from the bookshelves of guest columnist
Barbara Jean Hicks,
children's book author and educator
A friend sent me a link last week to an interview with Elizabeth Gilbert, the award-winning writer whose memoir Eat, Pray, Love tells the story of a woman losing and then finding herself during a journey that was both physical and spiritual. Her words reminded me of Julia Cameron's book on creative recovery, The Artist's Way, which led me to an article on beliefnet.com by Tibetan Buddhist Chantmaster Lama Surya Das, author of Awakening the Buddha Within. Today, for your contemplation, I offer quotes from these three writers on the interconnectedness of creativity and spirituality:
Julia Cameron - from The Artist's Way
"Mystery is at the heart of creativity.""Art is an act of the soul, not the intellect. As artists, we belong to an ancient and holy tribe. We are the carriers of the truth that spirit moves through us all."
"The Artist's Way is a spiritual journey, a pilgrimage home to the self."
Elizabeth Gilbert - from "The Stubborn Gladness of Elizabeth Gilbert" by Karen Bouris for the Spirituality and Health blog:
"I was given a contract, and the contract is: 'We are not going to tell you why, but we gave you this capacity. Your side of the contract is that you must devote yourself to this in the highest possible manner, you must approach it with the greatest respect, and you must give your whole self to this. And then we will work with you on making progress.' That's sort of what it feels like for me. With the exception of the experience of four months of meditating in Inda in an ashram, there has never been anything in my life that's even approximated the sense of the miraculous that I feel running deep in this work and the contract that has played out. It's beautiful."
"It takes time and practice to learn to 'get out of the way' and enter into the state from which true art emerges. The total attention, precision, and discipline required for true creativity to blossom through one's own craft requires fully inhabiting the present moment, free of self and other, past and future, in a non-conceptual state of wakefulness--just like meditation practice."
What's your experience with creativity as a spiritual practice? Do the words of these three writers speak to you? Have you experienced transcendence in your creative life--a time when you felt you were a vessel for a life-force outside yourself, or you felt your work sprang from a deep place within that you were not consciously aware of? Have you ever created works inspired by dreams?