Imagination — Your Most Powerful Tool

Today is Pi day. It is also Albert Einstein’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Albert!

I have a poster with a portrait of Albert Einstein on it. Underneath the image, it says “Imagination is more important than Knowledge.” What a mighty statement! When I first got it (around 1980)I loved the statement but thought of it as a sort of “artistic” statement. Imagination, the creative, artistic act outweighed knowledge, the scientific element.

Now, because I understand that my thoughts create my reality, I know that imagination is far more important than knowledge. Imagination represents what is possible. Knowledge represents what we have observed or been told is true. Imagination is infinite. Knowledge is finite. Imagination is not limited by what we believe is possible. Imagination is a tool by which we can expand and grow our reality beyond “what is” now. Knowledge defines the boundaries of limitation.

I remember when I asked my guidance about a situation that had occurred (around 1985). I asked, “Was that real or was it just my imagination?” Spirit replied, “Why do you think there is a difference?” That was an “aha” moment for me. It was only my limited, unimaginative thinking that thought there was a difference.

I’ve heard that Einstein was an inductive reasoner. I am an inductive reasoner, so that idea interested me. Books will tell you that an inductive reasoner tends to go from the specific to the broad whereas deductive reasoners go from the broad to the specific. Inductive reasoning is more open and intuitive, seeing relationships among things observed. Deductive reasoning is more plodding and methodical, testing each step along the way, as in the scientific method.

The books say a deductive reasoner will work in this order:

Theory –>Hypothesis–>Observation–>Confirmation

Our “scientific method” and most of society uses deductive reasoning. It requires trial and error, one step at a time, eliminating one possibility after another until only one possible solution remains. It is accepted as the proper standard. It is useful for testing things like new drugs, but for many things, I find it tedious and it takes too long.

The books say an inductive reasoner will work in this order:

Observation–>Pattern–>Tentative Hypothesis–>Theory

In my experience, the step from “Observation” to “Pattern” is usually a leap using intuition and imagination. An inductive reasoner makes a leap to the specific possible solution, then we work “backwards” towards the problem to see if our solution solves the problem. The process will look haphazard to someone who craves the “scientific method,” but it is actually a much quicker and more efficient method.

When I worked in Corporate America as a manager, my boss was very pleased at how quickly and efficiently I solved problems for years. Until I told her I was an inductive reasoner. From that point on she was wary, because she believed that inductive reasoning was the equivalent of jumping to conclusions without any grounding in logic. Her perception of me changed when she found out I was an inductive reasoner. I didn’t stay much longer after I told her.

Much of Einstein’s General and Special Theories of Relativity was formulated using inductive reasoning, imagination and intuition. In fact, in Appendix III of the 1920 book, “Relativity” by Albert Einstein and Robert W. Lawson, they stress the important part played by intuition. Einstein’s “Thought Experiments” were based more on intuition and imagination than on empirical science of the day. His imagination and intuition led Newtonian mechanistic science to see an entirely different relativistic universe where clocks don’t run at a constant speed, time is interwoven with space into a matrix, space-time is curved because of having been warped by gravity and black holes are such strong sources of gravity that nothing — not even light can escape them.

Through Einstein’s imagination was created a whole new paradigm, a vastly different approach to viewing the world. Everything that is created begins as a thought. Big changes require imagination. Imagining what could be rather than dwelling on what is.

We can all apply our imaginations to create new paradigms, worlds in which we want to joyfully explore.

Copyright © 2009 by Victoria Young