Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For the week of February 7, 2011

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Directed, Creative Will

Inventing, Communing, Flowing

(Modes of Will: Part 5 of 11)

With the creative energy, will can produce something from nothing. And it is through that nothing, through the emptiness, that we open to the light of the creative, to the always new. Emptiness wipes our mind and heart clean, making room for the creative to write on the blank slate of our being. But this unique slate of ours uses all the skills and knowledge we have acquired to receive, shape, and give expression to the creative impulse. That impulse comes from the world of sacred light, the world of the creative energy itself. Through our spiritual practice, we aspire to touch, to commune with that world.

The interaction of our will with the creative energy requires a subtlety not needed with the lower energies. For example, the creative responds to intention, a more inward aspect of will. And the creative demands more from us than do the lower energies. We cannot fool the creative. If we are inwardly full of ourselves, full of thoughts and reactive emotions, full of self-centered, egoistic motivations, and if our intentions in any situation arise from or are colored by those motivations, we block the creative impulse. It cannot reach us, for we are otherwise occupied.

Active will, coupled with the creative energy, can invent something new. Using the skills and materials at hand, and creatively applying them to a given situation is the domain of the inventor, the engineer, the designer, the programmer, the builder, the teacher, and the doctor. These and many other occupations often rise to the creative level in their day-to-day work. Because no two situations can be exactly alike, life often calls for creativity.

We look into the heart of the issue before us, with a particular intention or goal in our will, and we actively bring our knowledge, skills and materials to bear, while allowing for new solutions to enter through the gaps of unknowns. The creative can enter through the emptiness of not knowing, through the moments of uncertainty as to how to proceed. A teacher approaches a student by looking for the best route and creatively adapting methods and materials to the studentís needs and capabilities. The same can said of all the other creative occupations. Skills and experience supply the tools. The situation supplies the framework. And our active will provides the direction, applies the tools to the situation, comes to a stop at the unknown, and then, with the creative energy, builds the new. That process both opens us to the creative and draws it to us.

Although we looked at them as directed modes of will that use the conscious energy, attention and decision also have creative aspects. Wherever we put our attention, we create what we see, we create our perceptions. When we decide on a course of action or non-action, we create our life. These truths illumine our responsibility for who and what we are. Whatever our circumstances, our attention and our decisions shape our life.

In deep meditation and contemplative prayer, we open to stillness, to emptiness. We empty ourselves utterly. This is our intention in such inner work. We direct our practice toward and through the emptiness, toward what lies on the other side of the emptiness. And that is the world of the creative energy, the world of sacred light, a world whose energy density far surpasses the other worlds we live in. Reaching beyond our mind, beyond our self, we may touch that world. That contact releases an unmistakable cascade of energies into us, as the creative blends with the lower energies, producing a great influx. That is thrilling, indeed. But by persevering in reaching beyond the emptiness, even in the face of that waterfall of energies, we may temporarily settle into contact, into communing with that level of the sacred, with the world of light. This may not be the Ultimate, but it is Its foothills. We approach that with a receptive will, directed into the creative itself.

When we are inwardly active, in presence, fully doing what we are doing, and simultaneously receptive to creative simplicity and the feedback of perfection, a third factor may enter our will: the synergy of flow. We become the non-doing described so well in the Tao Te Ching and the writings of Chuang Tzu. We neither try to improve on perfection, nor do we let it slide. We ride the wave of creative synergy, like a surfer whose body naturally and immediately responds to every nuance of the roiling waters. We act without claiming to be the actor and respond without resistance. The creative force flows through us, as we manifest it in time and space. The artist, the composer, and the scientist, at the height of their practice, know this state. And so do the engineer, the designer, the programmer, the builder, the teacher, the nurse, and the doctor, whenever they reach moments of complete rightness. Yet this state of flow awaits us all, even in simple actions: in the perfection of walking, in the simplicity of true listening, in cooking with quality, in washing dishes as service, in doing our job, any job, well.

Creative flow depends on both fully active engagement and fully cognizant stillness. That conscious quiet gives us awareness of the situation. Inner emptiness gives us the freedom to act without our ego-centered baggage, to put the action first, and to adapt on the fly. From that place of inner silence, we plunge into the action, giving it our utmost. And remarkably, effort gives way to effortlessness, doing transitions to non-doing. We perform at our best, not for personal credit, but as service and for the satisfaction of perfection. Each moment that we approach perfect action changes us. It builds a zone of excellence, a zone of unalloyed quality within us. In a life necessarily full of half-measures and compromise, creative flow restores our contact with the world of perfection. Yes, there is hope.

For this week, please look at the role of directed, creative will in your life: in inventing and adapting to situations, in creating your life through your decisions, in reaching beyond the stillness in your deepest states, in the flow of non-doing.


     

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