Most people associate the word “creativity” solely with artists ( painters, musicians, writers, actors, … ), the “creative segment” of society. Nowadays it is also widely used in corporate environments, politicians talk about it, schools and academic institutions pretend to promote it, and i am stating that this is a serious reduction of what creativity could be in our lives as a whole.
We barely touch upon the most valuable level of creativity, namely our basic ways of thinking and living.
Modern society and its participants have grown into predominantly rigid structures, into advanced reasoning within very limited frameworks. Every aspect (or so it seems) of the world is handed over to specialists, and these people are supposed to get us out of the mess we’re in, whether it be politicians, economists, teachers, caretakers, nuclear physicists, sociologists, psychologists, brain surgeons, … Nearly everyone is processing heaps of information within his or her field, and is automatically unable to integrate their findings within the greater whole that is the world. Even worse, each specialist most likely creates new problems in other areas because his or her views and solutions are not in tune with the rest of the ongoing worldly processes. Looking at the whole is no one’s job and is considered irrelevant, primarily because present-day science sees it that way, since it is also organized in that fragmentary fashion (this might be slowly changing due to certain findings in biology and quantum physics, but these are not seriously considered, since established science is full of dogmas and is for most part an ideological war ).
You could say that religion has or used to have a mission in looking at wholeness, but the institutions have prevented this, focusing on particular beliefs and far too literal interpretations. Structures are much more important than the people at the base, in nearly every organization.
Living in a country where it takes more than a year to reorder political structures and make a new government, while there are so many critical problems facing humanity, this crisis is very apparent. Political, linguistic, cultural, and most of all, psychological barriers make it impossible to act creatively, rationally and intelligently. Worst of all, the nearsightedness is so widespread and ingrained in everyday thought, that we no longer question the idiotic puppetry. And if you ask me, the alarming rate of depressions and suicides is also linked to this cynical, uncreative state of affairs. The conceptual divisions are real-life prisons, and they put a serious toll on each of us.
In reality, everything is connected and interdependent, but most specialists (and hence most of us) still think that problems can be solved separately and independently.
We humans do not see the enormous effects of artificial structures on our lives, but they are very much active and put a lot of strain on our health, our joy and our freedom.
While all children are born with the innate quality of wonder and creative inquiry, most of us lose it somewhere along the road. Usually this comes from the surrounding environment which focuses on order, conformity, earning money, … Of course we need some basic rules to get along, but what i am talking about is usually much more subtle, and it can have all sorts of ramifications. For example, most toddlers lose their natural ability to do full belly breathing and only breathe partially with their chest, which is a far less optimal way, making people more prone to stress, bad circulation, blockages in the abdomen, etc. Most adults don’t know how to breathe freely, fully and efficiently, and similar symptoms can be found manifold in our ways of thinking and living.
The creative potential of mind&body is there, but the more it gets buried under robotic, neurotic and senseless patterns, under tons of junk, the less chances of it springing into action.
Personally, i could be called a renaissance man. While i had a decent scientific education, i also explored various art forms as an adolescent, both as a fan and as a creator. The expression gave me some comfort and satisfaction, but it did not solve my deep-rooted confusion and discontent. Eventually, digging deeper into my mind structures and processes, creatively tackling all sorts of blockages, fluid creativity became my essential, overall way of living. No longer could i put my energy in expressing my persistent emotional hangups and illusions, i had no other option but to creatively observe and act, from moment to moment, and to let go of all personal ambitions. I fully realized that any success would only give me temporary solace. My whole context changed, so the meaning of all things changed. This was a gradual process with some major shifts, and while it must be said that i seriously investigated J. Krishnamurti’s words in the process, creativity is what drove me further, searching for creative ways of developing mindfulness, insight and informal meditation.
The “artistic struggle” attitude that i was once caught in is the same thing as the political game: it implicitly upholds certain artificial structures to which human creativity or decision-making is subordinated to. In other words, by adopting the existing structures, to achieve and sustain your status as a renown artist or as a popular politician comes first. What is actually created or decided is of lesser importance and does not come from a free mind, but there is the strong illusion that it does. People who truly see this step out of the game, become renegades and hardly get any attention. Every social system reinforces itself. The nonsense, the drama, the intrigues and the quarrels, that’s what is usually shown in the media, so we constantly get the impression that that is all there is, and that that is the way to go.
Anyway, i am still at an artist at heart i guess, next to being a spiritual being and a scientist. The big difference is that the art of living is now my main project, so to speak.
Most people are creative in some aspect of their life, which is part of their joie de vivre: they keep their conversations lively, they surprise their partner, kids or friends, from time to time, they detect and correlate situations and opportunities, they creatively deal with difficult circumstances, whether these are emotional, physical, financial, professional, or of some other sort.
At the same time, on the darker side of the spectrum, people can be very cunning and inventive at manipulating or hurting others, evading taxes, … Of course, that is partial, fragmented creativity, but still it takes the energy and action to look at things from another perspective, and to create new ways, new plans in reaction to a problem. This is also the reason why people feel so alive when they start scheming, creativity is an important trait.
I am not saying that it is wrong for artists to pursue their goals, as it is for many a way of coping with personal issues or to create new perspectives on things, out of necessity. I just want to make clear that the creative energy that is put into paintings, music, literature, poetry, cinema, philosophy, the whole entertainment business,…, is limited and can lead to more misery. It definitely has its place, and it can be very inspiring and show some of the highest things our mindbodies are capable of, and it is just fun to do or watch.
Also, scientists, politicians and all the other professionals have an important, creative role to fulfill. The key is to keep integrating each domain into the bigger whole, as a movement, instead of working on rivaling, wasteful, short term projects.
Creative change is the only constant in the universe. Darwinists and creationists aside, history continues to show us that everything keeps on changing, that nature will confront us with problems and challenges that we have never encountered before, that black swans (unexpected events with large impact, e.g. the 9/11 attacks, tsunamis, nuclear disasters, …) will continue popping up. And this we simply cannot control with any structure. In most cases, our existing organizations and other structures cannot cope with large changes, because they are too big and too rigid to adapt to new and challenging situations. If our species really wants to survive, we shall have to implement processes and structures that closely resemble those found in nature, by closely examining the ecosystem as a whole. It is easy to be innovative in a narrow context and to neglect all the negative side-effects that it entails. This is why creativity has to be one of our main focuses on any level, without any disconnect with our bodies, our environment, the physical world. A perpetual cycle of creative renewal, of living and dying, on all levels.
This also means that learning never stops, and that learning is more than accumulating knowledge from the past. It is also about observing changes and intelligently adapting to them.
We are living in a world where short-sightedness is rewarded, not only in the financial industry but everywhere – don’t look to deep or far ahead, don’t worry about the future of your children – as if the mess will one day miraculously dissolve itself after we have made some superficial changes.
The deeper dimension of relating and connecting the dots, which can be considered spiritual or “religious”, is hardly ever addressed, especially in modern times where everything needs to be evaluated by numbers, concrete results, productivity, efficiency. It systematically gets ignored, because no explicit value is given to the more subtle aspects of the living conditions on this earth. Economic growth has become the world’s number one religion, and poor and rich are trapped in that largely uncreative, robotic rat race towards material wealth. Surely we are going to need more than so-called green cars and solar panels to start co-creating with nature instead of creatively destroying it, no?
After all, nature is the master-creator and the main factor of our economy, she is the most advanced, most energy efficient, produces zero waste, but who is willing to admit this and bring it into account?
Creativity cannot be measured, it cannot be put in statistics, and it is never rewarded if it severely challenges existing structures. When a company or university claims to be creative, they are always tuned in to the present system, with a little freedom to modify things here and there. Nowhere are children or students encouraged to deeply question everything, since that is far too dangerous for every person or organization that has become established.
Mediocrity reigns supreme, but PR managers and marketeers successfully implant the illusion of the opposite.
The ultimate and most precious form of creativity lies in being open, flexible and intelligent as a human being, to have a deep understanding of life and death and everything in between. This creative transformation is the only solid basis to approach our surroundings.
Profound insight into one’s nature, into human nature, is ultimately a creative act, because the seeing immediately changes the internal structures, you cannot separate the two.
All is one. You cannot make the world healthy if you are not moving towards being healthyyourself as a flexible, creative mindbody, just like you can’t be healthy in a unhealthy world.You cannot intelligently lead a government or do politics if you are unable to grasp the essence of your own psycho-physical organism and if you are living as a limited machine, resorting to fragmentary scientific studies and views. You cannot find complete, stable joy and peace of mind if your happiness depends on good luck and arbitrary conditions. Most people are not even aware of this possibility, and their conditioning gets strengthened by all the petty psycho-sociological research that focuses on mechanical, copycat behavior. People feel comforted to read that most other people are just as rigid and messed up as they are. It should be obvious though: the more you cling to structure(s) and narrow down your views, the duller and more lifeless you become. Robot see, robot do.
Freedom is to be found in creative response to your present restrictions, not in prefabricated choices.
First i was going to end this post with the opening statement on my personal website, but i hate to repeat myself. Also, this meditation turned out very different from what i had in mind, turning to nature and the human imbalance towards partial and non-creativity. However, that is what true creativity is all about: to let go of all expectations, fears and restraints, with your whole being, and to ride that invisible wave the best you can, wherever it takes you.