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The Map of the Soul

articles on the nature of the human mind

By S.M. Zakir Hussain (Bangladesh)

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The Psychology of Thought, Intelligence, and Creativity

Thought As the Greatest Promise to Creativity and Intelligence


Life is a bundle of thoughts. We earn knowledge only when we think about our thoughts. Often we claim to be free-minded, without, however, being free from the limitations of the mind. Our desires arise in us as streams of thoughts. When we use our reasoning in favor of them, we lose the validity of our reasoning ability. The best thing to do in this case is simply look at the thoughts. Thoughts face-to-face with thoughts create knowledge. Knowledge is not a bundle of data. It is the result of the judgment of thoughts with thoughts. The thoughts that tend to sweep the mind with gushes of desires are only automated algebraic machines. They do not create knowledge unless they are encountered with a serene mind and firm intention.

One cannot create anything. You need two to be one of the two. Both the two are in you. You only need look inside and . . . keep looking. That you must do until you eventually come to perceive who is seeing and what is being seen. You are the source of all knowledge.

Form Intelligence to Creativity

Life is an ongoing process of confronting problems and solving them. This act, essential or not, adds to our intelligence. I have the hunch that intelligence is one kind of database without any raw data, a database of rules established in abilities. Form this point of view, intelligence can be considered one kind of memory which supports other types of memories. In other words, it is the pointer to data files and structures. Creativity is the ability to play with a set of such pointers.

If what has been said thus far makes sense then it must also be meaningful that we can convert our intelligence into creativity by some practice that may be intellectual, mental, or spiritual.
Let us investigate some of the many possible ways.

Change the process of solution:

Given that a particular solution to a problem is correct and need not necessarily be questioned, we can be wiser by finding a new way of finding the solution. For this enterprise to be meaningful, we have got to think about what we really mean by a solution.

What is a solution? Asking the same question to yourself twenty times will make you wiser than you are now. That is because we tend to keep ourselves in a lot of darkness by not asking this question: Why do we think that we have found a situation? If, fortunately, we ever happen to ask ourselves this question, we happen to look at our notion of a problem.

In fact, our notion of a certain situation as a problem influences our idea of the solution that we are looking for. This goes to mean that the reason why we call a situation a problem is hardly ever investigated with a fresh look. Therefore, we can be wiser simply by looking at our idea of problem in the first instance. And if it turns out that being aware of our idea of a problem gives us knowledge and untangles our intelligence, then we can profit by our ability to consider a situation a problem from more than one angle of view. If something is a problem, then it could well be a set of problems.

Armed with the knowledge of what a problem may be like, we may now turn to our idea of a solution. Now that a situation can be called a problem from a number of angles of view, it can also be approached from a number of ways in order to solve it. Surely, a picture of all or a number of such problems and solutions is a better description of what we might call the reality. So let us dig deep into the possibility of the concept of problem first.

A problem is a situation that needs a solution. It is a situation that needs to be known. That’s because any ignorance of mine of this situation will become a limitation for me. How do I know that this is a problem for me? I know that because I am aware of the knowledge that this situation is essentially an object of my thought but somehow or other my thought has happened to be dependent on it.

I call a situation a problem only because I know something about it and also do not know something about it, with the result that my knowledge also contains the awareness that it cannot be effective enough unless it has overcome the ignorance. In this sense, a problem is the knowledge of a situation that lacks some essential knowledge.

Now, why do I need to know that? Or what is the same thing, why do I think that the solution will pay me? I think so because I have an intention ¾ to do something physically or mentally. Our necessity gives us the opportunity to be wise.

If that is the case, then why do we not have the intention to do more things with the same thing that we thought we could use for one purpose? The more the purposes that we want to serve with something, the more knowledge it will provide at a very low price in terms of effort and time.

A problem is our awareness of a situation, which points to the difference between our knowledge of it when we intend to do something with it and our knowledge of the possibility of doing it completely. For example, you are going somewhere by a bicycle. You see that the road you are moving along has been crossed by a canal over which there is a broken bridge, such that you can now cross the bridge without the bicycle but not with it. This situation is a problem to you because you want to go to your destination taking the bicycle with you. You do not know how you can cross the bridge with the bicycle, so the broken bridge seems to be a problem to you.

But is not the bicycle itself a problem now, in one sense? Surely it is, if you must go to your destination. And if you decide not to move ahead any more then that cannot be called a solution because you have changed your purpose. Now identify the problem in your thought only. How are you going to describe it? Can you not say that in this case the problem is your notion of getting over the other bank vis-à-vis your awareness that there is an impediment?

If the broken bridge can be regarded as an impediment, then the idea of the bridge could also be regarded as such. So you could find a possible solution by imagining yourself in a situation where there was no bridge at all. Then perhaps you would look for a boat.

Because this is a common situation, we hardly need to think much to find a solution like this. But the fact is that we often take a long time to think in this way in abstract situations.

Often our idea of a problem and its solution gets colored by our choice of the process of solving the problem. That is why the attempt to find newer ways of solving a problem may offer a huge potential of knowledge and intelligence. This attempt comes from our creativity. So we must be intelligent in a creative way.

Changing the process of solution pays a lot even when you already know the solution to a certain case. We are satisfied with solutions without knowing much about the problem. The search for an alternative solution can open our wisdom eye in such cases. Let’s do some exercises:

Do a Thought Experiment by Considering The Problem a Solution:

I believe that this is the most effective approach to understanding the nature of a problem. By solving a problem, we only acknowledge it as a problem and so our attitude to it gets fixed. This kind of thinking means calculation only, which, no doubt, has its use in life, but in its broader sense thinking means judgment, which is certainly more than mere calculation. As far as thinking means calculation, machines outdo humans. But we are the creators of machines and should not forget it.

Considering a problem only a problem can make us clever, not intelligent. If it ever makes us intelligent in some cases, then it still can’t make us wise. Most of the time our concept of problem makes us so narrow-minded that we only look for the solution and remain satisfied with it. We all can remember many cases when we’ve become foolish because of our ability to be satisfied with small things. Any thought that is a product of such a mindset loses its effectiveness in the long term or receives a surprise by confronting situations that declare it invalid or back-dated. Humankind has suffered a lot by being clever in this way. History supplies ample evidence that every time a group of humans has stepped into the domain of a new epoch, it has not only jested at its predecessor’s mode of thought but rejected it too. We can’t escape being surprised in this way because we don’t look at problems in a different way. Because our interest or survival involves solving  problems, we seldom consider them solutions. In fact, every problem appears as a solution to another problem if it was left unsolved in the proper way.

Discover your Real Strength:

There is truth in the statement that to each kind of strength that you have, there is a corresponding weakness equal in magnitude and opposite in direction. If you can successfully discover it, then you will surely be better off than before with respect to creativity. Your awareness of your weakness will prove to be a strength which is more meaningful. Let us delve deeper into this mystery.

The Strength of Weakness

It is only weakness that can be transformed into strength. In other words, nobody could ever be strong if they weren't weak. And what I'm saying is not quibble or mere word-work for encouragement. Rather, it's as true and trustable as any proven scientific theory(or more reliable than that. So, my dear reader, rejoice in all the weaknesses that you have. It's only after five minutes that your weakness will prove to be the most important gift of your life.

Somebody’s weakness is the only cause of his or her intelligence, creativity, and knowledge.
Think about a dog. It can identify some things by the smell(a capability that you can't even imagine. Even so, it's a dog and you're a human being.
Think about a bat. It can `see' even without eyes. That's why it can see in the dark, whereas you're afraid of losing your eyesight even in a tender age. Still you're a human being with an unlimited possibility of development, while the bat is not.

Or think about any fish or bird. They can live in the water or fly in the sky but you can't. On the contrary, you only dream of flying and are afraid of drowning. Nevertheless, those animals are subservient to you and you're their lord!

The dog has an extraordinary ability but it doesn't know that it's extraordinary. It doesn't even know what it knows or doesn't know. But you know that you don't know something and the dog knows it. This means that you know what you and others know as well as what you and they don't know. This means that you're knowledgeable even without having a particular ability like the ability of an animal. If you had no inability and weakness, you couldn't know what the difference between ability and inability is. As a result, you couldn't have knowledge. If you didn't have knowledge, you couldn't use the ability of others and capitalize on the inability of theirs.

When you see that the bat sees without the eye, you 'see' even what the eyes can't see ¾ that is, you know what seeing and not-seeing mean. This knowledge is so powerful that it goes beyond eyesight and sees something that the eyesight can't see.

You can't swim like a fish and that's why you can make a huge ship. You can't fly like a bird and that's why you can make a huge airbus.

Your past ¾ the memory, and future ( the dream, exist only because you can't keep everything in the same plane of consciousness like a computer. If you were able to visit the past, you wouldn't have sweet memories. Similarly, if you were able to visit the future, you couldn't dream, because in that case you wouldn't have an unknown world and unfulfilled desires.

Humans are intelligent, creative, and wise only because  they  are weak and have a long period of childhood. In a sense, we're children all through our lives ( whatever our age is.



Continued ...


Author of:

Secret Knowledge of the Qur'an