College and Medical School
And thus, in 1938, at the age of twenty, Andrija started his college education at Northwestern University. In addition to the three scholarships and the money saved from his work in the theatre, he worked his way through college being a “tree surgeon” trimming trees on the campus, cleaning off the dead branches, and plugging up holes made by insects. For his room rent he got a job tending furnace, and working as a waiter and a milk delivery-boy.
His extracurricular activities included the Classical Languages Society, and varsity wrestling.
In 1942 he received his B.A. degree with a major in philosophy and a minor in pre-medical subjects. Before attending Northwestern University Medical School, from March 1943 to March 1946, he did part-time graduate work in Philosophy under the direction of Professor Baker Brownell.
Because of Andrija’s journals, we are fortunate to be able to glimpse into his young philosophical mind. In what he calls “An intellectual autobiography of Henry Puharich, he writes: “I would venture to say that nobody really knows another’s mind thoroughly, and I would further venture that very few people really know their own mind. It would certainly be a great step forward for many of us if we could sit down and untangle the jungle that is our mind, and then understand those processes by which we judge and study others. If I could do a good job of a task like this, understanding the nature of man ‘s consciousness, I would feel that I had passed a great milestone in my education. “
Although all Andrija’s papers, written as a young philosophy student, are fascinating, I shall only quote the passages that are related to his later work. In the same year that he wrote the above (1942), he developed his “Dynamics Theory “, which led to his theory of nerve conduction six years later. It is interesting to read what professor Brownell thought about Andrija’s intellectual autobiography: “You have shown commendable enthusiasm, initiative, and ambition. As the class goes, this must be an outstanding contribution! Your rashness and temerity can be explained in part by your youth and inexperience, but you can learn. Theories, to be valid, must logically succeed facts for the most part. What scientific facts substantiate your “dynamics” theory is not made clear “
About this dynamics theory Andrija writes: “I visualise the human nervous system as being imbedded in the cell tissue of the body just as the roots of a tree are imbedded in the ground which gives it nourishment. One end of the nervous system we recognize as being in the brain. It is here that all of the messages from the body and the sense organs are locaised The other end of the nervous system is imbedded directly in cell tissue through a countless number of fine nerve endings. These nerve endings end in cup shaped groups of cells called blastulas. And it is very difficult to distinguish where nerve fibers end and where cell tissue begins. Both have a function to perform in keeping the flame of live alive. According to this conception it is quite plain that the flow of cell generated energy is primarily a one-way flow to the brain. This primary flow however has some tributaries, which return the energy to the muscles, and other parts of the body. This can be easily illustrated by the fact that a man can drive himself beyond his normal capacities by the force of will, which to my way of thinking is nothing more than the conscious diversion of this primary flow of cell energy back into the body, plus the well known accompanying physiological functions such as the dynamic tension of the muscles, adrenaline flow, liver release of blood, etc. The point that I am trying to establish is that the brain is an area wherein is locaised the cell energy of the body. I shall label this cell energy “dynamics. ” I further venture to say that transference of dynamics from one person to another is possible. We all know that there are people who can thrill and exhilarate one, and that there are others who simply bore and fatigue one. This implies that there is a wireless, toucheless transfer of this vital substance. If dynamics can be transferred from one organism to another, why cannot that other function of the mind – thought, also be transferred from one mind to another mind? It is also conceivable that dynamics not only passes freely between persons, but also dissipates out into the atmosphere. “
He had derived this theory from scrutinizing a tree. He saw not only the upraised, web-like branches, spread out against the background of the sky, but saw also a similar web-like structure radiating outward through the ground. It occurred to him that a tree not only had a root system that drew nourishment from the ground, but that it also had a root system (the leaves and branches) which garnered nourishment from the air. Thus he saw the tree not as growing upward, but as a process of growing upward and downward. This led him to thinking of the human system as having an analogous functioning. In his paper he admits “it is a great stretch of the imagination to think of an inanimate and animate organism in the same terms.” But it made him ponder on the age-old problem of the body-mind relationship.
In 1947 he wrote to Dr. Garfield, the Director of Kaiser Permanente Hospital: “The nervous system is the most fruitful field of study at the present time. I am convinced that the answers to many questions lie in the nature of the nervous system, and its sensitivity to forces coming from without, some of which we already know, but most of which are unknown. The study of this polar system is to be my work.
A group of biophysicists at the University of Chicago have been considering my monograph for several months, but they have not yet completed their study. Therefore I am eager to meet you to discuss the idea, and plan the experimental approach. “
1947 was the year that Andrija was finishing his internship at the Kaiser Permanente Foundation Hospital in Oakland, California. As a commissioned Second Lieutenant in the Medical Corps of the Army since 1943, it was now time for him to do his tour of duty (“to pay his pound of flesh”) for two years. He was to report on the 9th of December to take his final physical examination. The thought of having to go into the Army, and the possibility of being sent to war somewhere, to bear arms against his fellow men, and to kill them if necessary, was appalling to Andrija. For the first time in his life he felt that he was being hemmed in by events which were under his control, and yet not under his control. The intellectual cloud he had lived on for so many years dissolved, and he fell hard into a world he did not know and could not handle.
With an uncanny foresight he had already spoken of this in his valedictory speech when graduating from high school:
“When a man is hurtling downward thru the air to a real or fancied destruction, he invariably sees the scenes of his life flash before him. In a split second the events in his life come tumbling back at him.
As I reaised that my high-school days were to be over soon, I experienced a feeling similar to the one of the falling man, only much more prolonged, in fact, of several months’ duration. This sounds strange, but I’ll tell you the reason. The realization that I would soon drop out of the cloud of ideals, speculations, and inquiries associated with high-school days to the hard reality of the world was enough to shock me, not into reviewing my past life, but into wondering about the future.”
Andrija’s incapability of handling “the hard reality of the world” had dire consequences. I wonder if, as he fell down the stairs on that fatal day in January 1995, he saw his life flash before him? Did he have time to reflect whether he would have lived his life differently, if…?
In 1943 Andrija had married Jinny, the daughter of a well-known doctor in Madison, Wisconsin. They had one baby daughter, born in 1947.
But, in 1947 Andrija was also in love with another woman. About this period in his life he writes: “When I met Jinny and fell in love with her, it was gentility, respect and sweetness that held us together. When I fell in love with Jane, a physician with whom I had been thrown into a close working relationship, I was, for the first time in my life seized by an overwhelming desire. I knew a raging passion for her flesh; I delighted in the intellectual stimulation of her mind that showed genius in the art of Medicine, and I knew her as a child who had a delightful sense of humor, and a wry perspective of life. It was all good for me, for Jane, and very bad for Jinny. Since both Jinny and Jane were women of great understanding and intelligence, I discussed very frankly with them the fact that I was being pulled in opposite directions. Since they both loved me strongly, each tried to make it easy for me by taking a course of action without telling me beforehand. Jinny unexpectedly left with our baby-daughter to go to her parent’s home in Wisconsin. Jane unexpectedly went back to her former boyfriend. So with the best of intentions on everyone’s part, nothing was solved. But I was left alone as the year 1947 drew to a close.”
On December 9th 1947, Andrija stumbled out of the dark halls of theArmy Hospital into the glaring California sunshine bursting with a feeling of release and freedom. He was almost certain that he would get a medical discharge from the Army, due to a chronic middle ear infection. For the first time in his life he was free. He felt like having received a gift of two extra years to his life, to do with as he wished. He had always been miserably poor and the thought of going into private practice and earning a decent livelihood was appealing. But then the pull of medical research was much stronger. The prospect of going into the relatively new field of biophysics had the greatest appeal to him.
That evening he was invited to a party where he met Paul de Kruif, a science writer. When they met again the next morning, Andrija was surprised that Paul, in spite of all the booze they had consumed, not only remembered that they had talked about Andrija’s theory on how the nerves work, but that he had some perceptive questions as well. The result of this talk was that Paul spoke to Dr. Garfield. It was proposed that a new neurological institute be created by Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Santa Barbara, and that Andrija be its director. As part of the plan, Paul suggested that Andrija take a trip to the East Coast and discuss his ideas with other scientists.
On December 20th Andrija received his medical discharge from the Army. He was ecstatic; at last he was really free. He decided to visit his father and stepmother in Chicago before going to New York and Boston to meet other scientists.
A promise to his father to look up a Yugoslav friend, Zlatko Balokovic, in New York, changed the course of Andrija’s life in more than one way.
Although Zlatko Balokovic had his office in New York, he and his wife Joyce lived in Camden, Maine. Zlatko was a worldly gentleman of the old aristocratic school, and a renowned violinist in the United States and Europe. Joyce came of one of the most distinguished old Chicago families.
When Andrija was invited to visit them in Maine, their wealth and sophistication overwhelmed him. However, the rich charm of Joyce and Zlatko put him at ease, and soon they were discussing his interest in medicine, research and philosophy. Plato proved to be the common meeting ground, and before long, their great social difference melted away.
Joyce especially fascinated Andrija. It was the first time that he heard a strong mystic soul speak of the greater life that was possible through the cultivation of the soul. She also told Andrija about a field of which he knew nothing – extrasensory perception. He heard his Dynamics Theory – that thought could be transferred from one mind to another mind-voiced by someone else when Joyce told him of people who had had the experience of getting a message from another person in a moment of crisis.
What really baffled him was her conviction that there were people who could live outside of space and time, and then enter the physical world of space and time appearing as living people. They would then disappear again from physical view, only to reappear somewhere else. Andrija was staggered.
“How do you know these things are true?” he had asked.
“All right, Andrija,” Joyce replied “I know you are shocked. But I feel I must help you to get out of your narrow rational approach to life. You’ve read the Bible?”
“Only the New Testament.”
“So, you’re familiar with the story of Jesus?”
“Well, let’s look at the key events of Jesus’ life.”
“Don’t tell me he was one of those individuals.”
“Why not? The Jews of Israel had been expecting a Messiah for hundreds of years. Remember the three Wise Men who, for days, were led by a peculiar star to the cave in Bethlehem where Jesus had just been born? Isn’t that in itself strange?”
“I never thought about it.”
“I’m going to shock you even more when I say that I believe that Jesus came from another time and space in order to give us humans the chance to better our ways.”
“Like from another planet? And the star was a … ?”
“Spaceship? Why not? He certainly possessed unearthly powers. We have very few details as to the life of Jesus as he grew into manhood. It is only during the last years of his life that he showed his powers. I shall only pick a few to make my point:
– He cured a whole array of diseases by touch, and almost instantly. This is healing;
– He was able to mass-produce, or multiply real copies of fish, bread and other food and drink, This has been called materialization;
– He was able to restore life to people who were declared dead. This is super-healing;
– He walked on water. This is called levitation
-He knew that Judas Iscariot was going to betray him. That is telepathy.
Jesus tells us that his powers are not of himself as a man, but that they are given to him by God in order to teach, “Joyce had continued.” And the point I wish to make is that all of the powers attributed to Jesus two thousand years ago are not unique. They have appeared, and are still appearing from time to time at different places on earth in different people, and are therefore not unique to Jesus.”
Andrija was dumbfounded. So it was true that there were people who could do telepathy. Were there also people who could heal by touch, who possessed the same powers as Jesus had? Powers that defied all common sense?
The intimacy of the conversation, the roaring fire in the fireplace, the snow blanketed countryside of Maine, and the Yugoslav liqueur Slivovitz moved the three people closer and closer together.
Andrija stayed for three weeks. He had fallen in love with the little town-by-the sea, and hated to leave his newfound friends. For the first time in his life, he felt a powerful and irrational conviction that he did not want to live anywhere else, that he had to come back to establish a laboratory in Camden by-the-sea.
When he returned to California, his friends found a changed man who no longer seemed eager to start a laboratory on the West Coast, but who rambled on about establishing a laboratory in an isolated place, where there were no universities, or libraries. They did their best to make him change his mind, but Andrija was not to be daunted.
He resolved his love affair with Jane and reconciled with Jinny, who loved the idea of moving to Maine.
The Balokovic’ were as enthusiastic as Andrija. They offered him the use of their guesthouse in Camden, and $200 per month to live on, as a loan. Since that was all the money he had, with no financial support for what he really wanted to do, Andrija started a non-profit corporation, and called it The Round Table Foundation.
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