On Genius, Part 2

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Course Ideas / Reflections / Science

In this second article on the topic of genius, I found myself drifting towards our ability to recognize beauty and truth. I thought it was an interesting topic, because it relates to how we process information and perception as individuals, and part of what is so beautiful about genius is that it breaks apart our clotted mentalities.

The reorientation of perception that comes with encountering genius can be startling, but also I’ve found it can be delightful, because with the recognition of what is true, there is joy. There is release from what binds us. Over the years I’ve come to trust in this experience, and to recognize that we possess an innate faculty that recognizes truth and responds to it with feeling. This is not a logical computation, but a sensation. Feelings of joy, or peace, or even a regenerative sadness emerge, and as we follow these feelings, we are able to sift insight from the dross ground of experience, and this too, is genius. Eventually we recognize the universality of what we are discovering: it is not for us alone.

But is the truth “true” for all of us? Or are we each merely mining a tableau of personal fancy? Is there, in other words, an ability within us to recognize genuine insight—to discover, while bypassing the convolutions of logic, a deep and genuine understanding of the nature of reality? My answer to this question is yes…

But some would argue no. Just look around, they might say. If we all possessed this faculty we obviously wouldn’t disagree so vehemently about so much. It’s a powerful argument, but I don’t agree with its premise, or its conclusion, and here I turn to some of the genius writers and thinkers I’ve enjoyed exploring over the years for an alternate explanation: although we all possess such a faculty, we do not all access it equally.

A hallmark of genius, I’ve found, is the ability to not only see the big picture, but to think in terms of wholeness. To see the invisible relationships upon which the visible “facts” depend. I mentioned at the start of this series that I had recently read my first Wilhelm Reich book, Ether, God and Devil. One of the points Reich made in that book that I resonated with was the notion, from his research, that we are each “armored” to varying degrees, and that this armoring directly affects our sensations, perceptions, and feelings. He even goes on to say, “the organism can perceive only what it itself expresses.” We are thus all in the business of defining the parameters of our experience.

Without going into extreme detail, it is sufficient here to note that the armoring Reich describes is a protective mechanism that conditions our experience of ourselves and the world, and is marked by a constriction of normal, life-enhancing functions. It is an imposition of constraints on what we might otherwise think and feel—a rigidity of thought and feeling akin to an authoritarian type of control on the flow of life within and through us. We do this instinctively to protect ourselves, just as a tree becomes hardened in the area of a wound.

I believe in Reich’s mind this was a rather ancient development in humankind. In the book Cosmic Superimposition, which was printed together with Ether, God and Devil, Reich tries to imagine how this armoring could have come about, and says of humankind’s dawning ability to reason and examine it’s own self, “There is much good reason to assume that in such experiences of the self man somehow became frightened and for the first time in the history of his species began to armor against inner fright and amazement.” He goes on to say that, “it is quite possible that the turning of reasoning toward itself induced the first emotional blocking in man.” And later he concludes, “in attempting to understand himself and the streaming of his own energy, man interfered with it, and in doing so, began to armor, and thus to deviate from nature. The first split into a mystical alienation from himself, his core, and a mechanical order of existence instead of the organic, involuntary, bio-energetic self-regulation, followed with compulsive force.” (Cosmic Superimposition, pg 293-294)

What resonated with me strongly here was the notion that both mechanistic/materialist viewpoints and fundamentalist/religious viewpoints are in point of fact mirror images of the identical inner dysfunction. This is the ability of genius to see wholeness in what we take at face value to be completely different, and seemingly antagonistic, responses.

The answer to this problem, in language other than Reich used, is the integration of the heart and mind into a functional whole. In the perceptual modalities most important to me, the heart is not marginalized, but integrated with the logic of the mind. It is the heart, I believe, that is the compass I mentioned at the outset of this article—the heart that recognizes truth and chimes in with visceral acclamation. And what is missing for me in both a mechanistic and a fundamentalist religious view of the world is the awareness and wisdom of this most important faculty. Both perspectives are rooted in a certain rigidity of thought that seeks to impose a particular set of limits on the world’s magnitude, and make it more readily apprehended, judged, and subdued.

I first encountered this idea reading another genius—(to me)—Jose Arguelles. I read his book The Transformative Vision while in college, and I recall it being a beautiful exploration of the idea that the “true human being” was a seamless merging of what we call science, and what we call art. I recall Arguelles suggesting that it is only in the joining of these two fundamental aspects of our being that our authenticity and power as beings emerges. This is a theme I find echoed in Reich’s exposition of armoring, in Viktor Schauberger’s lamentation of our “techno-academic” systems, which he found as life-negating, exclusively male-oriented, and damaging to the planetary ecology, and in what A Course of Love refers to as the joining of heart and mind into wholeheartedness. (These are but a few of the places in which I’ve found such a view expressed.)

I think the reason a given individual’s recognition of truth is so often perceived as a matter of individual fancy is that we are coming at this problem primarily as “split” individuals. As split individuals we function with limited access to one or the other faculty, and are thus inaccurate perceivers. Our ability to access the inheritance of genuine knowing within us is stunted. It is a well-known fact that just about any argument can be justified with reasoning, for instance. Recognizing innately this profound difficulty, science relies upon externalized experimentation, and religion upon sacred books. But neither provides an accurate accounting of what we call life.

In my opinion when we are in our hearts, which I do not personally take to mean a marginalization of the mind, it is possible to reach the type of alignment that simply doesn’t exist when we are arguing in favor of our individual perceptions. And when we are in our hearts, I find we agree–not on facts, but on the truth expressed between us, and as us. All too often I have fallen victim to reacting to a particular idea that rankles me, but the truth is that there are no winners in the debate of ideas. The path forward is not in being right, but in being true—and ultimately this means being true to ourselves, and the entire spectrum of who we are. Geniuses throughout time have seen this, and understood that what hinders us is the profound difficulty we each have in transcending our fractured pscyhes.

14 Comments

  1. Truly ingenious synthesis of mind’s
    unarmored capacity of awareness
    of the Whole, or perhaps
    interbeing nature of phenomena, Michael!
    My heart’s nudging me now to write that
    the Chinese word for mindfulness, niàn,
    has the symbol for “this” or “now,” over the symbol for “heart;
    Having a heart fully in the present.
    Ahh, thank you for helping make this
    living and acting with heart & mind
    awareness accessible to all, even
    if briefly to those of us not quite ready
    for the whole truth & nothing but, the truth. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, David. I do so love the deep meaning encoded in language, like you have described. It is amazing how much wisdom seems to be embedded in the development of our symbols and communications, and I always love discovering these little gems. This is not new knowledge per se, is it? I’d say of course not… But we’re still learning it all the same! Thank you for the resonance with the heart of the matter…

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m frequently amazed, intrigued, and occasionally lost by your ideas Michael. I strive for an integration of heart and mind, but tend to live as either or. Living from wholeness is still an elusive experience for me. I would never have thought to tie this heart/ mind idea into genius and truth. Thanks for the foray into new waters…

    Liked by 1 person

    • You and me both, Brad. Haha! We all live as either-or at times, I think, as we wobble along on these human training wheels towards the free-flowing moment of empowerment that is our destiny. Merging of these two great faculties is vitally important, I feel. It is all too easy for us to dismiss the heart at times, and also we sell ourselves short I think. The beauty of the heart is that we all know and have this faculty alive within us. We don’t need to earn it, or train for it, or become worthy of it. It’s the age-old paradox of surrendering to what is, and finding it to be so much more than we first thought!

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Beauty here and genius in your words. I’m only familiar enough with Jose Argüelles “Day out of time” which influenced one of my best decisions, sort of. I already had decided at the time, but his “Day out of time” brought me into better focus when I chose specifically what I wanted. 😊 it’s a kind of personal. But! Alas, genius is everyones’. Keep going! You are one of my favorite WordPress geniuses. And you seem to attract a really special audience 💗

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ka! I’m not surprised to discover you know of Jose’s work as well. I remember reading The Mayan Factor about twenty years ago and getting goose bumps. Really interesting work, and I loved his ability–at least from my somewhat removed perspective–to tap into both what was right in front of us, and yet remained invisible somehow. His early work that I mentioned above really impacted me when I was in college.

      Thank you for the encouragement, my friend! As to the audience, I feel profoundly fortunate. It’s nice to be part of a tribe of compassionate, wise, and caring individuals…

      Blessings
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I am only *very* loosely aware of Jose’s work. You are much more versed in it than I, as I have not read either of the books you have mentioned, and do not really understand where he was coming from, but in my very surface understanding I made a connection with the “day out of time.” You definitely have delved, Michael, in almost all topics, far more than I have… and I love learning and being exposed to more. Blessings back! ☺️ Ka

        Liked by 1 person

  4. As always, so much to think/feel about. In attempting to make sense of the world, nature, existence, we have isolated ourselves from love, which I believe is the essence of everything. Dispelling this conditioning is such hard work. I can say that I no longer allow the mind/ego to have so much control over my life. It really feels good. Hope you are well, Michael.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I couldn’t agree more, Julie. Love is the heart of it all, for sure, and there’s a territory there we’ve only just begun to explore. For me there is the individual journey back to the heart, and then what we see when we reach the crest of that hill is everyone waiting for us, in a way. It’s like we leave people behind to follow our truth, only to reach the place of discovering how deeply we are entwined with one another. It’s a beautiful journey, and it shines in your own words. I’m well, and hope you are, too. Thanks for linking up once again…

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve re-read…I’m a slow learner Micheal ☺️ I think about witness and how react to what I witness…I also appreciate these words…well all…but these are lingering for me… notion that both mechanistic/materialist viewpoints and fundamentalist/religious viewpoints are in point of fact mirror images of the identical inner dysfunction…those dualisms you know 🤓☺️ appreciate your words and thinking …have a productive day Micheal smiles Hedy

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahh, yes… those dualisms… Haha. They keep us hopping, don’t they! No way faster out of the present than to stop and do some computing about what–categorically–is and is not actually happening. For me the dualities are like looking at something through binoculars that are out of focus. We see two images. Now if we imagine one lens was the heart, and the other the mind, then maybe this analogy permits an understanding of how dualities can only be resolved through seeing truly–through unity. A little shift of focus and we can comprehend both what we thought we saw, and what we are now seeing, and we can understand how all seemingly “real” perceptions exist together…

      Wishing you a blessed day, Hedy!
      Michael

      Like

  6. I would suggest, based on my feelings and perception, that this informative and interpretive tableau of writing is pure genius. Hoping you are doing well my friend Michael.
    Sincerely, Harlon

    Liked by 1 person

    • Harlon! So nice to hear from you, my friend. I am doing well, thank you, and I sincerely hope you are, too. I’ve been a little removed from this WP orbit of late, but think of the friends I’ve made here often, you among them… Thanks for stopping by and saying hello… You’ve made my day!

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

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