How to accelerate insight?
Where exactly the insight comes from is unclear, but when it happens, you are changed forever. For days, months, or even years, the problem seemed impregnable, tormenting you, and undermining you. And then suddenly it evaporated, like a nightmare. Awakening is an apt metaphor, for some dreams feel more realistic than ordinary life. We are perplexed and even angry as to why such an obvious solution was overlooked, even though it was always flickering in the periphery, crawling under our feet, or sitting quietly on our foreheads like forgotten glasses.
Usually at that moment, so much energy is released that you want to jump. However, it makes sense to pause and meditate on the difference between the states before and after, and try to notice how you managed to make this creative flip. Even if the nature of the insight (for now) remains a mystery, you can remember the conditions that facilitated and, conversely, hindered it. Analyzing the most shattering insights for my way of thinking, such conditions are, at a minimum, suffering, humility, and external push.
I don’t recall the reward coming for nothing, without hard work beforehand. After the fact, though, it is clear that not a single drop has been shed in vain. But no matter how much work I did, the entrance to novelty was always blocked by pride. According to Thomas Aquinas, it is “an immoderate desire for superiority”. For example, the conviction, “I can do this on my own”. Since insight, by definition, gives what we do not have, why would it arise within Perfection? The mind finds itself trapped in a golden cage that it has created itself.
From my days as a chemistry student at the university, I remember an experiment with a saturated solution of some salt. It was enough to lightly tap the flask with a glass rod, and the process of crystallization began rapidly and spectacularly before our eyes. A sudden change of context, an emergency, or an accurate question asked in time, can be the catalyst for a person’s insight.
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