Creativity – Where the Human and the Divine Meet by Matthew Fox
Creativity begins at home. That is where we sleep, dress, eat, prepare for work, recover from work, get to know our kids, and communicate with those dearest to us. In all the endeavors of home life, creativity can play a major role. –from section 2. Everyday Life and Relationships, Including Sexual Ones
My first reading of Fox’s ideas was via Original Blessing, Creation Spirituality, and Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh (1999). I wish I could tell you what impressed me the most about each of these texts, but I only remember one. Original Blessing. It was a cross between liberation theology and Christian Mysticism, if my memory serves me right. Creation Spirituality follows along the same lines. It establishes Fox’s belief that creation is us, creation is relationship with the all of all.
Fox begins Creativity with the admonition that given the destructive path we are on, as a species, we would do well to begin with questioning who we are not, what is known as the “via negativa.”
Who we are not. We are not consumers, even though we are constantly referred to as consumers by the media, corporations, and politicians. For roughly 98% of our time on the planet, we were not consumers and it was only the development of agriculture that shifted how we stopped foraging, hunting and gathering. In short, we gradually became consumers. Fox points out that the same applies to clothing and education. We went out and got our food, made the clothes on our backs, made our houses, even made our education.
We are not addicts. Fox points out the relationship between addiction and dictatorship. Addictions, to any substance or habit, dictates our behavior, and most of our addictions stem from surrendering our powers of creativity. The same “high” that comes from the external stimulus of addiction is a poor substitute for the joy and ecstasy that we derive from creativity, which is an authentic experience of the infinite. Addictive (dictatorship) societies shun, even dissuade us from being creative.
We’re not couch potatoes; we’re not boring. One can observe our art, dance, our rituals, architecture, even love-making and some of the creativity that goes into it and realize we are not boring. Destructive and twisted, yes. But not boring.
We’re not cogs in a machine. The planet is not a machine, and neither is the Universe. “Living in a machine universe may be the ultimate expression of a dysfunctional relationship.”
We are not lazy. It only appears so when we feel that we have been stripped of our excitement and appreciation for living. Gratitude and appreciation are both great enablers to neutralize the forces that attempt to strip us of our power of creativity.
We are not destroyers. I had to read this paragraph a couple of times! While we destroy, it is not in our nature to do so. Destruction is a choice that we make all too often.
I’d like to say that this brief exploration of who we are not could pave the way for who we are and how we can live more fully as who we are. Shifting to the creative, or co-creative life, requires some time understanding how the mind, our thoughts and our beliefs, prevent us from creativity. But that’s my take on it.
Fox continues, “via positiva,” that we are creative; we are fabricators, inventors, curious, energetic and active. Of course, human beings have thought into existence what some, a mere 2,000 years ago, would have thought impossible: air conditioned skyscrapers in the middle of the desert, the ability to live on a submarine for months; space and interplanetary travel to name a few.
But our creativity has also led us down a very destructive path that some 2,000 years ago, could not have imagine, least comprehend: the sheer amount of weapons manufactured every year in the U.S., alongside the millions who live in poverty.
For Fox, creativity, as love, is a sign of health and well-being. But how do we arrive at the threshold of the creative life? Fox lists and explores the requirements for bringing forth, or birthing, the creative life: trust and courage, the overcoming of fear and distrust, awakening to our Being, allowing the Divine to operate through us; become aware of the power of conversation, between the Beloved (God) and Its Beloved (creation); revision redemption and sin; know that wisdom is the artisan that we must birth in the world.
Overcome the fear of death; remove the obstacles to creativity, embrace solitude and aloneness, expect joy and life, praise, praise of earth, sky, water, rocks, the animals; open ourselves to joy, enter the dark, study and learn, let the child within come out and play. Pray, calling upon the Muses and develop relationships with other artists; practice intimacy; meditate and develop a spiritual practice; develop a practice of gratitude.
The remainder of the texts discusses art and creativity in education, politics, and worship.
This is quite a tall order for someone who is coming into the creative life, or who is trying to understand how entering the creative life impacts all life on the planet. Those of us who consider ourselves seasoned creatives would probably admit that there was some preliminary deconstructing or downloading we had to do to arrive at this juncture. For me, as I have said many times, the catalyst was Sufism, A Course in Miracles, A Course of Love, and recently, Advaita Vedanta. Still, with all of this, I occasionally feel disoriented, as the essence of letting go of the old happens after enlightenment, or after the sustaining of the awareness of our true identity.
I would recommend Creativity as an introduction to the creative life, with the understanding that it is an outline, and not a manual with clear, delineated signposts to guide the way.