Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Shunryu Suzuki and Creativity

There is something about a good meditation that makes one feel like he has melding in with the setting, like he has become all that he is conscious of. A good writer needs to be able to put himself in the shoes of his readers, to know which parts of the setting to describe and which to leave untouched. Meditation and creativity, or shall I say presence of mind and creativity, are linked at the core. Reading Shunryu Suzuki, I have discovered a lot of interesting points about creativity that put its process in perspective. For example, he says:
1) If you think that God created man, and that you are somehow separate from God, you are liable to think you have the ability to create something separate, something not given by Him. For instance, we create airplanes and highways. And when we repeat, "I create, I create, I create," soon we forget who is actually the "I" which creates the various things; we soon forget about God.

2) To give one line of teaching may be to make a ferryboat for someone.


3) Moment after moment we are creating something, and this is the joy of our life. But this "I" which is creating and always giving out something is not the "small I"' it is the "big I." Even though you do not realize the oneness of the "big I" with everything, when you give something you feel good, because at that time you feel at one with what you are giving. This is why it feels better to give than to take.
I read these quotes and I can easily apply them to creativity, to writing. This connection may seem obvious because he uses the word "create" again and again, but let me try to give a couple concrete examples.

1) We forget about our influences: the natural world that has shaped our consciousness and taught us to be who we are.

2) A writer cannot write without having read book upon book upon book. These novels, stories and essays are nothing more than ferryboats destined to the shores of our own creative explorations and pursuits.

3) Creation, in my humble opinion, is a big "take". We can't make anything that's not born out of our limited experience. And let's not kid ourselves, all of our experiences are limited. No matter if we've climbed the Himalayas, fought in wars in far off lands, or buried our heads through multiple PhDs, we are still stuck in the vacuum that is time and space. We are still limited. And so, we can't help but feel good to create and to give our creations away. Maybe some of us find that our creations are commodities that we can charge for, but if not, who cares. It's all for the betterment of others, and that's what counts.

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