asked.
“For one, you have made a mistake. I am a physician, not a physicist.”
“But you are the only scientist I could find who listens to his dreams and takes them seriously.”
“That does not help since I do not know math. Heck, I do not even remember calculus and what each symbol means.”
“Can you not re-learn it? It will come back if you put in time and effort.”
“Albert, I am a doctor. I am not even in an academic setting any more. Who will listen to me?”
“You must try.”
“I will forget all this by the time I am awake. How will I remember even your basic axioms?”
He did not say a word, but floated back and forth in my room, thinking. He was unkempt as his pictures suggest, but thinner. Weight loss always pleases my medical instincts. He sat down on my chair, gloomy as a ghost. I felt sorry for him. This is the man I admired in my school-days.
“Listen! If it is any consolation, there are hundreds of great minds working on this. Let them discover this. It would be better for them and for humanity,” I said.
“Because they do not have the unified view of things. Unless one acquires that, one cannot see what I see.”
“How is one to acquire this unified view?”
“By stepping out.”
“Stepping out, you mean…”
“Yes, I mean, by dying.”
“Well, that solves nothing.”
“Besides, more and more, they believe that a Unified Field Theory is not possible. I fought skeptics all my life, but now, who can take my place?”
“I do not know if one must die to unify the Universe. Isn’t that what advanced math is for? I thought mathematics is free of individual perspectives.”
“Yes, but until you SEE it unified, you cannot unify it. It is a mind over mathematics thing.”
“That can be argued.”
“What can be argued can’t unify.”
Even in a dream, I knew that this was a strange argument. The issues were complex, true, but here I was arguing not with the demons of my mind, but Einstein himself. The greatest mind of 20th century versus a lowly non-mind. But that is what nights are for. To dream the impossible.
We both sat in silence.
I tried once more, “Will they have the vision of unity, if they receive this, your present knowledge?”
“What does that mean?”
“They will not see with their eyes what I see. Most will not even understand it. But it will give them a model that will work with any and all conditions in the Universe.”
“It will only create a model, did you say?”
“Yes. Having a unified vision of the Universe is more than a formula. It is to clear up one’s mind of all limitations. That is a very difficult achievement for a mind that is in the world.”
“But this will only help create a model,” I persisted.
“So it is not the Truth?”
“What is the Truth?
“Well, you tell me, Einstein! You are the one who has SEEN the Unity of the world, have you not?”
“Truth is difficult to describe in words. In fact, it cannot be described, unless you use a special language, like poetry or mathematics.”
“So then, what is the point? If what you can give us is not the Truth, why worry about it?”
He lightened up suddenly and almost hit the ceiling. I thought he would have been upset being one-upped by a ninnie like me. But he smiled. “You are right,” he said. “It was just an old habit, I suppose, to get my findings published and known to everyone.”
“How long did it take you to put it all together?”
“Well, I have been travelling the Universe since I stepped out or died as you guys like to say. I went to different places and saw everything that I needed to. But how long did it take? You know that Time is a relative thing,” he chuckled as if at a private joke.
“Did you go inside a black hole?”
“I thought I did for a long time until I realized I had shut myself in a basement closet. I did not need to. In fact, black holes are not black holes, at least not the way you think of them. As you say, what you have is only models.”
So here I was, having defeated the greatest mind of last century. It felt good, even if I was only dreaming it.
“Don’t be smug,” he read my mind. “You haven’t defeated Einstein.”
“Well…at least I showed you that your Unified Field Theory is not the Truth,” I stammered.
“The model you used to show me that I cannot disseminate the Truth is not the Truth either.”
“It is obvious that logic and words too are only a model and no model can be the Truth.”
“Can we ever find the Truth then?”
“The word Truth is part of the model you have so happily discredited. No word can describe the Truth. Even the word Truth is not the Truth.”
“I do not understand.”
“Let us do a thought experiment. Imagine you are a 3-year old who is living happily and has not yet gotten hold of the concept Truth. For the child, this so-called Truth does not exist. As he grows up and starts living in words, he will learn the word Truth with a capital T and then he will start looking for it.”
“You mean, we have created a concept by creating a word and then we spend our lives searching for it?”
He looked back at me, wordlessly, with a twinkle in his eyes for a long time. Then he spoke as if from a great depth, “If we eliminate the word Truth from your vocabulary and all its associations from your mind, what happens?”
I looked at him and, suddenly, I could not speak. I tried to gesture with my hands, almost ready to explode with puffed cheeks, my eyes popping. I tried to communicate without using words again and failed once more. He laughed at my silly expressions and I joined the laughter, sheepishly. He laughed and laughed until he laughed so much that he vanished.
When I woke up in the morning, none of his equations remained in my memory. Only the laughter.