Poincaré, he speaks of these experiences but he points out that it is a new order that comes out. It is not just sowing seeds. When you sow seeds you know what’s going to come out, no new order comes out. Poincaré says: “The problem is that it is possible to imagine that the subconscious, as it was called then, simply tries many combinations. But the point is, there is something which evaluates them and presents one of them as the solution, and it is something entirely new and unforeseen. This means that there is something in my subconscious which is more intelligent than I am. I should hate to admit that.” And he sought to get round that by saying: “Well, it is possible that beauty is an index to truth, and that this subconscious entity can evaluate beauty and select it on that basis.
At least he saw the problem and faced it. Russell doesn’t. Russell says: “I sowed the seeds”. But it is as if he was sowing seeds of blue, white and red at random, because he says that there was no order in his mind and then he came back, with his moment of inspiration, and it was as though the seeds had come up in a Union Jack. It was sown at random but something underneath the soil has brought them into order. Russell didn’t see that. Poincaré saw that – much more intelligent at that point.
Now, there are these experiences which otherwise can’t be accounted for. They’re common, they’re embarrassing, if you are a materialist – but they happen and the Yoga says this is a partial, but only partial, evidence of this light of intelligence which is beyond our conscious mind as we know it now. They have it in science but it is not an inspiration for everyday life. Pure concentration in science makes the clarity, cleans the instruments of prejudices and preconceptions and then it can come out, but not in everyday life. And as we see with, for instance, Einstein, he had these wonderful inspirations very, very early in life, but he spent the last 30 years of his life fighting against the implications of them which he didn’t care for. So it’s a partial indication and a hint, but it is not a full account of inspiration.
Yoga says we must try periodically to clear the mind so that this light will shine through, and the clouds to clear away. Now, if you would like to try this experiment. This was developed by the fencers in Japan to give them inspiration in the duel and some of them who became expert in it were almost unbeatable. To sit up reasonably upright, not uncomfortable. Now to feel one is on a hilltop under the blue sky. In your lap you have a cloth full of pebbles. Now a thought comes up – something which happened yesterday – and I mentally pick up a pebble and throw it and the thought away, so it goes rolling down the hill. Then another thought comes up – a row that’s brewing – take the pebble and throw it away with the thought. Gone. Not wanted. Another thought: “I wonder if this will come….”. Throw it away. Another thought: “Oh, these things always happen to….”. Throw it away. Now mentally sit there. You need not move the hands at all, but as the thoughts come up, mentally throw the thought away with the pebble. No thought can remain long in the mind if we don’t support it with our active interest. Throw away the interest in these things and simply remain sitting on the hilltop under the blue sky with fewer and fewer thoughts. Perhaps you would like to try…
© Trevor Leggett
Titles in this series are:
Part 1: The source of Inspiration