There have been many times throughout history where two or more people come up with the same bright idea at the same time. Some of these cases will undoubtedly be down to either plagiarism or espionage but some are the result of pure synchronicity of thought and invention.

In this modern day and age, unless you sit in a dark cave, you are bombarded by terabytes of data each day. You could easily scan a newspaper but not consciously read an article about a new invention or idea but then it could appear in your conscious mind sometime later, perhaps as a light bulb moment. You then see the invention mentioned on TV or the Internet sometime later and you might think someone has stolen your idea when it wasn’t necessarily yours in the first place. So it’s quite understandable that this sort of thing happens all the time in our so-called connected or wired world. I know of many of the sources of the ideas in this book but I am sure there are others that have percolated their way through my unconscious mind.

This issue is, of course, nothing new. One such case which is as well known for its intense acrimony as much as its significance, is the development of differential calculus, pretty much around the same time, by Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz. Both men were renowned for working in isolation and secrecy and there was no Internet or telecommunications network in those times to leak one scientist’s work to the other. Even if there had been espionage, the postal service from Germany to England would take weeks. Newton went on to use calculus to develop the Theories of Gravitation that we now use to send space probes around the Solar System. For just one of his next tricks, Leibniz came up with binary notation used by modern day computers. If they had just been friends and collaborators, and didn’t waste time arguing about whose idea it was, just imagine what else these two great minds thinking alike might have come up with.

It was another great mind a couple of centuries later, that of Carl Jung’s, who popularised a mechanism whereby Newton and Leibniz may have unconsciously communicated. Jung called it the Collective Unconscious. It is also known as the Collective Consciousness. It has many other names too such as the Cosmic Consciousness, the Noosphere, the Morphic Field and Superconsciousness. I prefer the term Superconsciousness as it implies it is a state we can enter as opposed to something which is somehow separate from us. The concept that there is a collective thought pool is embedded in virtually all religions (although sometimes hidden by nomenclature) and certainly in most mystical traditions. Ironically, perhaps, it is our evolution to the state of conscious self-awareness that has disconnected us from our vestigial minds that also separates us from this superconscious source of collective wisdom.

The concept is that all knowledge and wisdom are somehow locked up in a huge memory bank that we can tap into at any time. This includes all past and future thoughts and the ‘thoughts’ of all living things, not just humankind. It’s possible that the collective consciousness is wrapped up in ‘higher’ dimensions and that our brains are transducers that can not only ‘read’ from it but ‘write’ to it. Rather like an Ethereal Internet.

A good example of how this works across time could be the prescience, or pre-science, exhibited by Leonardo da Vinci. Did he ‘invent’ the helicopter by seeing someone piloting it in the future? Did he imagine the parachute just in case someone needed to escape from one when it failed?

To get our heads around how to tap into the collective consciousness to access such light bulb moments, we need to replace our left and right hemispheric model of mind with a tiered Three Mind model. Instead of slicing through the physical brain to look at its function, it’s useful to analyse the brain from a mind-full perspective.

Three Mind Model

At the surface layer, we have what we call the conscious mind. This gives us the illusion of reality, and also seems to have an in-built narrator which sometimes doubles up as an inner critic. As you are reading these words, try to identify who exactly is reading them and who is making sense of them? For much of the time, our conscious mind seems to be either idling or running that internal commentary of what we are thinking. Occasionally we can be replaying a previous encounter or previewing or planning something we are about to say in the future. So it is your conscious mind which is probably reading these words to you. If so, consider who is reading what and to whom. If you have met me and you know my voice, you may even superimpose it on the words as you read them. You could view the ability to write and read as a form of telepathy.

While all of this is going on, what is also feeding the conscious mind is the unconscious mind which is sometimes referred to as the subconscious mind. It is by definition everything we are potentially able to be conscious of but aren’t particularly paying attention to at that time. The unconscious mind primarily takes its input from your five senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch – but also from our Inner Mind centres such as our heart and gut.

We need to extend the model a little and introduce the idea that there is a layer of our mind which sits between the unconscious mind and the superconsciousness. This layer of mind is again one that instinctively we feel we possess. It has many names but we will call it the Higher Self. You could equally call it the Lower Self, the Inner Self or the Outer Self. This is because it sits outside our normal three space dimensions and one time dimension and is the part of our mind that connects us with the superconsciousness … or more specifically the state of superconsciousness.

The Higher Self can also be thought of as a part of us that acts as our guidance, directing us through our life experiences, both good and bad. If you accept that the superconsciousness stores all thoughts, this could explain how sometimes you have an idea and don’t act on it, only to see someone else come out with your invention a year or so later. How annoying is that! Has someone else tapped into your light bulb moment … or perhaps you tapped into theirs?

Using these concepts, our minds can be tuned into a virtually unlimited source of inspirations. The superconsciousness is the pool from which light bulb moments emanate. You can experience Outer Mind Time yourself in Week 7 of the MBTM course.