The Genius of
Leonardo da Vinci Pt. 2

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

The lesson of Leonardo da Vinci's life is that you can acquire a mind of a giant if you keep on exploring and learning about the world around you like a tiny tot does.  Notice how children explore their environment.  They play and learn at the same time.  They are enthusiastic.  They are energetic.  Their senses are fully alive with antennae fully up.  Their interest and curiosity is irrepressible.  da Vinci, Newton, Einstein, and most other great geniuses of all times kept their child-like wonder and passion for the field of knowledge.  In a previous article, the three keys to unlocking the creative potential discussed were, "Questionnaire," the thirst for knowledge and curiosity, "Demonstracione," the emphasis on experience, and "Sensatcione," the cultivation of senses.  In this article, four more keys to unlocking creative resources are discussed.  

 The fourth key to the creative potential is, Sfumato, which literally means, "smoked."  It figuratively refers to the appreciation of mystery, contradictions,  and ambiguity that life presents us.  Leonardo's painting, Mona Lisa, is a perfect example of that mystery, contradiction, and ambiguity, that is, the sfumato.   Some believe that Mona Lisa was a self-portrait of sorts--Leonardo portrayed his extremely complex self, full of  paradox and contradictions.  

 In the 1980s, the American Association of Management did a study of most effective managers.  They concluded that the most effective managers were distinguished by two qualities, ability to make intuitive decisions, and tolerance for ambiguity.  Two and two don't always make four.  If a principle or a theory is correct, it is not necessary that its opposite will be incorrect. Insistence to see everything in black or white can lead to big mistakes.  We shouldn't overlook facts because they confuse us.  Two testimonies may contradict each other and yet no one may be lying.  And yes, there is a mystery about this universe.  Ask scientists about it.  The scientists who know all about the atoms that make this universe are more awed by the mystery of the universe than are the nonscientists.

 The fifth key is the "Arte Scienza," which tells us to master the art of the science and the science of the art.  Leonardo not only mastered painting, he also mastered the science of painting.  Cautioning other painters, he says, "Those who become enamored of the art--without having previously applied to the diligent study of the scientific part of it--may be compared to mariners who put out to sea in a ship without rudder or compass and, therefore, cannot be certain of arriving at the wished-for port."  For Leonardo, mixing the paints was no different from a scientific experiment in the laboratory.  He kept laborious notes of the mixtures of paints he used.  

 Normally, we take science and arts as two opposite poles;  science as disciplined and analytic and art as intuitive and spontaneous.  In terms of brain functioning and brain structure, it can be said that scientists use the left brain and artists the right brain.  Well, how about using the whole brain?  Leonardo advises us to integrate the science and the art, so we can use both hemispheres of the brain.  Use the whole mind even if are doing a highly analytic work.  We know that people comprehend business plans and progress reports better when we use colors, images, and interesting shapes and forms to convey the message.  

 The sixth key is "corporalita," develop yourself physically.  Leonardo treated his body as a work of art and constantly worked towards excellence in health, motor skills, and dexterity.  He could write, draw, and paint with both hands.  Five hundred years ago, he understood that diet and exercise was the key to health and well being.  

 The seventh key is "Connecione," which means that everything connects with everything.  Leonardo saw the Earth in the same way we see human body, that is, as one indivisible organism.  For him, all of the creation was woven together into a beautiful tapestry.  Everything is connected with everything and so are we with one another.   Human beings and all animals are connected with one another in this food chain.  Our life is inseparably connected with the environment in which we live.  

 Connecione from a personal perspective means that all our actions and thoughts must be connected with one another.  All our goals, work, family, financial, and spiritual goals must be interconnected.  We must connect our words with action and our thoughts and intentions with our words and actions.  We can't act responsibly in one area and irresponsibly in others.   We can't be kind and considerate with one set of people and unkind and inconsiderate with another.  These discrepancies and inconsistencies have a way of catching up with us sooner or later, because everything is connected with everything.         

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Copyright 1996, Mind Publications 



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