Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Difference Between Thinking and Reading, Realizing and Repeating

Our creative faculties are all too often stunted from living in noisy overdeveloped urban environments, and spending too much time indoors watching television and looking at computer screens, but did you know that even reading too much can also be detrimental to your creative faculties?

How so? Well as someone who absolutely loves books, spends a lot of time reading books, and whose life would be significantly diminished without books, what the hell do I mean?

It's not that reading in itself is detrimental. Of course not. Reading is good. Reading is the surest way of rapidly improving your education. But reading too much, without regularly taking time out for personal contemplation, to process what you've read, to think for yourself, to directly listen and observe and ask yourself questions and form your own answers, without doing that, both reading and watching television, or doing anything that becomes a substitute for thinking, can become detrimental to your intellect.

It is possible to be an avid "well read" reader without being a thinker, without being much of a creative, independent, or innovative thinker.

There are a lot of repeaters in this world, many who are overpaid and overrated, people who dutifully repeat whatever the experts say, without really understanding or verifying the facts independently for themselves.

It is possible to appear quite learned and intelligent by merely memorizing what you have read or what you are told by others, to be a walking encyclopedia, a human computer regurgitating assorted facts and trivia, while at the same time being little more than a thoughtless repeater, a programmed robot parroting other peoples ideas without having any actual experiential grasp or understanding of those ideas independent of books or words, or without even having any original thoughts and ideas of your own.

Well maybe you'd counter that there are no original ideas, that there is really nothing new under the sun, everything is borrowed, recycled, rediscovered, and re-exchanged. That all ideas are a collaborative affair, and that nothing is truly independent or original. Maybe so, but in this case, when I speak of an original idea, I mean it in the sense of the idea arising from the quiet contemplation of your own mind. It doesn't matter if that idea was partially shaped and influenced by other ideas not uniquely your own, nor does it matter if you are not the only one, or are only one among thousands receiving the same insight or realization. What matters is the experience of the idea arising seemingly independently within your own mind, rather than being feed a prepackaged version that requires little to no thinking or experiential knowledge.

I hope I inspire you, but ultimately your inspiration is your own, is a personal relationship between the inner you and the outer world. You may feel as if the inspiration comes from outside of yourself, but actually inspiration always originates from within each person. Or rather, it is an experiential connection between the microscopic and macroscopic, between self and the cosmos.

Inspiration is like a radio frequency that's always on, but is only received if you are tuned to the right channel. When you are inspired by someone or something, it's not that they are the source of inspiration, but that all that is happening is that they've helped you turn the channel within yourself in alignment with the frequency of inspiration, that they too are tuned into, but it is up to you how long you maintain the connection, whether you raise or lower the volume, or whether you change to a different channel completely.

All knowledge and insight emerges from a receptive state of mind, but there is a difference between receiving ideas from others in their finished product already translated into words, and having the same ideas emerge independently in your own mind. There is a difference between experiential knowledge obtained on your own, and theoretical knowledge obtained from others. Theoretical knowledge can be experienced if the abstract ideas can be applied to the real world, as theoretical principles visualized affecting objects in space, or otherwise conceptualized having some real world application. And of course experiential knowledge can be translated into theoretical knowledge the very moment it is articulated into words.

If you get most of your ideas from books, from other people, without actually experiencing the insights yourself or applying them to the real world in your own way, how many ideas in your head are actually your own? Not only that, but to what extent do you truly understand and have personally tested what you are reading, and to what extent are you merely repeating?

That's the primary danger of reading too much, that of thinking too little. When reading and absorbing other people's ideas becomes a substitute for thinking, that's what I mean when I say that reading too much can potentially be detrimental to your capacity for independent creative thought.

Read to enhance your mind, not to completely erase your mind and replace it with somebody else's. The goal should be the expansion of consciousness, not the annihilation of consciousness. So by all means don't stop reading, but do consider turning off the television and going outside more.

Just make sure to also spend some time thinking, questioning, contemplating, realizing, and better yet reading the wordless wisdom written in the tapestry of the earth and the sky, and listening to nature's wordless sounds circulating all around, within and without, above and below, and beyond the written word of pseudo experts, thoughtless repeaters, and other overrated clowns.

1 comment:

Julia Hones said...

I'm glad I discovered your blog.