The Eureka Moment

“Eureka! – I have found it!”

Archimedes

 Eureka

I have often wondered about Eureka moments, sometimes known as an epiphany, which incidentally comes to us from the ancient Greeks, signifying a manifestation or striking appearance.   In the past, it was considered an insight given by the divine, or the supernatural, whereas today, it has lost much of this nuance.  Even so, when someone has an epiphany it usually means there has been a scientific, religious or philosophical breakthrough of grand proportions.

Archimedes is a shining example of this form of the extraordinary.  Diotima and her idea of Platonic love and Hipparchia’s decision to embrace the Cynic’s lifestyle, in my opinion, fit into this category.  In fact, all of the ancient great thinkers seemed to have encountered a new and deeper understanding or perspective. While we gratefully acknowledge their contribution, there is within all of humanity a wistful desire to experience a Eureka insight.

So let us consider the idea that most of us have, indeed, felt that moment without recognizing its profound meaning. We may be expecting a thunderbolt, when the reality may come as a gentle whisper.  Eureka insights usually signal a dramatic shift in thinking.  Some people consider it an “ah ha” moment. The catalyst may be a simple conversation, a line of a poem, or a book that challenged.

The ancients gave substance to their thoughts and ideas by sharing, teaching, documenting and living in accordance with their fresh awareness. Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers: The Story of Success suggested that, “Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good.  It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”

“People think of these eureka moments and my feeling is that they tend to be little things, a little realisation and then a little realisation built on that.”

Roger Penrose, Mathematical Physicist, Recreational Mathematician and Philosopher

 

19 thoughts on “The Eureka Moment

    • Thank you so much for your comments and presence! This image reminded me of sunshine and Vincent Van Gogh who had many Eureka moments!

      “Be clearly aware of the stars and infinity on high. Then life seems almost enchanted after all.”
      ― Vincent van Gogh

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  1. Roger Penrose’s remark made me think of the meaning of initiation, which means ‘ by degrees’… a concept I’ve always found comforting as I edge slowly along the Way…
    an insight here, and another one there – and suddenly it all starts to hang together…

    That sunflower !
    What life , glory, movement, beauty… lovely to have the closeup of just one to really see….

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    • Oh Valerie, I know exactly what you mean. An insight here and there, when combined, creates a lifetime of knowledge acquisition. When I was young, I thought that education was to prepare me for making a living that would purchase a lifestyle. Now, I realize it is so much more than that. It is about creating who we are, engaging in the beauty around us, and glorying in the radiance of a sunflower. 🙂

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  2. Though we may feel that Eureka moment is not easily experienced, yet if we consider making small steps will move us closer and closer to the goal, perhaps we may have Eureka moments in every small step we made. The issue is that what is the goal? How do you measure reaching your goal, in small steps?

    Thanks again for such a thought stimulating post! i love your picture too. Indeed it looks like van Gogh’s sunflower! is it?

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    • Ah, my dear friend, that is a very good question. What is our goal? Do we pursue a single destiny or allow for the possibilities that present themselves as we go along? You have given me something to consider….

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  3. Each person may well experience many Eureka moments and several changes of mind-set in the course of a lifetime. I have experienced several distinct phases of my life and I may only be a little over half way along. Each shift has come about in different ways. Most were gradual changes, but with a distinct and memorable moment when something fundamental about how I saw life changed and everything else changed as a result.

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    • Exactly!!! I agree – we may well experience many Eureka moments. They do change the course of our destiny. I find that how I respond to the fresh thought is as important as experiencing it. Thank you so much for adding to this discussion. I am looking forward to our ongoing dialogue.

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  4. The idea that a eureka moment may be a whisper is very helpful. It means that the eureka moments do not have to be confined to the great and mighty. How encouraging.

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    • It is encouraging to me, too! Sometimes we think that special insights are only for the few, but I think the process is more democratic than we think. When I look back, I can pinpoint the time and place when I experienced the ah ha moment, but I confess that I missed it the first time around.

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  5. Beautiful photo and words, saw your comment here on the top, is true everyone has these moments is not about just a few. Have a great weekend!!

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    • Thank you, Doris! It’s the Saturday morning in Vancouver! Sunshine today so heading out for an adventure, but first I need to stop for a coffee….

      Have a wonderful weekend!!!

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  6. Perhaps we desire or look for the “Eureka” when it is right in front of us. To be able to live in each moment, neither the past nor the future, is an “Eureka” moment in itself.

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