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Last Time: Reclaiming Your Creative Mind
Until recently, creativity and the creative state was thought to be the provenance of a particular bunch of people, namely writers and artists. In the twentieth century, this idea began to be challenged.
Now a wealth of research in disciplines as disparate as language, literature, psychology, neuroscience and quantum physics are making it clear that “creative” is not so much a particular activity as a way going about any activity. A way of approaching life.
That the same process that creates one thing, creates everything.
We used to think the universe was composed of what it seems to be composed of: solid matter. And that matter moved through time, evolving from past, through present, into future.
In this worldview, the universe was like a big machine operating around us and humans were the most important creation in it, the only creatures with consciousness, able to understand our place in time and space. As we learned more and more about the universe, this viewpoint purported, we would eventually “master” it.
Over the past four hundred years, science has dealt a few major blows to this way of looking at life.
First came Copernicus, who revealed that earth — and by implication human beings — were not, actually, the centre of the universe. We spun around the sun, not the other way round.
The shock and horror this engendered in the medieval mind is brilliantly captured by Irish novelist, John Banville, in his novel Doctor Copernicus. The clash was not so much, as we might expect today, between rationality and religion, because Copernicus’s work was not controversial for the Church in his lifetime (that came later), but between theory and knowledge itself.
The novel gives us a wonderful glimpse of the creative process enacted through science. Having fretted endlessly over his observations and calculations, Copernicus wakes one morning feeling “as if the channels of his brain had been sluiced with an icy drench of water. Involuntarily he began to think at once, in a curiously detached and yet wholly absorbed fashion that was, he supposed later, a unique miraculous objectivity.”
That “the Sun, and not the Earth, is at the centre of the world, and secondly that the world is far more vast than Ptolemy or anyone else had imagined” was the only explanation that could account for the motion of the sun and the stars he had observed, and the odd switchback movements of the planets across the night sky.
“He turned the solution this way and that, admiring it, as if he were turning in his fingers a flawless ravishing jewel. It was the thing itself, the vivid thing.”
There have been other shocks to human self-perception, notably Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, the knowledge that we were not uniquely God-favoured creatures, just animals with a more complex brain who have evolved from apes.
But nothing more astonishing than the findings of quantum physics being uncovered in our own time.
When science first discovered atoms, the basic material of the material universe, the assumption was that they existed in three dimensional space, following fixed and given laws, but the more life on the sub-atomic scale was observed, the less that vision of “reality” made sense.
The table on which my laptop rests as I write this feels solid to me if I investigate it with my eyes and hands but if I look at it through a microscope, it is revealed to be a teeming exchange of energy.
As am I. As is everything in our world.
- about 96% of our universe is now known to consist of invisible “dark matter” and “dark energy.”
- electrons move in a discontinuous way depending on their orbit
- one particle can instantaneously – faster than the speed of light – influence a distant particle
- electrons appear as either a particle or wave, depending on the observing consciousness.
The language of quantum physics is maths and those of us untrained in its arcana can only follow it so far but physicists bringing word from the experimental frontline agree that what we experience as fixed “reality” is actually brought into being by consciousness interacting with quantum wave fields that, until that observing consciousness engages, exist as “virtual realities of infinite possibilities”.
Unlike classical scientists, modern physicists do not have a single picture of how the world actually is. They offer eight concepts of “quantum reality”, eight different — and sometimes apparently contradictory perspectives — that are agreed to be valid, or a least successful in terms of explaining the results of experiments to date.
- There is no deep, fixed reality.
- Reality is created by observation.
- The world obeys laws and reasoning beyond human consciousness.
- Reality is an undivided wholeness.
- The world is twofold, consisting of potentials and actualities
- Reality consists of parallel universes.
- The world is made of ordinary objects.
- Consciousness creates reality.
Research continues and differences are debated but almost all leading modern physicists seriously hold to the first view: There is no deep, objective reality”. For them, “physics is not physical, but metaphysical.”
The phenomenal world is not, as it seems to be, a fixed entity, but something perceived, inseparable from our senses.
What does that mean for you?
Everything that “exists” in your outer world — ourselves, other human beings, fauna, flora and matter — is brought into time and space by one or more of your five outer senses: sight, taste, touch, sound, smell.
And everything that exists in your inner world — thoughts, concepts, ideas, feelings and mental image — is brought into time and space by our inner senses of imagination and intuition.
We create our own reality, something writers and sages have suggested since the dawn of time. Everything is created and everyone is creative. That is the “flawless ravishing jewel” of creative consciousness. Therein, the whole world is revealed as “the thing itself, the vivid thing”.
Next time: Creative Consciousness, Creative Brain