The conversation touches on many diverse themes but always circles back to who we are and how our purposes are intertwined, for it is only when we see that our personal desires are perfectly aligned with the destiny of humanity as a whole that we will give ourselves full permission to enjoy the most exquisite experiences life has to offer.” 29.
The Waiter After a successful performance of one of his plays at the village theatre, the playwright went with the cast to the village restaurant to celebrate. Once they had placed their orders, the playwright noticed that their waiter kept looking at him from a distance. When the waiter brought their drinks, the playwright asked him: “Is there something you want to say to me?” The waiter was a bit startled. “Uh, no,” he said with eyes down as he put the drinks on the table. He began to walk away, then he hesitated, turned to the playwright and uttered, “I saw your play tonight.” “Did you enjoy it?” the playwright asked.
The waiter stood and looked around, his tight lips ready to burst. “Oh, how I envy you!” the waiter finally blurted out. “You have such a way with words.” The playwright laughed. “What do you mean?” “Well, you know what I mean. Your talent with...images, with metaphor.” “Hmm,” the playwright mused, “Can you elaborate?” The waiter stepped back. “Well surely you know what I mean! Tonight, your words, they, they welled up inside your characters, until the clash of their tongues became dark clouds crashing together, piercing lightning bolts through our hearts and leaving a downpour of sorrow in our wake.” “Really? Well...thank you.” “And your hero’s final soliloquy, well, his words of anguish and regret thundered through our bodies, fracturing any fossils of hope his courageous journey had imbedded in our bones.” “But that’s wonderful,” said the playwright. “Yes, of course it is,” the waiter said woefully. “If only I had that kind of talent.” Many of us discount our creative abilities, or deny that we have them altogether. This belief may very well have resulted from getting our creativity trampled on at an early age, when our efforts were subjected to judgment and ridicule. Being creative entails being different. It means leaving ourselves open and vulnerable without a safety net of established order to fall back on. And so instead of continuing to follow our magical inner voice, we were forced to grow up, to follow the rules that would allow us to gain acceptance by fitting in and acting like everyone else. In other words, we were under a lot of pressure to be normal. As a result we will sometimes state flatly that we are not creative when we are asked to be artistic or make use of our imagination. But the assertion that we are not creative is far more that false modesty: it is actually impossible. True, some people may display more talent in rendering oils, expressing themselves musically or consistently being able to find the bon mot, but this does not mean that we do not all have the ability to create. If you have ever cooked a meal you have created something. Whenever you speak you are creating meaning from words. If you are alive—and I suspect that everyone reading this book is—then you are creating a stamp on the collective human consciousness with every thought you think and every move you make. To be human is to be creative. Demonstrating it is a matter of tuning into and trusting our intrinsic abilities. And getting in tune with our true nature is greatly facilitated by getting in tune with nature itself. When we walk into a forest everything around us is alive and growing. If we stop taking for granted that the trees and the birds are just there and look more closely at their activity, we get reconnected to the world as creation. We see the harmonious growth, where everything has its place and purpose. We can be swept up by the feeling that we are a part of this world, and that creativity is within us as well. We may even get a glimpse of our life as a process of ongoing creation, creation that admittedly we are not always conscious of. However our modern lifestyles generally make it difficult to be connected this way. Working in lifeless high-rise buildings, moving from place to place on pavement in motorized vehicles, we lose touch with growth, change, creation. Instead we live amongst cold, permanent concrete, steel and glass. Our lives get modeled around this permanence, and we get into the routine of the daily grind. We stay with what we know, continuing to do the mundane activities that we’re used to and have become familiar with. When even our leisure time is spent more and more in safe and predictable confines, our imagination is neglected. Our thinking itself tends to stay within the known, rehashing the same ideas over and over again in our minds. In the process, our creativity atrophies like an underused muscle. Still, it remains within us, ready to be activated. Our creativity can never die. It is who we are. And even if we are not conscious of it, we continue to create as our life goes on. When we are not conscious of our abilities, when we are not actively seeking to create something new, then we are fully influenced by what is around us, and simply re-create what comes into our field of perception. This is perhaps why we do not consider ourselves creative, because habitually all our thoughts, ideas, and even dreams are based on what we see before us and not our imagination. But this does not prove that we are not creative—it just means that we are not fully conscious. Consciousness really demands looking inside. Without consciousness we are like sleepwalkers, on track to continue replicating only what we see and know so that the conditions of our life generally remain the same. But life sees to it that we have our moments, and will ultimately push us in the direction of becoming more conscious of who we actually are at some point in our lives. For example, when a couple gives birth to a child there is not only a sense of amazement but also a deeper clarity and a sharper focus. It is as if there was something they knew all along but only truly awoke to it in the moment that they first saw their newborn. So even if they had been oblivious to it all their lives, this moment cannot help but produce an epiphany for the couple: we are creative. Typically we have looked at our creative moments as extraordinary in the context of our normal lives. But there is a budding suspicion nowadays that these moments actually put us in touch with the highest truth of who we are. When we are thrust by some powerful event into a recognition of our creativity, we are at one with the world. This is what it feels like to have the power of our Dao Self flowing freely through us. For a moment the ecstasy and excitement are difficult to contain. Soon enough, however, this state of being becomes just as difficult to retain.
The feeling gradually fades away like a dream, as the gravity of an environment dominated by reason returns us to the familiarity of our Ego Self. We start to question whether those feelings were real and authentic, or if we were just on some momentary anomalous ‘high’. Purely speaking it is not reasonable to be creative, so it should come as no surprise that being creative has precious little support in our society. And without support, these moments of clarity and heightened awareness soon give way to a dwindling-back into relative unconsciousness. In his day William Blake fought tirelessly against the numbing effects on an overly rational world, saying, “I will not reason and compare; my business is to create!” His was a call to live in accordance with our passion, which leads to the desire to create, not just in artists but indeed in all humans. Creation is the true business of human life, even if it has not been our business as usual. It requires us to let go of control, to loosen the grip reason has on our thinking, and work more from the passion of our intuitive side. It is no wonder that this is uncomfortable for us, since it leads us away from the secure grounding of the tried and true. But then, how can we ever expect originality if we are simply following what has come before? The sublime and the beautiful rarely reveal themselves through the controlled application of established guidelines. Fostering our ability to create requires the courage to go beyond formulas and dig for the source in the unmarked terrain of our own minds. I have had many challenges with the creative process on my writing path, going through periods of doubt and uncertainty about how to proceed. On the one hand, I have come to understand why writers keep talking about the muse, the mythic woman who shows up on her own schedule to inspires writers to find the words and ideas they long to use.
There is no question of the feeling sometimes of some outside ‘presence’ that brings me calm, focus, and inspiration. In this state my writing is clear, strong, and sometimes even beyond what I thought I had in me. Five minutes with the muse can often bring me better results than a full day of forced effort. On the other hand, I have a deep respect for the many successful writers who treat writing like a nine-to-five business and keep a set schedule in which they fasten themselves in front of their typewriter or computer. Certainly the adage that ‘writing is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration’ resonates with my experience. Persistence has probably been the most essential ingredient to the whole process. And yet I no longer see persistence as forcing myself to write when I’m not in the mood—because the results are almost never any good. Persistence can easily become control, and I believe the work of creativity is a letting-go of control. Learning to walk the fine line between the two poles of allowing and persistence is, to me, learning about writing and about creativity. We don’t ‘do’ creativity as much as we open ourselves to it. In order to create we must somehow be in touch with—and have a strong measure of trust in—something bigger than the self we usually identify with. This doesn’t mean that all we should do is sit around and wait for this bigger self—our Dao Self—to come by and enter into our lives. In actual fact our Dao Self is always there, but we often need to get out of our own way to be present to it. Our persistence serves to move us more deliberately into the now, where we can tap into our creative source. Historically, artists have endowed us with reminders to move away from the mundane and live in the realm of the imagination. Great works of art provide us with models beyond the checks and balances of our rational world. When we go to a museum and see the glory of a great work of art, we are reminded that its beauty originated as a thought in the artist’s mind. Every brushstroke is guided by this inspiration, this thought.
The grander the thought, the grander becomes the creation. If creating brings into being what originates in thought, then it is not reserved for what we formally call art. Creating art can be seen as a microcosm of creating life, the ultimate work of art. While it seems obvious enough that a painting or skyscraper or even a rocket was once a thought, it is a bit of a challenge for us to grasp that the very shape and fabric of our lives emerges from our thoughts. And yet this is the premise of the new conversation. It maintains that we are all creative, and we have the power to create the kind of life that we most deeply desire for ourselves. This is an idea that has been expounded upon by many of the great thinkers and sages in history. Only now, however, is it starting to take hold in the hearts and minds of a significant number of people in our society. We are still in the early stages of fully practicing the deliberate and conscious creation of our lives. And it is not easy.
The disproportionate influence of the mechanistic world view is still prevalent. It tells us that we can only believe what can be proved rationally. It tells us that our future is dictated by our past. It tells us that we are small and separate beings, at the mercy of the external circumstances of our lives, driven to behavior rather than driving it, as though we were billiard balls being knocked around a table in a deterministic manner.
The mechanistic world view has left a deep mark on us, making us fear that we are merely unfeeling machines, and consciousness simply the result of random material processes. This has reinforced an ingrained habit of living unconsciously, without directed thought, without focus, without intention. In other words, it has reinforced the habit of acting out of habit itself. But we are at the dawn of a new era.
The time has come for us to talk each other out of this habit of habits, and open the way for our thoughts and beliefs to drive the circumstances of our lives forward instead of the other way around. We are ready to move beyond a life where external circumstances knock us around like billiard balls. Our growing complexity is tuning us in more to the plea of our inner voice that there is a choice, and that choice is to be creative. It allows us to soar beyond the strict boundaries of behavioral cause and effect and respond to the conditions of our lives in unique and unpredictable ways. To deny that we are creative is to resign to a life without purpose or direction. To accept it is to acknowledge that we are responsible for everything that happens to us, and have the potential to experience ourselves consciously as the creators of our lives. Due to the pressure of mass censorship, we now have our own censorship-free, and ad-free on demand streaming network! You can stream conscious media 24/7 and enjoy mind-expanding interviews, original shows, and documentaries and guided programs. Click here to start a FREE 7-Day Trial and watch 100's of hours of conscious media that you won't see anyw.
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