[Excerpt of Be and Become, Chapter Two - copyright Stephen Pirie, 2008]
I have heard it said on numerous occasions that Benjamin Franklin would often deliberately drift off into sleep by holding a rock above a metal bucket, so that as soon as he nodded off he would drop the rock, wake and recall his creative intuitive thoughts.
That would also explain why, before drifting off to sleep, I could imagine the most eloquent, rational dialogue with all sorts of people, entirely contrary to my normal waking experience of not being able to voice my opinions easily, unencumbered by self doubt.
It would also explain why new and creative ideas and solutions to problems often came to me during my morning shower when I would often drift off into a reverie under the gentle massage of warm water. In recent years I have come to learn that many people experience a heightened creativity when relaxing or showering such as highly successful author Arthur Hailey who admitted “There’s something about that hot water that makes thinking easy.”1
It appeared that by relaxing (either via meditation, daydreaming, or some activity which engenders a relaxed state) we become more open to intuitive, precognitive thoughts. It was almost as if the more diffused my focus of attention (thoughts) the more open I was to creative ideas. Maybe in being relaxed and diffused, my thoughts somehow spread themselves out into the cosmos, connecting me with other places, people, ideas and times?
In addition, I learned that dreaming during sleep was also a valuable source for intuitive thoughts and solutions to problems. In one series of meditation workshops I had learned to recall and program dreams to provide solutions to problems. I learned how to recall all my dreams throughout the night by waking after each sleep cycle and noting down my dreams in a book I had placed beside the bed.2
This tendency towards activities that enable the mind to relax and be creative is common to many great scientists and successful people. Einstein was renowned for his avid pursuit of sailing and music, both of which helped his creative thinking.
And in reference to his liking for sailing:
Along with Einstein, other famous scientists also appeared to be creative and inventive when relaxed:
Arthur Koestler (having forgotten the source/author) wrote in his book “The Act of Creation”:
In his book, The Achievement Factors,Eugene Griessman relates how Nobel Laureate Francis Crick went about being creative:
Victor Frankl, well known psychotherapist and survivor of Nazi concentration camps observed:
In a similar manner, Griessman makes the observation that:
Letting go of the desired outcome seems to be a key component to creativity and success. I expect this is the origin of the saying that a watched kettle does not boil. Somehow things seemed to happen best when I didn’t dwell upon them. The creative process seemed very much a matter of forgetting about the desired outcome. This “forgetting” could not be feigned by deliberately thinking of something else if in the background one kept worrying about the problem. The creative process seemed to require a genuine confidence and ease—there was a certain “relaxed expectedness” required. The more I focused on the desired outcome, goal, answer or solution the more I seemed to push it away from me.
My creativity, and that of the famous scientists, appeared to be the result of a process of invitation and never the result of a request or demand. It did no good pushing myself to be creative.
This creative process also occurred, as one might expect, in the business world.
Don Wallace, in his review of work done by Steve Devore of SyberVision studying successful entrepreneurs, noted:
So it appeared, at least according to some research, that successful business people also managed to straddle this strange paradox of desiring certain outcomes and then letting go of those desired outcomes.
I began to understand the many examples of Eastern sages’ advice about the need to give up desire although, in fundamental terms, I couldn’t reconcile this advice with life’s great thrust of desire and enthusiasm. Nevertheless, there did seem to be a sort of paradoxical duality to life—desire, but non-desire.
Life seemed to be a continual process of having to focus then relax or to desire then “letgo.” And it appeared that this “letting go” somehow encouraged one’s intuitive awareness (“gut feelings”). From my research it appears that many great scientists, inventors and successful business people rely upon this “sideways” inventiveness.
Intuition seems to work through such mechanisms (in a similar manner in which you don’t directly stare at a star in the night sky in order to better see it). It’s interesting to note that the value of intuition is frequently undervalued, if not entirely dismissed, by modern science and mainstream Western society. And yet it shouldn’t be for it seems to be an integral part of any new idea or solution to a problem. In his book, “The Conscious Universe,” Dean Radin noted that:
Koestler came to similar conclusions about the central role of intuition in inventiveness:
If “subjective, irrational” feelings such as intuition (gut feelings) are such a key component to the discovery of new ideas, inventions, theories, products and services, why does there appear to be no concerted effort among the populace to develop these processes, senses or feelings? Why aren't we taught how to be intuitive in school or in our universities?
In my business training experience there are few brave souls who venture such training for fear of ridicule and being perceived as being “space cadets.” Such abilities as intuition and precognition are not generally considered “real” by such pillars of mainstream Western society as science, the media and our educational institutions.
My reading, research and personal experienced revealed a common thread -- that intuitive information comes first through one’s feelings. During the “remote viewing” research conducted at the Stanford Research Institute in the seventies by physicist Harold Puthoff, Puthoff observed that:
- 1. Jenny Tabakoff, “Hailey’s flight to success,” The Sydney Morning Herald, John Fairfax Holdings Ltd, Sydney, 31 January 1998, Spectrum section page 11.
- 2. A sleep cycle is the transition from waking consciousness (beta brain wave frequency) through the various phases of sleep. A complete cycle typically lasts around 90 minutes.
- 3. Ronald W. Clark Einstein, The Life and Times, Hodder and Stoughton London 1979, page 115.
- 4. Clark, page 115.
- 5. Arthur Koestler, The Act of Creation, Pan Books (Picador Edition) London 1978, page 211, quoting Beverage, W.I.B., The Art of Scientific Investigation, Heinemann, London 1950, pages 73- 74.
- 6. Koestler, The Act of Creation, page 145.
- 7. B. Eugene Griessman, The Achievement Factors, Avant Books, San Marcos, CA 1990, page 75.
- 8. Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Happiness, Rider London 1992, page 2 (citing Victor Frankl, Man’s Search For Meaning).
- 9. Griessman, page 75.
- 10. Success Magazine, Success Magazine Company, August 1989, Hal Holdings Corporation, New York, page 63.
- 11. Dean Radin, The Conscious Universe: The Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena, HarperCollins Publishers, New York 1997, page 200.
- 12. Koestler, The Act of Creation, page 147.
- 13. Omega Science Digest, Magazine Promotions, Sydney 1994, page 55 (Omega Science Digest published by Magazine Promotions by permission of The Hearst Corporation, New York).