from IDP(The Interdependence Project) blog

Creativity is not a talent. It is a way of operating.*

Submitted by Nancy Thompson on Sat, 5/19/2012, 5:47am
The definition of art, from this point of view, is to be able to see the uniqueness of everyday experience.Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

It’s Art Month at IDP. Like meditation, art asks us to look at the world differently — to see from a different perspective, to redefine things, to consider their form and to question the boundaries of that form. Art is about dropping our usual filters.

Everything can be done artfully, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche says, when we appreciate its uniqueness and freshness.

John Cleese in a 1991 talk outlines “the five factors that you can arrange to make your lives more creative.” All of them can be cultivated through meditation.

  1. Space.  Cleese: “You can’t become playful, and therefore creative, if you’re under your usual pressures.” In meditation we look for space, for the gap between thought and reaction. That’s the space where creativity arises, where anything is possible, where we can choose an unconventional direction.
  2. Time. Cleese: “It’s not enough to create space; you have to create your space for a specific period of time.” Thirty minutes a day? Every day. At the same time, if possible. Discipline brings joy.
  3. Time. Give your mind as long as possible to come up with something original, and learn to tolerate the discomfort of pondering time and indecision. “Learning to tolerate the discomfort of time” — an apt description of meditation if ever there was one. Staying on the cushion and looking at our reactions to the passage of time, the grasping at distraction, the preciousness of each breath.
  4. Confidence.  Cleese: “Nothing will stop you being creative so effectively as the fear of making a mistake.” Really, there are no mistakes. There’s just what there is in the this moment. And what we do with it. Getting beyond the fear of others’ reactions to a feeling of confidence in our own goodness is an important part of what we can achieve through meditation.
  5. Humor. Cleese: “The main evolutionary significance of humor is that it gets us from the closed mode to the open mode quicker than anything else.” The closed mode, he explains, is the focused mind that relentlessly works on one problem. The open mode is more spacious. Think concentration practice vs. open awareness. The open mode is necessary for creativity, Cleese says; the closed mode is what allows us to implement those ideas we come up with.

Not to mention that when you watch your mind operating, sometimes the only appropriate response is laughter.

The art of meditative experience might be called genuine art. Such art is not designed for exhibition or broadcast. Instead it is a perpetually growing process in which we begin to appreciate our surroundings in life, whatever they may be — it doesn’t have to be good, beautiful, or pleasurable at all. The definition of art, from this point of view, is to be able to see the uniqueness of everyday experience. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, “True Perception: The Path of Dharma Art”

(Cleese is on the far left in the photo of Monty Python’s Flying Circus from April 1976. From left to right: John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam, and Terry Jones.

*The title is a quote from Cleese.

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