A Holistic Approach to Creativity – M.S. Srinivasan

(True creativity is something much more than writing beautiful poetry or generating smart ideas. This article presents a holistic approach to the art of creative living.)

  • He is a young executive in a software firm. He is always tense and stressed. His mind is constantly in a state of turbulent and painful whirl. His physical heart is under repair; he has to undergo by-pass heart surgery at the age of thirty-five. His inner heart is full of negative feelings like anger, resentment and depression. His family life is in shambles; his wife is asking for divorce. But in his professional life he is creative and innovative, a dynamic, result-oriented, can-do, go-getter, a fast rising star in the corporate ladder. Can such an individual who is not able to manage his own self and life be called a truly creative person?
  • This example shows that we need a more holistic approach to creativity. There are many dimension to creativity. The popular conceptions of creativity equate it with writing great poetry or the work of a genius like Einstein. But the creative intuition is not the privilege of a rare genius; it is within every individual in the deeper levels of our consciousness beyond or behind our surface mentality.
  • However, not everyone may be able to produce the great creative idea or a master-piece of art. But every one of us can be creative in a smaller way in our daily life. We are creative whenever we think, feel or act in a new and different way from the normal routine. A new thought, a new feeling, a new way of looking at things or doing things, all these are creative acts. These creative movements can happen in our day-to-day life like for example while cleaning the floor, looking at Nature, or a feeling of pure love for a person. As Mother Teresa once said, “Few of us can do great things, but all of us can do small things with great love.” This act of doing small things with great love and joy is perhaps the essence of creativity in daily living.
  • The key to this everyday creativity lies in non-attachment, which means not to be attached to the thoughts, feelings and experiences of the past or the present, however luminous or joyful they may be, and keep our mind fresh like that of a child to see the world anew every moment.
  • But the pressure or aspiration to be creative should not lead to a disturbance in health. Generating a great idea or a poem is undoubtedly an important part of creativity but more important than the idea is to learn the art of creative living, which means maintaining good health with a harmony of body, mind and soul, harmonious relationship with people around and a balance between work-life and personal life.   The highest form of creativity must bring beauty, harmony and wholeness to human life.
  • Sometimes a great rush of creative energy or the external pressure to be creative or innovative may cause disturbances in physical, social or mental health or balance. But such disturbances happen because we do not know how to bear and assimilate the pressure or creative energy. The key to this creative balance lies in building inner peace, equanimity and wideness in our consciousness.
  • In a holistic approach, creativity should not be confined to the cognitive act of generating the creative idea. Implementing or executing the idea should also be included as an integral part of the creative act.
  • An integral creative act requires a coordinated and complementing action of the following faculties:
  1. The faculties of objective observation of the Scientists which gives a clear and concrete understanding of the facts and reality of the present condition of things.
  2. Faculties of imagination and intuition of the Inventor and Visionary which can discover new possibilities or potentialities beyond or above the present actualities or that lie in the womb of the future.
  3. Faculties of implementation of the Leader and the Executive which can mobilize or organize resources or motivate people for the outer realization of the creative idea.
  4. Faculties of attention to detail and craftsmanship of the Artisan which can give the final material form to the idea with an aesthetic touch.
  • The main principles for developing the above faculties are:
  1. For the faculties of scientific objectivity: observation, mindfulness
  2. Faculties of intuition: passive and receptive inner silence
  3. Faculties of imagination: visualization; excercises of lateral thinking which help in projecting our thoughts into the unknown, unmanifest and the future; historical studies with an emphasis on future possibilities
  4. Faculties of implementation: development of will-power, flexible adaptation to changing situation, knowledge by identity, concentration, man-management skills like effective communication, team-building.
  5. Faculties of the artisan: excercises involving close and detailed observation, patience, perfection in material execution, aesthetic sense.
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