What is creativity? It seems an obvious question. We know what it is? Do we? The word comes from Latin “Creo” to make. Who makes? Makes from what? The answer has changed over the course of history and is different in different cultures! Peter Meusberg’s research showed 100 definitions of what creativity is.
In what we call the western influenced sphere of the globe, creativity originally was seen as “God’s Job”; he created things out of nothing. Humans were considered creative only as per Divine Inspiration (and that only as: Artists, Jesters and Sages).
In the last 300 or so years, the meaning of creativity changed; as we lost the spiritual dimension, creativity became linked to people making things. This is probably the first association we have with that word. From this understanding, followed the notion that imagination is a quality that makes us human distinct from animals; as a result, imagination and even fantasies (i.e. projections of the human mind) were highly priced. We still “suffer” from this, especially in the commercial world.
In the Eastern traditions, including Jainism, Taoism, Buddhism and Sankhya, there always was a different understanding: creation is a process that goes hand in hand with dissolution, as one form of matter changed into another. This process is seen as rooted in “fullness” of existence without form (Brahma Nirguna). A fullness without form, can also be called NO-thing-ness, hence the Buddhist term of Shunya.
So ultimately this nothing, which includes all there can be, all there is and all there has ever been, is the root which brings forth all form, and is venerated as such.
Now let me tell you a bit of my own experience with this concept. I used to be an artist, working in a special Zen technique, originally a sacred form of art. In this, objects made by the artist undergo a simple but unusual process which exposes the objects to extremes of heat and cold. Such extreme process distorts the object, marks the object, even cracks or breaks the object. The objects are highly priced for these marks that from the expectation of technical perfection would be called faults. Cracks are even filled with gold! Why? Because Divine Nature (Shinto/ Zen) or God is the maker and left its mark. The artisan is merely the instrument of creating; from this angle: not “I make a piece of art, but Thy … ” This fosters great humility in the artist, who starts his work with meditation! In order to create, he has to go back to that space of fullness (or no-thingness) from which his creation arises, that fullness where all forms already exist.
Now let’s pull in another source of understanding. It is no more news, to talk about the influence of quantum theory in modern day thinking. We live in a time of paradigm shift, where we start to see the universe and ourselves in a different light, then previous generations. The base theory of quantum thinking has now reached all manner of science. It’s not anymore limited to physics, but expands into biology, medicine, psychology – and the world of IT engineering etc.
What is this new understanding? Whether in the microcosm or the macrocosm (which consists of multitude of micro –moments) there is one base principal: On a much smaller scale than atoms, we have a process where out of “something” energy and material emerge. This is the origin of the famous question of our times: particle or wave?
Imagine you have a wall with two slits, and something we have no name for, something small and intangible, is fired/or pushed/or flows through these slits. When they hit the screen, through which of the two slits does that ‘indescribable something’ flow? The majority of experiments show the same result. So somehow there is choice, there is an “intelligence” that makes decisions, that “knows”. (This is of course a gross simplification to bring a point into awareness … ) And furthermore, when this “mass” reaches the other side, it can suddenly be known, measured, seen, observed … either as particle or wave.
So out of something comes form, comes matter. The state of non-locality, before it is particle or wave, is called by many names, Non –locality is one, consciousness another. And one more interesting point: whether it is particle or wave depends what was in the person’s mind who observed the process.
Let’s go back for a minute to what creativity means. It has been defined as something new of value which before had no form. To bring this about, consciousness is needed; otherwise there is no one to determine whether something is new, or of value. Forms came into existence through mind, or in a wider sense, they exist through consciousness (existence, existere- standing out).
Consciousness thus is both the original source (as we know in Sankhya etc. as well as from what we saw in quantum theory) as well as the defining outcome (mind). They are simply different states. Matter cannot process meaning; it has to come through conscious mind of the observer. .A painting is just a canvas, paint and molecules; the meaning, the beauty comes from the mind. To process meaning requires mind.
My hands move the clay when I make a sculpture, but what moves my hands? Mind, yes, but whose mind, what mind-field/ consciousness … etc.? In other words, on a subtle level (mind and beyond) the object my hands create, exists already – in that space, in that consciousness which is nirguna, without form.
When I used to be an artist, in the early morning hours, when in the state between sleep and waking, I saw the pieces I were to make that day; later my hands merely executed what was already in the “ether,” in subtle form.
When writing books, or articles, in the early hours of the day, between waking and sleeping, I know the whole chapter in its fullness. Later my thinking mind and typing fingers just execute, carry out what is known already.
What else are these states between waking and sleeping other than yoga nidra!
The root of the creative action, or what appears to us as creativity, is the phase of deep sleep/rest/point Zero/ uncluttered mind – that we call deep sleep, where we are connected (albeit unknowingly) to the state of tureeya, consciousness as “all knowing”. We become aware of that which pre-existed - in the shallower state, when we are close to waking up.
Here too, we see that original/fundamental creativity, creating something, giving form to existence comes from a “state of Zero … ”, no form, simply fullness, simply consciousness, without gunas, nirguna!
It is here that science and ancient wisdom meet!
So creativity in its fullest, deepest meaning ultimately comes from the “state of Zero”, of non-localized, no-form … consciousness. Similarly, intuition comes from that unlimited mind-field that we call Divine (Latin: beyond human) consciousness that we experience fully in the state of Tureeya.
Now you can see the link to yoga nidra. When our mind is in a state of non- form … no conditioning, no limitations … simply pure awareness, then there is total potential from where creativity and/or intuition arise. Mind rests in god (re: the image of Vishnu sleeping etc.)
With this we join the ancient wisdom and how (pre 300 years ago) creativity was understood. Equally we join most contemporary understanding: creativity is a quantum jump, from the world of pure consciousness, of Divine unlimited, unformed potential into form; this in the human takes place in the mind as intuition or insight.
Now let’s look at it from yet another angle: The creative process is said to have 4 phases: preparation, incubation, insight and manifestation. Applying this, we can say: preparation in the practice of yoga nidra is relaxation, which is active (doing the 61 points), then in the relaxed state - there is passive resting, incubation. This is like saying: we alternate between doing and being. We do that on the physical level and the subtler level (with breath/mantra/ blue star). Once we totally are at rest, with an empty mind, insight arises, which later is taken into manifestation.
In contrast, creativity through step by step thinking (or imagining) is not really what is meant here by creativity. In “creative thinking” the mind is still, bound by old concepts/patterns of processing that are active in the mind. It’s not bringing forth something entirely new, or even dis-covering new meaning, but giving new value to something that is there already.
Fundamental or true creativity needs us to “jump” out of old known patterns into a new context, new meaning which hopefully is still relevant in the old context. This is the quantum jump. The interesting thing is, just as I mentioned earlier, the new meaning comes as a new Gestalt.
A new Gestalt (a new frame, context, whole image) has gone through an unconscious process, where consciousness has not yet collapsed into a new form (term borrowed from quantum theory.) Thus in this processing all possibilities of unfolding are still open - without collapsing (contracting, shrinking, fixing) into a definite form; this then allows new creation.
Thus, yoga nidra gives the opportunity to bring the mind into a state, of unlimited potential, where the process of collapsing into one certain form (different from others) has not yet happened. Once the unknown is limited to a form, it is understood to have been collapsed, limited/made distinct …
So we can say creativity is the quantum leap of the mind.
Or we can say in more familiar terms:
Creativity arises from the stillness of the potential, full but unformed mind …
Such step of discovering new meaning in a new context is called fundamental creativity. It’s that original creative leap, which some refer to as: ex nihilo; others talk about as appearing out of its own volition/intention.
There is another kind of creativity, which is called situational creativity.
It is giving new meaning to/in an old context or combination. This kind of creativity is what we use for problem solving.
Research on scientists has shown that new thoughts and discoveries have come about in word-less times, like sleep or deep rest, i.e. when the mind relaxes, un–called for, from these states entirely new systems have arisen ; it seems that for creativity it is necessary to de-focus or to get out of the normal mind patterns.
So from all this we can see, that yoga nidra is the practice of getting consciously into a state where the mind is at point Zero, free from normal patterns, still - yet extremely conscious, aware; consciousness per se … .
From there arises something new, a new gestalt, a new insight, which then can be expressed and molded through that creativity which is called situational creativity.
Fundamental creativity is that happening, when from Brahman, from the Absolute, an expression arises. In Sankhya Philosophy we could say it is the appearance of Purusha and Prakriti, or maybe the meeting of Purusha and Prakrit if we take later dualistic Sankhya Philosophy.
Situational Creativity is what happens within Prakriti.
So “fundamental creativity” we understand as a base occurrence, even a base pattern. You might know that the universe is organized in fractals.
The ancients say: as above so below, as inside so outside. The pattern of a rim of a leaf is just like the pattern we see looking at mountain peaks. So in this context, it means: The same truth … that out of some indefinable, unknowable (whether we call it God or some quantum term) comes something concrete/manifest repeats throughout the universe, microcosm and macrocosm, in every minute repetitive patterns.
This “pattern” is also repeated in our minds. From the point Zero, from the state of Delta Waves (or even Flat Waves), i.e. from deep consciousness all that we know , all that is new, arises. Such “fundamental creativity” we could call revelation, and to illustrate that we can take the teachings of the arising of the universal sound OHM, or even the Sanskrit language, or any original insights and wisdom, and all “revealed scriptures”
Once these are “seen in the mind of the Sage (Artist or Jester), the Gestalt is expressed through the media of conditioning, i.e. through words (that limit), through gestures that are learned, through a medium of artistic skills etc. (such as in artists, musicians etc … ) Thus the fundamental creativity becomes situational creativity.
How does such creativity (either form) vary from reverie and visualization? Both these are using the patterns the mind has already to express something the mind has created; the mind creates out of something it has stored in its memory files. I.e. If I have never seen a tree, how can the mind picture ‘tree’ or how can the hand draw a painting of a tree??? So creativity here falls in the category of situational creativity, that which makes things from things that are known, creating into some new combination.
In that way, we as individuals are creative depending on our conditioning, i.e. we have different ways of creativity for different people. Creativity expresses on this level in five different ways, according to the dominating energy.
In people with the conditioning energy of stability, of holding in place – ( tamas; or what one could call earth energy) creativity is that gravitational power that makes manifest. Gives form on the gross level.In people who are under the influence of a more adaptable, flexible energy one could call the energy-field of water, for such people creativity expresses in ever changing forms. Such a person can be an artist who makes thousands of unique pieces, and then again, goes to become a musician, writing countless pieces of music … etc. , forever “reshuffling” that which is stored in the mind. (tamas and rajas combined)
Fire energy transcends form into subtler states; hence a person with this energy, might use a certain pattern, i.e. a language and use it to paint pictures with words, i.e. poetry and story-telling in order to transcend meaning. Thus they use factual knowledge to create new ways, new expressions of ideas and concepts (rajas).
A person conditioned by the subtler energy-field of moving into transparency, of letting go of that which clouds – finds his creativity in taking concepts and ideas into abstraction, not merely using knowledge or language in different ways , but reinterpreting, creating new meaning, taking it into new visions and insight. (rajas and sattva combined)
Space, the most sattvic, most subtle energy, expresses creatively by disconnecting from past forms altogether; reaching a state of no-forms, from which something entirely new and of value can arise. This constitution is closest to experiencing within the human context the fundamental creativity.
This is where situation creativity changes to fundamental creativity; this is where something “new and valuable” is emerging, seemingly “ex nihilo”. Such revelations, such newness comes from the widening of perception we observe in truly creative people. It is this most sattvic energy, that helps to move from individuality to universality.
Hence yoga nidra in its most profound state allows that level of fundamental creativity to rise, which ultimately re-creates the being itself, as it helps to let go of the individual conditioned patterns, and reach that “point Zero” where we lose the limiting being that we are and expand into universality … Yoga nidra helps to let go of all restrictions of the ego/world As we know from Sages and spiritual leaders, they expand their consciousness towards the subtler levels coming to the subtlest level of all, that “Zone Zero”, the subtle center of consciousness we spoke of in the beginning, which expresses in the human mind as ‘delta waves’ or ultimately ‘flat waves’, pure consciousness within the human organism.
Creativity then does not anymore happen on the outside, externally, but happens internally, recreating the self … by merging into the SELF. The purpose of such expanded fundamental creativity within the human being is, as Swami Rama said: “to find the underlying unity in the apparent diversity!”
One time Swami Veda wrote about mastering standing with one leg in the small self (functioning in the world), in one kind of reality - and with the other leg in the Big Self (sunya, the fullness of existence). Yet don’t forget, that both “legs” belong to one existence, and that for now and probably thousands of incarnations to come.
Hari Om …