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Thoughts on Creativity -- Newsletter #26
Inspiration

by Donald W. Mathews

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SELF PORTRAIT

It doesn't interest me if there is one God or many gods.
I want to know if you belong or feel abandoned.
If you know despair or can see it in others.
I want to know if you are prepared to live in the world
--------with its harsh need to change you.
If you can look back with firm eyes saying
--------this is where I stand.
I want to know if you know
--------how to melt into that fierce heat of living
--------falling toward the center of your longing.
I want to know if you are willing
--------to live, day by day, with the consequence of love
--------and the bitter unwanted passion of your sure defeat.

I have been told, in that fierce embrace, even
--------the gods speak of God.

--David Whyte, Fire in the Earth

In David Whyte's poem, he shifts emphasis from some abstract God to the divinity found in human experience and in our responsible acceptance of it. He says we come to our Divinity through our full participation in life by declaring and following our longing even into our sure defeats.

You may ask what does God have to do with creativity and its process. For me, the mystery of inspiration is at the core of both the religious and creative processes. Longing and inspiration are inseparably entwined. Inspiration is the stimulation of emotions and intellect that moves us to action -- the deepest longing and most important actions of our divine spirit. Inspiration remains one of the most powerful elements of the Divine. It is a message from what we humans call God.

Spiritual development leads us to find and use the divine or creative center within each of us for inspiration and motivation. Therefore, learning and using this part of the creative process is also spiritual development. It is to flow easily and congruently between the mysterious creative and healing inner resources of the psyche to outer actions in the world. Both art and religion are based on this relationship between humankind and the gods. There is a sacred creative wisdom, a deeper communal intelligence accessed from within each of us that knows more about the needs of life than our ordinary conscious mind controlled by ego. It is found in the hidden content of unpredictable inspiration and longing.

With proper attitude, we can all find this powerful supportive force guiding artists and creation itself. It is found by having faith in one of the deepest and most mysterious aspects of our being -- our inspiration -- and courage to interpret and manifest it in our life. It is part of the powerful creative force behind evolution. Inspirationšs revelations often feel awesome and threatening to us because they lead into the fullness of our own life. This is particularly true with awareness of life's dangers. Life is full of tragedy, pain and suffering. However, inspiration -- Soul's call to us -- leads into it!

The personality component that is conscious, most immediately controls behavior and is most in touch with external reality is the ego. Ego is developed by building successful inner strategies for living life that initially protect us from pain and suffering and ultimately allow us to heal from wounds and grow. Some aspects of ego are internalized from others and some we creatively devise from experience.

When we are vulnerable, ego is innately defensive, for protection is its important task. The ego often becomes defensive when we venture into new unpredictable territory -- beyond its protective limits. So, it takes courage to risk explorations beyond the edge of what is known or safe. Support and a safe environment helps calm ego's fears. However, as we gain life experience reaching new stages, we can also relax controlling ego methods and enjoy more fluid, receptive and exciting ways of being.

Life experiences as well as dreams, intuitions and imagination all have the power to inspire or frighten us, depending on our attitude. How we respond to these mysteries is at the heart of the creative process. Openness and receptivity allow subtle clues to arouse our curiosity and inspire us -- the way of a fine artist. Fear and defensiveness blocks inspiration.

When we quiet the mind, we access normally unused portions of the right brain and expand beyond everyday consciousness -- we open to the sacred mysteries of inspiration found in imagination and intuition. It is also to open to what we call the heart. In spiritual terms, it is found in meditation and contemplation. It is known as the Inner Way. This requires us to experience without judgment, comparison and without the need to understand before taking responsibility for what we find and the ensuing personal actions that may follow. It may require us to totally change our outer life direction. This is the beginning of our most important life long journey -- a pilgrimage searching for a spiritual life based on divine inspiration.

Until we open the defensive part of ego, we cannot be fully in life or fully present with another being. I think this why the ancient Greeks said it was so important to "Know Thy Self." It was to know our hidden potential and limitations of ego so we could seek our soul's calling -- time after time. It is often hard to risk this when we feel comfortable in a materially endowed life. But when we look for the subtle clues of inspiration, something new inside us often beacons. Then we can look back with firm eyes melting into the fierce heat of living falling toward the center of our longing!

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