Saturday, May 22, 2010

A spiritual approach to creativity

This is my first 'idea-in-progress' post, which from the name, is about an idea in progress. Actually, while all my ideas are ideas in progress, these posts are about ideas that are at a very primitive stage, meaning I could have just thought of the idea today, which for this one, I have. And to differentiate such posts from normal posts, there will be no picture to begin it.

So anyway, today I was viewing these youtube videos on this notion of a 'spectrum', of mental disorders. The spectrum was measured along the notion of love and fear, and on the fear end of the spectrum was schizophrenia. In the middle, of mixed experiences, is bipolar mania, and the love end, is a spiritual emergency.

So the video was going about how some 'bipolar' experiences are in fact, spiritual emergencies. And it prompted 2 questions in me. Is the link between bipolar disorder and creativity, pseudo? And, what if we approached creativity from a spiritual point of view?

The first question would lead somewhat to the 2nd question. Because I've noticed from the video, that the traits exhibited by people in spiritual emergencies, are similar to those of creative people. For instance, they become more intuitive, and the traditional barriers they once held on to begin to break down, and they see things more metaphorically. So creative people might not have bipolar disorder at all, but they are having a spiritual emergency. Just that if society does not let them develop their spiritual awakening, it becomes full-blown bipolar disorder. That is when the bad stuff really happens.

But this is just my deduction, remember it's an idea in progress.

Then comes the 2nd question, which is the main theme for this post. What if, we decided to break the traditionally held ideas of creativity and viewed it from a very spiritual viewpoint? Da Vinci did it, (or at least I think he did it). At the moment, many creative gurus are viewing creativity a bit like a machine, or process. To put it clearer, it's a bit like how many martial arts teachers teach martial arts nowadays. They teach the form, the technique, but not the philosophy, or the 'art' of the martial art. In my opinion, they might as well change the name to 'martial science'.

My point here is not to derail science, I am a science student after all, but what I'm trying to say is that we should not solely depend on science alone. True we need to know the form, but it is also important to know the art and the philosophy behind it. Because it is the art and the philosophy of a martial art, that we can use in our daily lives, outside our training, which enables us to understand what we practice better. It is through understanding this art that the science begins to change. For instance, if your martial art is based on compassion, then if you attack an opponent violently with a lot of anger, then you know that something is wrong with your training. If that's the case, then perhaps you should learn a more aggressive martial art, with which the philosophy is about securing victory at all costs. Either that or you can begin practicing compassion in your daily life.

This is like how martial arts meets spirituality.

Same with creativity, I personally feel we have been taught a lot of science about creativity, but we have yet to learn to appreciate it as an art, which is important. We know creative techniques, we know brainstorming, but other than the creative meetings we attend, how often do we use creativity anywhere else? If we only use creativity in that one or 2 hour session, then how are we supposed to develop creativity?

Da Vinci probably viewed creativity as a means of cultivating his soul. The thing about him is that he didn't use creativity to generate scalable business ideas, he used creativity simply because he enjoyed being creative. Just like great martial artists practice martial arts not to defeat everyone around them, but for health and leisure, and also a little bit of intellectual curiosity.

For me, I believe in being creative as a means of being happy, that's it. There's a certain thrill to taking risks and using your creativity to maneuver through the odds, just like how u maneuver a jet plane through a mass of falling rocks. Creativity to me isn't just about solving problems or generating new ideas, it's about enjoying life and being happy.

I think if a person wishes to be truly creative, he has to adopt this attitude. He should learn to enjoy writing stories, poems, and engage in art and music. A person who only knows creativity is important in his job but does not seek to live creatively, is like how many kids start to learn martial arts because they saw a cool move in a movie. The essence isn't there.

So this ends my first idea-in-progress post. Why I am still quite uncertain about it is because of the notion of spirituality. I've realised that spirituality is a bit hard to define. That's why I didn't use so much of the word here. Perhaps I will think along the lines of the 'mind, body, soul' concept I've thought of recently and do some adjustments from there.

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