Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Eureka! I've Got It!

One of the things that supposedly separates the human species from other life forms is our ability to conceptualize. While animals react based on instinctual patterns and plants behave as they do based on whatever, we humans are the captains of ideas. Utilizing our highly rational minds fused with the emotional spark of creativity, we have the ability to conjure up a solution to any problem or the poetic verse to paint any picture.

When faced with a problem or a project, we fasten on our thinking caps. Sometimes we do our thinking in solitude. At other times, we do it collectively. We bring together all the known information at our disposal and then we try to construct a new way of understanding.

Of course, the process isn't truly that straightforward. If it were, we could devise a simple recipe for the creation of innovative ideas. Too often, however, the very act of trying to develop an innovation causes our minds to freeze up entirely. Writers know what I'm referring to -- writer's block.

In time, we often are able to move beyond our mental gridlock. It's as if to say, "Eureka. I've got it". We then spend an inordinate amount of energy patting ourselves on the back for our sheer brilliance or accepting plaudits from our friends and colleagues.

But do we deserve the credit?

From this Taoist's perspective, no and yes.

Since everything -- the ten thousand things -- is part and parcel of the one universal reality (i.e., Tao), every idea is too. All the ideas, thoughts, and innovations that we could ever "think of" already exist. Consequently, there genuinely is no such thing as an independently original idea. None of us deserves credit for thinking one up.

There is a common saying that encapsulates this notion -- An idea whose time has come. It suggests the idea itself is already present and is only waiting for the proper time and place to make itself known!

If any credit is due, the credit should be focused on those who allow an idea to take root within them. Alan Watts explains this as allowing our brains to think without letting our minds get in the way!

If we allow ourselves to be open to the mysteries of life, we are more apt to find ideas alighting upon and within us.

In my book, instead of saying "Eureka. I've got it" it would make far more sense to exclaim, "Eureka. IT got me."

1 comment:

  1. You know what this reminds me of? Plato. You can call me an idiot or just a boy with no experience at all, but I thought I was reading Plato when reading this post. Now don't consider that a bad thing, for I love Plato in several aspects of his work (others I even don't want to talk about). And maybe yes, an idea has already been thought over or does exist in Tao, but maybe, just that maybe, we do need to get credit for discovering the idea secretly hidden within the Tao. Afterall, it's never the idea that's original, it's how we found it what makes it original, no?

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