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Creative Liberation

Thirty spokes join in one hub

In its emptiness, there is the function of a vehicle

Mix clay to create a container

In its emptiness, there is the function of a container

Cut open doors and windows to create a room

In its emptiness, there is the function of a room

Therefore, that which exists is used to create benefit

That which is empty is used to create function

  • Lao Tzu

 

Just as the waters of the great oceans all have one taste, the taste of salt, so too all true teachings have but one taste, the taste of liberation.

  • Sakyamuni Buddha

 

Liberation of the Creative Faculty

Emptiness and liberation aren’t words that we usually associate with creativity.  In our society, creativity is more often associated with words like genius, cleverness, intelligence- words that suggest the starring role of the rational mind.  Creativity in the popular mind is one part rational and one part sensual.  Ancient traditions of personal development around the world have a different perspective.  In order to fully engage the vast, unique creative potential that is inherent in our being, we first have to divest ourselves of the internal obstacles that stand in the way, foremost the interference of the rational mind. 

The intuitive guidance system and the creative faculty are one and the same.  As such, they are not intrinsically part of the rational mind.  Conscious thinking will not in itself activate the creative faculty.  We always try to do it that way, to force ourselves to be creative by being rational, and we always get frustrated because it never works.  Think of the rational mind as the advisor.  It plans, collects and processes inputs and keeps your creative faculty apprised.  It can’t do the driving, and it cannot be in charge of the results.

That fact makes us very uncomfortable, because we have to trust a process we don’t see and can’t predict.  We have to simply let ourselves create and let the results take care of themselves.  Our Newtonian mindsets hate that. 

As Lao Tzu suggests, function requires emptiness, both in the physical world and within human beings.  Likewise, liberation in the Buddhist tradition means foremost liberation of the mind from itself.  It is through this emptiness, this liberation that the Buddha nature within us is freed.  So what obstacles do we have to liberate ourselves from?  The language of each tradition is a little different, but the overall picture is remarkably consistent.

 

Preparation

The great Lakota Sioux holy man Fools Crow described himself as a “hollow bone” (in other words, a conduit) for the power of God, and that is not far from the dynamic we are describing.  Thoughts and opinions and ego and worry and all the other rational and emotive and sensory things that we do when we try to engage in creativity throw us out of alignment with our own creative centre, which is not in the rational mind but above it, and is, and is supposed to be, our direct conduit to the creative power that imbues the universe.  Everything that distracts from that just blocks the pipe.  Before performing sacred acts, Fools Crow would ask God to release him from everything that inhibited that flow, even physically pulling out those thoughts and feelings.

First, we have to withdraw our attention, and therefore our energy, from all of the imaginary and sensual and thought-based distractions which compete for our attention every day.  By so doing, we conserve our energy and concentrate our attention at a single point in the present moment.

Second, we have to learn to stop thinking, to let our minds be empty, to not worry, not remember, not imagine, not deliberate or judge, for at least a short period of time.  The practice of emptiness is a long and slow one that requires daily effort.

Of course, it’s not that simple.  Even in the quiet of our minds, we are bound by defensive ego and past traumatic experiences that reinforce that defensiveness.  We may be empty of thought, but we are not yet aligned.  True relaxation of the defensive ego – the state that has been called both liberation and surrender – is by far the most difficult struggle we may ever face, but it is the only path to peace with ourselves, the universe and God.

This is not to negate the rational, emotional or sensual faculties.  We do need them, to learn what we need to know in order to create, and we make use of them in the act of creating.  But in between, there is a different state, a state that could be called nonduality or emptiness or no mind or stillness or a dozen other things, the state in which everything we are is lined up behind that creative faculty, ready for that primal spark to give them inspiration.  As Fools Crow also observed, we can take in an awful lot of information, but without that spark, it becomes a logjam that we can’t move.  To reach this state consistently, there can be no worry, no insecurity, no grasping after anything, no interference of fixed opinions or mindsets, no exertion of willpower toward the results.  There can only be the liberation of a mind free from fixed concepts and simple belief.  We lose ourselves in order to find ourselves.

 

In Action

Creative problem solving involves two stages.  In the first, we gather all the information, think about the problem, focus on it, imagine the end product and cultivate a burning desire to solve the problem.  In other words, we give it our total intensity of focus.  In the second stage, however, once we’ve informed ourselves as completely as possible, once we’ve thought everything through, we have to let go and stop worrying.  Let your intuitive mechanism figure it out.  This is generally a good time to engage in light physical tasks- gardening, cooking, dish-washing and so on- the kinds of activities that engage your mind and attention, drawing your rational mind away from the problem without overloading it, but leaving the rest of the mind free to work.  This is when people report “bolts from the blue,” the hunches and new concepts that completely transform their approach.

This is how we must approach cerebral problems, but the same applies to performance- giving a talk, performing a piece of music and so on.  It is when we can relax and allow the task to do itself that great things happen.  Great performance is spontaneous, not self-conscious.  Conscious thought and practice are necessary beforehand, but when the time comes, conscious thought only inhibits the creative flow. 

Wishing you a CREATIVE week!

 

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

 


The Awesome Power Hidden in Your Mind-Body Organism

The human organism and its real capabilities go far beyond what most people think of as the frontier of the normal.  While ancient traditions have always known about and sought to access this potential, scientific studies have begun to show us just how vast this universe of potential might be.

The intriguing thing is that, as far as brainwave patterns go, the way to hyper-consciousness lies through null consciousness.  Although meditation as practiced by most people slows down brainwaves (Alpha or Theta waves), this is only a preliminary stage.

In a study by Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin, a group of Tibetan monks in meditation first slowed their brainwaves and then rapidly accelerated (into the Gamma spectrum, associated with heightened awareness, which is higher in frequency than most waking brainwaves).  In other words, meditation yields a brain operating at peak capacity.  This process has also been found to stimulate the portion of the brain associated with joy, giving us an insight into its effect on emotional health.  As well, it heightens communication between the two sides of the brain.  Meditation yields an intense state of attention on the present moment, and with it an intense awareness of one’s surroundings, as a number of studies using external stimuli have shown.

Sara Lazar’s fMRI studies of meditation have shown that meditation permanently alters both the function and structure of the brain.  The portions of the brain associated with attention and sensory processing increased in thickness according to the number of years spent practicing meditation, defying the usual age-related thinning of these areas.  There was also significant activation of the intuitive part of the brain, showing that both kinds of perception were being stimulated.

Nor is the physical impact of meditation confined to the brain.  Herbert Benson, a Harvard cardiologist, has studied Buddhist monks who are able to generate intense heat with their bodies while meditating in sub-zero temperatures.  He witnessed these monks being repeatedly draped in wet blankets which they dried with the heat from their bodies.  Benson documented temperature increases of up to 17 degrees Fahrenheit combined with lowered metabolism, by up to 60 percent.

 All of this represents what could be called the passive side of the equation, the changes that occur in the practitioner.  The active side is even more interesting. 

A series of academic studies have focussed on Direct Mental Interaction with Living Systems or DMILS.  It turns out that under a number of conditions, the electrical signals in two human brains can become synchronized, even at a distance.  An experiment at the National University of Mexico tested brain to brain transmission using flashes of light as the stimulus.  The receiver was isolated in an electrically-shielded room.  This study and others like it found that, providing there was an existing connection between the participants (in this case established by meditating together for twenty minutes), the EEG readings of the receiver spike identically and in tandem with the sender.

Distance healing has also been the focus of intense study.  One study at the California Pacific Medical Centre recruited a population of established healers and a group of AIDS patients.  The study’s objective was simply to demonstrate the effectiveness of healing, and so every patient in the test group received help from every healer.  The health of the patients in the test group measurably improved, while forty percent of the control group died.

In another study, energy healers of different schools were brought together to work on AIDS patients.  The patients who showed the most improvement were treated by healers who operated, as the great Lakota holy man Fools Crow put it, as “hollow bones”, which is to say that they did not regard themselves as the sources of healing.  The common steps in successful healing of this kind (there is a distinction to be made between intervention of this sort and methods designed to improve health on a long term basis) are that the healer unite mentally and emotionally with the person to be healed, and then, with belief, call upon a higher power and ask for the healing.  The healer needs to get him/herself out of the way and become a conduit.

The studies we’ve looked at here barely scratch the surface of the realms of human possibility.  Tune in next week for more!

~Dr. Symeon Rodger 🙂


Becoming a "Hollow Bone"

Hi all,

Just a couple of days ago I was teaching a University class on Native American Spirituality. We were talking about the famous Sioux medicine man, Frank Fools Crow, and how he approached his spiritual path and his healing of others.

Fools Crow said that since the power that healed himself and others wasn’t his own power but just came through him, he first had to make himself like a “hollow bone” (i.e. a tube), so that the Power from on high wasn’t obstructed or blocked.

To do this, Fools Crow used some Sioux rituals for expelling unwanted thoughts, energies and emotional content, and for refocusing himself on his relationship to this Power that comes from “Wakan Tanka” (the Sioux name for God).

This way, he noted, the medicine men and holy men of the Sioux typically lived longer and happier lives than most of the people around them. And, true to form, Fools Crow passed away in 1989 in his 100th year of life.

How to Become a “Hollow Bone”:

Obviously, learning Sioux rituals is highly impractical for anyone outside that culture. Fortunately there are alternatives.

We all know that if we make our happiness dependent on our circumstances, life will always seem like a struggle. And we can pretty easily understand that if our minds are full of negative emotional states, we’re the opposite of a “hollow bone”. Instead we’re a blocked pipe, and the energy of God can’t penetrate.

That’s the essence of the teachings of the “Authentic Ancient Traditions” I described in The 5 Pillars of Life. They all teach methods for becoming a “hollow bone” – that is, for emptying your self-concern and entering into inner silence – because human happiness depends on that.

So exactly HOW do you do it?? Yes, the intention to do so is vital, but how do you defeat your habits that create the opposite result?

Centuries ago, Taoist masters came up with their own method, one that’s simple, direct and can be used by anyone. When they took it to Japan, the Japanese eventually named it “Hara-gei”, the “art of the belly”.

By doing a makeover of your breathing, posture and movement, and then combining them with your mental attention, the ancient masters came up with a fool-proof way to return your entire mind-body organism to its natural state – a state of positive emotion, where no thoughts arise to disturb you… unless you decide to think about something.

This method was so powerful that the famous Chinese physician Sun Simiao – who himself lived over a hundred years in good health, wrote: “Tranquility then attains to concentration, and the body continues to live for years eternal.”

To learn more about this amazing method, you can go here:

http://www.warriorcoachinginternational.com/hara.html

This course is, so far as I know, the ONLY one in the entire English speaking world that actually shows you how to master HARA step-by-step.

And for anyone who grabs a copy this week, I’ll throw in a free copy of The 5 Pillars of Life.

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger




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