Posted on 08 October 2013, 15:21
Lord Kelvin, the eminent scientist, is reputed to have said, “There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now, All that remains is more and more precise measurement.” But then an anomaly was found: the result was quantum physics. It is through the study of anomalies, that science advances. The phenomenon of Genius, is such an anomaly. Genius seems to be much more than superior intelligence. It is much more than the rearrangement of supposed memory traces in the brain, as some modern psychologists maintain. From the minds of geniuses entirely new creations emerge exciting the wonder and admiration of humankind. Their creativity suggests that they are drawing on a much wider and deeper dimension of Spirit, and that they provide a window of understanding of Spirit every bit as evidential as that provided by spirit communications through mediumship.
Consider the genius of Leonardo da Vinci, (below) and the wealth of scientific discoveries, mechanical inventions, and works of art that he brought into being. He very much believed that his creativity drew on the resources of such a wider and deeper dimension of Spirit. He wrote: ‘Nature is full of infinite causes which were never set forth in experience! Every part is disposed to unite with the whole, that it may thereby escape from its own incompleteness.’ [An excerpt from The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci (15th April, 1452 – 2nd May, 1519)] I understand him to be affirming the interconnection of all things in heaven and earth, and that causes and effect are largely hidden; that his creativity had something to do with a kind a revelation from the realm of Spirit.
The genius Albert Einstein wrote, “Nature shows us only the tail of the lion. But there is no doubt in my mind that the lion belongs with it even if he cannot reveal himself to the eye all at once because of his huge dimension.” [Einstein, 1910]
In the ancient world, especially in “Rome, the rational powers and abilities of every human being were attributed to their soul, which was a genius. Each individual place had a genius (genius loci) and so did powerful objects, such as volcanoes. The concept extended to some specifics: the genius of the theatre, of vineyards, and of festivals, which made performances successful, grapes grow, and celebrations succeed, respectively.
It was extremely important in the Roman mind to propitiate the appropriate genii for the major undertakings and events of their lives.” [Wikipedia article] So, in thinking of da Vinci and Einstein as geniuses, we may perhaps claim that their creativity was a kind of inrush from the realm of Spirit, from their souls which in turn were connected to all else.
The landmark book Irreducible Mind, a Psychology for the 21st Century [800pp. 2006] devotes 70 pages to the study of genius.
On page 426 F.W.H. Myers (whom his friend William James thought of as a near genius,) is recorded as saying, “Genius…should rather be regarded as a power of utilising a wider range of subliminal mentation to subserve the supraliminal stream of thought”. We can associate “subliminal mentation” with what we call the world of Spirit. Myers (below) writes that genius, “… must involve something original, spontaneous unteachable, and it must win for itself in some way the admiration of mankind.” [p..427]
Myers affirmed that there was indeed continuity between mind of a genius and the ordinary mind. Geniuses and ordinary people are all human, and have their connections to the spiritual dimension. But whereas ordinary people have flashes of inspiration, in the case of the genius there is a burning fire.
Then he changes the analogy: “There are bubbles that break on the surface, but every now and then there is a stir among them.
There is a rush upwards as of a subaqueous spring, an inspiration flashes into the mind for which our conscious effort has not prepared us. This so-called inspiration may in itself be trivial or worthless….” [deep within us is rubbish heap as well as a treasure house]
At page 450 Myers is quoted: “We all can have flashes of inspiration, but.. “in more extreme cases of real genius the subliminal uprush becomes more intense and protracted, and arises from deeper subliminal strata that utilize different modes of operation and may have access to additional sources of information.”
At pages 444-5 we read the following: A.E.Houseman described how inspiration came to him in afternoon walks, and absent-mindedly looking about…”there would flow into my mind, with sudden and accountable emotion, sometimes a line or two of verse, sometimes a whole stanza at once, accompanied but not preceded, by a vague notion of the poem which they were destined to be part of. Then there would be a full hour or so, and then the spring would bubble again,…. I happen to remember distinctly the genesis of a piece which stands last in my first volume. Two of the stanzas, I do not say which, came into my head, just as they are printed, while I was crossing the corner of Hampstead Heath between Spaniard’s Inn and the foot path in Temple Fortune. A third stanza came with a little coaxing after tea, but it did not come. I had to turn to and compose it for myself, and that was a laborious. I wrote it thirteen times , and it was more than a twelvemonth before I got it right.”
Another poetic genius, William Blake, ... wrote to his friend Butts that his prophetic poem Milton was written from “immediate dictation”, “twelve or sometimes twenty or thirty lines at a time, without premeditation, and even against my will.”
Turning to the realm of music, we discover that Mozart’s first biographer, in collaboration with Mozart’s wife, related a congruent account of how Mozart composed: “Mozart wrote everything with a facility and rapidity, which perhaps at first sight could appear as carelessness or haste; and while writing he never came to the klavier. His imagination presented the whole work, when it came to him, clearly and vividly. …. In the quiet repose of the night, when no obstacle hindered his soul, the power of his imagination became incandescent with the most animated activity, and unfolded all the wealth of tone which nature had placed in his spirit …. Only the person who heard Mozart at such times knows the depth and the whole range of his musical genius: free and independent of all concern his spirit could soar in daring flight to the highest regions of art.”
In the realm of philosophy, Friedrich Nietzsche wrote: “The notion of revelation describes the condition most simply, by which I mean something profoundly convulsive and disturbing suddenly becomes visible and audible with indescribable definiteness and exactness. One hears – one does not seek; one takes – one does not ask who gives: a thought flashes out like lightning, inevitably without hesitation – I have never had any choice about it. There is ecstasy whose terrible tension is sometimes released by a flood of tears.” Irreducible Mind pp. 445-446
This is how geniuses describe the uprush of creativity as they experience it. What can else can be said about such uprushes?
Perhaps the most intriguing is a séance message purportedly originating from psychical pioneer Sir William Barrett, author of the ground-breaking book Deathbed Visions:
“When I come into the conditions of a sitting I then know that I can only carry with me – contain in me – a small portion of my consciousness. The easiest things to lay hold of are what we may call ideas; a detached word, a proper name, has no link with a train of thought except in the detached sense; that is far more difficult than any other feat of memory or association of ideas.” [p.73]
In a session with Mrs. Leonard, a communicator purporting to be the same William Barrett elaborated on this idea:
“Sometimes I lose some memory of things from coming here [i.e., coming to the sitting]; I know it in my own state but not here. In dreams you do not know everything; you only get parts in a dream. A sitting is similar; when I go back to the spirit world after a sitting like this I know I have not got everything through that I wanted to say. That is due to my mind separating again, the consciousness separating again. In the earth body we have the separation of subconscious and conscious.
Consciousness only holds a certain number of memories at a time. When we pass over they join, make a complete mind that knows and remembers everything; but when one comes here to a sitting the limitation of the physical sphere affects one’s mind, and only a portion of one’s mind can function for the time being. When I withdraw from this condition one’s whole mind becomes again both subconscious and conscious; my subconscious mind encloses my conscious one and I become whole again mentally… I cannot come as my whole self. I cannot.” [pp. 191, 192]
“William Barrett” speaks of the separating of the conscious and the subconscious, or the subliminal of Myers. This can be equated with the unconscious of Carl Jung, the unconscious which is Collective. I consider that the voice of Jung should be heard here. For in the Universal Mind we are non-separate, we are all interconnected more or less conscious participants in a Whole. Language, knowledge, experience, belongs to the Whole.
Each of us can be regarded as organs of action, creativity, feeling, and learning for this Whole. In the words of the languages we use, are recorded countless experiences of this Whole, and in this respect at least, we are non-separate. We are each other, as organs of one whole. So, with the genius, we can be thankful for the bursts of creativity and understanding of the nature of things, that they bring about. But it would be hard to define how the creativity of a particular genius was peculiar to that person.
Accounting for the genius of Leonardo da Vinci, or Mozart, as supposedly separate from this Whole might thus be a challenge.
Michael Cocks edits the journal, Ground of Faith.
Afterlife Teaching From Stephen the Martyr by Michael Cocks is published by White Crow Books and available from Amazon and other bookstores.