Creativity & Spirituality
The great physicist Max Planck once wrote that science, like music and art, is essentially an attempt “to solve or at least express” the mystery of nature, and the more we progress in any of these fields of endeavor “the more we are brought into harmony with all nature itself.” [See: Quantum Questions, ed. Ken Wilber (Boston: Shambhala, 1985), p.153.] These words reflect the overarching unity that is at the heart of any genuinely creative activity: a unity that encompasses both what is expressible and what is inexpressible—what we can discern through the physical processes of our bodies, and what we can perceive through our imaginative and intuitive capacities.
Human creativity is our way of taping into the life-giving energy that sustains our universe (the wholeness to which we belong). And because each of us is a unique individual, we tap into this energy in uniquely personal ways. When we act creatively, we are expressing both our individualities and our participation in a reality that is infinitely beyond the edges of our particular selves: a reality that is both tangible—something we can see, hear, touch, taste, or smell—and intangible—something that we sense is beyond our full understanding because it exists as an all-encompassing context for whatever we experience.
It is this blending of our unique, personal selves with the wholeness of universal life that gives our creative endeavors a sense of being ultimately significant for us. And this is why I believe we can rightly refer to any genuinely creative activity as a spiritual experience. What is spirituality if not an ultimate or fundamental way of expressing our participation in the unity of life, the “breath” or energy that sustains everything that exists?
Because the spiritual quality of creativity manifests itself whenever we sense our participation in the wholeness of life, we do not have to be engaged in any particular kind of activity in order to be creative and give expression to our innate spirituality. By paying close attention to whatever we are doing or experiencing at any given time, we are submitting ourselves to a way-of-being that takes us beyond our self-centered interests into the world of authentic participation. And when this happens, we are acting in a truly creative way because we are contributing to the ongoing creative flow of universal life.
When it comes to expressing our sense of belonging to the whole of life, all we need to do is to be as fully present in a situation as possible. So, the scope for expressing ourselves creatively and spiritually is virtually limitless, because it embraces whatever we may be involved with, be it our jobs, household chores, talking with a friend, composing a poem or piece of music, practicing a skill, building a piece of furniture, writing or reading an essay.
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Living in the middle of things involves a willingness