Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Creativity is one of the most talked about subjects today. Everyone wants to be creative. Often, we call ourselves great thinkers and feel we know everything. But in spite of having all the information, we are not creative. What do we do to obtain creativity? Is there any way that we can improve our thought process? Can we create creative thinkers? These are some of the questions in front of us today and research is happening around the world about the very process of creativity.
Let us see if there are any processes to make people creative. What makes someone a genius and someone not? What makes someone creative and someone not? Does this depend on the food we eat, is it exercise or does it depend on any other avenues or arenas? Why does someone get a violent thought and why does someone get a creative thought?
To understand this, it is very important for us to probe into the source of thought. What is a thought? Where does it originate? Thought is nothing but an impulse of energy and intelligence. That impulse of energy and intelligence to arise and a correct thought to come, you need 16 impulses to meet at a point in the cerebral cortex at the speed of 10 to the power of minus 30 cycles per second. In that short interval of time, when all the 16 impulses in the cerebral cortex meet, is what we call a correct thought.
We all have a filter in our mind and we read or listen through this filter. We accept only what we know. Something which doesn’t fall within our belief system, we automatically filter it out. This tendency in the mind to take things which it already knows and reject what it doesn’t know is one of the main blocks to creativity.
So, when such blocks come into us, the question is how we can eliminate them. This is where a little knowledge about our self, about our mind, our consciousness, and the root of distortion will help. One needs to understand that creativity only happens when the body, mind and spirit are in tune with each other. When you are continuously on the job, it leads to wear and tear. When you are tired, exhausted and stressed, when you are not in touch with yourself, your creativity and talents are stifled.
You would have sometimes experienced that when you sit with a paper and pen waiting for a creative idea/thought to come and many times it doesn’t! It does not happen because you are waiting for it to come and you become feverish about it. When feverishness clogs your head, your mind is not clear; poetry cannot dawn, no creative thought will come.
So what is the source of creativity? Deep silence is the mother of creativity. No creativity can come out of one who is too busy, worried, over-ambitious or lethargic. Balanced activity, rest and yoga can kindle skills and creativity in you. It springs from a void, and the fastest way to reach that void is through renunciation. For instance, the purpose of sound is to lead you back to that silence within. Music is nothing but sculpting the silence. Renunciation puts you in touch with that space of silence within you and becomes an unending well-spring of creativity. Retirement and renunciation always rejuvenate the spirit and creation is an inherent quality of the spirit. Anyone who works without retirement can never be creative.
The second aspect for creativity is imagination. You will see that every creative person has some imagination. At that moment one doesn’t think whether the imagination is real or not. Imagination brings creativity and makes even the unreal appear real. If you are thinking only of the ground reality then no creativity will come and if you are only on imagination, totally disconnected with ground reality, then too there is no creativity. A balance is needed. See, life is also like that – a balance between our intellect and our heart, feeling, or intuition. Listening to our gut feeling, developing that intuitive ability within us is another aspect of creativity.
We also need to be conscious of our seven layers of existence which all contribute to creativity.
The first layer is our physical body. Creativity can seldom flow from a body that is tired.
You can act when you are tense, but to be creative you need to be relaxed. To prepare our body for creativity, balanced food, yoga play a vital role.
The second layer of our existence is our breath, which has great secrets to offer. Every rhythm in the mind, there is a corresponding rhythm in the breath, for every rhythm in the breath there is a corresponding emotion. So, when you cannot handle your mind or emotions directly, through breath you can handle them.
Next comes the mind. Mind is perception, observation and expression. Then is the intellect – the judgment, the arguments, the agreement or disagreement that happens within us is all part of our intellect. Then comes the memory – if you observe the memory, it stores the memory of unpleasant things much more than the pleasant. We take the insults and preserve it in our memory much more than the pleasant events.
A calm mind, devoid of agitation, the intellect devoid of arguments and a memory devoid of unpleasant events is fundamental for creativity.
Then comes the ego – the more we study, the more learned we become; we become so stiff. We lose our smile, we lose our innocence and we lose our friendliness. This ego of ”I know better” takes away certain beautiful things from our life.
The seventh layer is the self. When we get in touch with the depth of our self – the source of creativity, our consciousness expands and we feel connected with everybody, with everything in the world. Self is that something that is the reference point of all changes in life. We notice that everything is changing in our life – our body, our mind, our thought, our environment, and our behavior. If everything is changing then how do we know the change? Because there is something that doesn’t change, we are able to notice the change. And this non-changing something is what I would call the Self or the being.
Just a little bit of knowledge about these seven layers of existence makes a big difference in our lives. It brings cheer, freshness, and we become so alive and childlike. If you are cheerful, you will be creative. Otherwise you are so dull.
Also I would suggest you take one week off every year for yourself, like you take your car for servicing. During that time, align yourself with nature, wake up with the sunrise, do some exercise, eat proper food, just as much food as necessary, some exercises, yoga, and some breathing exercises, a few minutes of singing, and keeping silence, enjoying the creation. Aligning ourself with nature, our whole system gets recharged, makes the whole year, we feel so vibrant, enthusiastic.
When you are creative, you break the monotony of time. Everything becomes fresh and alive. Creativity brings along with it a new round of enthusiasm. Both creative and procreative impulses in nature are associated with enthusiasm. When you are enthusiastic you are closer to the creative principle of existence
So just step out of the rational mind and you will find a greater freedom, an unfathomable depth, and you will come face to face with reality. Reality transcends logic and the rational mind. Until you transcend the rational mind you will not get access to creativity and the infinite.
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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar