I happened to watch a film last night called “The man who knew infinity”, attracted by its title and the prospect of a deep dive into my polar opposite…the world of pure maths (or, I’m left wondering, is it really so very dissimilar to my way of experiencing things after all). I had a gut feeling this film was going to prove topical to me: the more I immerse myself in the higher dimensions, the more I appreciate how mathematics is simply another expression of the divine workings of the universe made manifest in patterns that we can see, those same patterns that form the main preoccupations of my writing in this space.
In summary, the film’s plot is based on the true story of Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887-1920) from India who, basically, channelled maths formulas that solved some of the great mysteries of where mathematics was at that time. Without significant schooling or a degree to explain his aptitude, he woke up with them fully formed on the tip of his tongue or when he prayed, meditated, walked in nature. Attempting to describe what the pages and pages of apparently meaningless squiggles in his notebook are to his wife in the film, he tells her that to him they are something like a painting, full of colour, beauty, patterns and meaning….and they all lead him to god. He looks at everything in his world through a mathematician’s eyes, seeing patterns in everything (not unlike me), in every grain of sand, in the leaves and the behaviour of birds; and to not see it thus would have made his world quite meaningless…but he finds an affirmative of the existence of god in every perfect equation and this is what drives him on.
His talent is wasted in India under the Raj and he feels he has something important to share so he manages to catch the attention of Professor G.H. Hardy at Cambridge University and travels there to seek publication of his notebooks. Of course, racial prejudice aside, most people there also receive him with utter suspicion and disdain, their noses put out of joint by this upstart who claims to have answers to problems they have been wrestling with for most of their careers. They demand proof and so, rather than getting straight to the business of publishing his earlier work and continuing onwards with it, he is set to the tedious business of attending lectures with the other students and “proving” his existing theories hold water. His mentor, a self-declared atheist, refuses to accept Ramanujan’s insistence that his method is entirely intuitive and that he is led forwards by god: “You wanted to know how I get my ideas. God speaks to me” he tells him but Hardy can only believe in Ramanujan and his maths, not in the underlying source of his inspiration, incredible though these are. This conundrum stays with Hardy until after Ramanujan has died at which point, you are left suspecting, he is at least starting to open to the possibility that his whole life work had only ever been leading him, ever more irrefutably, towards the existence of a divine truth at the centre of everything.
Of course, with poetic irony given how much time you feel has now been wasted in seeking these “proofs”, this extraordinary man’s life turns out to be extremely short. Forced into his shell at Cambridge by cultural differences that made it impossible for him to eat in the refectory with other students (he was a strict vegetarian), he became ill and died at the age of 32, shortly after his return to India. Ironically, almost everything he ever wrote down turned out to be “proovable”; a final notebook that materialised in the mid 1970s turning out to hold groundbreaking new formulas that are now being used to make sense of the behaviour of black holes, a discovery compared to finding Beethoven’s tenth symphony.
The question has to be, why was his direct journey to source…for source was what he was communicating with, is what intuition always puts us most directly in touch with…diverted into the tedious and unnecessary business of having to prove his work to those who were still having to use step-by-step processes to reach the same conclusions? Why slam on his brakes when he was already there and could have been delivering so much more information, in his short lifetime, than he was given free gallop to publish for others to make sense of at their leisure? Some collaboration with those who reach their conclusions by more methodical routes is, of course, desirable…and approximately speaking the same language is always a promising start to such teamwork…but subserving one method so completely to the other to the point of outlawing the intuitive, making it the silly cousin of the established scientific approach feels archaic and shortsighted. It feels like a breakdown in communication between two approaches to knowing what we do that should actually be close working companions; like the left and right hemispheres of the brain. Who knows what extraordinary leaps they could take together…
What also struck me was just how similar his process was (in ways I had never admitted about maths before although the film “A beautiful mind” started me considering this) to when I grab pen or paintbrush in hand to channel “what I already know” but which I still cower in putting forwards in case it draws criticism from those who would say “prove it, prove this is real, that you have the credentials”. When I paint, I realise, I too am finding my way back to god or to source with every brushstroke…just as Ramanujan declared he was doing with his equations. And when I’ve sent those paintings out into the world, I have watched every bit as anxiously to see if others see god or source in there…and when they have failed to see what I see (or have fixated on where I learned to do what I do…”where did you train?” the question forever ringing in my ears), I have felt disregarded and sidelined just as Ramanujan did at Cambridge since I fit into nobody’s pre-existing niche. The truth that my energy-infused painting and my writing and theorising across several blogs about my own health recovery and the so-called pseudo-science of how state of consciousness relates to health, about energy and how we interact with our environment, the landscape and the universe at large, how multidimensional and quantum perspectives open up everything we experience right down to the cells of our body, how consciousness informs the material world and not the other way around…all of this just comes to me, is undeniable to me and wants to be shared though I offer no proof for any of it and seldom seek to backup my own instincts with existing data, quotes, research as those are not my domain yet still I feel what I share is worth sharing. Almost without knowing it, I realise I have sought approval and recognition from those who overlook what I put out because it is not delivered by conventional means and, in doing so, have slowed down and held back my own process by their terms, setting myself the same benchmark of “prove it” that I really want nothing to do with; I’m not here to be more of the same. I realise, suddenly, that time is too short for that and the only person slowing me down to other people’s “prove it” criteria is, well, me.
I am still unravelling the many threads that watching this film started unpicking for me but one thing I noticed is how I find I am able to call a truce with left-side pursuits such as maths and science just as soon as I notice that their innate process of using and following intuition and of following a path towards god or source is no different, really, than mine. Where the rift has occurred – for me, perhaps for the whole modern world – has been where left-brainedness has become synonymous with this absolute insistence upon demonstration of every step that took you to that brand new place using pre-existing yardsticks; that nothing is considered anything in this current world paradigm (which is, I believe, about to change) without irrefutable proof first which is, in most cases, putting the cart before the horse. One of my favourite quotes from Einstein is “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it” and I believe this as a fundamental start-point to all problem solving , in light of which demanding “proof” is like a noose dragging you back inside that old paradigm and holding you prisoner there.
Intuition is like a spiral staircase with a pinprick of light at its top, leading you up inside the very core of a brick tower that represents the substance of everything you think you know already. Though you have only seen the higher levels of the tower from the distorted perspective of the ground outside and looking up, you think you have the advantage of daylight and prefer to keep your feet on the ground while studying every brick with binoculars; compared to which the staircase can seem unfathomably dark and leads who knows where – you can’t even predict what is at the next level as all you have is that dot of light leading you on into the unknown. Looking up from the ground seems safer, your footing less unsure and you can see where others have been before, measure yourself against that. Yet when you are prepared to take the staircase – the route of intuition, led by the miniscule-seeming light in the far distance – you can feel its power just as soon as you step into the new, broader space of one of an infinite number of rooms that form viewing platforms off that staircase and, from that perspective, things start to fall into place in an entirely new and miraculous way…plus you just know there are even more viewing platforms up above; ones which will make the old view of things seem very antiquated indeed, in fact everything will change beyond recognition as we prepare to let go of the sure footing that once represented proof of all we thought we knew. This is how we evolve and, when we allow the staircase to lead us into the heart of the tower instead of becoming so-called experts of what we can see all at once with our eyes on the outside in daylight, we find ourselves surveying a whole new reality that just keeps on expanding and expanding…we just need to trust what is leading us there and feel our way towards it without insisting on looking back. Sometimes, those steps cannot be minutely explained or recreated under laboratory conditions at the point when the initial intuition opens a new crack in the fabric of reality but the “proof” is in the outcome; the step closer to god or to source that you suddenly know…quite undeniably…that you just took.
The Man Who Knew Infinity (2015) – film starring Dev Patel and Jeremy Irons
The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan by Robert Kanigel