Sunday, November 17, 2013

DIARY 119 ~ Following the Thread of Creativity

I have come somewhat late in life to the flabbergasting conclusion that I am an artist and always have been. Denying this, has no doubt been one cause of the recurring demon of meaninglessness that has dogged my adulthood. My struggles to understand the latter ultimately did lead me to Buddhism. I'd like to be able to say that Buddhism completely resolved the whole issue. It has certainly explained, contextualised, stabilised and proved beneficial to me on many levels. Yet,there's always been this nagging feeling that, good though this was, there was another thing I needed to be doing.

On the ultimate level of the Unconditioned this desire for self-expression has to be seen through and gone beyond, yet on the relative level of the Conditioned, one can't go beyond anything before it has first been gone through.  So there are no short cuts to the transcendental, without first fully understanding the nature of mundane reality as it actually is. For a while my practice of the Buddha's Dharma did become a part of the problem, because it created a 'legitimating smokescreen' behind which to suppress these 'Self-ish' artistic impulses. Providing this had the necessary 'spiritual gloss' over it, no one, least of all myself, was going to challenge it.

Art and spiritual practice do bear some similarities, in that they are both creative endeavours with a sense for making manifest something beyond one's immediate experience. However, I've come to understand that its quite misleading to believe that the stream of artistic creativity can simply be redirected to flow into the dharmic river. The best one could hope for is to be able to put ones creative talents at the service of the Dharma in some way, to see the selfless giving of it as a form of Kalyana Mitrata ( spiritual friendship ).

I've been fortunate to work for Windhorse, a Buddhist company, where I've been able to do that to a degree that even I would not have envisaged five years ago. Yet this alone has proved not to be sufficient. The desire for creative self-expression kept abruptly poking its head through this selfless practice, and dragging those old depressive demons out with it. A lot of uncertainty and doubt then unrolls like a carpet and lays itself out to bask in the burning heat of unhelpful attention.

Something has been a bit awry or unfocused, within my spiritual practice for quite a while. Sources of inspiration in the course of time inevitably dry up or lose their touchstone quality, meditation practice can become a bit stale or starts to dwindle from time to time, this is what can happen in the spiritual life. In my experience ,a cloak of meaninglessness rests itself like a deadening blanket over everything I'm doing. This sense of everything being robbed of meaning and purpose, indicates something is lacking or being overlooked in my spiritual life. There's usually a need to review,reformulate and re-vision what I'm trying to do within it.

Its as though what I've previously been doing has gone terminally out of fashion. Suddenly I'm the only one still wearing flared jeans in a room where everyone else is dressed in drainpipes. Sometimes this volte-face happens imperceptibly and gradually, at other times it is sudden and rudely abrupt. Things change either with or without my knowing, depending on my general level of awareness. This realisation of the need to adapt to them, or how I should adapt to them, seems always to lag behind. Spiritual practice has always been for me a bit like unraveling knitting. I keep pulling on this woolen thread until it either comes to an end, it breaks, reaches a knot or becomes so irrevocably tangled up I can no longer find my way forward. This appears to be where I'm at the moment, scrabbling about in the twilight feeling for a new thread to pick up and follow.

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