Was Gautam Buddha, the biggest inventor the world has ever known?

A boy born on full moon night in the present day Nepal in 623 B.C was named Siddhartha. His name meant “one who achieves his aim.”This boy’s life is divided into two parts, one before his enlightenment and the second after his enlightenment.He later came to be known as Buddha and started a nonreligious and spiritual practice named Buddhism. Buddhism is probably the only spiritual practice which has drawn many psychologists, neuroscientists, and mental health practitioners towards it as its teachings are more compatible with modern science. Buddhism was also called the ”Religion of the Future” by none other than the famed inventor Albert Einstein.

The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend a personal God and avoid dogmas and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity. If there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs, it would be Buddhism – Albert Einstein

Commonalities between the more esoteric teachings and modern psychology have slowly spurred a revolution in the scientific community to find more correlates between the two. Extensive research on the neurology of Buddhist Monks using qEEG studies has been done in recent years. The study highlighted that brainwave patterns found in these monks resemble ‘Awakened Mind Patterns’ which are similar to the patterns of prolific inventors or highly creative people. Studies of mind-body coherence by Heartmath and other institutions have found that the  EKG (a measure of psychophysiological coherence) creates a phase-lock condition that correlates with the deep grounding subjects feel when compassionately focussed on their objects of attention. Disparate Studies are now linking ”Awakened mind Patterns” with ”Awakened Heart Patterns’ and are driving the global coherence project.

What is the Awakenedmind Pattern?

A British government physicist, C. Maxwell Cade, whose day job was to improvise the radar used by the industry was interested in metaphysics, psychology and all things psychic. No wonder he was the founder of the “British Society for Psychical Research” and strongly believed that all physical non-physical matter was made up of different frequencies of light. He also popularized the term “AwakenedMind” which led to a long wave of interest in brainwave entrainment products. One of the persons who worked with Cade from 1973 to 1981, carried out his legacy long after he was gone was Anna Wise. Anna is a renowned author of two popular books “Awakening the Mind: A Guide to Harnessing the Power of Your Brainwaves ” as well as “The High-Performance Mind: Mastering Brainwaves for Insight, Healing, and Creativity“. Though Cade was interested in psychic and bizarre stuff, he never sold himself as a psychic and was more interested in the common denominator of human creativity and exceptional performance.

I got interested in EEG due to some non-supernatural but extremely bizarre sequence of events when I was 23 years old naval officer. I started practicing non-EEG based meditation methods and eventually graduated to EEG based methods to deal with my anxiety and panic patterns. I did not have the money to purchase the “Mind Mirror” machine, but, I was lucky to share my room with a naval doctor who viewed me with a lot of amusement. Over time, when I had earned his trust, he helped me lay my hands on an EEG machine that was purchased for a hospital but never used. I went through a steep learning curve innovating with consumables for the electrodes as they were not easily available in India. Long story short, without the “Mind Mirror“, I was able to accurately recreate the various ratios between the brainwave types and voila, I expected to become an “AwakenedMind”. So, I did!

It just so happened that the “AwakenedMind‘ training did nothing for me except making more irritated and angry at having wasted my time. Having set out to become “Awakened”, I had become “Super Angry, Irritated and Grumpy Mind”. Few years of moving as a free radical from one self-help product to another, I realized why “AwakenedMind” pattern did not work. It did not work as-as the information content within my mind and brain was of poor quality and was poorly structured. Had I attempted to implement my useless knowledge in the real world, I would have found out sooner. Soon enough I was circling around all products, services, and books that claimed to teach us about the “Awakenedmind Pattern“. You see, learning to become an awakened mind by doing meditation but without structuring your knowledge discovery, acquisition and retention is similar to acquiring a high-end ERP software (Oracle, SAP, Microsoft Dynamic AX) when your management is in shambles, your business processes are poorly structured and the data capture across various departments is sub-optimal. You are expecting your ship to come alongside the dock, but the depth of the water is shallow. In other words, Garbage In, Garbage Out (GIGO). Of course, unless you believe that knowledge discovery, acquisition and retention will occur psychically, magically and supernaturally when you become the “AwakenedMind”.

So, what is the AwakenedMind Pattern (AMP)?

For those who are not aware of any EEG basics, go and read this nice write-up . It seems that inventors are able to tap their own unconscious and the collective unconscious while solving problems and they need to jostle with many dead ends before they get the answers. Maxwell Cade found that many high performers had a specific pattern of EEG brainwaves which improved the signal to noise ratio between the unconscious and the conscious mind. It is premised that Gautam Buddha had the same Awakendmind Pattern after many years of hit and trial with various meditative practices. Awakenedmind Pattern

How did Gautam Buddha Invent?

Sidharta or Gautam Buddha meet the necessary and sufficient conditions for Inventing :

  • He was curious to solve his own problem i.e suffering and then hopefully solve the problem of human suffering.
  • He framed his queries unconsciously and went through hit and trial trying to get an answer.
  • He carried out unstructured research based on his own insights, observations, and understanding, then structuring his knowledge around a nucleus of core questions.
  • He became the “AwakenedMind” using solitary meditative techniques and being able to access his unconscious nucleus of knowledge.
  • The problem engulfs us, we cannot see the forest for the trees and the way to solve the problem is sidestepping the problem and the solution becomes clear.

Let us dive a little more into this concept of problem-solving.

What if, we place someone in a computer simulation with all the props required and let a carefully crafted script play out as the individual interacts with the props and the actors in the scenario. What if one is living in a real life “Truman Show”Something similar happened to Siddharta during childhood. The evidence of the early texts suggests that Siddhārtha Gautama was born into the Shakya clan, a community that was on the periphery, both geographically and culturally, of the eastern Indian subcontinent in the 5th century BCE. It was either a small republic, in which case his father was an elected chieftain, or an oligarchy, in which case his father was an oligarch – (Source – Wikipedia).

As the story goes, Siddhartha’s father wanted to keep his son away from all the sufferings (Moksha) of life. The young boy’s environment was well scripted with guards ensuring that the boy did not veer off into the city alone and get a glimpse of the real world. During one such visit to the city, Siddhartha accidentally veered off into an area where he saw sick people, beggars and even glimpses of death. The young boy who was recently married with a young son, suddenly realized that his life was a simulated reality, experienced profound grief and shock due to a sudden exposure to the drudgery of the real life many sick, ill and poor people were living.

Imagine being placed in a maze and having to find out a way out of the maze. Many of us feel like being in a maze due to life’s problems on a daily basis. We get stuck in the local optima and are unable to view the global optima.

Over time, Siddharta realized this fact and got fixated on a bigger problem. He found out that he was living in a simulation and first got out of it by running away from it. Running away from an environment is not a solution if one still feels the same suffering in a new situation with new people. This is what exactly happened to Siddharta and he went into solitary meditative practices to escape from the environment. Then, without any real-world environment and the people around him, he still found himself experiencing the same suffering. This is when he realized that he was stuck in Local Optima (trying to solve a higher level problem suboptimally). Realizing that he was in a simulation, he now wanted to get out of the higher level simulation i.e the simulation of human suffering and mortality. It requires an innovative mind to extract ourselves out of a situation where someone else controls the rules of the game. It requires an even superior inventive mind when we realize that our past contextual, cultural upbringing and experiences control the rules of the game. Buddha sidestepped the simulation and he found his answer to human suffering.

Before we get onto inventing, let’s discuss a little bit about the subject of simulation. In a simulation, we have three dimensions. Dimensions are distinctive features of a system considered during the design stage of any system. While there are more than 26 dimensions of Simulated Reality, we will discuss three unique aspects here:

  • Detect-ability – Can we detect we are in a simulation pattern.
  • Exit-ability – Can we exit from it.  
  • Subjective experience – Can we volitionally stay in the simulation, if we so desire. After all, all simulations may not be harmful or trapping simulations.

Our observation is that humans can rarely detect they are in a simulation except during a disruptive life event or a midlife crisis. Even when one can discover the simulation; only a few outliers can exit the simulation. It requires inventing to get one out of a challenging situation. Guess what, I found myself stuck in a simulation at the age of 23 and went through hell but eventually got out.

As we discussed in the article ” The Art of Inventing“, Inventing has been glorified through the years as if inventing was only available as a faculty to superior individuals with a unique pedigree. Nothing is further from the truth. Inventing is responsive problem-solving. If you one can find the answer to a problem that has transfixed them, technically they are inventing and are no different than Albert Einstein. The prolific inventors became famous as they solved problems that had a global impact, hence the accompanying fame. That said, everyone invents on a daily basis, even though the level may be different but inventing is an everyday use faculty. Inventing new technologies, Great business concepts, Re-inventing the career, Research Driven Insights are all various forms of inventing applied to specific contexts. The neurological and psychological constructs of Inventing are the same in everyone from Buddha to Einstein. Inventing starts with a fixation on a problem, a dogged pursuit of a solution, framing the problem efficiently and waiting for the solution to emerge.

Siddhartha a.ka Gautam Buddha was motivated to find the middle path between indulgence and mortification which set him on the road to problem solve humanities biggest challenge, i.e., suffering alleviation. As humans, we suffer and alleviating human suffering is a big industry in the world. From Astrologers to Psychics to Psychologist to Life Coaches, all are cashing in on this unsolvable problem. Siddhartha realized that he was suffering and suffering was caused by being in a simulation. He eventually sidestepped the simulation.

Doubt everything, Find your own Light….Gautam Buddha

Siddhartha tried many iterations to find the solutions by first torturing his body, holding his breath for long periods and even by fasting till starvation almost killed him. He then attempted a new method, i.e., by meditating, calming his mind while remaining in an alert state (called mindfulness) and the insights effortlessly emerged after 42 days which became the core of his teachings. Once his quest had created an unconscious focus on the problem, the cognitive overloading method (fret & worry) framed the problems in his mind efficiently and the emergence took place during the cognitive underloading (mindfulness) psycho-physiological state.

Recent neuroscience research has studied the emergence of Aha’s in our consciousness. The research proves that after an incubation phase, where disparate cues are connected under a mental simulation process, the new connections emerge into our consciousness. This emergence is also called Aha which occurs during a particular psycho-physiological state when one is best positioned to recognize the insights. Aha is the same process when we understand something and have an intuitive recognition that ”this is like that”. Aha’s have taken on a new meaning as the Aha’s being discussed are actually Whoaaa”s (a significant cognitive leap that is accompanied by feelings of excitement and functional underloading of the frontal lobes). Right when the Aha pops into our consciousness, brain scans have indicated that the link between the right and left brain i.e. a group of nerve fibers called corpus callosum open up and an insight pops into our consciousness. Inventors use a balance of cognitive overloading and cognitive underloading first to frame the problem and then get ready to recognize the emergence of insights.

In retrospect, the discoveries of Buddha are as significant as “‘Discovery of Structure of DNA‘, “Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection” and the “Theory of General Relativity“. Gautam Buddha was the greatest inventor of our times as he found solutions that had futuristic implications for the rest of the society. Buddhist teachings are now bridging disparate subjects like neuroscience, spirituality and, psychology. Mindfulness practices are merging into the mainstream and are even becoming a core part of the management programs (INSEAD Executive Masters in Consulting & Coaching for Change, McGill-HEC EMBA, etc. ). Mindfulness and Vipassana programs are also being taught in correctional facilities to improve the mental health of inmates. Emotional Intelligence also evolved at the cusp of research into Buddhist practices (alleviation of suffering) and emotions management (Schema Reframing).

In summation, few years down the line, the world will accept that Gautam Buddha was no different than Einstein or Steve Jobs and solved high impact problems which have futuristic implications for the society.

Carpe Diem