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Flashes of Inspiration

Flashes of Inspiration

Apr 06, 2021

Over the next few weeks, I want to explore different aspects of and perspectives on feeling blocked, and ways that this blocked-ness can be overcome. We start, as I always tend to, looking at the words of the Rambam. (One day I should explain why I seem to be obsessed with Maimonides; a short answer is that he asks the right questions.)

Rambam speaks about a palace with the king, the Truth, hidden in the middle. The palace is reality, the path through it is in our mind, the walls are thick and the doors are hard to find.

You can find all the texts and sources here. In the shiur, we spoke about activism and creativity and flashes of inspiration. Everyone seemed to nod when I asked if they've had experiences of this themselves. It's both incredible and ordinary: we submit to inspiration that transcends us. And we also know, if we are humble, that such flashes are rare.

At the end, we struggled with the following description of a person open to prophetic inspiration, and unblocked person:

"No part of his body must suffer from ill-health;

he must in addition have studied and acquired wisdom;

his intellect must be as developed and perfect as human intellect can be;

his passions pure and equally balanced;

all his desires must aim at obtaining a knowledge of the hidden laws and causes that are in force in the Universe;

his thoughts must be engaged in lofty matters:

his attention directed to the knowledge of God,

the consideration of His works,

and of that which he must believe in this respect." (Guide of the Perplexed II:36)

We're sensitive to language around disability, so the first sentence was difficult to read, although we can find apologetic readings if we want. But more difficult was to reconcile this perfect person with creative humans we know, who often struggle, fall, suffer and create precisely through this brokenness.

Ultimately, both seem true: the universality of the description of these everyday prophets and the impossibly high bar Rambam sets to attaining constant inspiration. Humans are dynamic, we move up and down (ratzo veshov, back-and-forth like the movement of angels, as the Chassidim would point out), we have moments of blockedness and moments of being wide-open, and our existence is based on embracing all of those modes of being.

But still, a few more moments of inspiration, a few more flashes of prophecy... be'ezrat hashem!

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