Friday, April 16, 2010

Inspiration

      Inspiration comes in many forms. Perhaps the best known example is that of James Watson who, along with Francis Crick, discovered the structure of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) because of a dream Watson had about a series of spiral staircases.
      Although originally trained in physics, Crick began the study of biology after WWII. In 1951 he met James Watson, who shared his interest in discovering how genetic information could be stored in molecular form. It was with this intense background in mind that Crick had his insightful dream.
      Although not inspired by a dream, the following is another example of inspiration:
Sir Isaac Newton had invented the calculus, and had formulated his laws of motion. One day he saw an apple fall from a tree. He wondered why the apple always fell toward the center of the earth; why not fall sideways or upward? He soon realized that if gravity extended as far out from the earth as, say, the moon, it must affect the moon’s orbit. Upon calculating how much of an effect earth’s gravity would have on the moon’s orbit, he came upon the concept that he called “universal gravitation.” Before Newton, probably millions of men had seen apples fall to the ground, but this was the first apple to change the world since one fell in the Garden of Eden.
      Sir Isaac had all the necessary elements in place in his brain: the mathematical procedures, the laws of motion and the years of observation and analysis of natural events. If he had not observed the falling apple, it is likely that he never would have come upon his revolutionary concept. However, when the apple fell, some invisible creative process brought all these elements into play, transcended and transformed them, and a new concept was introduced into the world.
      Both of these examples have two things in common: Both occurred as a result of an unexpected event, and the unexpected events occurred in a mind prepared to receive them.
      A good metaphor for inspiration is the sowing of seeds: it does not matter how well fertilized the soil may be, without the seeds, nothing grows. And if the seeds fall on unprepared soil, again, nothing grows.
      I have been to seminars where some of the attendees took the speaker’s every word to heart, went back to their businesses, and immediately beginning putting the speaker’s recommendations into place. Other attendees apparently were there for the rubber chicken meal, or to get a day away from the office. They could have listened to the world’s most inspiring speaker for a week, and for all practical purposes, not have heard a word.
      Regardless of the form of the trigger, inspiration comes only to those prepared to receive it. And the more prepared one is, the more triggers seem to appear.
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      Although Jesus used the following parable to illustrate a different point, it is particularly apropos for demonstrating how new living entities are introduced into the universe, and how entities, living and non-living, can interact with each other:
      A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. (Mark 13, 3-8).
      Introduction – The Spirit Runs Through It
     
      To read more excerpts from the book, click here.
      Also available on Kindle.

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