Chapter 8: Born Enlightened
Madame Curie was working on a certain mathematical problem for three years continuously and the more she tried, the farther and farther away the solution seemed. She tried every possible way, but nothing was working, nothing was happening. And there was somewhere a deep, tacit feeling that “The solution exists. I am not struggling with something absurd.” This tacit feeling continued all the time as an undercurrent; hence she could not drop the effort either. She was getting tired - three years wasted for a single problem. But deep down within herself somebody was saying, “The solution is possible. This exercise is not futile. Go on.” And she went on stubbornly, she persisted. She dropped all other projects, she forced herself totally into the one problem. But the more she tried, the more impossible it became.
One night it happened, almost as it happened to Gautama the Buddha; of course, the problems were different, but the process was the same. Buddha had struggled for six years to attain enlightenment and he had attained nothing. Then one night he dropped the whole effort, went to sleep, and, by the morning when the last star was setting, he became enlightened.
That night Madame Curie dropped the idea, the whole project - she closed the chapter. “Enough is enough! Three years wasted is too much for one problem.” There were other problems which were waiting to be solved. It was finished in her mind, although the tacit understanding was still there just like a constant murmur. But she had followed it long enough, it was time. One has only a limited time; three years is too much for one problem. Deliberately she dropped the idea. As far as she was concerned she closed the whole project. She went to sleep never to be bothered by that problem again.
And in the morning when she got up she was surprised. On a piece of paper on her table, the solution was there, written in her own handwriting. She could not believe her eyes. Who had done it? The servant could not have done it - he knew nothing of mathematics, and if Madame Curie had not been able to do it in three years, how could the servant have done it? And there was nobody else in the house. And the servant had not entered in the night - the doors were locked from inside. She looked closely and the handwriting resembled hers.
Then suddenly she remembered a dream. In the dream she had seen that she had got up, gone to the table, written something.. Slowly, slowly the dream became clear. Slowly, slowly she remembered that she had done it in the night. It was not a dream, she had actually done it. And this was the solution! For three years she had been struggling hard and nothing was happening - and the night she dropped the project, it happened. What happened? She became relaxed.