Transcending consciousness


In Albert Einstein’s quote “You cannot solve a problem from the same level of consciousness that created it,” note that he does not define the level of consciousness. The implication is that the level does not have to be higher or lower, just different. Some people might believe that they have to develop a “higher” consciousness to solve their problem, but I believe that one has only to transcend the level of consciousness that he or she was in when the problem was created.

Transcendence can mean to rise above something, but it also means to go beyond the limits. I have to start with self-awareness to begin my transcendence journeys. How am I limiting myself? Where am I at right now with the problem at hand? Am I still stuck in the same place emotionally, mentally, and spiritually as when the problem first appeared? Just because I am older, have more experience, and grown in other areas does not mean that I have transcended the consciousness that perpetuates the problem or situation. If I want to help myself, I need to develop a “me” consciousness, and it is not the “me” who created the problem in the first place. The “me” who needs to respond to my problems is the person who I am becoming.

This is where purposeful thinking shows how creative and wonderful the mind can be. I ask myself the question: how many ways can I think differently about the situation? And I watch as my mind grasps this new challenge, analyzes it, and starts delivering options. I judge the options based on how they make me feel and the response of my eternal presence. From the various viewpoints my mind delivers, I can see the problem differently, and often realize solutions I had not thought of before. Sometimes, the solution is to do nothing because by taking a different viewpoint – thinking differently about the situation – the “problem” changes and is no longer a problem. When a solution requires action on my part, I ask: Is the solution good for everyone? If not, who does it harm? Is it the right solution?

And the solution that I go with is the solution I can live with.

In his book, Full Catastrophe Living, Jon Kabat-Zinn writes: “There is an art to facing difficulties in ways that lead to effective solutions and to inner peace and harmony. When we are able to mobilize our inner resources to face our problems artfully, we can orient ourselves to use the pressure of the problem to propel us through it, like sailor using the wind to propel a boat.”

I wrote this back in March 2010. That seems like such a long time ago, and looking back, I can see where I have applied these words and given myself the grace to face my beginnings, knowing I am fully in charge of most of my endings.

 ©2011 by Barbara L. Kass


7 Responses to “Transcending consciousness”

  1. Daniel Shawen Says:

    “No problem can be solved by the same KIND OF THINKING that created it.” is the correct unadulterated quote from Albert Einstein

    ‘KIND OF THINKING’ ‘level of consciousness’

    Let me put the actual quote into its original context for you:

    ‘No problem’ (such as the null result of the Michaelson-Moreley experiment) ‘can be solved’ (understood) ‘by the same’ (re-application of the principles) ‘kind of thinking’ ‘that created it’.

    “kind of thinking” makes sense in this quote.

    “level of consciousness” only makes sense in a book on yoga or buddism. Got it?

    Einstein has a lot of great quotes on a lot of things, but this abuse of one of his best quotes is one of the worst I’ve ever seen. The fact that it fills volumes of misquoted texts and the internet impresses me even less.

  2. Barbara Kass Says:

    Thanks for your comment, Daniel. Can you give me the source for your unadulterated quote from Einstein?

    • Aravind Says:

      Yes! Even I would love to know the source of the “unadulterated” quote…

      • Aravind Says:

        Whatever be the “final” fact, the quote is far too wonderful by itself – irrespective of who made it! 🙂

        • Barbara Kass Says:

          I am waiting for source of the “unadulterated” quote because I certainly would not want to abuse Albert’s words, if that is what I have done. It is too bad that the person who left the comment chose instead to make a “hit and run” rather than engage in an adult exchange of information. Thanks for dropping by 😀

  3. Daniel Shawen Says:

    Thanks for asking. Here is one source. There are many much older sources, but you see, those are to be found in BOOKS, which are harder to alter than a quotation on the internet. Some of them were in the native German, and I can tell you, the one that turns up most often on the internet is at best a very poor translation.

    I was prompted to make this correction because of an instance of a brainy friend’s abuse of the “level of consciousness” form of the quote.

    “Level of consciousness” needs to be used with more care these days anyway. Artificial intelligence is on the verge of actually creating it. I can assure you, the “kind of thinking” form of the quote was near and dear to Einstein. If you know nothing of relativity, read up on it. I have devoted much more than Gladwell’s requisite 10,000 hours to the study of everything having to do with Albert Einstein and his physics.

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Thanks for the source, Daniel. I have found a copy of the translation of Einstein’s book The World As I See It and am going to read it so that I know for myself the context of his words rather than just take your interpretation. The problem here, of course, is that his words were translated from his original German so they are already subject to the translator’s interpretation. I hope you read his original text in German so that you know exactly what Einstein meant when he first wrote it.

      You are interpreting my use of “level of consciousness” in a specific way and wanting me to be literal with my interpretation rather than take a deeper meaning of what “kind of thinking” means. One can only be thinking if one is conscious and levels of thinking differ with different levels of consciousness. Ask anyone who is coming out of a coma. They are conscious but they can only solve problems depending upon their level of consciousness. Some can put coherent thoughts together. Others can only master the fact that they are awake. Their kind of thinking depends upon their level of consciousness.

      No one can control the interpretation of spoken or written words once they are put out into the world. Trying to control people’s thoughts, what they say, and how they say it leads to all sorts of censorship. How I choose to use the phrase “level of consciousness” comes with my right to freedom of speech. I think it is in the First Amendment and since I live in the United States I am going to continue to exercise that right. I might change my quote in honor of Albert if I find in the book that is indeed what he said, but I reserve my right to interpret it according to my level of consciousness.

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