nav-left cat-right

The Power of Mind: Zeitgeist ~ Perception ~ Action


“Every act of perception is necessarily a highly directed and selective affair, whether the guiding principles are conscious or inadvertent…Our view of the realities outside us is structured in relation to existing deposits of perceptual experience, pre-established criteria of interpretation, new and old acts of naming and classification, the physical parameters of our sensory apparatus, and, above all (or underlying all), deep structures operating at a pre- or sub verbal level.” [1]Martin Kemp


The term Zeitgeist is attributed to German philosopher Georg Hegel, because of his phrase der Geist seiner Zeit (the spirit of his time). It is his theory that “no man can surpass his own time, for the spirit of his time is also his own spirit.”[2]

The Zeitgeist of leadership, science, psychology, business, and of art is said to either come about by accident and fate, or by the spirit of the time. If ideas develop from social, cultural, intellectual and religious environments, the question asked is “where do these breakthroughs emerge from.” “Are they the product of collective energy – a mysterious pool of thought, flashes of genius, or just serendipitous?”[3] What power determines which ideas will surface as the most important and substantive? From Thomas Carlyle’s “great man” perspective, leadership comes from great characteristics and an innate power; from Leo Tolstoy we hear leadership comes from a product of the time or zeitgeist. [4]

Those involved with these patterns of collective thought also seek to measure whether concepts of the time are either behind or ahead of their time. The continual pursuit of compiling thought on various ideas compiles also energy behind the thought. In Dean Keith Simonton’s book “Creativity in Science” he offers an explanation that brings together all the ideas that create the various perspectives on the evolution of ideas by giving credit to logic, genius, and zeitgeist (spirit of time).

In the final analysis, we are talking after all about the power of thought. And, our thoughts are very powerful. Science is doing exciting experiments to help us understand this power. A “great man” has great characteristics because he behaves as he thinks. A “great leader” may evolve from the spirit of time because the prevailing thought of the time sponsors great thought thus great behavior.

As Mahatma Gandhi has said,

A man is but the product of his thoughts – what he thinks, he becomes.


“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity;

an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty” – Winston Churchill

“Difficulties mastered are opportunities won” – Winston Churchill


With regard to the power of thought and our individual capability, we begin by asking: “What is my capability? What can I accomplish, or we accomplish? What does it mean to say, “I can” versus “I can’t”? If we say, “I wish I could but can’t” the very thing we desire becomes evasive and elusive. We may want or need something external to help us achieve our desire. And because this external thing is seemingly out of reach, we conclude we will remain without.

 Returning to the original quote on this post, Martin Kemp brings to our attention how the laws of perception have influenced the movement of art and science. For example, the effects of this natural law and a quest for universal art, Leonardo da Vinci and Albrecht Dürer leave behind their genius, a bit of their spirit of the time, for all to benefit from. Likewise, both Filippo Brunelleschi (1377 –1446)

and Leon Battista Alberti (1404 –1472) reawaken “systematic optical rules of perspective [and establish] a mode of depiction that was ultimately to affect the conveying of visual imagery in virtually every field of artistic, scientific, and technological activity.” (Kemp P.28)[5]. Is it logic, genius, or zeitgeist? Have they defied their own negative thinking and replaced it instead with “I can” ?

With the power of our desires, our thoughts and universal thought, “art for a new age” has always been the slogan. “Such was the refrain that ran through the avant-garde, from the time in the nineteenth century when Baudelaire announced his search for a ‘painter of modern life.’ By 1900, the ‘modern life’ was being defined by the remorseless spread of the new technologies of energy, transport, and communication and by revolutionary notions of the human mind and of time and space. Cubism seemed to provide an art that embraced the new situation.”(Kemp P.98).[6] This example of how thought not only typifies but also influences the spirit of the time prevails today.

Since art is a diverse range of activity it usually involves imagination and skill, both of which are fostered by attitude of thought. Whether characterized by expression, emotion, or other qualities, art has been seen as a special genius of the attention, and attention to labor. Though the definition of what constitutes art continually changes, the general agreement is that is stems from an unconscious, involuntary or intentional behavior or action. – all of which gains its power from this pool of creative energy.

So it is the law of nature: whatever thought you have within your mind will attract all similar thoughts from all the atmosphere. For Thoughts are living and possess great power. They will draw vibrations from the surrounding atmosphere.”[7] [8]

“When a current emanating from the spirit strikes any object, such as a physical thing, a mental feeling, an idea, or a sensory sensation, and returns to its source, it is called a vriti. The vriti produces a modulation in the mind-stuff. All our knowledge of the world without and within comes from vritis or the rays of thought. A ray of light, reflected from or originating from an object, passes through the eyes to the brain, where it is converted into thought impressions making us aware.”[9] Thought then is the keynote to success. Thoughts, once scattered and dissipated, will gain equipoise and integration when focused. They will arrive at so fine a focus that the veils of inner darkness are burnt to cinders and the inner knowledge stands revealed.

May we all find this fine point of attention and approach it with the best of positive thoughts in order to release in ourselves and to the world a time for the magic of spirit and a spirit of the time.

God bless. OM

[1] Kemp, Martin: Visualizations: The Nature Book of Art and Science, U. of California Press, 2000. Page 1
[2] Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich: Philosophy of History Kessinger Publishing, 2010
[3] Simonton, Dean Keith: Creativity in Science Cambridge University, Press 2004
[4] Forsyth, D. R. Group Dynamics: New York: Wadsworth. 2009 [Chapter 9]
[5] Kemp, Martin: Visualizations: The Nature Book of Art and Science, U. of California Press, 2000. Page 13,28
[6] Kemp, Martin: Visualizations: The Nature Book of Art and Science, U. of California Press, 2000. Page 98
[7] Singh, Kirpal: Collected Tapes and Discussions,
[8] Seader, Ruth: The Teachings of the Masters. Compiled writings of Kirpal Singh. Published Ruhani Satsang, 1972
[9] Singh, Kirpal: The Crown of Life, Published Ruhani Satsang, Divine Science of the Soul, 1972. Page 7.

Additional Resources and Reading:

Loken, Camillo: Make a Ripple – Make a Difference. One Mind One Energy. 2009

Simonton, Dean Keith: Genius, Creativity, and Leadership [Harvard, 1984],

Simonton, Dean Keith: Scientific Genius [Cambridge 1988],

Simonton, Dean Keith: Psychology, Science, and History [Yale 1990],

Simonton, Dean Keith: Greatness [Guilford, 1994],

Simonton, Dean Keith: Origins of Genius [Oxford, 1999]

Simonton, Dean Keith: Great Psychologists and Their Times [APA].





Comments are closed.