In search of ‘idea’

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 27 Jun 2017 08:15:13

By Vijay Phanshikar To have a great idea, have a lot of them. - Thomas Alva Edison Great ideas! This has been an obsession of human societies -- since time immemorial, since Time began.

The human journey is dotted with countless trillions of ideas -- great ideas -- that have made life wonderful and beautiful. In fact, each good idea has enriched human existence undeniably, immeasurably. The human story, thus, is one of march of ideas, march of innovation, march of thought. Despite this, the human individuals have often struggled for a good idea, of a good thought that would push the quality of life to a higher level, enhance the feeling of well being of the larger society. Of course, some ideas are very personal, but at some point, they do find a universal appeal and application.

How does a good idea take birth? How does it germinate? Though the human beings have produced terrific ideas day in and day out, they also have struggled to know how ideas are generated in the first place! They have often wondered if any new idea will really emerge from the human consciousness after all the ideas that have already come in. Yet, the human society has never run short of any new ideas, new thought.




No matter how many ideas have already stormed from human head and heart, new ideas have often pushed their way up all along, like that proverbial sprout that stems up from a little seed, tearing through its thick shell, making its way up through the rough soil, and then raising its tiny head above the earth. The sprout is born, and is ready to make its presence felt. It needs an entire earth to stand on, and entire sky to flourish, whether the world bestows upon it or not all the care it needs and deserves. For, when the sprout is born and is slated to rise to its full stature, nothing can stop it.

An idea is like that sprout, inevitable, unstoppable! When an idea is born in a human mind, it expands and enhances the overall treasure of human thought! It adds value to human expression -- in any form: A poem, an essay, a painting, a sculpture, a structure, a machine, a software, a way of improving quality of life, a method of treating the sick, an innovation that would light up darkness in lives of people ...! Yet, the question continues to haunt all of us: How does one generate a great idea? ‘Great’ idea, is the issue, not any idea.

The humans have often been obsessed with something ‘great’, beyond the mundane, more than just smart. ‘Great’ness, thus, is the point of obsession. So, how does one generate, create, a great idea? -- we often ask. To such questioners, Thomas Alva Edison responded: To have a great idea, have a lot of them. Yes, Edison should know. For, he did produce hundreds of great ideas, and earned more than a thousand patents for those. True, there are controversies surrounding Edison’s patents. Yet, even his detractors agreed that he did produce ideas, he did have a free mind that he could navigate easily around needs and produce ideas to address those.

So, if you want to have a great idea, have a lot of them, Edison said. However, there is no fixed formula for ideas to emerge from the hidden depth of the mind. Anything can trigger an idea, anything can kill an idea. But generally, when some external trigger pushes the individual to search for a solution of an issue, what comes up is an idea with a practical use. But when an inner trigger pushes the person, what emerges is poetry or a painting or a sculpture. The first area -- of the external trigger -- may attract a patent, so to say.

The second area -- of the internal trigger -- may be far beyond any patent, any definition. A patent may protect an idea from imitation, but an idea emerging from inner trigger is beyond imitation, beyond copy, beyond emulation. Yet, as many believe, a great idea can emerge from a mind free of uncalled for burden of borrowed thought, unnecessary entrapment of material definitions, undesirable clutter of needs and wants and desires. When the mind is without fear and head is held high ...! - so said Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore in one of his Geetanjali poems! In that mind, great ideas germinate freely. That mind acts as a breeding ground for a dynamic human thought.