Dedication to humanity

More and more people are not aware of what is happening around and within them, and millions fall victims of disease and die prematurely just on this account. The commonest every-day occurrences appear to them mysterious and inexplicable. One may feel a sudden wave of sadness and rake his brain for an explanation when he might have noticed that it was caused by a cloud cutting off the rays of the sun. He may see the image of a friend dear to him under conditions which he construes as very peculiar, because only shortly before he had met him in the street or seen his photograph somewhere. When he loses a collar button he gets angry and swears for an hour, being unable to imagine his previous actions and determine where the button was lost. Deficient observation is merely a form of ignorance and responsible for many mental illnesses and the victory of the foolish ideas. There is not more than one out of ten people who does not believe in telepathy and other psychic manifestations, spiritualism and communion with the dead, and who would refuse to listen to willing or unwilling deceivers. Just to illustrate how deeply rooted this tendency has become even among the clearheaded American population I may mention a comical incident.


Shortly before the war, when the exhibition of my turbines in this city elicited widespread comment in the technical papers, I predicted that there would be a race among manufacturers to get hold of the invention, and I had particular designs on that man from Detroit who had an incredible ability to make millions. I was so confident that he would appear one day that I declared this as certain to my secretary and assistants. Sure enough, one fine morning a group of engineers from the Ford Motor Company presented themselves with the request of discussing with me an important project.


"Didn't I tell you?" I remarked triumphantly to my employees, and one of them said, "You are amazing, Mr. Tesla; everything comes out exactly as you predict."


As soon as these hard-headed men were seated I, of course, immediately began to extol the wonderful features of my turbine, when the spokesmen interrupted me and said, "We know all about this, but we are on a special errand. We have formed a psychological society for the investigation of psychic phenomena and we want you to join us in this undertaking." I suppose those engineers never knew how near they came to being fired out of my office.


The greatest men of the time, leaders in science whose names are immortal told me that I had an unusual mind and I focused on the solution of great problems regardless of sacrifice. For many years I have tried to solve the enigma of death, and watched eagerly for every kind of spiritual indication. But only once in my life I had an experience which momentarily impressed me as supernatural. It was at the time of my mother's death. I had become completely exhausted by pain and long vigilance, and one night I was carried to a building about two blocks from our home. As I lay helpless there, I thought that if my mother died while I was away from her bedside she would surely give me a sign. Two or three months before, I was in London in company with my friend, Sir William Crookes.


There we discussed spiritualism and I was totally absorbed in these thoughts. Maybe I paid no attention to others because I was listening to his arguments as it was his epochal work on radiant matter, which I had read as a student that made me dedicate myself to the electrical career. I reflected that the conditions for a look into the beyond were most favorable, for my mother was a woman of genius and particularly excelling in the powers of intuition. During the whole night every nerve in my brain was strained in expectancy, but nothing happened until early morning, when I fell asleep, or I fell into a swoon, and I saw a cloud carrying angelic figures of marvelous beauty, and one of them looked at me with love, gradually assuming the features of my mother. The appearance slowly floated across the room and vanished, and I was awakened by an indescribably sweet song of many voices. In that instant a certitude, which no words can express, came upon me that my mother had just died. And that was true. I was unable to understand the tremendous weight of the painful knowledge I received in advance, and wrote a letter to Sir William Crookes being still under the domination of these impressions and in poor health.


When I recovered I sought for a long time the external cause of this strange manifestation and, to my great relief, I succeeded after many months of fruitless effort. I saw the picture of a famous artist, representing allegorically one of the seasons in the form of a cloud with a group of angels which seemed to float in the air, and this had struck me forcefully. It was exactly the same that had appeared in my dream, with the exception of my mother's likeness. The music came from the choir in the church nearby at the early mass of Easter morning, explaining everything satisfactorily in conformity with scientific facts.


That occurred a long time ago, and since I have never had the faintest reason to change my views on psychical and spiritual phenomena, for which there is absolutely no foundation. The belief in these phenomena is the natural outgrowth of intellectual development. Religious dogmas are no longer accepted in their catholic meaning, but every individual clings to believe in a supreme power of some kind. We all must have an ideal to govern our conduct and insure contentment, but it does not matter whether it is religion, art, science or anything else, as long as it has the function of an immaterial force. For the peaceful existence of humanity as a whole it is essential prevailing common comprehension.


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