Teresa Hawkes is publisher of “The Oracular Tree” – see web link below. Theresa sent this essay to the Pari, believing it would be of interest to those who visit this site.
The journey of our life can take us many places. Many lifepath choices are available. One of those is the creative path. What does that mean? Does this mean that you may choose to be an artist of one kind or another, a painter, poet, musician, etc.? Maybe. But the creative path is much broader than that and is one of the basic paths. To be a Creative means to bring renewal and transformation to every aspect of living every moment of your life whether you are a cook, a teacher, a street cleaner, a philosopher, a healer, a parent, a politician, a microchip technician, a factory worker, a clerk at 7-11, etc.
So, what is this thing, this creativity? Certainly there are lots of attitudes about it. In many cultures creativity is exclusively the province of various deities or distant ancestor spirits. The modern scions of such cultures live in patterns and with forms and processes which are thousands of years old because renewal and transformation can only be achieved by those inhabiting the untouchable past or spirit realm. Various strategies for asking favors of these powerful beings so that transformation and renewal can find openings into current lifespaces exist, but produce inefficient results at best, since the basic premise is that the works of the original Creatives simply should not be altered.
In modern western culture it is imagined that creativity is reserved for certain divinely gifted individuals, usually white males, who follow certain carefully proscribed paths that include self-abnegation, rejection by contemporaries and various other kinds of suffering, in order to achieve momentary states of grace in which great works of art, literature, philosophy, science or other acts of significant renewal and transformation are produced.
Well, how constructive are these attitudes? Not very. Why? They unduly limit the expression of creativity. In this essay I show that creativity is available to every individual, that it is the process by which Life itself unfolds through Time, and is innate to all beings. I also outline a process by which this innate power can be accessed and used by any individual willing to invest the time, energy and confidence in the endeavor.
What is creativity? Why is it important?
Creativity is a process not an end product. There is nothing mysterious about creativity. The fact that it arises at unpredictable times and places and in certain individuals makes it seem mysterious because we don’t generally understand our own beings or their relationship to our environment. Creativity isn’t the result of serendipity, divine gift or voodoo; it is the power of transformation and renewal which furthers Life Itself. Creativity is present every time wind stirs the grass, DNA adapts to changing circumstances, you find a new and better way to say the same old thing to your thirteen year-old child, etc.
Because of this, all beings are inherently creative, that is, able to respond appropriately, beautifully and constructively to the demands of the moment in order to continuously unfold. Humans can learn to access this innate ability. Why do we need to learn to access something that is innate? Because our perceptions and our cultures have conditioned us to stasis instead of unfoldment. What does that mean?
“Things are the way they are, and there is nothing we can do about that.” “That’s the way it’s always been done, so that’s the way it should be done.”
How many times have you heard such notions expressed when you or someone else have suggested making even small changes in your shared lifespace? These notions represent deep resistance to change. A source of this resistance is our mind’s limited ability to perceive change through time. This significantly affects our formulation of conceptual structures. Historically, the human mind, which exists in time yet has no clear perception of the progress of change through time, has imagined stasis to be the order of the day. Science, which has taken great pains to make accurate observations of evidence rather than perception, has delivered to our minds great evidence for the existence of change, as well as its processes and forms through time. The theory of Evolution is one example. Chaos mathematics is another.
Another source of our resistance to change is our various cultural worldviews. These worldviews were created from our limited perceptions of change through time and enshrined in religions which became the bedrock of our conditioning. Look at any religious or spiritual system. They all state categorically that the world and everything in it was made a certain way and will be that way until the end of time. No significant changes can be made. Hinduism does have a mechanism for change– the destruction and rebirth of the entire Universe. Short of that, we’re stuck with what we’ve got. This ideology is all pervading on this planet and is the source of many of our creative “blocks.” In order to activate the innate ability to create within ourselves we must unlearn most of this cultural conditioning and transform the dense inertia it produces within us. So, to unblock ourselves and access our innate creativity, we must make our first creative act the transformation and renewal of our Selves. Step one in this process is to overcome our fear of change. Make no mistake, change is the inevitable result of any transformational and renewal process. To follow the path of the Creative is to be an initiator of change, within yourself and within others.
Transcending Fear of Change
Information is our way out of the fear of change. If one simply observes the Universe in action one can see change is the order of the day. Read scientific texts on meteorology, evolution, geology, and astronomy so you may become familiar with the shape and process of change in those arenas of our environment. Many journals, such as Discover, write for the lay audience. As you read you will discover that change happens as a response to the need to establish and maintain balance and only in response to that need. Consider plate tectonics. The plates which make up the surface of the earth ride on magma which is in constant circulation and moves them against each other. In the short term (which means the life of the entire human race–yes, that’s right, in terms of the Earth’s processes four million years IS the short term), the plates seem not to move, yet they do, minutely. They shift as pressures from the underlying magma move them about. When the pressures build up and become too great, earthquakes or volcanic eruptions occur to equalize the shifts in energies. In all systems, underlying forces/energies (which are in continuous motion) constantly create the need for change to balance these evolving forces with (relatively speaking) static matter. So, change is never arbitrary or out of place. It never acts but to maintain a balance of energies between all elements present…and this balance is a delicate one requiring constant, usually minute, shifts in both process and form.
Of course, our fear of change is more than just in our limited ability to perceive the grand sweep of Time. Cultural changes, however small, can be fraught with all kinds of dangers to those initiating changes (the figure of Jesus Christ hanging on a cross is western culture’s most obvious symbol of the consequences of such acts), hence the various myths of the misunderstood artist, the censured poet, the outcast scientist. At worst, you can be killed for certain kinds of change, more benignly you can be censured to varying degrees by friends, family, and associates. This is a very good reason why creativity is so universally suppressed among humans. We suppress it in ourselves, our families, and our friends out of a very justifiable concern for the safety of all involved. However, consider the ramifications of suppressing creativity in the face of the need to change constructively when circumstance demands it.
So, realistically, radical release of creativity is something one needs to be very careful with. Yet, creativity (renewal and transformation) is necessary to balance various social forces as urgently as any other sets of forces. Since the 1960’s, many sectors of society have sensed the need for some serious efforts at balancing. This period marked the beginning intense efforts to restore balance between the material and spiritual realms in the human imagination. Those efforts are ongoing today. Many changes have been the result of these efforts. There are widely varying comfort levels with regard to these changes and the further changes they portend, but it is clear, from the pace of change and the urgency with which Cultural Creatives are moving that balance is far from achieved. There is still a lot of work to be done. It is also clear from observing cultural phenomena that most individuals feel the call to this work, regardless of their comfort with it.
So, our task is to become comfortable with the idea of initiating changes and to help those in our lifespaces to become comfortable with this work as well. It is helpful to remember that most necessary changes are very tiny — a slight shift in perspective, a gentle upgrade in attitude, a simple alteration of process or form. If you examine the sources of social change historically, you will see that the beginnings of all those changes are the grain of sand in the oyster of society that ultimately made the pearl. It is really not so frightening after all. I think of a small house in the tiny town of Dura Europas in the middle east. In the 4th century A.D. this town stood well off the major trade routes to Damascus. It was a true backwater. Yet, in that tiny house the living room was decorated with vivid images that amount to some of the first clearly defined Christian iconography, images obviously transformed from the more prevalent pagan iconography that abounded at that time. That tiny living room, where early devotees of Christianity met, is indicative of how Christian concepts of the way to live spread, living room by living room until it became one of the major religious systems today. Every really significant change starts just that way–quietly with the things we accept into our living rooms — just that simply, just that gently. If the change is truly viable it spreads out to other living rooms, waves rippling in the pool of humanity. This is why revolutions rarely work. They are explosions. What we, as a species, respond best to, is the quiet ripple capable of reproducing itself over and over and over.
The Process of Transformation and Renewal
After you overcome your initial resistance to doing something that will inevitably cause a change of some sort in yourself and the world around you, you need to move onto the next step which is transformation. Transformation is one of the chief powers of creativity. Whether a group of beetles are transforming a dead plant into food and fodder for other creatures or we are transforming our inertia into energy, transformation is at the heart of the creative process.
Just what is transformation and renewal? Mesolithic and Neolithic (prehistoric) spiritual traditions contained many images of transformation and renewal. This process seems to have been at the heart of that worldview. Such images include the butterfly emerging from the chrysalis, the bee transforming nectar into honey, the sperm entering the womb, the tadpole becoming the frog. In all these processes an action is taken followed by a period of dormancy in which a process of change occurs, resulting in the birth of a new creature or product which is markedly different than the original. It is during the period of dormancy that patience and faith is required; patience to wait for the change to occur, faith that it will occur and that the change produced will indeed be a felicitous, constructive one.
Here is the core process then: there is an initial state of being which is acted upon in certain consistent ways. Next, a period of quiet is observed during which the actions produce a change in the original being/thing. Then the changed being/thing emerges and interacts successfully with the world around it in its new, changed form.
As I stated previously, since our creativity is usually blocked by inertia of various kinds, we must first transform and renew ourselves in order to become fully creative beings. Here I outline a process by which our various sources of inertia can be located and transformed into energy that can be used to power our creativity.
First, let’s talk about this inertia, these “blocks” we feel. Inertia is composed of many things. Inertia is partly generated by everything you already know and the expectations generated by you and others. This includes the cultural conditioning mentioned above. These things limit what your mind considers to be within the realm of the possible (which is not the same thing as what is actually possible). Inertia is also the result of emotional blocks, confusions or stagnation. Inertia can also be the result of some kind of abuse of the body. This abuse might be eating improperly (too much sugar, fat, salt, caffeine, too few proteins, carbohydrates or vitamins), too much alcohol or drugs, too much activity (not enough rest), not enough activity, etc. Inertia can be caused by excessive sexual practices (too much or too little sex, too much sex with too little intimacy, too much intimacy not enough sense of self, etc.). Essentially inertia is the accumulation of energy imbalances in your whole mind/body/will/emotion/spirit system. It clogs you up and inhibits the movement of energy of any kind. All of this inertia must be transformed into energy before that energy can be most effectively channeled into doing (which can include creativity–transformation and renewal). Transforming inertia requires exercise and pacification of the mind, body, will, emotions and spirit. If all these aspects of the self are not worked with simultaneously, one or more of them will retain inertia which will block the flow of your energies.
To begin our transformation and renewal we are going to create a chrysalis within which we can take actions that will transform our various inertias into energy we can use in anyway we see fit, including creatively. That chrysalis will be our own special time and place.
The Special Place and Time
Creativity and internal energy usually flow unexpectedly. This is why many of us do caffeine and other stimulants to keep the flow of our energy predictable. However, stimulants have various unwanted side-effects, so it is better to be able to regulate your energy flow without their help. So, we want to create conditions within ourselves that allow us to experience a high flow of energy and creativity at all times and in all places. But since most of us are in the first grade where this is concerned, we are going to start by creating the conditions during which we will be creative and energetic at a certain time and place. To do this we must create a special time and place where we feel safe, undisturbed, and comfortable, and where the tools we will use to be creative are present and in good working order. This is really a very simple thing. An example is a space with your computer in it where you have pictures of your family and friends, where the decor is soothing and uplifting, and there is a large window through which natural light pours. You might select the time of day to work when the light from this window is particularly lovely to you. Here are the qualities this place and time must possess:
They must be quiet and undisturbed. They must be yours. They must be soothing.
You know yourself. What soothes you — music, incense, candles, colors, textures, images, materials, etc.? When and where is a place that is undisturbed? Insist that your life companions honor this time and place. Help them create such times and places for themselves. Everyone (including, and maybe especially, children) in your lifespace deserves this opportunity.
In order to condition yourself to work productively in this special time and place you must make a habit out of doing this kind of work. Kundalini yoga master, Yogi Bhajan, has said that it takes forty consecutive days of doing something to make it a habit. I have found that it does take real commitment and concentration to do anything you are unfamiliar with for forty consecutive days. From the results I have obtained working in this way I can say that indeed, doing this does work to create new and constructive habits. So, spend forty consecutive days creating and working in your special time and place. This acts to condition the whole mind/body/emotion/will/spirit system to respond favorably when you enter this space. When I enter my space now (and it is no longer constrained to a time and place outside myself) a few deep breaths and steadying thoughts are enough to begin the flow of energy and creativity. This will happen for you too if you initially discipline yourself in this way. When you are doing your first forty days, if you miss a day for some reason, start the countdown all over again. Yes, that’s right. Discipline yourself to do this. Creativity and abundant energy are a result of discipline, not just “letting go,” although there is a component of letting go required to allow creativity and energy to flow. This letting go is not of discipline, however.
So, you’ve got your special place and your special time and are ready to begin your first forty consecutive days of working there. What sort of work should you do? Your initial work there will consist of these five things: pacification of the body, the mind, the will, the emotions, and the spirit.
Pacification of the Body
Pacification of the body involves a number of things: proper eating, sleeping, activity, and sex. The most effective way to begin here is to evaluate your diet, your sleeping habits, your activity, your exercise regimen (and I do mean regimen), and your sex life. Begin this evaluation during your first forty days. Your diet MUST be suited for your metabolic make-up. Your sleep MUST be balanced with your activity. Your sex must be intimate and relaxing. (Yes relaxing, not necessarily exciting, though it can have that component. Sex releases emotional and neurological pressure. In our society sex is used to stoke up rather than relieve. It is a diversion instead of a release.)
During your first forty days these evaluations will have just begun and usually involve a lot of listening to yourself and sifting through the rather voluminous literature on self-help and health-related topics available to the average person today. This can mean books in libraries, periodicals, and the vast resources available on the Internet. Take your time and do your evaluation properly. Follow your areas of interest and concern as you do your research. Be disciplined about working on this everyday. You will get into the habit of collecting information pertinent to your health as a matter of course and will be surprised at how much is available to you on this issue.
Importantly, begin an exercise regimen at this time. Exercise releases endorphins, stimulates circulation of oxygen, elimination of the products of cellular respiration and in general strengthens and cleanses the body. Regard your body as you would your car. Just as you change the oil and filters in your car, you must do so for your body too. Your most excellent regimen will be the one you love, the one that makes you feel good, the one that holds your interest over the long haul of your life. Suggestions include any kind of dance, any kind of yoga, walking, biking, swimming, running, calisthenics, weight lifting, aerobics, sport that doesn’t do as much harm as good (i.e. football does as much harm as good in general) and any martial art. Regardless of what regimen you adopt during your first forty days, bring some of it with you to your special time and place. At that time do a few stretches, some deep abdominal breathing, and generally work up a light sweat. This will increase the circulation of oxygen to your brain and heart and generally makes the work of transforming inertia much easier for this reason. This little bit of exercise also releases any nervous tension being held in the body which might also act as an inhibitor. Let this exercise be the first thing you do upon entering your special time and place.
Pacification of the Mind
This is the most difficult task for many humans. The whole literature and practice of meditation with its infinite variations are geared to this end. Why is the mind so difficult to pacify? It is one of our most important survival tools. Our minds are the reason we have not only survived, but prospered most incredibly. We are addicted to this wonderful tool, which is not only flexible and useful pragmatically speaking, but also infinitely entertaining. The scenarios we conjure to explain and enhance our daily activities are what keep most of us afloat in a confusing, compromising, and dangerous world. The stories we habitually tell ourselves to explain our position in this world can be clarifying agents or agents which add to our confusion, compromise and danger. The mind is a tricky tool indeed, and paradoxically, the answers we need to clear our confusion, compromise and danger most often lie outside the habitual thought roads we walk. Hence, the need for meditation which can still the mind’s relentless pacing.
But, even with all our meditative practices, most of us find it impossible to completely still the mind. Why? Because the mind MUST have exercise or it will pace like a tiger in a small cage. Therefore we require the following practice, which is ancillary to meditation. This practice is absolutely required in order to pacify the mind, so it relaxes, opens and becomes still. What is that practice? The absorption of new information which expands the mind’s well-worn pathways.
Interestingly, it is precisely here we will run into our worst fears of change. The mind operates primarily out of memory and calculations and valuations based on information contained in memory. It is helpful in the pacification of the mind to remember that it should always be collecting information, that information in a 22 billion year old Universe is virtually limitless, and that no matter how much information an individual might collect, there will always be a whole lot more information to obtain. In fact, all the collecting and transmission of information the human race has done in its four million or so years of existence on Earth in the midst of this 22 billion year old Universe doesn’t even approach the volume of one raindrop falling in the Pacific Ocean, metaphorically speaking. So we can relax and open to new information and experiences. We need them, in fact, to jolt ourselves out of the ruts we find ourselves in, yes?
So, for your first forty days in your special time and place you need to absorb information passionately. Don’t filter anything, just absorb. Read newspapers you’ve never read before, read books you never thought you’d read. Watch TV shows you never thought you’d watch. Talk to people you’ve never talked to before. Do all this as you did when you were a child first learning in the world. In fact, spend time in your special place trying to remember what it felt like to be that child, open, sunny, accepting, wide-eyed with wonder at all the bright newness of everything. You can have that experience everyday of your life if you choose to accept the fact that you don’t already know everything there is to know. Empirically speaking, that assumption can’t be supported by evidence, as I’ve just shown you.
As you collect new information and return to childlike openness, note any changes in your perceptions during everyday life. Keep a journal, this helps track your changes so you can go back and ponder them more deeply and become interested by and cognizant of your own patterns of change. Gradually you’ll find your mind’s endless wanderings settling down as it relaxes in the face of its own ability to absorb and digest an endless stream of information. Soon thereafter your mind will be content to remain silent in the vastness of all that is, for it knows that soon you’ll take up the fascinating quest for more information and processing of such. It will no longer fret so much about what it knows or doesn’t know because it has accepted that what it “knows” is in a constant, never-ending process of change. Acceptance of the constancy of change, paradoxically, produces stillness in the midst of motion. How beautiful.
Pacification of the Emotions
Emotions flow through us like water, smooth and placid, rough and wild, warm, cold, mixing up all our internal elements and keeping us clean, resilient and bubbly, unless we forgo honesty.
The metaphor of water applies very well to emotions. Look at a clear mountain stream, the vibrancy and power of the ocean. Look at a dammed up pool with no circulation — you get a stinky swamp. Honesty is the mechanism by which the emotions are allowed to flow. This doesn’t mean wearing your emotions on your sleeve or just blurting out anything that comes into your awareness. It means accepting your emotions yourself for whatever they present. This is why you need your special time and place within which to safely express your feelings, far from the consequences of doing so to others. Think of the old Grimm’s fairytale of the Goosegirl. The princess, robbed of her birthright and forced into servitude, goes daily to a secluded place to pour out her heart. This keeps her clean and clear enough to deal with her situation. All of us need this kind of activity to keep ourselves clean and clear in the midst of our demanding, busy lives.
For the first forty days of your practice, after the pacification practices for body and mind, practice pouring out your heart, being as completely honest as you can be. Sometimes it helps to do this to a comforting image like the photo of a beloved relative or friend. More distant figures are also effective: St. Francis of Assisi, Kwan Yin, the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ, Buddha, Isis, or whatever image of unconditional compassion speaks powerfully to your heart. Let yourself go into the intimacy of revealing your innermost feelings to this compassionate power. Listen to yourself with compassion and acceptance. Gradually, as you do this, you’ll find your emotions arise from legitimate sources of information within your body/mind. You’ll find this information very helpful in deciding how to proceed in most cases. As you feel more comfortable being honest with yourself about your emotions, you may find ways to be honest with others on these points. You may find this honesty creating greater intimacy and trust between you and your family and associates. You may find it easier and easier to give and receive not only compassion, but love. Make this daily flow of emotions a part of your regular practice as you continue beyond your first forty days into the journey of your whole life.
Pacification of the Will
The will is a fiery horse surging beneath you. How do you not only stay on the back of that magnificent beast, but guide it where you want to go, not where it just happens to take you willy nilly? You have to get to know it through quiet observation. You have to earn its trust. You have to feed it and you have to exercise it. You have to trust it. None of these things are easy.
To get to know your will, watch your actions. This means the things you mean, not the things you say. This means the things you do in spite of your best intentions. This means the things you don’t do but wish you had. All these things reveal the desires of your will. Also, watch the force behind those actions. That reveals the strength of your will. Document your dreams. These many times reveal your will in action in a setting where it feels free to do whatever it sees as necessary.
As you watch your will, notice where it arises from. After a time you will probably notice your will arises out of your primeval perceptions of what it takes to survive and what it takes to stake and claim your own territory. You’ll probably find that the will is a direct manifestation of your drive to survive and protect yourself. Whenever you do anything that messes with your own survival or claim to your own territory, your will will act up. Since many of us are routinely placed in situations which cause us ego, emotional, spiritual, physical, or intellectual damage of some kind, our wills are definitely perturbed and usually quite sore if not actively outraged. Learned helplessness or rage disorders arise out of a damaged will.
Since most of us have damaged wills, we need to gain the trust of our will. Yes, that means we have to learn to trust ourselves to look out for our own best interests. That doesn’t mean what society, your parents, your best friend, your boss, or anyone else informs you is in your best interests. This means what your will considers to be in your best interests. I’m afraid you may find that once you have learned a lot about your own will, you’ll see that these two things are profoundly different. Write down what your will wants from you. Devise ways to give yourself those things. This is how you exercise your will. Find people and circumstances in which it is safe to give your will what it wants, then take your will for a ride through those places and times. It will feel GREAT. When you do this you’ll see just how far you can trust your will. As the will gets feedback from something besides being caged in helplessness or rage, it will discover what it actually wants and you’ll refine and hone your will’s desires, flexibility, and strength. As you and your will become friends you’ll find you have a source of strength beneath you that will reliably carry you on your journey to anyplace you care to go, including a journey along the path of creativity.
So, for your first forty days, watch your will. Document it in journals. Document your dreams. It will take a while to notice the desires, patterns, and strength of this best of friends. Take your time. Be patient. Above all, be kind to your deepest desires and the source from which they arise.
Pacification of the Spirit
To pacify your Spirit you must accept the existence of a Beyond, whatever you conceive that to be. You must accept that not only you, but everything that exists has a valuable place in that Beyond. You must learn and practice reverence for this mysterious Beyond and all of Its Contents. You must fully accept that each and every Thing that exists has value in and of itself without reference to any human valuation. This is the way to achieve true reverence. Until you do this, your Spirit will torment you with feelings of unease, so that no matter how much you pacify body, mind, will and emotion, you will never be free of the sense that there is something out of place, singularly wrong. It will cause you to question every step you take, every thought you have, every emotion you generate. So long as you lack the deep level of reverence I have mentioned, the almost universal feeling that humanity is fatally flawed and ultimately not to be trusted will haunt all your days. Reverence equals salvation. Yes, that’s right. And only the individual can cultivate the reverence needed to achieve salvation. Salvation cannot be conferred by any other agency. It is critically important you comprehend fully the meaning of that statement.
For your first forty days you need to begin cultivating this kind of reverence. You will be met with human hubris at every turn. Persist. Let your will, your deepest drive to survive, carry you on this journey. Make no mistake, in order to survive as a race, we must learn this kind of reverence. We have spent 10,000 years creating and reinforcing the thought pattern that humans are the reason the Universe exists, that only what we think matters, that nothing has as much value as we do, that for this reason we may do as we please with everything we encounter, including any human groups not meeting with our approval. This is the fatal flaw in humans, not their nature, not their design. This is the fatal flaw we created ourselves and only we can amend it. Begin to amend this flaw in yourself right now. To do this take close note of the automatic valuations you assign everything and everyone you encounter and write them down. Be honest in what your valuations are telling you so you can get a good look at them. Then review them. You may be astounded at how harsh you sound, how selfish and unfeeling. Now, try to imagine what it is like to live from that other perspective, the one to which you have assigned your valuations. If you can’t do this easily, go ask the object of your valuations for their perspective on things. That’s right. Absorb whatever information they give you without attaching a value or an assessment. Just absorb it. Read testimonials from groups you have traditionally devalued or have hateful thoughts about. Start with your valuations of other humans then move to your valuations of the other parts of the Universe like animals, plants, ecosystems, etc. Find out as much as you can about them. Assume your information is limited and you need to spend your life researching. Make discovery a way of life, replacing the process of valuation with the process of discovery. For the moment don’t blame your conditioning for your valuations — that is a fruitless activity. Take responsibility for how you value things and people. That way you can take responsibility for changing those valuations into discovery and reverence.
So, spend your first forty days of commitment to cultivating your Creativity in the ways mentioned above. This will begin to transform the various sources of your inertia into energy that can be used creatively in your lifespace. This transformation will take time and most of it will occur while you are sleeping, while you are cleaning your house or at work. You won’t see how the things you do transform you, but one day you will wake up and you will just feel different. Your perceptions will seem different, the whole world will seem different. Then you will know the transformation has finally completed itself and renewal has occurred. Once your inertia is being transformed and you are in the habit of constantly processing your inertia (which will set in again the minute you cease the transformation process) you can begin to really work with the energy of creativity. That is a glorious moment.
Beginning to Work Directly With Creativity: Clarifying Intention
Intention is profoundly important to the process of Creativity. Your whole body/mind system is complex. It generates enormous energy once inertia is transformed. This energy needs to be aligned along the vector of Intention so that the most appropriate results can be obtained in response to the challenge of any given Moment. Now, here is the paradox. Though you do need to have a clear Intention, the less specific you are in your Intention the more creative the final results of your labors will be.
Well, consider the DNA molecule. It has some very general guidelines built into it, but those guidelines allow for amazing variability of result. Notice, have you ever seen two humans who looked or acted exactly alike, even identical twins? Even our body chemistries are amazingly divergent. How is this possible? Because DNA presents a series of answers to the biological challenges of living in our particular environment and it provides ways for transforming anything that needs changing to enhance survival. How does this relate to our Intentions when we create? We clarify our Intention by meditating on (fully opening to) the Moment at hand while stating that our Intention is to use the full resources at our command to respond most appropriately to the challenge before us (whatever that challenge may be). This simple, general statement summons up all the factors at hand that we are aware of, including external and internal environments, and states categorically that we intend to use all those factors to the best of our ability to respond appropriately — whatever that response might be — to the challenge we face. We have thereby left ourselves free to do whatever is necessary, not what we imagine might be necessary. These are two very different things. One is acting out of the moment, taking the moment as a beginning, one is acting out of memory, acting out of something that no longer exists. Remember, memory is just one of the resources available to you. So are exploration and discovery. Never get stuck in what you can imagine, since imagination works from the contents of memory. Get stuck in what exists in the moment, which includes everything you have already experienced, and everything that you haven’t!
Now, of course since we all live in the Day of the Marketplace, if you are working in the realm of products or processes, you might say, “but will it make money.” If your Intention is to make money, you are in a terrible bind, creatively speaking. Creativity operates through change. The marketplace wants something much more predictable than that.
Realistically, you never really know where the next money making trend will be. A lot money is spent on Marketing and various forms of prognostication no mores sophisticated or reliable than the throwing of bones, and few ideas or products ever make the big bucks so universally sought. Making money, particularly “the big money,” is such a narrow Intention that the flow of creativity (contingent upon radical openness and flexibility) is virtually stopped up — witness the much fabled suffering of writer’s and artist’s blocks and the agonizing of ad executives sitting up late night after night on buckets of coffee trying desperately to be creative while blocking every opening through which it might flow. Sad, no?
Creativity flows reliably only when our Intention is a clear one to balance energies in the current situation and thereby further the progress of the whole of Life.
After clearly stating the Intention to act appropriately within the moment given all variables present and accounted for, you need to get quiet and just listen. This is the letting go part of creativity. Let go of everything you know or want and just sit. Here is where patience and having an activity that engages the surface mind is helpful. Go garden, do any repetitive, yet engaging, task: do push-ups, clean the kitchen, fold the laundry, wash the floor, etc. If you’re sitting at a computer writing, play solitaire, hearts, or pyramid until the surface mind gets quiet and absorbed in its task. If you’re painting, throw darts while you stand before your canvas. Then the deep mind can operate freely and you can quickly hear whatever ideas it may send your way. Don’t assume you know what is likely to happen. Assume you’re going to be surprised by what comes to you. Usually you will be. Creativity fuels the progress of life from what was to what is, so your creative act will produce change, change produces new things, and the new is usually unexpected, right? So, expect the unexpected. Just let it come out, whatever it is. This is not the time to let the surface mind (which operates out of memory and valuation) enter in and edit things.
After the first ideas come to you, manifest them in whatever way is appropriate to your creative act. You might be in a conversation, you might be parenting a child, you might be cooking, you might be writing or drawing or making music, etc. Act on the ideas as they come. Follow them where ever they lead. Make no valuations or attempts to edit here. Fear may strike at this point. When it does it will feel like falling from free flight hard onto the ground. The flow of ideas will stop. Then you’ll need to figure out where the fear came from. Most times it is the result of untransformed inertia. You’ll need to locate the source of the inertia and transform it so you won’t fall from the sky because of it again.
When the flow of ideas naturally stops, turn around and look at what you’ve done. Now you can learn from what you did and hone the ideas into something useful in the world. Writers can edit, sculptors can modify, parents can develop a useful pattern of interaction with their kids, cooks can write down the recipe, etc. This is where memory and the skills acquired over a lifetime can enter in and hone the rough edges and smooth things out into a beautiful, graceful, amazing final product.
Because life and creativity are processes, your beautiful moment, object, idea, process, product will need to be changed as circumstances change. This is probably one of the hardest parts in the creative process. You must be able to let go of your creation as soon as it is created. First, let go of the pride of creation so that it doesn’t become a source of inertia and block further attempts to create. In this way you will cultivate the radical humility necessary to remain creative.
Now, let go of your creation entirely. It is no longer yours and will never be yours again. It is only yours during the moments of creation, never again there after. Even if you hold a patent, a copyright, etc., and the rights to any money it may generate, the creation itself is no longer yours. As it leaves you it changes you, so you are no longer the same person who made it. Then it changes every other person it contacts and the environment, and during these encounters it is itself changed. Isn’t it true that no two people see the same things in a painting or hear the same meaning in a group of words? Think of creations and creativity as water. Water flows across the earth, binding all things together, circulating through and nourishing all things. The water that falls from the sky enters plants and animals and is transformed, then enters us, exits us, enters the rivers, returns to the skies. So it is with all created things. They enter each other and exit, transform and are transformed. Let go of your creation in every way. Instead of dwelling in the past of creations, become totally absorbed in the process of creation as a life path. In this way your creativity will be empowered and you will participate endlessly and effortlessly in the process for as long as you live.
Creativity is the process by which Life is furthered. It involves self-knowledge, discipline, transformation, openness, and radical humility. Its cultivation makes better people of all of us. It’s cultivation allows us to consciously participate in the greater powers of Creation in the Universe around us. It is a source of great health, joy and reverence. The longer you fully participate in this process, the easier and easier it becomes. After a time you become an engine of transformation. This is a tremendous power and responsibility. Things will enter and transform you effortlessly as the various sources of your resistance to internal change are evaporated. You will become more and more deeply sensitive to yourself and your environment and the energies therein. You will instinctively reach out toward imbalance and effortlessly insert just the right energy, process, or form to restore balance. Your efforts will allow you to trust yourself and the Universe and its processes to a deep and truly satisfying degree. It is an amazing moment when it occurs to you that you have reached that level of personal development. Then you will walk a full, endlessly challenging and satisfying life path few have ever traveled…a path our race was born to travel. Start your first forty days right now!
c. 1999 Teresa Hawkes
Teresa Hawkes Publisher The Oracular Tree http://www.oraculartree.com ..”.the power of the Pen…amplified by the Keyboard…raised to the velocity of Cyberspace”