5/03/2009

Genius

Today David Broder opined in his NY Times piece, Genius, The Modern View, that "the key factor separating geniuses from the merely accomplished is not a divine spark. It’s not I.Q., a generally bad predictor of success, even in realms like chess. Instead, it’s deliberate practice. Top performers spend more hours (many more hours) rigorously practicing their craft."

I think he's partially right. Take Beethoven, Mozart, Einstein, John McLaughlin, Paul McCartney and Tiger Woods. They practiced a lot. But they also had two other important qualities: capacity (intelligence) and destiny.

Capacity is a prerequisite to greatness. Without capacity, no amount of practice will suffice. If, on the other hand, it is your destiny to be a Beethoven, Tiger Woods, Paul McCartney, or Barack Obama, there will be a spark in your soul. It will cause you to long for something. It will drive a vision within. It will energise your soul's deepest awareness. It will guide your search.

So I fundamentally disagree with Broder about divine spark. You gotta have it. Spark enables a search for our destined goal that practice then helps unfold.

Divine spark is a 'light' I've seen in the eyes of some truly great ones I've personally met, like Mikhail Gorbachev, Muhammad Ali, Mother Theresa, Leonard Bernstein, Zubin Mehta, Bruce Springsteen, Clarence Clemons, Joanne Woodward, John McLaughlin, Eddie Murphy, and Ringo Starr. And in two very close friends Narada Michael Walden, a true musical and soulful genius of the first order and Ashrita Furman, a deeply soulful, spiritual and powerful seeker and holder of the most Guinness World Records. There is a divine spark in each that drives their greatness and goodness. I feel it and I know it myself.

Practice helped make these folks great for sure. But the spark was there to fire up the search they were destined to - each in his or her own way - and the greatness that unfolded through their lives.

My guru Sri Chinmoy was tapped into divine Spark's Source in such a conscious way that those around Sri Chinmoy - who also resonated with him - could feel it, too. My own understanding of genius comes touching the divine Spark in Sri Chinmoy's life and teachings, in the soulful time I spent with him for three decades, and in the quietude of my own reflection.

And I can remember during an interview with Dr. Amritananda Russell Barber when Sri Chinmoy was asked the question: what makes great people great? He offered that God chose them to play their respective roles...and by realizing the greatness of their lives, they had each fulfilled their unique destiny.

What is the greatness and genius of your life? And will the rest of your life be average or memorable? Stay tuned....

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Brooks.

Also, suprised Brooks didn't directly mention Malcolm Gladwell's new book "Outliers," upon which the article seemingly relies.

S. Neil Vineberg said...

Yea, the Gladwell omission was unfortunate and I almost mentioned it. Glad you did!