Posts Tagged creativity

When the Artist is Alive within You

When the Artist is Alive within You



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The Success of Failure

Let me be like grass that had been eaten to the ground, but always grows again.
Let me be like a fountain that had been trodden into mudiness, but always becomes clear again.
Let me be like the morning red that always triumph over the darkness of the night…

Success and excellence are the shinning baubles dangled in front us as the ultimate of life’s experience. Even in most spiritual writing these days most is focused on excellence and success. “Ten steps to Success”, “Ten Steps to Lasting Happiness”, “How to get all you Desire” and so forth. If you look at the amount of literature available on those subjects and how many sales they have generated, then the world should currently be experiencing a boom time and the world should be filled with happy people. Yet, what we see in the world is just the opposite. How many people are experiencing an economic boom and how many people are happy? What is wrong with the picture that we see in relation to the theories? The empirical evidence seems to belie the theory.

The problem with most of these theories is that they depict only a partial truth. They show only a small fragment of the whole picture. Life is change; that which is without change, without growth is dead. To be alive means that we have to experience seasons of growth and seasons where everything seems to stagnate and even retrograde. We are also part of the whole and therefore part of the spirit of the times. No matter who or what we are, we will find ourselves influenced by a greater or lesser degree by the season that humanity find themselves in. No one is exempted from this, unless of course we have completely transcended our corporeal form. Furthermore if we are part of the whole we cannot be truly successful if a part of us is not successful, nor be truly happy if a part of us is not happy.

Contrary to what is often said success and excellence can only be measured in relation to something else. In other words, success is seen as relative to failure and excellence is relative to mediocrity. Even if you do not measure your moments of success or excellence against the excellence or successes of others, it still has to be compared against what you see as success or failure. Thus we are not practicing non-attachment. We will either be striving to achieve relative success or excellence and thus be attached to avoiding failure and be attached to striving for success. If we are attached to something we set ourselves up for disillusionment and no matter how successful we may appear in the eyes of the world, we will still experience failure in our own eyes. Success or excellence can only be experienced in a moment. Yesterday’s success is tomorrow’s failure, and yesterday’s excellence is tomorrow’s mediocrity.

I find it interesting that in tracing back the word failure it seems to root from the latin word “fallere”, which means to deceive. To be deceived is to given cause to believe what is not true and thus involves the belief of a misrepresentation of the truth. This is indeed what we perceive when we think we are a failure or when we belief that we are failing because we can only see the partial truth.

In the current spirit of our times failure and mediocrity is seen as the modern day leprosy. In the Western world we have little or no preparation, or guidance for the process of transformation. We enter our transitions from one phase of life to another with no real preparation. As a result we only learn through the school of hard knocks. Even in this we are told to avoid mistakes and failure at all costs. We are applauded for our successes, and punished for our mistakes.

Nicholas Molina, reflects about the irony of success in his article “The Failure of Success”

… Eighteen years of a lack of failure teaches Harvard students to avoid it at all costs; we become extremely risk-averse. Ironically, classes might teach about the risk-reward relationship, but students who are too afraid to fail can only understand the former part of that relationship after experiencing it … Even those golden children who sail through Harvard as they’ve sailed through high school fail, in a sense. They’ve failed to experience failure, and their education is impoverished as a result. I’ve learned, sometimes painfully, to accept that it’s not possible to achieve everything and that only when we risk failure, are great gains possible … In the end, I realized that the criteria I’d been using to judge my education at Harvard were all off the mark. Even if the lessons that will be most valuable in the next chapter of my life have been those I’ve learned outside the classroom, my time at Harvard has been well spent. My only regret is that I didn’t learn the importance of taking risks earlier. That’s probably the most important lesson of all.

We are not shown that our mistakes and failures can show us new opportunities, new undiscovered potentials, and we hide our failures in the recesses of our past. With the result, young people look at those who have succeeded and see only the success, and do not know what it took to get there. The pain of growth is seen in itself as a failure, a lack of strength, unworthiness. If a dark night comes upon anyone, we feel that either we are punished, or are just a failure, or that life is just cruel and unfair. We have no understanding of the process of growth. We do not know, or we have forgotten, that chaos is the very source of creation.

How we perceive success and failure is a dualistic view. In the holistic view of success itself, the view of failure plays an integral part. In our limited view, we do not see ourselves as part of a unified field and we do not see life as a constant process of creative evolution. Evolution is composed of two movements; progress and regress. Seen over a long period of time it is a wave-like motion which is like an incoming tide, every progress moving further forward and every regress receding less far backward. Actually each regress is making the foundation for the next progress. If we look at the each regression in the process of evolution in this light, we find that each regression is a secret operation of the next progression working itself out. In other words, each regression shows us which aspects within ourselves still need to be worked on. The same applies to success and failure, for it is through our failure that our ultimate success is worked out.

Failure is nothing more than the limit to which we can succeed in a given cycle of progress, and represents regress necessary before the next progress. Likewise, we may say that each success is the manifestation of the work accomplished during previous failures. Tau Malachi

When we therefore look at success and failure from a more panoramic view with a non-dual awareness there is no such a thing as failure, only a process of development through trail and error towards eventual success.

What we are experiencing in the world at present is a period of regress in our creative evolution. We are experiencing a period where we must look at our previous so-called period of success and see what within that period still needs to be worked on, and what within that period no longer serves or next step in our creative evolution.

I had a dream where I was talking to Wise man with a black Cobra on his lap. While we were talking he was stroking the Cobra and the Cobra had its mouth clasped on his hand. My attention was diverted from the conversation to this. He smiled at me and said, “It will not hurt you, when you approach it without fear, its mouth is just affectionately clasped on my hand, do you want to try it?” The Cobra looked so serene and affectionate that I thought it made perfect sense. In trust I held out my hand, but as I felt the hardness of its mouth enclose my hand, I felt fear in a fleeting instant. It coiled back and struck fangs into my outstretched hand. Suddenly I was alone and I looked at my hand, the two fang pricks clearly visible on my finger. It was already red and swelling.

I awoke with a gasp of breath, checking my fingers and I instantly remembered the ancient initiations where the initiate is given poison to drink, or indeed the lethal bite of a snake, to transmute or die. Illumination or death.

The apparent failure of our tests, our flaws, our weaknesses, is like the symbolic bite of the poisonous snake.

“The symbol (the serpent) serves to indicate the subtle nature of that illusory lower self which first ensnares the ego, but which ultimately proves the means of enlightening the evolving soul.”

Each stage of our growth contains the seeds of its own betrayal. Each one of us are born with a lethal wound, one that will either bring us illumination or will kill us. It is the way the Divine Trickster trick us into finding our own individual strengths, our unique voice in the Universe. Our wounds reveals themselves to us through our childhood environment, those limitations, those apparent shortcomings that we have to transmute, whether they be mental, physical, spiritual, or emotional. The form of our wounds is unique to each individual. We can ignore our talents and positive abilities but not our wounds, for if we do it will surely kill us.

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be”
Lao Tzu

We cannot operate in this world if do not have an identity – a beingness. From our beingness all our actions flow. Whether what we think we are is true or false we cannot function in this world without an identity. What we think our function is in this world, naturally also flows out of what we think we are. However, from time to time, through our living and experience, we discover that what we thought we were is not what we are. Even when we have Gnosis of what we are at a particular moment in time, the very Gnosis will result in changing what we discovered that we are at that particular moment in time. Discovering who we are is an ever evolving process.

When you understand all things
can you step back from your own understanding?
Lao Tzu

Our falling apart is an imaginal process, like the collapse of
cities and the fall of heroes in mythical tales – like the dismemberment
of Dionysian loosening which releases from overtight
constraint, like the dissolution and decay of alchemy…
Afflictions point to Gods, Gods reach us through afflictions.” –
James Hillman

(It is the process of our falling apart that I described in my series of the Dark Nights of the Soul)

It is human nature to reside in complacency unless something forces a change in us. In our urgency to find an antidote, a cure for our affliction, we are led deeper than we would have been if we just passed the test. Our very flaws can if we acknowledge it, be the cause of our evolvement. We are at a point of our evolution where we can become conscious creators and stop the mindless destruction we are currently engaged in, and live in synergy with our fellow men and all life forms on this planet.

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The Song of Songs – Love, Sexuality, Creativity and the Divine

With your touch I quivered
like a string of a harp
be it sound
be it colour
be it form
be it fragrances
your touch released
a quivering emanation
from my heart
and in that quivering
I was transformed

Throughout the history of Mankind mystics have expressed the transforming interaction with the Divine through the arts. Art and Science are actually not as different as it may appear to. Both is a process of discovery; of revealing what was hidden, yet was there all along. All of the discoveries, inventions and creations, the world values, came from passionate minds. Someone felt a hunger; a love for something and from that interaction, birth was given to something not seen before. The hunger to create is akin to the erotic desire.

” Erotic energy is the eternal source of creativity. The erotic shock is the way of revealing beauty in the world.” Nicholas Berdyaev

Each one of us, and indeed everything within existence, sings a silent song of yearning to be discovered. It is through our silent songs that we draw towards us the other, the beloved. To be loved is to be made visible. Within in each of us there is a deep longing to be made visible. That is, we long for something or someone to recognize that which is invisible behind our exterior form and to make it visible through the intimate touch. To be touched means to let down your guard and be stirred through the interaction with something that you perceived to be outside of your self. Yet, through the touch that which was perceived to be separate from you becomes part of you. For to be touched is to experience. To experience is to know something.

Dry intellectual knowledge can only bring you to the first layer of understanding, whereas wisdom is the essence of understanding. There are some that say that true intellect should be defined as an ability to interact with the world around you. To reach out is a gesture of wanting to understand. Wisdom is born out of this reaching out and interacting with the world around us, and through this an inner reflection, an inner understanding of the whole is born. One could say that out of the bitterness (Mara) of experience, the sweetness of wisdom is born.

In Ancient Egypt the word Ais is for brain intellect, and Sia for intelligence of the heart, in other words intuition. Intuition literally means “knowledge coming in.” Yet neither wisdom nor intellectual knowledge can be gained without love, for to know something there first need to exist a desire, a love for something, for if you feel love for something there is a need to unite with what you love. In uniting with something, or at least a reaching out towards something an understanding is brought about. Knowledge means to unite oneself with the object, concept or idea, one requires to understand, hence the term carnal knowledge.

In the experience of life we taste and absorb experience as nourishment of the soul. Experience is true communion when we live consciously. Sweetness and bitterness both alike enrich our being and creates depth to our insights and brings us wisdom that have grown through the tasting of life. A beautiful perfume is not created through sweet fleeting scents only; it is composed out of blending fragrances of different qualities together to create beautiful silent poetry. Some of the scents within the composition may indeed be repulsive on its own but without it the whole composition would not be beautiful, and once you experience what its hidden qualities are, – what it brings to the whole – you can never again perceive that element as ugly. What is more, through that experience your whole perception of how you view the world is changed, because you can never again reject something as ugly out of hand, as that experience will prompt you to look for the hidden beauty in everything you encounter.

“Some say that the world is a vale of tears.
I say it is a place of soul making.”
John Keats

Consider the prodigious physical and evolutionary studies of Teilhardt de Chardin, which conclude that love is the underlying movement and pattern behind the universe: atoms calling each other in search of union so that they begin to constellate and form molecules; molecules in resonance yearning for the Beloved of the next stage so that they can form more complex systems; these systems yearning to form bodies; bodies attuning until they find their partner and produce more bodies with more complexities. We yearn for the gods and the gods yearn for us, so that as we are becoming enspirited, godded beings, the gods are becoming human. Likewise, earth and nature long for spirit, and spirit longs for nature; out of this longing emerges a deeply physicalized spirituality and a deeply spiritual embodiment … Consider, too, process philosopher Alfred North Whitehead’s philosophy of God as the loving lure of becoming the Divine Lover calling the world into becoming, as any great and true lover does with any beloved.Psychologist Jean Houston

“Mathematical cosmologist Brain Swimme and cultural historian Thomas Berry write of a cosmic allurement that is the bond of all matter and what we humans experience as love. It is this lure between things that drives evolution. Love is what evokes in us the desire to make our own next evolutionary leap as a species. The longing to find and join with the beloved of the soul is the allurement that pulls us toward becoming fully human. “Bill Plotkin

It is this allurement that entices us out of our cocoons of isolation, and allows us to experience life. In the experience of life we taste and absorb experience as nourishment of the soul. Its sweetness and bitterness both alike enrich our being and creates depth to our insights and brings us wisdom that has grown through the tasting of life.

The longing to experience life is, thus to know or to have Gnosis of something, is a creative drive. Creativity and sexuality is inseparable for to long to have knowledge of something is to yearn to have carnal knowledge of something. Experience itself is a result of our desire to interact with the world, and as such is a relationship with the other. Our desire seduces us to court what attract us, and so the dance begins. We can have a beautiful soulful relationship with life or we can have a destructive blaming/victim relationship with life; and of course with ourselves.

What do we love, what draws us to risk being exposed to the unknown, the other, the Beloved?

“… your name is perfume poured out…” – Song of Songs

What stirs, excites, and delight us like a beautiful fragrance? Is that not the quest of our lives to know? When we know what is that excites us like no other, we have a purpose for living, and when we pursue it with all of our hearts, we live with passion. When we express our love for our Beloved we reveal our innermost secret chamber, our core, and we live soulfully.

Draw me after you, and I will follow you eagerly.
Be my king and take me to your chambers. We will be happy together; we will extol your love more than wine; –
Song of Songs

It is not fear that drives us to cross boundaries of previous limitations. It is desire that seduces us to cross boundaries and allow us to go where we would not have dared to go before. Yet, where it will lead you is a mystery.
We live in a world of quick fixes, instant gratification and have for most part indeed lost the magic of wonder and awe. When you allow something to unfold, you allow the divine breath to breathe its transforming magic upon it. An initial desire becomes more than could have been imagined in the beginning. It is as dance between two lovers. In today’s world there is a tendency to want to plan everything in exact detail from beginning to end. The unexpected is shunned because it does not fit into the plan. There is no allowance for the “winds of heavens” to play upon our experience of life. If we do not allow for the unexpected, we breathe the breath of death, for there is no room for growth.

I feel my lover’s caress
In the wind
I hear his whispers
In the rustle of the leaves
I feel his embrace
In the enfolding mist
I run my fingers cross the surface of the water
And feel the softness of his skin
Sparkling dewdrops
The glint in his eyes

His gifts to me
The beauty of the moonlight on the sea
The colours of sunset
The fragrance of flowers
Illusive all

Yet he touches my soul
With eternal longing
And I like a mistress
Grateful for the moments of intimacy

See Also:
Sacred Intimacy

Hunger and Desire


Soul Love – Core Values

Resolving the Paradox of Thymos

Emotionally Yours

Evolution of Romantic Love

The Broken Heart

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