Engaging the Creative Process

By Swami Chetanananda

The creative process comes from the need within ourselves to find a better way in our life.  For me, the creative process began after I'd suffered a fair amount, even though I was young.  I said to myself, "There's got to be a better way!"  In searching for that better way, an enormous creative process unfolded. 

The first step in that process is thinking there has to be a better way, and thinking about what that better way might look like, and the second step is thinking about how you might get there.  You have to think about who you are, what you want to do, what you can do, and who you want to do it for or to.  Then it's a process of taking in information and giving, and adjusting your action, and then taking in information again, and adjusting your action, and making whatever it is you're trying to do a learning experience for you. In the process of learning about whatever it is—people, food, books, art, music, iPhone apps, whatever—you're continuously learning about you and learning about whatever other thing you choose to focus on.  There is a flow that happens that is a creative flow, as long as you are continuing to take in the feedback and change yourself from it, and the limits of that creative process are distant. 

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The only issue really in it is how much you're willing to change, or conversely, how much resistance you have to it.  Along the way there are some painful moments and some difficult times, but all of that pain and difficulty has a great deal more to do with changes that are trying to happen in us than it does with any external circumstances that we might be called on to endure.  If you hold onto that creative flow, it finds a way to attract to itself its own audience and its own requirement for self-sufficiency.  This is my experience.  In the creative process money is never the issue, the issue is commitment and your willingness to change.  Those are the issues.

In spiritual texts, there is a lot of discussion about liberation.  What is it that we should be liberated from?  Our past!  Being liberated from the past also liberates us from the future, but we have to be liberated from our past, and it is that liberation that we experience in the creative process.  But you have to be willing to let go of your past when you enter into the creative process. Otherwise, what are you doing except bringing the wet blanket of your past and throwing it on the fire of whatever creative process is trying to take off, trying to happen for you?  Our past is always the wet blanket on the fire of life and love burning within us!

In entering into a creative process it doesn't matter who you were and it doesn't matter who you weren't. Nothing matters except that you're here now and what are you going to do about it?  What do you want to do about it really?  If you have a feeling to do something, opportunities come, doors open, you walk in, there is something to be done.  It's either a noble endeavor or it isn't.  You can engage in it or you don't.  Whatever you choose. As long as we have a body life goes on.  If you choose to do something, you can do it lovingly but dispassionately at the same time.  Being a parent is a good example of that.  You have to be loving but very dispassionate, detached.

Ultimately in any creative process what gets burned up is us.  What we sacrifice is who we were.  That's a good thing.