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What is Genius? Discovering Genius Through Mythology

genius, psychology, what is genius
What is Genius? Discovering Genius Through Mythology

One day, I listened to a podcast by the renowned mythologist Michael Meade. He was speaking on the subject of genius. Then, he told a story that I believe will stay with me forever. Why? Because the story accurately captures a deep, psychological issue facing the planet: the uncertainty of not knowing our individual purposes on Earth.

The story of Poder

When wondering “what is genius,” it will benefit us to look to stories about others who have discovered their own genius. 

This story is about a boy named Poder. Poder means “gift” but also “power.” You see, Poder was born by midwifery with innate capabilities. His midwife, however, took Poder’s gifts and brought them deep into the hills after his birth.

Poder grew up, like many of us, unfamiliar with his unique abilities. But one day at the age of 20, he became very curious about what he can offer life and what life can offer him. He announced his departure from his village and went pilgrimaging in the hills. 

Soon, Poder came across a group of people holding ceremonies and vigils. They gave Poder a cloak and special bowl and told him how they were the gifts he was born with. Next, Poder was trained to use the cloak and bowl to make it rain. After years of instruction, he was able to share the gift of rain with his village. Poder helped raise crops to feed many people. 

Finding our genius: the idea of a second birth

To many, we are born once and once only. But as many myths and legends explain, we’re born into social structures and norms that try to tell us who we are and what to be. Life requires us to become pilgrims of the unknown forests (hills in Poder’s case) of life where we’ll find gifts and our touch of genius. 

Poder left his village as a form of resistance to all that he knew. It’s not that he yearned to leave his family or society. Poder merely knew there was more to his story than his former life could tell. He consciously and unconsciously sought a rebirth that led to the discovery of his genius. His journey led to a skill he was able to bring home to benefit all beings.

But what about the actual practice and acquirement of our inherent abilities; put another way— what is genius?

Genius is the ultimate form of imagination 

Many people who wonder “what is genius” immediately think of Albert Einstein. After all, he is the mastermind who reshaped physics with his insights surrounding gravity and relativity. 

 Einstein said the following about imagination:


“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”


 Einstein understood the necessity of imagination for fully embodying genius. Some have even described Einstein’s ability to devise and resolve complex series of mathematical equations in his head before getting it down onto paper or a chalkboard. 

What is Genius?: finding our genius

Finding our own creative genius requires searching within ourselves as well as discovering activities we’re naturally good at.

 What are some specific ways we can look within ourselves and find a deeper sense of imagination?

Reading is an excellent path to getting to know the self. This is because, through reading, we expose ourselves to different worlds— some of which may deeply resonate with our soul. Aim to read many genres. Read fiction, non-fiction, essays, and poetry. After all, it was a book on mythology that inspired me to write this post.

Traveling is another effective way to discover what our purpose on this planet is. Through exploring other cultures, we see outside the narrow confines of our upbringings. Travel is a form of pilgrimage that allows us to explore outside our cultural norm with a sense of adventure. In the meantime, travel lends us clarity about how to effectively move forward once we return home. Leaving the structure of our routines for something completely new helps us reflect on our lives back home.

Spending time alone is essential for discovering what it is we came here to do. We’re more likely to uncover our genius when we take a break from the outside world and take time to turn within. To this end, many find it wise to turn to nature. Turning to nature is effective because it is there that magnificent inspiration for genius exists. Nature is magnificent. Spending time alone in Nature can have profound effects on our overall well-being. Plus, Recent research shows how spending time in nature can increase our creativity. 

Overall, What is Genius?

Genius is the creative potential that we all have access to. It involves our innate ability to inspire, love, and fulfill a unique calling that we came here for. Many myths and legends, like the story of Poder, reveal how the soul longs for a personalized place in the world that involves a deep sense of passion, purpose, and service. 

Here is a quote by Michael Meade that may ring true for many:


“The genius inside a person wants activity. It’s connected to the stars; it’s connected to a spark and it wants to burn and it wants to make and it wants to create and it has gifts to give. That is the nature of inner genius.” 


Further, Meade establishes our inner genius as a gift we’re born with— one that needs to be used and followed in order to complete what we were born to do:


“Each life involves an essential errand; not simply the task of survival, but a life-mission embedded in the soul from the beginning.”


Walking through life without a sense of deeper purpose can bring about a subtle sense of unhappiness. Many are awakening to the fact that they’re capable of greatness. Not everyone, however, acts on these realizations. Following the path of deep transformation and a second birth takes courage and the ability to travel outside of the social climate we were born into. 

After taking the journey through the unknown forests of life, we’re bound to emerge as stronger people with great gifts to share and contribute to the wellness of the world. It all starts with asking ourselves; what is genius and how do I find my own?” 

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