Walter Russell

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For the British painter, see Walter Westley Russell.
Walter Russell
Walter Russell.jpg
Born (1871-05-19)May 19, 1871
Boston, Massachusetts
Died May 19, 1963, age 92
Waynesboro, Virginia
Occupation Artist, mystic, philosopher, builder, musician

Walter Bowman Russell (May 19, 1871 – May 19, 1963) was an American painter of the Boston School and a sculptor, a mystic, a natural philosopher, a musician, an author and a builder. His lectures and writing place him firmly in the New Thought Movement.[1]

To the New York Herald Tribune, Russell was "the modern Leonardo," a Renaissance man for the twentieth century.[2]

There are two biographies of Walter Russell. The first is by non-sectarian religious writer Glenn Clark, who published The Man Who Tapped the Secrets of the Universe in 1946. Because Clark collaborated with Russell, the small book may be considered an authorized biography. It has sold hundreds of thousands of copies.[3] Another biography was published in 2011 (Second Edition in 2013) by Charles W. Hardy: A Worthy Messenger: the Life's Work of Walter Russell.[4] In addition, J.B. Yount III of Waynesboro, Virginia has written a biography of Lao Russell, whom he knew well.[5]

Thomas J. Watson of IBM was Russell's patron, and Adolph Ochs, publisher of the New York Times, his advocate in the media. The New York Times covered Russell's every public move and so provides an extensive paper trail.[6]


Born in Boston on May 19, 1871, to Nova Scotian immigrants, Russell left school at age 9 1/2 and went to work, then put himself through the Massachusetts Normal Art School. He interrupted his fourth year to spend three months in Paris at the Academie Julian. Biographer Glenn Clark identifies four instructors who prepared him for an art career: Albert Munsell and Ernest Major in Boston, Howard Pyle in Philadelphia, and Jean-Paul Laurens in Paris.[7]

In his youth, Russell earned money as a church organist and by leading small orchestras. His compositions, mostly waltzes, were acknowledged by Ignace Paderewski in Boston in 1891 or 1892, and on a later occasion by him in New York.[8]

"Mr. Russell eventually turned himself into one of the most self-made Americans since Benjamin Franklin."[9]

Before he left Boston in 1894, Russell married Helen Andrews (1874-1953) and traveled to Paris for their wedding trip and a second term for him at the Academie Julian.[10]

After their wedding trip, Russell and his wife settled in New York in 1894 and had two daughters. Russell's rise in New York was immediate; a reporter wrote in 1908, "Mr. Russell came here from Boston and at once became a great artistic success." [11]

Walter Russell's careers as an illustrator, correspondent in the Spanish-American War, child portrait painter and builder are detailed in several questionnaires he answered and submitted to Who's Who in America. [12]

He attracted widespread attention with his allegorical painting "The Might of Ages" in 1900. The painting represented the United States at the Turin international exhibition and won several awards.[13]

By 1903, Russell had published three children's books (The Sea Children, The Bending of the Twig, and The Age of Innocence) and qualified for the Authors Club, which he joined in 1902.

Russell made his mark as a builder, creating $30 million worth of top-quality cooperative apartments. He is credited with developing "cooperative ownership into an economically sound and workable principle." [14] The Hotel des Artistes on West 67th Street in Manhattan is considered his masterpiece.[15]

In the 1930s, Russell was employed by Thomas J. Watson, chairman of IBM, as a motivational speaker for IBM employees. One of the employees wrote, "I consider Walter Russell's talk last night one of the finest I have ever heard. His informal talk on Personal Power created a burning desire within us to make greater use of the personal power we possess... every man present is a better man as a result of his inspiring message." [16] He was employed at IBM for twelve years, during which time he and Watson developed a new concept of utilitarian business ethics.[17]

At age 56 he turned to sculpture and fashioned portrait busts of Thomas Edison, General MacArthur, John Philip Sousa, Ossip Gabrilowitsch, Charles Goodyear, and others. He rose to top rank as a sculptor. [18] He won the commissions for the Mark Twain Memorial (1934) and for President Franklin D. Roosevelt's The Four Freedoms (1943).

Russell became a leader in the Science of Man Movement when he was elected president of the Society of Arts and Sciences in 1927. His seven-year tenure generated many articles in the New York Times. The gold medals awarded by the Society were highly valued.[19]

As World War II approached, he moved into a top-floor studio at Carnegie Hall, where he lived alone (his estranged wife Helen lived in Connecticut). At the time, he was supervising the casting of the Four Freedoms. This was a low time that required a rejuvenation of his health and spirit. There were reports of his "egotism and self-aggrandizement" that bothered him.[20]


Walter Russell presented theories on the "fundamental principles of energy dynamics," the nature of matter, the progression of the evolution of matter, and the depiction of the universe as a continuously changing, creating effort sustained by the systematic work effort of the energy of light. His depictions of universal laws were a nonstandard cosmology. Students of his work today call it "Russelian science."[21]

Russell portrayed the principles of the unity of universal law in a way that he believed brought many mainstream theories into direct conflict, or incompleteness, such as some of the principles of Isaac Newton e.g. weight as Russell explains: "... Weight should be measured dually as temperature is. It should have an above and below zero... "[22] He presented a view of the periodic table of elements that led him to the prediction of the existence of plutonium and the two isotopes of hydrogen, deuterium and tritium[23][unreliable source?] which were known in theory but as yet undiscovered in nature, (as well as elements which are still undiscovered in nature) e. g. the inert gases 'alphanon', 'betanon' and 'gammanon'[23][unreliable source?] as well as the creation of heavy water.[23][unreliable source?] Russell's periodic table has not been adopted by mainstream chemistry. However, in 1923, Charles Steinmetz of General Electric was able to corroborate the existence of some of the predicted transuranium elements by direct experimentation in a laboratory, which helped to usher in the Atomic Age in 1945.[24][unreliable source?]

Such conflicts have left the work of Russell in obscurity. Robert Mayer claims this is because his cosmology, while complete[25] in itself, would require upon its academic and scientific acceptance not only the upheaval of many scientific theories, but also matters such as the nature of God.[citation needed] Once, when asked how he acquired his scientific knowledge, he answered: "...I always looked for the Cause behind things and didn't fritter away my time analyzing Effect. All knowledge exists as Cause. It is simple. It is limited to Light of Mind and the electric wave of motion which records God's thinking in matter."[26]

In 1974, in the preface to The Universal One, Lao Russell asserted that "...Dr. Russell's thought and awareness matured in expression and he clarified and rectified errors he felt that he had committed in his earlier writings."

Besides his scientific work, Russell also worked in an array of other fields, including the arts, architecture, business and writing.[26][27] He was friend and advisor to Theodore Roosevelt[28] and gave lectures about the connection between his universal principles and the applications of these principles to human life.[29] The University of Science and Philosophy publishes his books and perpetuates his teachings.

Astronomical thermodynamics[edit]

Russell asserted that neither light nor heat flows from one point of space to another. He stated the same of electricity and magnetism; that neither is a flow varying as the inverse of the square of the distance according to Coulomb's Law, but a reproduction as the inverse of the cube of space:

"Light only seems to travel. It is but one more of the countless illusions caused by wave motion. Waves of the ocean seem to traverse the ocean but they only appear to do so, for waves are pistons in the universal engines, and pistons operate up and down. Wave pistons of light, or of the ocean, operate radially and spirally inward and outward, toward and away from gravity. Waves of light do not travel. They reproduce each other from wave field to wave field of space. The planes of zero curvature, which bound all wave fields, act as mirrors to reflect light from one field into another. This sets up an appearance of light as traveling, which is pure illusion.

"The sunlight we feel upon our bodies is not actual light from the sun. What actually is happening is that the sun is reproducing its own condition on the earth by extending the reproductions out through cold space into ever enlarging wave fields until those reproductions begin to converge again toward our center of gravity into ever smaller wave fields. The heat we feel and the light we see is dependent entirely upon the ability of the wave fields to reproduce the light and heat, and that ability is conditioned upon the amount of moisture in the atmosphere. If there were no moisture in the atmosphere, our bodies would carbonize from the heat thus reproduced. One cannot consistently think of that heat as direct rays of the sun, for that same sunlight was intensely cold during its reproduced journey through the immensely expanded wave fields of space between the sun and earth. The light and heat that appear to come from the star or sun have never left the star or sun. That which man sees as light and feels as heat is the reproduced counterpart of the light and heat that is its cause. The rate of vibration in a wave field depends upon its volume. Vibration in a wave field means the pulse of interchange between its compressed core and the space surrounding that core. A slow vibration in a large wave field would cool one’s body, or even freeze it, while fast pulsing interchange in extremely small wave fields could burn one’s body."[30]

Nuclear reactors[edit]

Lao and Walter Russell wrote the book Atomic Suicide? as a warning against the misuse of nuclear power through the proliferation of nuclear power plants. According to Walter Russell, the increasing heat and pressure generated on the planet by the increasing use of nuclear energy would eventually cause major global changes of a catastrophic nature.

Russell and the New Age[edit]

Main article: New Age

The term New Age in its contemporary sense can be traced back at least to 1888. Walter Russell spoke of "... this New Age philosophy of the spiritual re-awakening of man ... Man's purpose in this New Age is to acquire more and more knowledge ..." in his essay "Power Through Knowledge," which was published in 1944.[31]

Russell accepted Richard Maurice Bucke's premise that not only the human body, but also human consciousness, had evolved in stages, that human consciousness periodically made iterative leaps, such as that from animal awareness to rational self-awareness, many millennia ago. Russell believed that humankind was on the brink of making another key, evolutionary leap in consciousness. The next cycle of human evolution, said Bucke, would be from rational self-consciousness to spiritual super-consciousness on the order of that experienced by sages, religious figures, and mystics of the past 2,500 years.

In 1947–48, Russell wrote: "This New Age is marking the dawn of a new world-thought. That new thought is a new cosmic concept of the value of man to man. The whole world is discovering that all mankind is one and that the unity of man is real – not just an abstract idea. Mankind is beginning to discover that the hurt of any man hurts every man, and, conversely, the uplift of any man uplifts every man" (Message of the Divine Iliad, vol. 2, p. 69). Russell's predictions about what the New Age would bring included "a marriage between religion and science" (MDI p 257). Russell appeared to believe that this "New Age" would begin in 1946, based on a vision he had in 1921.

The most extensive treatment of Russell's ideas are found in his book, A Course in Cosmic Consciousness. Russell's ideas have also been digested by others.

University of Science and Philosophy[edit]

The University of Science and Philosophy was a home-study educational institution founded in 1949 by Russell and his wife Lao Russell, originally located at the Swannanoa estate in Virginia.

The original idea was based on the Twilight Club, originating in 1870 with Herbert Spencer and Ralph Waldo Emerson and dedicated to the "upliftment of mankind." In 1921, it was reorganized and renamed "Society of Arts and Sciences" by Walter Russell, Edwin Markham and Thomas J. Watson Sr., Founder and Chairman of IBM.[32]

In the 1920s and 1930s, Walter Russell and Thomas J. Watson Sr. delivered a series of lectures on business ethics.[33]


  • The Sea Children, 1901
  • The Bending of the Twig, 1903[34]
  • The Age of Innocence, 1904[35]
  • The Universal One, 1926
  • The Russell Genero-Radiative Concept or The Cyclic Theory of Continuous Motion, L. Middleditch Co., 1930
  • The Secret of Light, 1st ed., 1947, 3rd ed., Univ of Science & Philosophy, 1994, ISBN 1-879605-44-9
  • The Message of the Divine Iliad, vol. 1, 1948, vol. 2, 1949
  • The Book of Early Whisperings, 1949
  • The Home Study Course, (in cooperation with Lao Russell), 1st ed., 1950–52
  • Scientific Answer to Human Relations, (in cooperation with Lao Russell), Univ of Science & Philosophy, 1951
  • A New Concept of the Universe, Univ of Science & Philosophy, 1953
  • Atomic Suicide?, (in cooperation with Lao Russell), Univ of Science & Philosophy, 1957
  • The World Crisis: Its Explanation and Solution, (in cooperation with Lao Russell), Univ of Science & Philosophy, 1958
  • The One-World Purpose, (in cooperation with Lao Russell), Univ of Science & Philosophy, 1960

Books published after his death:

  • Think: The First Principle of Business Ethics, Univ of Science & Philosophy, 2nd ed., 2003, ISBN 1-879605-73-2
  • Your Day and Night, (excerpt from The Message of the Divine Iliad), Univ of Science & Philosophy, 1993, ISBN 1-879605-09-0
  • The Sculptor Searches for Mark Twain's Immortality, (talk given 1934), Univ of Science & Philosophy, 1991, ISBN 1-879605-31-7
  • The Electric Nature of the Universe, (talk given 1936), Univ of Science & Philosophy, 1991, ISBN 1-879605-00-7
  • Space and the Hydrogen Age, (talk given 1939), Univ of Science & Philosophy, 1989
  • The Immortality of Man, (talk given 1944), Univ of Science & Philosophy, 1991, ISBN 1-879605-33-3
  • The Fifth Kingdom Man, (talk given 1946), Univ of Science & Philosophy, 1991, ISBN 1-879605-01-5
  • Genius Inherent In Everyone, (talk given 1946), Univ of Science & Philosophy, 1994, ISBN 1-879605-36-8
  • The Secret of Working Knowingly with God, (talk given 1946), Univ of Science & Philosophy, 1993, ISBN 1-879605-38-4
  • The Self Multiplication Principle, (talk given 1946), Univ of Science & Philosophy, 1993, ISBN 1-879605-39-2
  • The Meaning and Acquisition of Wealth, (talk given 1946), Univ of Science & Philosophy, 1993, ISBN 1-879605-41-4
  • The Dawn of a New Day in Human Relations, (talk given 1951), Univ of Science & Philosophy, 1991, ISBN 1-879605-32-5
  • Caring for Your Physical & Spiritual Health, (talk given 1951), Univ of Science & Philosophy, 1994, ISBN 1-879605-40-6
  • The Quest of the Grail, (unfinished manuscript), Univ of Science & Philosophy, 1991, ISBN 1-879605-02-3
  • Where Do I Go When I Die, (in cooperation with Lao Russell), (excerpts from other books), Univ of Science & Philosophy, 1992, ISBN 1-879605-37-6
  • The Electrifying Power of Man-Woman Balance, (in cooperation with Lao Russell), (is the same asThe One-World Purpose except 2 projects at the end of the book are missing), Univ of Science & Philosophy, 1988


  1. ^ Braden, Charles S. Spirits in Rebellion: the Rise and Development of New Thought, p. 376, Southern Methodist University Press, 1963
  2. ^ New York Herald Tribune, p.22, May 20, 1963
  3. ^ Clark, Glenn, The Man Who Tapped the Secrets of the Universe, Table of Contents Page, 1946
  4. ^ Hardy, Charles W., A Worthy Messenger: the Life's Work of Walter Russell, 2011
  5. ^ Yount, J.B. III, Remembered for Love, Charlottesville, Virginia: The Howell Press, 2004.
  6. ^ Hardy, Charles W. (2011). A Worthy Messenger: The Life's Work of Walter Russell. Cosmic Books. p. viii. ISBN 978-0-615-88732-6. 
  7. ^ Clark, Glenn (1946). The Man Who Tapped the Secrets of the Universe. p. 15. 
  8. ^ Clark, Glenn (1946). The Man Who Tapped the Secrets of the Universe. p. 15. 
  9. ^ Newspaper clipping, 1955, in the Smithsonian American Art and National Portrait Gallery Library vertical file.
  10. ^ Hardy, Charles W. (2011). A Worthy Messenger: The Life's Work of Walter Russell. Cosmic Books. ISBN 978-0-615-88732-6. 
  11. ^ The Fort Worth Telegram, April 26, 1908, p.21
  12. ^ Who's Who Inc., Chicago, 1976, p.528
  13. ^ New York Herald, Sunday, February 23, 1902, p.16
  14. ^ New York Times, March 8 1925, p. RE1
  15. ^ Alpern, Andrew, Luxury Apartment Houses of Manhattan, New York, Dover Publications, 1975, p. 49
  16. ^ Zollinger, J.E., "Letter to Vice-President Nichol, September 16, 1937", Archives of the University of Science and Philosophy, Afton, Virginia
  17. ^ "Think: The First Principle of Business Success", Laara Lindo and Yasuhiko Kimura, eds., Blacksburg, Virginia, University of Science and Philosophy, 2000, p. 109
  18. ^ New York Times, May 24, 1934, p. 10
  19. ^ New York Times, December 1, 1941, p. 21.
  20. ^ Yount, J.B. III, Remembered for Love, Charlottesville Virginia, Howell Press, 2004, p. 98-99, 119.
  21. ^ Yoga Journal, Jul-Aug 1994, p. 127, Active Interest Media Inc., ISSN 0191-0965
  22. ^ Walter Russell The Secret of Light, p. 181, University of Science and Philosophy, 1994 ISBN 978-1-879605-44-2
  23. ^ a b c Robert A. Mayer The Intrigue of the Possible, p. 21, AuthorHouse, 2007 ISBN 978-1-4343-0829-0
  24. ^ Robert A. Mayer The Intrigue of the Possible, p. 20
  25. ^ Robert A. Mayer The Intrigue of the Possible, p. 29, AuthorHouse, 2007 ISBN 978-1-4343-0829-0
  26. ^ a b Robert C. Fulford Dr. Fulford's Touch of Life, p. 189, Simon & Schuster, 1997 ISBN 978-0-671-55601-3
  27. ^ Peter H. Thomas Never Fight With A Pig, p. 35, LifePilot, 1991 ISBN 978-0-7715-9139-6
  28. ^ Glenn Clark The Man Who Tapped The Secrets Of The Universe, p. 55, University of Science and Philosophy, 2006 ISBN 1-879605-07-4
  29. ^ Steven E./Lee Beard/David Laughray Wake Up..., p. 11, 58 Micro LLC, 2006 ISBN 978-1-933063-02-7
  30. ^ Russell, Walter The Secret of Light, p. 91, University of Science and Philosophy, University of Science and Philosophy, 1994, ISBN 1-879605-44-9 (originally published 1947)
  31. ^ (The University of Science and Philosophy). "Power Through Knowledge", retrieved 2010-11-15
  32. ^ Paul David Walker Unleashing Genius, p. 13, Morgan James Publishing, LLC, 2008 ISBN 978-1-60037-341-1
  33. ^ Christopher Laszlo The Sustainable Company, p. 23, Island Press, 2003 ISBN 978-1-55963-836-4
  34. ^ The Bending of the Twig by Walter Russell
  35. ^ The Age of Innocence by Walter Russell

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]