meindzai wrote:Many artists, musicians, etc. talk about the creative "force" in terms that imply that they do not take personal responsibility for their "creation." In theistic or mystical terms, which typically don't involve a great deal of analysis, this is simply described as channeling some mystic force, or channeling God or whatever. Because that's exactly how it feels. If you've ever really been involved in a creative act it seems to come from absolutely nowhere.
Somebody versed in psychology could probably give you a good explanation of what's happening, using terms like ego, consious, subconsious, maybe superconsious. But the visceral experience is that it's not "me" that's creating anything. I've written compositions, songs, whatever that people have complimented me on and it's hard to even take the compliment seriously or have any pride around the work - it almost feels like you're taking credit for something somebody else did.
I've mentioned before that really Zen Buddhism, much moreso than Theravada has explored this in relation to the Buddhism, and they typically do it with reference to "non-duality." Or "no separation between subject and object." And it is looked at as a kind of expression of the not-self teaching. But there's a big caution here, which is that Buddhism doesn't take the non-separation of subject and object as an absorption into any cosmic entity. It simply says that there is no barrier. It doesn't say that "you are me and I am you and I am art and I am the universe." Becuase that still implies an "I." The Buddha denied all fabrications of an "I" no matter how cosmic or humble.
What *is* happening often during the creative process, and what Zen arts take advantage of, is that our normal discursive thinking fades into the background or is of secondary importance. Zen arts involve a complete and total mastery of the craft so that there is no "thought" involved in terms of technique or whatever, in other words a very quiet and meditative mindset.
Without analysing all of this from a standpoint of anatta or dependent origination it can look and feel very much like the will of a cosmic or divine power of some sort.
Nice description. This has been my experience as well.
I came to the dharma as an artist, drawn by the possibility that meditation and mindfulness practice might have some positive effect, changing how and what "I" created.
The change was dramatic. As i started meditating and cultivated greater mindfulness i found that i was able to create art without getting emotionally and mentally involved with the process and outcomes, just as you've described. Drawing then became a kind of meditative activity- it was like finding a new form of creative freedom, being in the world without trying to "control" what's happening... responding to what was happening in the moment, as the works were created- just observing very carefully- as the composition formed.
Not being attached to outcome or trying to make things fit some imagined model in your head. I think in this way one can use creative opportunities as a means of dharma practice, mindfulness and concentration practice.
And while its true that more emphasis has been placed on creativity and art by Mahayana schools (especially Tibetan and Zen) i think it fits very well with Theravada as well, especially in regards to mindfulness training. You can find ways to be creative without getting attached to what "you" are doing. It's also a good method for cultivating upekkha, imo, as calmness and equanimity seem to arise naturally when one lets the imagined "self" drop away...