Creative Discussion using Plain Pair Groups

Creative Discussion – a key to insight and change

William Plain
Emeritus Professor, Nagoya University of Foreign Studies

Plain Pair Group Teaching (Plain PGT)
- for universities and schools
Plain Pair Group Discussion (Plain PGD)
- for decision making and staff development
- for informal or community creative discussion

A flash of insight is the spark of cosmic intelligence.
Small group sharing of insight can change the pattern of human intelligence. &

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The key to creativity is insight.


The following “exercises” can help to increase our insight.
Purpose: if I become conscious of insights or my connection to the world, if I can discover new ideas, I will be more creative.
“If I am awake, I can change”. 
“If I discover that I am connected to the world, life is much more relaxed”.
Insight Diary: carry a small notebook with you and note down any idea when it happens.

The following are seen as the predisposing elements assisting the development of insight and creativity.
These can be used as personal 'exercises' or in a teaching situation can be given as a short 'learning report'.



Be conscious of times when "I" am really attentive, really awake, when I really ‘see’ something – or hear, touch, taste, become aware. I stop thinking, I open my eyes and I ‘see’ – a tree, a mountain, a friend etc.

Don’t think, don’t comment, don’t judge, don’t talk about it
just ‘see’ and describe my seeing
this is like a haiku poem – “seeing with a silent mind”.

Observing the mind:

When I am looking at something, totally, my mind is silent. Then it starts ‘talking’ again:

Observe my mind thinking – don’t try to stop it, just watch
note down what is happening
as I observe my mind, I might notice it stops thinking – don’t try to make it stop, just observing it thinking will tend to stop it.

Observing the observer:

As I attentively observe the world around me, and as I look closely at the world inside me, observe the observer. Look at myself looking at myself.

I may well feel an increase in intensity, in energy, as I do this
we often become distracted and thoughts start moving around the brain again
observing the observer will more easily bring us back to the silent attentive mind.


I live in a world of consciousness: futuristic science and ancient mysticism both tell us that everything is "awake":

Trees, flowers, grass, everything living is fully aware, probably more so than I am
the basis of matter is energy, and the basis of energy is consciousness: everything, the ground, a building, the wind, is fully awake
I am part of the world around me; I am part of the awakeness around me.


Some little thing that goes right, something good that just happens without me planning it:

I am connected to the whole world around me. I don’t always have to ‘make things happen’, I don’t have to organise everything, sometimes things ‘just happen’ – often little unimportant things. Look out for these and write them down:
I meet someone
I arrive just on time
I remember something at the right moment
someone says something helpful, etc.


The ‘flash of light’, a ‘new idea’, a ‘brainwave’, a discovery, an ‘ah-ha’ experience. This can be in any area. It might be:

Understanding or observation of the world around me, of my mind
a discovery about how to learn/live/work better
a new understanding about myself, about my friends, society, nature, ‘the world’.

[See section on "Insight" in Wisdom in Planetary Leadership]

[See also readings from J. Krishnamurti in Art of Insight]


Something you discover through a dream:

An understanding about myself or the world
something in a dream that comes true.


From personal insight to planetary insight:

A sense of belonging in the world, of well-being
an awareness that “I” am the centre of the world, I am the eyes, ears, mouth of the earth
the awareness of the conscious living planet, Gaia, is centred in each living organism; for me, this means the earth sees through my eyes.

Recognition and remuneration


© William Plain  1990-2024 (print); 2005 - 2024 (website)