Apparition de IEglise Eternelle – Olivier Messiaen
In some off-guard moment, a thought which illuminates new territory can explode in our heads and change the shape of our thinking and our lives. This “postulate which arrives full-blown in the brain” is a function of mind which holds the key to our nature, development, and fulfillment. Trace this Eureka! moment to its source, and the mystery of our brain, mind , creation, and creator unfolds. The postulate is like a thread which, pulled from the woof and warp of our reality, unweaves that fabric and leaves us the threads from which reality itself is woven.
The problem with tracing the roots of creative insight is that thought, no matter its strength or brilliance, is not sufficient for the task. The postulate-revelation doesn’t arrive in the brain as thought, but as the materials for thought. Thought is but a tool of the function and seems only peripherally (thought vitally) involved. The postulate seems to arise from some deep recess of mind, not brain. It is a ‘seeing’ from within, an insight. For instance, Kekule, the famous chemist, “saw” the atoms of benzene form a ring of snakes with their tails in their mouths in a dream. Translated into the language of his profession, that configuration gave us the benzene ring, basis of all modern chemistry.
Insight seems extracerebral, an intrusion into our awareness. It flashes into us always in some moment out of mind, never when we are busy thinking about the subject involved. The great mathematician, William Hamilton, received his insight into the3 Quaternion Theory while crossing the bridge into Dublin one morning. The solution arrived in that instant when thought of quaternions was the furthest thing from his mind.
Insight seems enormously powerful when it arrives. At times it breaks right through our thinking and ordinary perceptions This power gives insight its numinous, mystical edge of awesomeness and conviction to its recipients. This power emboldens us to act on the revelation in spite of its novelty or improbable nature, and gives us the strength to carry it into the common domain against the odds.
Insight seems a grace, that which is given freely rather than made by our effort. Einstein spoke of his insights arriving like flashes of lightning which, though they lit up the landscape of his mind for only an instant, forever after changed its shape. The only thing which can change the nature of our thought is an energy more powerful than that thought. So there are different modes of mental experience and the difference lies in the levels of energy involved.
Ordinary thinking, our everyday “roof-brain chatter” is a weak-energy emergent of our brain, while insight is surely more powerful. That is why the insight function isn’t reversible, to be repeated by formula. Our ordinary thinking can (must) prepare for insight, respond to it, but can’t manufacture it. A weak thought can’t produce a stronger one, but it can attract it.