I have a desire to create – to bring into being – give form– to create something. I had the desire to create this blog – an expression of my general desire to create as well as my desire to enquire and to communicate. I consider being creative a deep human desire. There are endless possible ways of being creative. We are creating in an unconscious sense all the time. The theories of phenomenology and the Buddhist teachings of Emptiness both insist we are creating our world – our “selves” and all the “things” we perceive. We are creating our experience through the meanings and interpretations our mind gives to those things. But that is not the creativity that I am desiring – although it rests on it. Desire itself rests on it.
I don’t know what it is about poetry that inflames my desire. Indeed, I don’t know where my poems come from. While I can consciously create the circumstances most likely to let it happen, invite the words and images, and then consciously work to craft them when they arrive, the images and even words themselves seem to come from deeper than, or beyond, my conscious mind. Countless artists, writers, musicians and theorists have attested to this “inspiration” experience. The Greek Muses were a mythological personification of this source of creativity, but to me it feels like it is coming out of the same dark place inside that dreams come from.
To create requires desire and a willingness to open to this unknown place of inspiration. It is definitely not something one can grasp at. It can feel like being on the brink of an abyss – and having to relax and let go – to trust – and then to receive what arrives.
The desire to create makes demands on the maker. At its full strength, it can push other aspects of life to one side – relationships, daily tasks, even the need to eat at times. Buddhist teacher, Rob Burbea, remembers someone who came on one of his retreats saying, We are doors for what wants to come through. This image implies that we open to whatever it is. Rob has also referred to Henri Corbin’s use of the image of the angel out ahead.1 We think and feel we are forging our own path when, in fact, we have been following an angel all the time. So, is the desire to create even our desire? Or are we just able at times to open to the desire of creation itself – or to an angel out ahead?
1 Corbin, Henri (1998) The Voyage and The Messenger, Iran and Philosophy; Berkeley, CA; North Atlantic Books. This image originally comes from Exodus 23:20.