Gate one: Fulfilling intellectual potential
Two Hemispheres. Two Mind Movements
When a brain researcher describes a stroke as an experience in which there are spiritual elevation and nirvana, one’s curiosity becomes aroused. The curiosity increases when it emerges that he is discussing a stroke that he himself experienced. This explains why the TED lecture by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, in which she tells how she researched her own stroke, went beyond twenty million views. Her book “My Stroke of Insight” was on the New York Times bestseller list for 13 weeks and translated into twenty languages.
In 1996 Dr. Taylor, only 37 years old, worked as a brain researcher at Harvard University, where she specialized in severe mental illness. One morning she awoke as a blood vessel burst in the left hemisphere of her brain. Within four hours of the event she was witness to the deterioration of her situation. She lost the ability to process information, to speak, to read, to walk or to recall any details of her life. She became, in her own words, a baby in the body of a woman. The shocking aspect of her testimony was that during the course of her stroke, along with the loss of her physical and cognitive abilities, she experienced a sort of sublime peace; a nirvana of sorts. There was a feeling of spiritual enlightenment and a powerful connection to her surroundings.
How can one explain this strange peacefulness during a cerebral event?
Before she describes her personal experience, Dr. Taylor explains the functions of the two hemispheres of the brain. The right and left hemispheres are two parts- almost symmetric in size, which make up the brain. According to her description, the two hemispheres process information in different ways and encourage different patterns of thought. Each side of the brain could be described as having a separate personality. The right side of the brain is busy with this moment, with the here and now of existence. It thinks in images and learns by processing information and visual stimulation. Information flows to the right hemisphere through sensory systems. This information defines the moment according to its feelings, smells and sounds. The flow of information about this moment connects people to their surrounding energy. The right brain, as described by Taylor, is the source of connection and unity with the moment, with reality and with other people. The connection offered by the right side stems from a pattern of information processing which has no sense of self and sees the wholeness and beauty in people and in reality.
The function of the left side of the brain is completely different. The left brain, Taylor emphasizes, thinks linearly and methodically. It is concerned with the past and the future. It gathers information that it receives, categorizes and organizes it. This leads to it connecting the data with information from the past and projecting the information onto the space of future possibilities. The data processing experience of the left brain is not unification but rather the emphasis on the self. The left side’s ability to examine what information from the past and preparations for the future says about a person’s interests and needs in the future is what characterizes his detachment from his surroundings.
Taylor testifies that during the stroke she lost function in her left hemisphere. She lost her past and her future, but not her ability to be in the moment.
The stroke involved pain which wrapped around her head and would loosen occasionally. She observed herself during the process and felt that her normal grasp of reality had abandoned her. The movement of her body had been considerably slowed. She describes how she succeeded in hearing her internal dialogue and even a sort of battle between two voices. One of them prevented a definition of the boundaries of the body. She felt herself blending into the physical room she was in. When the left brain was silent she felt a wonderful sense of elation, which erased the stress which she had been under. The left side occasionally awoke and tried to inquire what was wrong. She tried to recreate the sense of self and to ask it to call for help. However only with difficulty was she able to engage her left brain and recall her assistant’s phone number to ask for his assistance.
It took eight years until Dr. Taylor had recovered completely from her stroke. Despite the heavy personal price she paid and the slow recovery, as a brain researcher she refers to the attack as a source of blessing and discovery of meaning in her life.
The message which Taylor promotes in the wake of her stroke is that we have a choice regarding the manner of brain function we choose; the left or the right. When we choose the left brain we detach ourselves from the world, and from the flow of life. When we choose the right brain, we choose to live in the here and now, as part of creation and of our surroundings. The more we choose the functions of the right hemisphere over the left, Taylor argues in her lecture, the more we will succeed in making the world peaceful, unified and whole.
The separation Taylor posits of right and left sides is not unknown in the terminology of Chassidic and Kabbalistic literature. There is a right and a left side to all of man’s limbs, in the brain, the heart, the legs, the hands, the eyes and the nose. In the heart, in the world of feeling, the division Taylor mentions recalls many of the descriptions one finds in the method of Jewish psychology. The left side is the one responsible for discovering the “self”. It forces man to locate himself at the center of experiences. Man processes the information received from the past along with analyses about the future and projects them onto his reactions in the present, based on whether or not they are a good idea. These considerations design the relationship man has with the world. The left heart measures matters to the degree to which they serve, or do not serve, the person’s interests. It is able to inspire feeling which then draws the power of the mind into helping as well. The mind makes an effort to justify the emotional tendencies. As a result, the choice as Taylor describes it as in their place. The left side may be a source for unwanted feelings or tendencies, including arrogance, stress, anxiety and sadness, which are a result of man locating himself at the center. Man examines reality through lenses of usefulness, profit and loss. Through these prisms his relationship with the world and his emotional state are always mitigated by the degree to which he believes things are going his way, or not. Thus, the experience created by the left side is emotional instability; a sort of Ferris wheel of emotions which are the result of man’s subjective perspective. When he is relaxed, appreciated and accepted, he experiences positive feelings. When he feels rejected or when things don’t go his way, or the way he wanted, his mood may be sensitive.
The right side expresses a different movement; one of acceptance, merging and viewing the world as part of a single large unity. In this case interests take second place to man’s mission in this world. Choosing the right side prevents people from relying upon interests, worthwhileness or the feeling of value determined according to one’s surroundings. Man becomes responsible for his emotional state. He is no longer subject to the Ferris wheel of emotion but instead experiences a sense of mission and significance.
The book “Winning Every Moment” deals extensively with the relationship between the two sides or two tendencies described which often develop into a struggle between the two souls which coexist within man. Much of this struggle occurs within man’s thoughts, but they are not actually the mind itself but rather a cover for the internal forces, the mind and the emotions of the heart. Each side taking part in the struggle wishes to direct the thoughts in the direction which will enable it to control the person completely; like the king of a small town, which in this case is the body. At every moment the challenge is to win the fight between the two tendencies described. One indication of victory is realizing which of the sides is directing the thought process. Is it the egocentric side or is it the tendency with a loftier source, the one which links man with his environment and his mission? When the right side wins and takes charge of the thought process, man feels focused, connected, flowing and healthy. His “self” will not be emotionally threatening. The powers of the soul will work closely together in order to fulfill his mission. When the left side of the heart is victorious, it is liable to create unwanted feelings which lead to man’s detachment from reality, from his environment and from the present moment.
The distinction between the brain and thoughts is a crucial one in the present context. Taylor effectively describes the struggle which takes place within the world of thoughts. From the perspective of Jewish psychological teachings, this is not a fight between sections of the brain. Jewish literature’s take on the brain’s activity is somewhat different from Taylor’s. As opposed to the heart, the two sides of the brain are not in conflict with one another and the choice is not to select one of them. The left and right brains contain two complementary functions. The role of man is not to choose right hemispheric functions over left but rather to create a synergy between them. The right and left sides, according to Chassidic Kabbalistic thought, are responsible for the two compulsory processes for the sustenance of life, creative thought and direction of the heart. When only one is selected, the full potential of the mind cannot be fulfilled.
“Wonderment” and “Covering”
Which two contradictory actions must the mind undertake in order to promote creative thinking and in order to draw vitality into its life? Creative thinking needs to include two opposing actions which occur in the brain. The first is an act of ascent and the second is one of descent. The ascension is described also as an act of “wonderment” or “abstraction” and the opposite act is described as “covering”.
The word for wonderment in Hebrew comes from the words for wonder and supremacy. This is an action which is an attempt to reach a concept which is simple, fine, intangible, and above the clumsy perception of objects. The goal of “wonderment” is to reach a higher stage of experience and examination; to seek the simplified source of things.
The search for the source of things is expressed through world “view”, conditions, the situation, but unfiltered. The power of “wonderment” is in the basic stripping of our mind’s understanding from its trappings. In this act of “wonderment” we try to comprehend the essence of the matter beyond the concealing covers such as examples, tales, stories, measurements, literary techniques and even personal interests which may conceal the abstract intellectual understanding.
The act of abstraction seeks to remove the coverings and external drawings and to understand the matter itself; to reach the depth and internal nature of the intellectual matter in the purest form possible, until man achieves the root and the fine, abstract intellectual spark, until he has grasped the abstract idea and not its external trappings.[i] This spark is the point at which ideas, new directions and inventions emerge.
The second intellectual movement is the opposite of “wonderment”. It is an action of continuation and covering; bringing the simplified idea to discovery, understanding and accessibility, until it is apparent to the mind. The “covering” is the ability to “bring down” ideas to reality in order to implement them. The purpose of “covering” is not to reach the purest form of an idea and strip off its covers, but rather to know how to explain the idea using other tangible tools. The act of covering makes “abstract” ideas clearer.
Breaking through boundaries and re-establishing them
Why does creativity require the abstraction of things in order to reach their depths and inner natures? The brain, as part of its function, establishes limitations to our comprehension. The limits help us to translate abstract concepts into our concrete lives. An example of this is a lecturer who uses fables, stories and metaphors in order to clarify abstract concepts for his students. The wrappings limit the abstract understanding, minimize it and make it clumsier. This is in order to help the student grasp the abstract idea in his mind. This same limitation which is necessary to settle concepts in our minds, also creates obstacles to creative thinking.
One could say that to a large degree, popular writing and writing on social media attempt to cover and not to create abstracts. Abstract concepts are not easily understood by the broader audience. Readers seek to understand ideas through stories and examples. Without them, the ideas don’t settle properly in the mind, and the reader will not feel that he has sufficiently understood. The problem with this sort of writing is that the readers remain, for the most part, with the “cover”; the stories or the examples, which reduce the deeper understanding of the ideas. The examples may make the understanding easier but at the same time they delimit it. A possible example would be learning the game of chess not through an essential understanding of the moves and actions but by memorizing techniques, cases and responses. This sort of learning would always result in limited outcomes. The player would act according to a methodical examination of cases and responses developing on the board, rather than through a broader, deeper understanding of moves on the board.
The power of “wonderment” seeks to break through the limitations set in place by the mind. It is an intellectual movement that at its core wishes to upset common axioms. The act of “wonderment” clarifies that everything we perceive has a clumsy and a refined reception. The clumsy reception is the reception of the external, of the fables, the examples, the techniques and the stories. A refined reception grasps the abstract matter itself. It seeks to comprehend the inner need and the sources of motivation. For this reason the power of the “wonderment” is not satisfied with covers, with examples or with stories, but instead seeks to refute them. This negation does not stem from pettiness or from a sense of rebellion. Its purpose is to discover more about the world, about man and the powers that move them.
The importance of the power of covering in the mind actually lies in the limits it establishes. In order for the idea to descend to greater understanding, the intellectual insight requires limitations. In the language of Chassidism this limit is known as “extremities”, from the Hebrew word “edge” or border. The limits, the edges, are a required condition for the understanding of ideas and their inclusion within the mind. Just as every material item has borders and a form through which they are perceived and understood, so too is it necessary for knowledge to have a shape and limits, in order to make it graspable and understandable. In the absence of edges, the idea cannot be grasped. The finer and the more abstract the understanding is, the more the act will break through the boundaries of the edges and it becomes complicated to hold it within the vessel of understanding.[ii] Without the limits, comprehension is flighty and floating. In this situation it will, necessarily, be difficult to bring the idea to execution.
“Incisive and demanding” vs. “Moderate and deducing”
The two actions, “wonderment” and “covering” may also be understood through two methods of study. One method is that of a person who learns feverishly. He seeks to grasp the incomprehensible and launches barrages of questions about everything with the purpose of clarifying the point in question. On the other hand, there are those who learn through moderation and deduction. They seek to understand and implement and not to delve into the depths of dilemmas.
Those who adopt the former style of study are labeled incisive and demanding in Jewish literature. This is a path of study that in its essence does not wish to create clarity but looks for depth and abstraction. The search for depth actually expands the secret within the light of the mind. It increases the questions and the contradictions. When the person learning excuses the contradictions and brushes aside a point of incomprehension or lack of clarity, they immediately suggest another question, trying to attain the next level in understanding. The learner deepens their study and within this increases the contradictions with which they grapple.
The dilemmas conceal the clarity of the mind. They lead to a sense of elevation beyond the edges and the limitations. Any excuse is an invitation for a new query and acts as another cover for what has already begun to become clear in the mind. This method of question upon question leads the student to achieve a refined grasp of the depth of the issue which is spiritual and abstract. The simple side does not satisfy them and neither do the implementable covers or the examples and fables. Thought along these lines leads to more and more questions which help the person learning to expose yet another layer in the subject they are studying.
The questions which the “incisive and demanding” learner asks are an expression of what concerns him and will not give him peace. The issues are dear to him. The desire to understand the very depths of things is his motivation to continue delving into those depths- not what he will achieve by solving the problem. Along with this, his abstract grasp is always elusive. His inward-looking actions interfere with his ability to settle matters properly in his mind. He could be compared to a person who is certain he has achieved a specific point in his mind, however when he is asked about that matter he has difficulty giving fluid explanations. Only then does he realize how elusive the point he thought he had captured truly is and that he now needs to return and settle it in his mind in order to be able to explain it properly.
The need to explain insights requires one to sharpen their understanding and use the opposite action in the mind- the “covering”. Thus, a person who learns according to the incisive and demanding method will likely have difficulty acting as a teacher or guide. His learning is similar to that of a scientist, a developer, or a researcher. Explanations for an audience will not be his strong suit.
Another method of learning is the moderate and deductive. Moderate and deductive, unlike the incisive and demanding method, does not seek to reach the depths of matters. It is able to live perfectly well with unsolved questions. Its purpose is to explain and excuse the understandable and not to complicate this understanding. It seeks to illustrate the knowledge and bring it to a state of simple understanding; not to turn the understanding upside down or question it.
The difference between the two methods of learning appears not only on social media but also in two types of essays. The more popular a book or essay is the more it will expand its use of illustrations and details. This is more or less the way modern writing presents ideas which it wishes to disseminate to a wide audience. The purpose of these books is generally not to lead the readers to ask questions or initiate in-depth research; the intention is to instill ideas in their minds and to concretize abstract insights. The great demand for this style of learning is for stories and proof. On the other hand, there are numerous in-depth articles in Chassidic and Kabbalistic literature which are completely lacking in stories or details. Their purpose is to cause the learner to move towards enlightenment and abstraction; to achieve additional sparks in the mind. Often, covering becomes a personal mission of the person studying the article rather than part of the writing itself.
More can be learned about “wonderment” and “covering” from the words of one of the greatest sages of the Talmud who was mentioned earlier. Reish Lakish was, as stated, a friend and colleague of Rabbi Yochanan, the Rosh Yeshiva of Tiberias and one of the great Amorites of Israel. When Reish Lakish died, Rabbi Yochanan had great difficulty handling the sorrow from the loss of such a great Talmudic scholar. The sages, wishing to comfort him, sent another student, Eliezer Ben Pedal, known for his sharp mind, as a study partner for Rabbi Yochanan. After a while however, Rabbi Yochanan let it be known he was not happy with things. “You are meant to replace Reish Lakish?” he asked. “He would question every single innovation I suggested and would come up with twenty-four questions. I would then be forced to respond with twenty four explanations and in this way matters would be clarified. You, on the other hand, instead of twenty four questions keep bringing me twenty four pieces of evidence supporting my innovation.”
Providing evidence, support and explanations are an important part in the process of understanding an idea. Elazar Ben Pedat was a veteran student of Rabbi Yochanan’s school and had learned from him the need for evidence and a collection of knowledge supporting new insights. Along with this the evidence is part of the process of “clothing”. Reish Lakish encouraged Rabbi Yochanan to ask questions. He tried to take apart the innovation, and required Rabbi Yochanan to stop, look and answer questions, in order to strengthen the research and enter a deeper process.
Two Processes – One Thought
Incisive and demanding, and moderate and deducing are two ideal, though opposing, methods of study which appear at first to contradict one another. In reality, however, wisdom and creative thinking are those processes which contain both acts and both types of study. Creative thinking cannot rely solely on one action. In order for it to exist there is a need for both the process of “wonderment” and that of the “clothing”. Man must learn to blend the two, and to be incisive and demanding but also moderate and deducing.
The reason for the need for both movements in a single person, in everyone, is that despite the opposing natures of these forces, they are, nevertheless, dependent upon one another. When the power of “wonderment” and descent are lacking, then power will be absent in the “clothing” as well. Incisive and demanding creates disorder and a lack of clarity. This way of thinking conceals that which has already been discovered and investigated, as it cloaks it in doubt. The advantage of incisive and demanding lies in its ability to reach deeper and higher. The learner’s head becomes filled with directions of thoughts and ideas. The disadvantage in the method is that the depths are not easily exposed. Research in this manner creates questions for the purpose of clarification but the matters are never really settled or expanded upon. The leaner seeks to escape the bounds and refuses to accept the superficiality of the knowledge. The price is that the lack of discovery is linked to the disorder. Incisive and demanding leaves too many loose ends.
In order for there to be value in the ascent of the incisive and demanding, there is a need for the descent of the moderate and deductive. The latter seeks to instill a concept in the mind. It doesn’t reach the depths of the issue but rather wishes to know what it already knows extremely well. While its power lies in its “clothing” and descent, the disadvantage is in its lack of depth. This mind does not burn with inventions and new directions. Therefore, both characteristics are critical in every learner. When the depth is lacking then the power of discovery will also be absent.
We could illustrate the terms mentioned thus far through examples of two ways that a mechanic examines a car with trouble. In one case the mechanic has a list of possible problems and along with it a list of appropriate tests. The mechanic goes over the check list in order to identify the problem and reach a solution. In the second case, the mechanics knowledge is refined rather than clumsy. He does not touch the car but rather stops for a moment to think. He does not act automatically. He understands how the energy works which causes the car to move. This is understanding, which does not deal solely with cases and reactions but is actually familiar with the essence of the actions of the car parts and their joint functions. Based on his general knowledge, he asks himself questions. The more abstract his knowledge is, the deeper and more internally it grasps the movement of the car. A mechanic fixing a car based on abstract understanding will know how to handle complicated problems as well, which may not appear in the handbook. He will have a broader grasp of the car and thus also greater capability to be creative regarding any solutions required.
The same example could apply in the case of a medical examination. When the method is the more awkward one, the doctor works based on a technical treatment protocol. During the examination he is busy searching for the disease from which the patient suffers, until reaching some agreement between the series of results and the measurements of the patient’s situation and the characteristics of the diseases familiar to him from the pages of the medical literature. So, as he describes what the disease it he matches it with the appropriate medication. In the more refined practice, the doctor takes a broader view. He is deeply familiar with the anatomy of the body and all its myriad functions. He looks for the problem not according to a book of defined diseases but through attentiveness and profound examination. His understanding will help him to locate the problem faster and to be more open to a range of medical solutions, some of which may even be unconventional. He does not rely on well-known catalogues of illnesses and medications.
Knowledge of an idea which stems from the power of abstraction is the more profound knowledge, because man grasps the crux of the matter in a more enlightened fashion than he would, based on mere comprehension. Notwithstanding however, in the end, the power of abstraction is also not enough on its own. Without the power to “clothe” the mechanic will not be able to actually fix the car, and the doctor will not be able to heal the patient. Both of them must clothe the intellectual spark of their understanding of their fields. The knowledge that they are exposed to and the case before them creates limitations. The more they practice abstraction and clothing the faster they will break through the bounds in these cases, instead of being held back by them.
During descent, the clothing process covers the movement of wonderment. It conceals the intellectual source. When the mechanic finally fixes the car or the doctor works to heal the patient, the intellectual effort invested by them is not felt. Despite this the wholeness of each power is dependent upon its partner. Through “wonderment” the ascent to the depths of the mind leads to descent and to a longer course. In other terms, the “clothing”, the successful implementation and execution is performed according to the “wonderment”, the ascent to the source of sparks in the mind.
What is wisdom and what is understanding
Two actions mentioned above find their expression in the acts of the mind. The Zohar explains that the human brain is divided into three sections; the wise mind, which is located on the right; the understanding mind, located on the left, and the knowing mind which connects them. As the Zohar says: “In the space of the mind are three lights which shine and they illuminate and appear in three sections of the mind”.[iii] The three parts of the mind are characterized by three functions. From these three sections emotions are born and three senses branch out: sight, hearing and speech.
The wise brain, on the right, is responsible for the “wonderment”. It also inspired the “clothing” action by descending to the limits of the mind, to nourish and activate the power of comprehension. According to Jewish spiritual teachings wisdom has a connective function. The wisdom is a sort of conductor of ideas and innovations into our lives and has the ability to exit the framework of the world and of the soul’s limited powers and to import new light into them.
The power of wisdom is called the power of the educated because it brings the initial education. It is also known as the begetting power, because it gives birth to “new intellectual” ideas from the mind’s source. Without the wise mind, renewal and creativity would be difficult, Unlike wisdom, the understanding mind is known as the obtaining power or the power of achievement. The power of achievement explains and expands upon what has already been brought into man’s mind. The wisdom is a delicate concept, like a stolen glance or a momentary brilliance which grants a broad, general understanding of matters. This is the start of discovery when things are not yet completely clear. The understanding is the discovery of details which were folded within the moment of wisdom. It is responsible for the process of discovery of what wisdom begat. Without it, the momentary spark in the mind of wisdom would give up on unfulfilled potential. The understanding brings the idea closer to man through its expansion, an analysis of the details and deduction related to the idea.
The reason that wisdom is considered the power of begetting is that wisdom is composed to two levels between which it moves. The first is its drawing closer to the power of understanding, the power of expansion and achievement. The second level is its devotion to the unconscious power which is superior to it in the soul, the power above the inner powers of the soul, the mind and the heart. The mind’s ability to strip the essence of the matter of its clothing and to climb above the limitations in order to better achieve the essence stems from the fact that the depth of wisdom is higher than man’s tools of comprehension. The depth of wisdom stems from a place higher than the limits of the understanding mind. In this sense the wisdom expresses the mind’s desire for that which is more sublime. In other words, in wisdom there is a point of enlightenment and closeness to understanding and in the mind there is also a test of wisdom which is the momentary brilliance, the initial idea which expresses the mind’s attraction to the sublime and the abstract. A physical expression of this desire is that when someone thinks of a lofty subject he often places his hand on his face and raises his head.
In order for wisdom to perform the movement of elevation it needs to shrink down to a single point; a point of the light of the mind, free of fences. This unclothed point is a sort of selfhood of the mind before its abstraction in understanding. In the language of the Zohar, this movement is known as the point which minimizes itself in a manner of reduction and abolition in order to receive from a source higher than itself. Understanding, nonetheless, is far from being a single point. Understanding is, after all, the expansion of ideas. It seeks to come at the idea from all sides. Understanding is not the first spark; it is a perception and thus resides in the left brain.
The reduction of the power of wisdom for the purpose of elevation and to receive ideas and inspiration depends on the act of reduction and self-abnegation by man. The depth of the wisdom is revealed when man is willing to admit he does not know. When he minimizes himself, the power of wisdom can climb higher and move into new directions. From an all-knowing perception the wise mind finds it difficult to carry out its actions. Man’s understanding creates a barrier to his climb upwards and makes it difficult for new ideas to ignite.
What is renewal in the mind
According to Judaism, the relationship between the wise and the understandingable minds define what the action of renewal is. These are not unilateral, but rather interactive relations. As mentioned, the power of wisdom is that it rises beyond the boundaries of the mind and descends into it and thus also brings about the new ideas, the invention, the creativity and renewal. The power of understanding develops this same enlightenment into human, personal terms which can be implemented and executed. From another angle, the wise mind may be seen as channeling vitality into man through its departure from the limitations of the mind, the understanding mind receives the influence of this vitality and translates it into the remaining limbs of the s. Along with this, the understanding not only receives from the wisdom but also influences it and encourages its movement.
Looking from the outside upon the intellectual process described, it is clear that the renewal does not occur within the gunderstanding mind. Understanding does not create renewal. Wisdom creates the renewal lacking within the understanding. The renewal is created when the wise brain climbs to the root of the refined, abstract intellectual spark and from it creates and reveals ideas to the understanding mind. Man can learn and develop, become a great implementer, but he cannot be renewed without employing the wise mind. In order to be renewed the point of invention must be achieved; the moment of change and addition. Using the understanding mind along is accepting the external side of the mind. Due to the lack of renewal the understanding mind cannot be penetrated by new light, moments of genius or discovery of new insights.
An example which describes the relations between wisdom and understanding is the “shrinking” of a student who hears his teacher’s words. The act of shrinking is not fear or lack of confidence; it is a movement of concentration. In order to learn and develop, he needs to banish marginal issues and focus on one point, on one will. The power of elevation and concentration is the power which minimizes itself to prevent openness at this moment to additional matters. The student becomes opinion-less at a certain point, in order to receive matters in depth and gain an opinion. He has many questions, however those questions are meant to help him to more deeply comprehend the issues and not to dismiss them. If the student immediately has something to say, it is a sign that he has not undergone the self-nullification. While he is concerned with receiving, he is not “spewing” his selfhood and stances. He is still not arguing. This is a person who takes the time to understand all intellectual matters in-depth. He has many queries and excuses- all of which are meant to clarify matters to himself. He tries to turn rumours, threads of ideas, into something he himself can understand deeply. If he has not questions and excuses then he likely has not felt the need to examine matters to the end, and thus will also not contribute any renewal to them.
Insofar as the student reduces himself and is focused on the development of the movement of wisdom, he will later enjoy a greater discovery of the power of abstraction and clothing. The willingness to reduce oneself and to allow the points of wisdom to receive ideas will become a productive source which influences and begets new ideas. In places where the process is reversed, meaning first I wish to be heard and first they should acknowledge me and only then will I listen, the wisdom does not nourish the power of understanding. It does not transfer new insights to it and thus renewal is prevented.
The intellectual action described is valuable in its ability to overcome one of the obstacles to creativity and renewal. In his lectures, Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon, and the richest man in the world, has pointed out that one of the principles of creativity is to be full of confidence on the one hand, and to approach each idea, on the other, like a person who is only beginning their studies and has no preconceptions, even if this person is highly experienced. He notes the importance of overcoming the trap of knowledge which inhibits renewal. This trap holds us, hostage, through the knowledge we already possess. Often we learn something new, specialize in it, and then cannot release ourselves from it. The knowledge we already possess stops us from acquiring new knowledge and from developing new horizons. The act of abstraction and clothing are the tool to overcome this trap which interferes with creativity. It prevents us from being imprisoned by the knowledge we have acquired, as it encourages us to adopt a position of examination, doubt and questioning, and later acceptance and implementation. It leaves man paradoxically knowing and yet not knowing simultaneously. On the one hand, the knowledge we acquire leads us to fulfill our insights and continue them in our lives. On the other, the act of wonderment prevents us from accepting uninvestigated insights.