The Creative Impulse
By His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
It is very important for us to probe into the source of thought. Often we are called great thinkers, but what is a thought? Where does it originate? Is there any way that we can improve the thought process?
Creativity is a hot subject today all over the world. We want to make people very creative. What are the mechanics to make people creative? Why does someone get a violent thought and why does someone get a creative thought? How can someone be a genius and someone not? What does this depend on? Is it the food, is it the exercise or does it depend on any other avenues or arenas?
But, we can create great thinkers. There is a question in front of us today and research is happening around the world about the very process of creativity. Great writers and thinkers have experienced the writer’s block. You would have sometimes experienced that. You sit with a paper and pen in a beautiful place, waiting for something to come... and many times they don’t!
What is the source of creativity? Thought is nothing but an impulse of energy and intelligence. That impulse of energy and intelligence, for it to arise and a correct thought to come, you need 16 impulses to meet at a point in the cerebral cortex at the speed of 10 to the power of minus 30 cycles per second. In that short interval of time, all the 16 impulses in the cerebral cortex, when they meet, is what we call a correct thought. What do we do about it? We need to train our brain, our mind.
Now, as you are reading this, are you fully with it? Now? 100 percent? No! As you are reading, you are having a dialogue in your own mind saying, ‘‘yes, I agree’’ or ‘‘no, that cannot be’’. Are you observing this? We all have a filter in our mind and we listen through this filter and we accept only that we already know. Something, which doesn’t already fall within our belief system, we straightaway filter them out. This tendency in the mind to take things which it already knows and reject that which it doesn’t know, is one of the main blocks of creativity.
The second aspect for creativity is imagination. You will see that every creative person has some imagination. At that moment you will not think whether that is real or not. What appears to be unreal and an imagination in that direction brings creativity. If it is only an imagination, totally disconnected with ground reality then also it falls short of that connection, that transformation, that unreal becomes real. Thomas Edison, once upon a time, dreamt of how to create light. It was purely an imagination.
Similarly, the telephone or plane — all these inventions happened through certain imagination and linking that imagination to the present creativity, present state of ground reality. If you are thinking only of the ground reality then no creativity will come and if you are only on imagination, then too there is no creativity. A balance is needed. See, life is also like that — a balance between our intellect and our heart, or feeling, or intuition. Listening to our gut feeling, developing that intuitive ability within us is another aspect of creativity.
So, when such blocks come into us, there is a way to eliminate them. How? To study our own seven layers of our existence. What are they? I call science as a study of ‘‘what is this’’ and spirituality as a study of ‘‘who am I?’’. They are not at loggerheads at all, they go hand in hand. So study about yourself, your seven layers of existence. What are they? The body, the breath — are you all breathing now? See, many times we are not even aware that we are breathing. That something, which keeps our body alive, we don’t care to look into it. Our breath has great secrets to offer.
Then comes the mind. Mind is perception, observation and expression. Then is the intellect — the judgement, the arguments, the agreement or disagreement that happens within us is all part of our intellect. The memory — if you observe the memory, it stores the memory of unpleasant things much more than the pleasant. We take the insults and preserve it in our memory much more than the pleasant events. This is the nature of memory.
Then comes the ego — the more we study, the more learned we become; we become so stiff. We lose our smile, we lose our innocence, we lose our friendliness. Learned people get a sort of an ego — that I am much better than the other, more learned, I know better than them — this ego of ‘‘I know better’’ takes away certain beautiful things from your life.
One should have a sense of belongingness with everybody, naturalness. Ego dampens one’s personality. Today, what we lack is really good examples of personality. Knowledge is there in all the libraries — but what the books cannot transmit is the personal charisma, the vibration a person emits. The friendly and warm atmosphere a person carries along with him/her.
The seventh layer is the self. Self is that something that is the reference point of all changes in life. We notice that everything is changing in our life — our body, our mind, our thought, our environment, and our behaviour. If everything is changing then how do we know the change? Because there is a reference point, something that doesn’t change, we are able to notice the change. And this reference point, the non-changing something that is in every one of us, I would call the Self. The scriptures would call it atman.
A little bit of knowledge about these seven layers of existence makes a big, big difference in our lives. It brings cheer, freshness, and we become so alive and childlike. If you are cheerful, you will be creative. Otherwise you are so dull. The youth of today don’t want to study more. Why? Because they see the people who are well read, and have become great achievers in the field of literacy, science, they don’t see joy in them, they don’t see them as an example, and they don’t see a warm, friendly environment atmosphere around them. So, I see many youth turn their face away from going into higher studies. This is the situation all over the world today.
We need to bring a scientific philosophy in the youth — and practical philosophy, which is not in the books but shines out in our own personality. In our country what we have really destroyed is the self-esteem in our people. Village boys and girls have zero self-esteem. This is because we have constantly, in many ways, directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously, drilled into them the idea that they are no good. Wear a pant, shirt, jeans, modern dress, only then you are good, otherwise you are no good — you are much less.
This idea we have been bombarding into their life through the media, through various means. I was telling the director of Doordarshan that we have Hindi newsreaders in a tie and suit — how does a villager relate to this? They think that only if I dress like this will I get respect. We don’t have to copy everything. If you see, our news reading is a copy of BBC or CNN.
We need to bring in creative ideas. We should empower our village youth — bring them self-esteem. Without self-esteem there will be no creativity, without creativity there will be unemployment. The cause of unemployment in the country today is lack of initiative, entrepreneurship and all this is based on low self-esteem. So we need to bring self-esteem in our children.
His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a spiritual teacher and the founder of the Art of Living Foundation, an international nonprofit educational, humanitarian and service organization with centers in over 140 countries. The Art of Living Foundation is dedicated to serving society by strengthening the individual through programs that eliminate stress, restore human values, and encourage people from all religions and cultural traditions to come together in celebration and service. His Holiness is visiting Atlanta from May 24 – 26, 2005 and giving a public talk at King International Chapel at Morehouse College on May 24th at 7:30 PM. Please visit http://events.artofliving.org for more details.
The ART Excel program (All Round Training for Excellence) for children and teens between the ages of 8-18 is now being offered in Atlanta through the Art of Living Foundation. ART Excel (All Round Training in Excellence) is a dynamic program for youth that enables them to eliminate stress, handle emotions, deal with peer pressure, and develop leadership skills. Youth are provided techniques that increase mental focus and facilitate the learning process. The ART Excel curriculum nurtures human values and embraces all cultures, religions, ethnic and racial backgrounds. Kids have fun, as they become creative and responsible leaders of tomorrow.
For further information, please call 770.218.3135 or Email Atlanta@artofliving.org or visit online at:
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