“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” Albert Einstein, perhaps the most creative thinker of our time said of the ability to think and dream creatively. He also said, ”The gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.”
Imagine that you are a very creative thinker, that you make time each day to think of all the possibilities in your life and that you make decisions each day on the opportunities available to you. How would your life be different if you were able to think in a totally free and creative way, maintaining the factual information and knowledge that you have accumulated in your life but not the extra baggage associated with your heritage, culture and all of the belief systems that come attached with everything that you have done so far. Impossible? Probably. If you are a completely independent thinking person with flexible beliefs that are your own, then you are most likely a very creative thinker and probably allow yourself to imagine on a regular basis.
A few years ago I was asked to prepare a topic for a discussion group I was a member of at the time. I began to think about the previous topics we had talked about and the different viewpoints members of the group had about the information presented each month. I decided that the topic for the following meeting would be that of our individual belief systems and how vast the possibilities were for the belief systems around the world. Even in our community where everyone seemed to be in a similar environment and had similar values, the views and beliefs were very different. Since that discussion, which confirmed for me that we all see life from a different perspective, I have thought a lot about how the choices we make in life and the pathways they lead to are directed by a belief system usually totally formed in childhood.
We can be victims or beneficiaries of our culture and the viewpoint that formed our impressions of this life. The comfort we find by being around those who believe as we do also contributes to what we perceive to be true or false. Different cultures, and there have been countless, are formed that way and the very survival of many civilizations have depended on it. Our global society today is a combination of the many different belief systems of the world and it is changing at a faster pace than ever before. The greatest and most creative belief systems in our history have also helped to create the greatest civilizations such as the ones that existed 5000 years ago in Egypt, China and India, those of the Incas and Mayans and early Greeks. Those cultures have also affected the beliefs that we rely on today as well as new technological advances and scientific discoveries.
A strong belief system has a lot of benefits and advantages as well as a lot of negative aspects. Our brains are wired in a way so that our perception of truth accompanies experiences that have worked for us in the past. The more we use a particular neuron path, the more prevalent it becomes, just like any other learning process in our brain. We think that because we are intelligent and reasonable beings, everyone else who is intelligent and reasonable is experiencing that same perception and should believe the way we do. We often don’t bother to think that everyone else is having their own unique experience and their perception of the truth might be totally opposite than that of our own. The real problem lies when rigid belief systems clash with someone else’s different rigid belief system. Almost all conflict in the world is created by a belief system that lacks understanding and empathy of another culture and belief system. Cultures controlled by a religious allegiance to a perceived higher authority especially justify the attacks they make on others. World peace can only happen when we become sophisticated enough to know that beliefs are only beliefs, cultures are the result of those beliefs and that humanity as a whole is basically the same.
Rigid belief systems lock us in to thoughts that restrict creativity and imagination. Because everything is in a state of constant change, it doesn’t make sense to believe what is true today is the same as what was true yesterday. A flexible and creative belief system is a valuable asset not only in dealing with the twists and turns in everyday living but in science and research as well. When Einstein was asked how to make children more intelligent, he said, “Read them fairy tales, and then more fairy tales.” The ability to imagine new possibilities and to look at emerging information with a broad perspective are valuable tools in developing new ways of problem solving. With information and technology doubling every two or three years and new medical discoveries constantly changing the understanding of the human body, an open mind and the options regarding personal healing and life extension are more important than ever. There are a lot of examples of locked-in belief systems found in science, and I could name a few. Some researchers I think have cut themselves off from seeing a bigger picture because of a limited belief system. Newtonian physics does not incorporate all of the latest research such as quantum mechanics, the law of relativity and string theory. Studies show that these concepts indicate a broader view of reality. That time is only relative to space and that all of creation may be only a form of energy creating vibrations, doesn’t seem to be a factor in the way data is interpreted. On the other hand, great examples of those helping to expand our beliefs and to assist in humanity’s broader understanding of the world can be found all around us. The PBS programs on NOVA and the many new videos on You Tube are pushing the limits of one’s ability to comprehend the new information and the changes it is creating in the way we think about reality. Somewhere out there, someone right now is preparing a video that will help to give a more comprehensive understanding of the physical body, a more accurate understanding of our reality and how we can make the most of this physical experience by helping our body to function as well as it possibly can. Along with traditional concepts in our understanding of science we are also discovering new factors or rediscovering old practices that are improving our chances for a healthier and happier life.
As we age and especially if we have had a life composed of similar experiences and values, our ability to change our perceptions and to see a greater aspect of reality is less probable. Creating new ways of thinking, especially when we are older is like making a new pathway through an overgrown forest with heavy underbrush. A machete or hedge trimmer would be helpful tools in clearing that path and the tools that would be helpful in creating for us a more accurate picture of reality are the ability to think logically, the intention to do so and the vast information that is available.
The Greek philosophers and mathematicians over two thousand years ago were some of the best examples of people who were able to develop a belief system broad enough to encompass their world and to even serve the populations of today. The mystic Pythagoras was a genius on many levels and one of the greatest creative thinkers of all time. His understanding of universal truths and the imagination he utilized pondering the true nature of things came from an expanded belief system that encompassed the Universe and has helped guide humanity to this day. His quote,”There is geometry in the humming of the strings. There is music in the spacing of the spheres,” leads one to believe he understood string theory far before his time. Socrates was always imaginative, curious and constantly trying to problem solve. He was even put to death because of his incessant questioning of everyone and everything regarding the nature of reality.
How can we be more open regarding rigid beliefs and the locked in, sometimes narrow view we see of the world around us? Is it possible that we can become more inquisitive about what we take for granted and how we might be more open to someone’s belief that we have written off as invalid? Is it true that just because we might not have the ability to see auras around others, feel energy vibrations, or channel thoughts from an extrasensory source, that it is true for everyone? Perhaps we should think more about the emerging scientific understanding coming through technological advances and new research. Maybe we should spend more time imagining, pondering notions about intelligence without form, the possible awareness of all matter, consciousness as a form of energy and especially the power of a collective consciousness.