During the last couple of days I’ve been corresponding with a couple of the students taking the Introduction to Pureland Buddhism course on Amida Academy on the subject of creativity, specifically, their own creative endeavours.
We all have ideas of what ‘real’ creative people produce, literature, poetry, painting, sculpture, music. And members of our sanghas and other friends are among those producers.
When we think of ‘the artistic’ we can see that there’s the Self Power element of skills honed, time put in. Musicians rehearsing over and over again. There’s also the Other Power elements of inspiration and the attraction to the particular creative impulse.
In comparison, it’s easy to see oneself as not a member of that illustrious group. “Oh, I’m not artistic”, we say. How did we learn this about ourselves? Who told us? I can’t remember any of the children I taught who didn’t enjoy finger painting, collage, marbling, presenting their parents with Christmas cards that showered one with glitter. Even the parents, when they came in for an evening where they were ‘my class’, loved the magical results of marbling and seemed just as thrilled as the children!
I love this poem:
We are Transmitters
As we live, we are transmitters of life.
And when we fail to transmit life, life fails to flow through us.
That is part of the mystery of sex, it is a flow onwards.
Sexless people transmit nothing.
And if, as we work, we can transmit life into our work,
life, still more life, rushes into us to compensate, to be ready
and we ripple with life through the days.
Even if it is a woman making an apple dumpling, or a man a stool,
if life goes into the pudding, good is the pudding
good is the stool,
content is the woman, with fresh life rippling in to her,
content is the man.
Give, and it shall be given unto you
is still the truth about life.
But giving life is not so easy.
It doesn't mean handing it out to some mean fool, or letting the living dead eat you up.
It means kindling the life-quality where it was not,
even if it's only in the whiteness of a washed pocket-handkerchief.
~ DH Lawrence
Perhaps, in addition to judging ourselves less as to the ‘quality’ of the results - after all, we are not aiming at the Turner Prize - we can reclaim that joy of exploration and of expression of that inner urge, that ‘life-quality. And perhaps we can broaden the category of what creativity means. Making meals, doing the washing, over and over and over again, can be humdrum, boring, seen as chores, maybe resented. Yet the same tasks, focused on with love, with appreciation for the gifts of the ingredients, can be a delight, both for the cook and the person cooked for.
What will you create today?
I agree with Sujatin when she suggests the possibility of broadening the meaning of creativity. I think that there is some traditional and outstanding disciplines where creativity is usually recognized, but I think that, really, it is everywhere. Nature is creativity and we are part of it.
If I remember those moments when I feel especially creative I realize that they belong to moments when I surrender completely to the moment. I do not know what is going to be or happen afterwards, I simply experience a real encounter with that mysterious moment, and allow it to surprise me. A sound, a flavour, a smell, a word, a smile,… may point to a particular predictable place or state to reach, or, instead, they may become something new and mysterious. What would happen if I followed this sensation as it was the very first time?...To know it I think the only way is to allow a complete and sincere entrance of it into my body and , from there I will response in a fresh and unpredictable way. That is dancing for me
Dharmavidya said Buddhism is mostly an encounter. Creativity is Life and, I feel, it is also an encounter.
Thank you for this marvellous poem Sujatin