An Exploration of Sacred Parenting and Education

Posts Tagged ‘ramanujan’

What gives rise to creative thinking?

In Education, Spirit, heart & soul on January 9, 2012 at 12:25 am

I once read a book on the psychology of creativity. The author mentioned some outstanding creative minds from Virginia Woolf, Bach, Gauss to Einstein. However, there was one individual who was said to defy the whole spectrum of creativity and described by leading theoretical Physicist, Michio Kaku, as ‘the strangest man in all of science’. He was the Indian Mathematician Srinavasa Ramanujan. His outburst was truly unique – producing 4 to 5 new equations everyday. He was a person ahead of his time, born in 1888 in an India he produced equations which are being used in string theory today. He died at the age of 33 of TB and it is said during the last year of his life, the work he did on his death bed, was equivalent to the life-time work of a genius. What made him ‘strange’ was, in my opinion, two things:

a) He was self taught and couldn’t attend university because he failed in every subject accept Mathematics. He spent hours sitting crossed legged with a slate and chalk, playing with equations he learnt through an old text book, rediscovering a century or so of Western Mathematics on his own. As a result he lacked understanding of basic themes which qualified Mathematicians would take for granted such as a constructing and providing a proof. So strange were his equations however, that when presented to leading Mathematicians of his time they were dismissed or not understood. He later was invited to Cambridge by Hardy to complete his formal education.

b) The other thing that would make him strange in the scientific community is his claim as to how he produced the equations: He would say the Hindu goddess Namagiri whispered equations into his ear. He recounts a number of dreams in which streams of equations are being shown to him. He would then wake up and write down what he would remember. Ramanujan was certainly a mystic who was interested in the symbolic meanings of numbers and wound often engage his friends in deep conversation into the early hours of the morning on such topics.

Not every passionate Mathematician turns out to be a Ramanujan or necessarily makes a creative breakthrough in their field. Einstein had problems with Mathematics, which delayed his general relativity, but he did create a paradigm shift in our view of the universe (which was initially rejected by the scientific community as nonsense). So what gives rise to creativity? As Jeremy reminded us creativity at this highest level is a connection ‘with any awareness of the objective significance of universal symbols’ which would gives rise sacred art for example and at its lowest form it is, one may say, devoid of meaning, stillness and in many cases beauty. What I would like to explore is the domain between the highest and lowest modes of creative thinking.

My father was a talented teacher. Through practice and experimenting over the years, he also turned into a good cook. I wish I could say the same about his experiments with plumbing. He didn’t produce works of beauty but I would classify him as a creative thinker. He would for example go to sleep with a problem in his mind and often in the early ours of the morning he would wake up inspired, usually though a dream, with a solution. That was his method of problem solving. Medina, in her comments on ‘Is Imagination more important than knowledge’ raised an important point about silence and the need for it in our children’s lives. A deeper intelligence seems to work its way when the mind is silent either in sleep or through activity such as walking, playing music or mediating for example. This inner silence gives rise to beauty and creativity as Eckhart Tolle explains

Because we live in such a mind-dominated culture, most modern art, architecture, music, and literature are devoid of beauty, of inner essence, with very few exceptions. The reason is that the people who create those things cannot – even for a moment – free themselves from their mind. So they are never in touch with that place within where true creativity and beauty arises. The mind left to itself creates monstrosities, and not only in art galleries. Look at our urban landscapes and industrial wastelands. No civilization has ever produced so much ugliness.” He goes on to say All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness.”

Yet, for creative thought to arise, it is necessary to have a vehicle prepared for it or have as Jeremy mentioned a mastery of the subject. Having access to that inner stillness may not necessarily lead to creative breakthrough as Tolle further explains “ You can touch that place also, within, and it may not flow into creativity, because you have not developed a vehicle for it. The very same power that gives rise to creativity can also manifest itself in different ways that we would not call creativity. It could be a healing power that comes into effect the moment you enter into relationships with others. Healing in a wider sense, not just physical healing. You will not suddenly become a great musician if you have never touched an instrument, just because you touch that place within yourself. It’s not going to manifest as a great scientific discovery in my case, because the vehicle is not prepared for that. My mind is not prepared for that. It doesn’t even work that way. So for me to expect to come up with the Unified Field Theory that Einstein didn’t come up with – he tried after the theory of relativity, he tried for the rest of his life to come up with that – I am not going to come up with that. It’s very unlikely. The vehicle has not been prepared. I am not going to be a great pianist, because I don’t know how to play the piano. So no matter how deeply I go within, it’s not going to flow into that. You need to prepare the vehicle for creativity.”

One way of being still may well be through the inner energy field of the body. Some meditation technique involve a body scan using ones attention for example. Some mystics see the ascension of Jesus (and other prophets) being through the body as a pointer to the transcendent realm being accessed through inner body and not through denial of it. Budda was said to have achieved enlightenment when he gave up fasting. Other methods of accessing stillness may involve movement such as tai chi or whirling as Kabir Dede explains.

My own experience has been, as I currently understand it, when the state of consciousness rises in its vibrational frequency, new modes of thinking evolve and old thought patterns fall away. As we become more empty, something higher works it way through us. Sitting in sohbet (spiritual discourse) and opening to the the emptiness in the heart space is a beautiful example of this. What arises can often be spontaneous, inspired and a reflective mirroring of the listener’s unconscious- be they a group. The Quaran reminds us of emptiness

“And when you have been emptied strive onward,

and to your Sustainer turn with longing.

(Surah Ash Sharh, The Opening- Up of the Heart 94:1-8)

Medina, in her comment, also mentioned taking walks and touch (hugging) can encourage a sense of calm and an appreciation of silence. What else can parents do to bring stillness into the lives of children of this (digital) age?

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