WHAT IT MEANS:
I have been trying to understand what exactly it means to say that art and writing are sacred paths, that simply opening one inner self up, and allowing words and images to come pouring out, spilling over the virgin white page, is a spiritual practice. Is this not too easy? Surely there is more discipline and, well, pain, involved in pursuing a spiritual practice?
But then it occurred to me that the apparent problem lay in my understanding of what it means to live a spiritual life. It seems that I am still haunted by the shadows of my Catholic upbringing carrying all its concomitant nuances and memories of guilt and fear along with it. In short, if it feels good, it must be bad…at least for my soul!
And so I have decided that I am determined to take up this paradox and hold it to the light, and let it turn and shimmer and glimmer, allowing all its brilliant kaleidoscopic shards to shine forth, so that I can at the very least feel that yes, I have examined it in all its minute and fascinating details. The reason why is simple. I want to prove to myself, beyond all reasonable doubt, that the premise that creativity is a real and true path to the Divine, is true for me. This is already my implicit belief, but the philosophy trained student in me needs to prove the point.
So then what does it mean? Well, to me personally it means that when I am involved in the creative process, no matter what form it takes, at the very moment of creation, I am in touch with the divine light within. The connection that I sense is not dissimilar from the sense of deep connection which resonates through my being when I am in deep meditation. It is as if there is something deep inside, some edgeless boundariless part of my being, which is both me and not-me at the same time, and from the source of which emerges my deepest yearnings, so that my yearnings for the Divine melt into and becomes one with the Divine’s yearning for me. As a result of this alchemical transformation, my creativity becomes the locus for the mystic union of my spirit with Spirit. It is at that very moment of climax that the edges of time and space disappear, leaving behind only the Eternal Now.
SUFFICIENT AND NECESSARY CONDITIONS:
However in order for this alchemy to occur certain preconditions must be met. Transformation does not occur without sufficient preparation, discipline and hard work, whether in old, traditional forms or in newer wineskins. The first, and apparently most important condition, is the stating of one’s intention. Put quite simply it seems that in order to touch the Divine, I must first be actively seeking Her.
Indeed I have learnt from my own experience that the quality of my writing and art varies considerably depending on the nature of my intent before I begin. If my intention is consciously perceived to be an opening of my inner being to the workings of the Feminine Divine, to surrender my ego to the Source of All, then it is as if some hidden, invisible part of myself begins to resonate in time to the strumming of the music of the Divine.
And still there is another requirement, and this one appears to be non-negotiable. I must be utterly free from any desired or perceived outcomes. Goals are finite, discrete items in space or time. Hence it is important to bear in mind that intentions are always somewhat loosely held, never quite grasped or understood. They are amorphous things, more sensed than felt or understood with the mind. They are reminiscent of the properties of water which will always slip through our fingers before we can ever catch hold of it in our cupped hands. (In this way then we understand that intentions differ greatly from wishes and desires, which are always by their very nature focussed upon the getting or receiving of particular things or qualities.)
Intentions always infer a process, a spiralling movement within which I am constantly inclining myself towards the ground of my stated intention but being a spiral I may find myself located anywhere upon the contours of its outline – I may soar to the mystical heights of spiritual awareness and joy, or conversely, languish in the bleak underground of the dark night of my soul.
The process is just that – a process. It is not a means to an end. The means is always the end; the journey is the destination.
TRUSTING THE PROCESS:
Art or writing as an intentional spiritual practice is one sacred path, akin to meditation or prayer, towards spiritual transformation. Through engaging with the process we slowly open ourselves up to the workings of the Feminine Divine on a level well below any conscious thought. This has nothing to do with the demands of the ego, or small self. It requires the adoption of a state of complete and utter surrender to the Creative Force, in order to allow that force to work its way into and through one’s soul. This surrender is not a capitulation, but rather an opening up of one’s very being. It implies neither weakness nor cowardice, but instead demands courage and faith. One must learn to trust the process.
[Coming next: how do we learn to trust the process? What type of practices ought we to engage on in order to allow our inner being to flow in tandem with the Matrix of All Creation?}