Synthetic Imagination v Creative Imagination Explained – Napoleon Hill
Synthetic imagination and creative imagination are two forces you must understand to create the reality you want.
Imagination is important because it’s the First Principle of creation.
Before something can be built in the physical world, it must first be imagined in the spiritual domain.
You do not need to know exactly how the goal will be achieved, but you do need to know what the goal is.
According to Nepoleon Hill, there are two types of imagination you must use to illuminate the right path along your journey.
He explains these in his famous book ‘Think and Grow Rich’.
Through this faculty, one can arrange old concepts, ideas, or plans into new combinations. This faculty creates nothing. It merely works with the material of experience, education, and observation with which it is fed. It is the faculty used most by the inventor—with the exception of the genius, who draws upon the Creative Imagination when unable to solve a problem through Synthetic Imagination.”
– Napoleon Hill
Synthetic imagination is the form most used when problem solving.
This process is orchestrated by the conscious mind which arranges preexisting pieces of data to solve difficult problems.
This is done through reasoning from analogy (following best practices based on what’s worked before).
It can also be achieved through the more difficult first principles thinking which involves breaking problems down to their most fundamental assumptions.
Our modern schooling system reinforces the use of synthetic imagination.
What is created from synthetic imaginations tends to be predictable and boring.
Example of Synthetic Imagination
When an engineer designs a new bridge he draws on information from the past. He designs based on the engineering standards of his country.
He tests the stresses with methods which have been used for decades.
For the design he models bridges already constructed.
If he has a little creativity, he might implement slight modifications based on the shortcomings of previous designs.
Everything is process driven, everything is shaped from what has been.
“Through the faculty of Creative Imagination, the finite human mind has direct communication with Infinite Intelligence. It is the faculty through which “hunches” and “inspirations” are received. It is by this faculty that all basic or new ideas are handed over to us. It is through this faculty that “thought vibrations” or “influences” from the minds of others are received. It is through this faculty that one individual may “tune in” or communicate with the subconscious minds of others.”
– Napoleon Hill
Creative imagination belongs to the realm of genius.
Creative imagination unlike synthetic imagination is chaotic.
It can’t always be relied upon, it has no workflow, and its manifestations are uncertain.
The ideas generated from creative imagination tend to come in a flash.
Often having no clear reasoning, clues or logic.
They come unannounced to receptive minds.
Hill believes the origin of all great ideas is Infinite Intelligence, which transmutes ideas creatively to the subconscious mind of human beings.
Infinite Intelligence has also been called the Universal Mind by many New Thought authors.
Example of Creative Imagination
In the book ‘Shoe Dog’ by Phil Knight (the creator of Nike), Knight details an interesting story about his business partner Bill Bowerman.
Bowerman was a legendary track coach well known for tinkering with running shoes in an attempt to improve the performance of his athletes.
One day, Knight and Bowerman were talking about shoe innovations when Knight sadly expressed how there hadn’t been any meaningful progress in athletic footwear for decades.
Bowerman scribbled Knight’s thought on a note and allowed it to marinate in his subconscious.
“The following Sunday, sitting over breakfast with his wife, Bowerman’s gaze drifted to her waffle iron. He noted the waffle iron’s gridded pattern. It conformed with a certain pattern in his mind’s eye, a pattern he’d been seeing, or seeking, for months, if not years. He asked Mrs. Bowerman if he could borrow it. He had a vat of urethane in his garage, left over from the installation of the track. He carried the waffle iron out to the garage, filled it with urethane, heated it up— and promptly ruined it.”
– Phil Knight
This waffle sole design turned out to be one of the greatest innovations in athletic shoes.
It also helped make Nike into the juggernaut it is today.
Bowerman’s idea did not come to him through conscious deliberation with a pen and paper.
His subconscious mind received the impression in a flash of genius.
How can we use creative imagination?
Clearly creative imagination is much coveted because it is the stuff of genius.
We understand it’s chaotic, but is there a way to increase the likelihood of it working for us?
According to Hill there is.
“ONLY when the conscious mind is functioning at an exceedingly high level of “intensity” or “energy,” as for example, when the conscious mind is stimulated through the emotion of a strong desire.”
The high energy Hill talks about comes from having a burning desire to solve a problem.
When you consciously decide to dedicate yourself to a path and you earnestly stay on the mission, you will begin to get assistance through revelations.
Ideas or ‘thought vibrations’ from seemingly nowhere which will help you achieve your goal.
The catch is your desire must be earnest, and you must act on these thoughts.
If you don’t take action, you will notice the frequency of these creative insights declining.
“The Creative Imagination becomes more alert, more receptive to influences from the sources mentioned, in proportion to its development through USE.”
Just like a muscle in your body, if you don’t use your creative imagination you will lose it.
This is the reason why many musicians and actors tend to do their greatest works earlier in their careers.
These artists are often hungry for success before they become famous.
This desire opens up the gates of creative imagination and allows them to bless the world with transcendental works.
As they garner more success, their desire tends to drop; they stop taking chances, instead following ‘best practices’.
They become motivated by the fear of losing what they have rather than the desire for new levels of achievement.
Fear paralyzes the mind and closes off the gates to Infinite Intelligence.
Set forth your intention and be receptive to those crazy ideas.
They might just change your life.
Do this, and you will be one step closer to living and dying well.