Understanding genius

Genius is commonly considered either a gift at birth or something that can be acquired through study and application.

by Weston Jolly — 

We tend to think of genius as an exceptional intellectual aptitude, especially when expressed in the arts or science. Genius is commonly considered either a gift at birth or something that can be acquired through study and application. When trying to understand genius, it is worth considering several different perspectives.

Wolfgang Mozart is considered a genius. He first began composing at the tender age of 5 and composed more than 600 pieces of music during his lifetime. This is a considerable accomplishment, especially given the fact that he died at 35. If you do the math, you will see that Mozart published 20 pieces a year — an incredible feat.

So was Mozart born a genius or was he just really good at applying what he learned? Leopold Mozart, Wolfgang’s father, was not only a musician and composer, but also a teacher. Biographies of Mozart reveal that Leopold was Wolfgang’s first and most influential mentor — everything Leopold knew, he taught to his son.

Herein lies the dilemma in understanding genius: Is genius born or is it learned? Or perhaps there is a third alternative.

In looking at another genius, Rembrandt, and his masterful works of art, people might comment, “He must have lived a hundred lifetimes to be able to paint like that.”

This observation is actually quite insightful, as it presents a wrinkle in the twofold definition of genius. Instead of the duality of “born or not born,” it offers another possibility. Could it be that Rembrandt was somehow able to gain knowledge from prior lifetimes? Can genius be obtained through spiritual connection?

This third perspective takes our understanding of genius to an entirely new level. Perhaps your thoughts of genius so far have been limited to the intellectual or creative aspects.

However, did you know that Webster actually defines genius as “an attendant spirit or tutelary spirit?” In today’s vernacular, we might call this a “guide.”

If this third perspective has merit, then perhaps we all have access to the genius inside us.


Weston Jolly is an inspirational speaker, spiritual channel and author of two books and countless articles. He is a native of Scottsdale, Ariz. and frequently travels speaking extensively for events and workshops, retreats, TV and radio. weston@westonjolly.com, www.westonjolly.com or 480-212-1961 ext. 4.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 29, Number 5, Oct/Nov 2010.

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