Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of May 30, 2016

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Creative Presence

(Modes of Presence 8)

There are many modes of creativity in life, from solving minor everyday problems to making works of art, music, and literature, to invention and scientific discovery. The preliminaries to creative endeavor include gathering the expertise, skills, knowledge, and materials necessary to carry out the creative act. That may take many years of study and practice. One approach to putting those hard-earned prerequisites to use is through creative presence.

Armed with the prerequisites, we turn our attention to the problem, challenge, or field in which we are choosing to work. We give the issue the appropriate amount of consideration and thought. Sometimes that is enough. But if not, we can move into the practice of creative presence, the essence of which is holding our attention in front of the challenge or opportunity. We stay there, letting the various ideas and associations percolate through our mind. We connect with the stillness under all that. And we wait in that gap before acting. We wait in presence, creative presence. We do not wait passively; we wait with our attention loosely and silently directed toward the question or challenge. This gives form to the chaos of our mind and, like a magnet, creative presence draws the new insight. We stay with the challenge in an active way, until a moment of inner letting go comes, providing an opening through which the creative force can enter and show us how to deal with the challenge.

The prerequisites and all our experience provide the raw materials. The stillness provides an arena in which the smallest elements of those raw materials can recombine in a multitude of expressions, one of which may rise to the top as the creative diamond in the rough. When we notice and recognize its potential, we can then test, cut, and polish that diamond to yield the beautiful and/or useful.

If we just keep on thinking and ruminating in our ordinary way about the question or challenge, we are less likely to come to the truly creative insight, because ordinary thinking uses expressions that are too long and too fixed to yield the truly new. The creative process, by working at a more elemental level, allows for many new combinations to form in the depths of our mind and heart, and bubble up into awareness.

As stated earlier, creative presence is one approach to creativity, and certainly not the only one. Ordinary thinking about the challenge can pave the way for new insights. Such thinking is typically part of the preparation for creative acts. Furthermore, creative insights can occur in any context, from crises to dreams to wild passions. Nevertheless, the creative presence approach blends with and extends our spiritual practice. From deep inner work, the resulting quiet, clear mind and peaceful heart offer excellent conditions for the creative impulse to enter us and be recognized.

Some creative endeavors, such as art and music, may incorporate an element of expert improvisation in the medium. Creative presence can play a role even in these cases, because improvisation is built on full engagement in the creative act, improvising from a quiet mind and a focused being.

For this week, whether confronting a minor problem or engaging in a playful or serious creative endeavor, please practice being there intentionally in creative presence.


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