Image courtesy of the Reformed Journal blog
As a problem-solver, I want to apply my skills and training to some of the greatest challenges that face our society. To start 2023, here is my take on America's current culture wars and what we can do to make things better:
Every day on social media, Americans are doing battle. Often, we get sucked into these “culture wars” that are raging everywhere we turn. If you have posted an online comment regarding some key social or political issue, you have probably experienced it firsthand. Within seconds, a stranger may ridicule and hurl insults at you for having the audacity to express an opinion.
Just about anything can be fodder for these conflicts: M&Ms, gas stoves, Mister Potato Head, vaccines, and even math. What is behind the culture wars pitting Americans against one another? Like any other social conflict, this one is complex and multidimensional. But at its core lies a struggle between two ways of knowing: “street” and “elite.”
First, let’s start with the elite way of knowing. This includes higher education, science, medicine, book knowledge, and the expertise of those who have benefited from such knowledge, including the mainstream media, public servants, librarians, educators, and health-care professionals.
In 2010, Time magazine cited the mistrust of elites as one of the major trends that would unfold in the next decade. This prediction turned out to be more accurate and far-reaching than most of us realized. Such mistrust fueled the political rise of Donald Trump and other politicians who were mostly elites disguised as populists. After all, Trump is a billionaire real-estate developer and TV star born to wealth, educated at Wharton and residing in penthouses and golf resorts. His 2016 presidential campaign succeeded by playing on the fears and mistrust shared by many Americans, promoting suspicion of the “deep state” and “lamestream media.”
In fairness, such suspicion is often merited. The elites that populists tend to rail against include those who run failing institutions like the federal government, corporations, churches and universities. The failure of these institutions can be attributed to basic corruption and short-sightedness. What has the elite way of knowing done for most Americans? While the elites enjoy unparalleled luxury, a growing number of Americans face unemployment, homelessness, gun violence, addiction, chronic illness, and despair. This disparity lies at the heart of the culture wars.
We are now seeing a backlash against the elite way of knowing, which includes a rejection of “woke-ism.” To be woke means to be alert to certain social and cultural issues, such as racism, homophobia, climate change, and reproductive rights. Woke movements like Me Too and Black Lives Matter have provoked hostility and resistance for at least two reasons: First, being woke is viewed as a privilege afforded only to the elite. People who are aware of broader social issues tend to be college educated professionals who read publications like the New York Times, who tend to tune into PBS or NPR, and who trust science and the expertise of trained professionals. The second reason is the perceived militancy and fervor with which the self-declared woke population seeks to impose its views on everyone else. Examples of this include vaccination mandates and cancel culture.
Meanwhile, the street way of knowing questions and rejects most elite sources of information. Those who favor this way of knowing are more likely to rely on people they know and trust for their information, including friends and family, certain podcasters and politicians, and social media sources. They may label someone who cites a journal article or mainstream media outlet in an online discussion as “sheeple” or “libtards,” questioning the intelligence and judgment of those who trust and accept the validity of certain elite information sources.
We need to understand the populations that choose each way of knowing and the reasons for their choices. Regardless of our preferred way of knowing, most of us tend to be tribal, paying attention to what those closest to us have to say and being more suspicious of outsiders. But whatever assumptions we make about one another based on differences in our ways of knowing may lead us to accept false or misleading stereotypes. As someone who prefers elite information sources—including scientific data, meta-analyses, and expert opinions—I tend to think of those who choose street over elite ways of knowing as mostly poor, white, male, Christian, rural, conservative, and relatively uneducated. Yet, among my own acquaintances are a number of people who do not fit that mold. Several of the anti-vaxxers and Q-Anon supporters I know are well-educated, middle-class, intelligent, female, liberal, non-Christian, urban, and people of color.
What I see as a common thread among them is a total mistrust of a system that appears to favor the elites in every way, including a government of, by, and for the wealthy and privileged few. That mistrust begins with sources of knowledge. In recent years, we have seen all of the following called into question: classrooms, textbooks, media outlets, government agencies, scientists, public-health experts, school boards, and libraries.
Challenging the validity of these sources is not necessarily a bad thing. The problem lies in how they are replaced. There is no substitute for first-hand knowledge. And yet, given that none of us can be everywhere at once, we must have reliable sources of third-hand information. If all mainstream media are labeled as “fake news,” that creates an opening for even more dubious and morally compromised sources to take hold. Alex Jones’ InfoWars website is a perfect example. Jones has made a fortune pushing unfounded conspiracy theories (e.g. that the Sandy Hook shooting was a false-flag operation) and questionable products like dietary supplements.
The irony of this situation is that we live in an age of unprecedented access to information combined with unprecedented mistrust of our information sources and channels. You can choose to reject certain ways of knowing as corrupt and malicious, but nobody can reject ALL information sources because what we do depends on what we know. Without quality information at our disposal, we become susceptible to a form of paralysis in which we fail to act because we have no idea which way to go. This is like trying to fly a plane without functioning navigation equipment or ground control.
We need sources of information that are impeccable and beyond reproach. These sources must combine the best of both worlds: street and elite. They cannot be susceptible to the current tribalism that leads us to dismiss and demonize those who think differently than we do. Whatever opinions and attitudes each of us chooses to adopt, wouldn’t it be great to know that our views are based on a solid footing of real facts and unbiased reporting?
Here is how I would go about creating such an information source:
This is just a start. Let me know what you think. I welcome your comments, questions, and ideas.
The creative revolution is here!
Dear Friends: Your creative powers have been vastly underestimated. This is nobody's fault, and I am not suggesting some dark conspiracy. As a society, we simply haven't had good answers to these basic questions:
1. Where does creativity come from?
2. What is the nature of the creative process?
3. How do experiences of creative inspiration unfold?
It has taken me 35 years to explore these questions and come up with a fresh vision of human creativity. I can say with confidence that I have managed to "crack the code" in a way that will benefit you and future generations hugely.
As I explained in my recent talk on "The Creative Process," the scientific understanding of human creativity has been hampered by ineffective models of the creative process. I am referring to the kind of real-world creativity experienced by artists, inventors, theorists, and others immersed in creative pursuits on a daily basis.
In "The Creative Process," I unveil a holistic model of the creative process that opens up a world of possibilities in terms of your ability to tap into creative inspiration. Even more exciting, I have just published my fifth book, "The Inspiring Playbook," which offers a program of 12 specific activities (called "ACTS") designed to maximize your capacity for creative inspiration.
The 12 ACTS included in the "The Inspiring Playbook" are time-tested. I have extensive research to support their effectiveness. Will they work for you? Based on the reports of hundreds of research participants, there's a very good chance the Inspiring practice described in the playbook will expand the way you view yourself and your own creative power.
If you are not familiar with Inspiring as a way of life, you have probably been underestimating what you are capable of experiencing and creating. The name of the game is to make the most of this precious life, including your ability to be present, loving and creative. It turns out that those three abilities go hand-in-hand to a far greater extent than you may have realized. The time is right for you to come into your own in a way that can make a lasting positive difference not just in your life but also for everyone whose life is touched by yours in some way. This is what the Creative Revolution is all about!
Imagine a god personified as a basketball player. That would be Boston Celtics’ great Bill Russell, who died this week at the age of 88. In every way, Russell was larger than life. Many tributes this week have focused on his social activism and major contributions to the advancement of human rights, all of which are deserving of the highest praise.
But here I want to share my impression of him as a player. I only had the privilege to see him play during the last year of his career, but I have watched hours of old footage and studied everything I could about Russell, including his writings, old articles, interviews, and the reminiscences of his coach, teammates, and competitors. What I know is that there has never been a player like him in the history of basketball.
His achievements on the court are remarkable. Russell won back-to-back state championships in high-school, back-to-back NCAA championships at the University of San Francisco, an Olympic gold medal in 1956, and 11 NBA championships in 13 seasons, including two as player-coach. He played in a high-pressure, win-or-go-home Game 7 a total of 21 times in his playoff career. His record was: 21-0.
Russell’s physical attributes were impressive. At 6’10”, not only was he one of the tallest players on the court, he was also among the fastest and most athletic. Russell could jump high enough to touch the top of the backboard. Only a few players in the history of the sport could do that. But that is not why I call him a basketball god.
In his unique style of play, Russell embodied the highest of virtues: honor, awareness, selflessness, vision, creativity, discipline, concentration, resilience, commitment, decisiveness, and perhaps most importantly, perfect joy. “To me, the most important part of winning is joy,” he said. “Joy is a current of energy in your body, like chlorophyll or sunlight, that fills you up and makes you naturally want to do your best.”
When Russell came into the NBA, the first thing he did was scout his own team to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the Celtics’ players. Rather than ever criticize his teammates publicly or in private, he chose to play to their strengths and fill in for their weaknesses. Russell did whatever the Celtics needed in order to win. That meant focusing on rebounding and defense.
He averaged an astounding 22.5 rebounds per game, and he is second on the all-time list of total career rebounds to his dear friend and lifelong rival, Wilt Chamberlain. The battles between Russell and Chamberlain on the court were legendary. Some consider it the greatest rivalry in the history of sports. While Chamberlain tended to have better personal statistics when the two great centers went head-to-head, Russell’s record against him was 86-57 overall, counting both regular season and playoff games. To him, “the only important statistic is the final score.”
As a defender, Bill Russell revolutionized the game of basketball. Prior to him, defenders were taught not to leave their feet. It was part of the fundamentals that most coaches would stress to their players. Russell introduced verticality in a way that had never been seen before. Watching him block shots is breathtaking, as you can see for yourself:
He would jump just high enough to change the trajectory of a shot, essentially tipping the ball to himself. Then, before the other team could react, he would launch outlet passes to his teammates to start the vaunted Celtics’ fast break. In winning eight consecutive championships, Russell’s Celtics ran other teams off the court. Their transition game was perhaps as efficient and devastating as that of any team in NBA history, and it all began with Russell’s defense and rebounding.
At the time he played, the NBA did not keep track of blocked shots. If it had, it is very likely that Russell would still hold the all-time record for most blocks per game. He was aware of how much he intimidated opponents with his defensive prowess. “The idea is not to block every shot,” he observed. “The idea is to make your opponent believe that you might block every shot.”
Russell may have invented this airborne approach to basketball because of how much joy it brought him. He said that jumping made him happy, and he noticed the same tendency in other players. “On their way back to the floor after a particularly high leap, they bend their legs more than they need to, just to prolong the sensation,” he observed.
To me, Bill Russell was the consummate team player. Always stressing the value of teamwork and camaraderie, he said, “The most important measure of how good a game I played was how much better I’d made my teammates.” Russell believed he could will his team to win, and he was right. One of the most iconic images from the Boston Celtics’ dynasty showed Russell on the court, grabbing his teammates’ hands to form a human chain. He prized and nurtured the connection between teammates working towards a common goal, maybe as much as any NBA player ever has.
Russell epitomized the power of visualization. As a teenager, he discovered that he could gain new basketball skills through mental rehearsal. First, he would imagine himself doing it perfectly, and then he would go on the basketball court and make the move he had visualized. “When the visualization worked, and the ball went in, I was so elated I thought I’d float right out of the gym,” he recalled. “I managed to transfer something from my head to my body.”
Hours before a game, Russell would visualize how the game would unfold, from start to finish. Often while on the court, he had the sensation of playing in slow motion. “I could sense how the next play would develop and where the next shot would be taken,” he said. “My premonitions would be consistently correct.”
On a few occasions, Russell claimed to experience levitation while on the court. He said, “The feeling would spread to the other guys, and we’d all levitate.” Besides being the stuff of legend, this anecdote supports my initial assertion. It is unlikely that any basketball player will ever match Bill Russell’s astounding success on the court. He was literally at the center of one of the greatest dynasties in sports history. There is no denying that he had a great coach in Red Auerbach and numerous Hall of Famers as teammates. But before Russell arrived, the Celtics had never played in an NBA Finals game. Then they won a championship his first season and also his last, with another nine in between. Between 1959 and 1966, the Celtics won eight consecutive championships. That is what happens when you have the rare privilege to play with a basketball god.
What My Father Taught Me
Yesterday marked the three-year anniversary of my father's death. As I honored his memory last night, I realized the most important life lesson that he taught me. He was not always a happy man, and we didn't see eye-to-eye on many things. But he did shape who I am in at least one extremely significant way.
You see, my father was a lover at heart. And he threw himself into the people and things he loved wholeheartedly. You knew what he was passionate about the moment you met him. He would tell you about his favorite baseball players, Civil War generals, movies, restaurants, and songs. Sometimes, he would pull out a comb from his back pocket, put a piece of tissue paper over it, and play it like a kazoo, regaling you with renditions of his most beloved melodies, such as the classic "Whispering." After even the briefest interaction with him, you would come away with a pretty good idea of what he loved.
At his memorial, I observed that my father was a religious man in one sense: Love was his religion. There was never a bit of doubt about his passion and devotion to his wife, his family, or his most cherished pursuits, including games and puzzles; history and storytelling; food and travel; music and films. As he got older, he spent most of his waking time engaged in what I call "love play." This is when you give yourself to what you love fully, while taking it all in as fully as you can.
My father would sit for hours on his favorite recliner, with his beloved feline companion on his lap, while delighting in something he really cherished: a seemingly obscure baseball statistic; word problems; jokes; calculations; the best meals of his life; deals on vacations and cruises; or the news of the day. Until almost the very end, he read through the entire newspaper and listened to audio books steadily.
The last time I saw him, he had a headset in his ears and I assumed he was listening to another audio book. But then I noticed that the headset wasn't plugged into anything. He didn't seem to need the external stimulation anymore. In his head, there was an entire symphony unfolding: facts and figures, melodies and memories, treats and treasures. My sense was that he had taken his passion to a whole new level, where it had become like a continuous meditation for him.
The last few months of his life were rough at times. I certainly do not want to dismiss or underestimate the challenges that he, my mother, and the rest of my family had to face. But I also saw that my father had become unwavering in his adherence to this love religion that he had created for himself and had embraced consistently throughout his life.
My father was a true and devout lover. That makes him, in mind, something of a holy man. In honor of him, I remind myself daily to simply:
BE THE LOVER
Thanks for letting me share this with you. In love and joy, now and always.
The Divine Party
How do you honor Earth Day in 2022? Any celebration may seem empty and pointless. It may feel like you have no control as you watch the world around you collapse into chaos and dysfunction. Today, I am feeling your pain. I would be a fool to deny the great suffering and anguish that engulfs so many of my loved ones at this moment. But I also have great news, which is that there exists a potential antidote.
What I have to say here may seem frivolous and self-indulgent. But after decades of following my path faithfully and wholeheartedly, I know it works--at least for me. I have discovered a secret that has eluded me for a long time and that may feel equally elusive to you. The secret is this:
There is a really great party going on. A Divine Party, in fact. I would go so far as to call it “the greatest party ever”! The extraordinary individuals whose wisdom and equanimity I admire are already at this party. I have had the pleasure to be around Ammachi, the Dalai Lama, and less well-known but equally radiant beings like Rama Jyoti Vernon. The one thing I can say unequivocally about all of them is that they sure know how to party!
One of the great Tantric masters of Tibet, Lama Yeshe, said that one of the biggest misconceptions in spiritual life is the notion of renunciation. “The Tibetan term generally translated as ‘renunciation’ has the literal meaning of ‘definite emergence’,” he writes. “It indicates a deep, heartfelt decision to emerge from the repeated frustrations and disappointments of ordinary life. Simply stated, renunciation is the feeling of being so completely fed up with our recurring problems that we are finally ready to turn away from our attachments to this and that and begin searching for another way to make our life satisfying and meaningful.”
If you want to join the Divine Party, you have to leave your baggage at the door. The only thing you are being asked to renounce is the heavy burdens that are keeping you from experiencing what novelist Milos Kundera calls “the unbearable lightness of being.” He explains that “the absolute absence of burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into the heights,” and to gain an entirely fresh perspective on the nature of “reality.”
So, how do you join the Divine Party? Do you need a special invitation? Yes, you do. And I am extending it to you right now. Here is your invitation:
BE THE LOVER
It’s really this simple. BE THE LOVER. I know that you want to be. And that you probably know what it feels like already. At some point in your life, you have loved someone or something so completely that you have become one with your beloved. Am I right?
The Lover is the most important and powerful thing you can be. Most people know that, which is why they tend to choose love as their highest priority when surveyed. In truth, love is more of an aspiration than a priority for most of us. Humanity tends to admire teachers like Jesus who remind us to “love one another.” But we also tend to punish and kill those teachers as a stark reminder of how far we have all strayed from the path of The Lover.
To BE THE LOVER means to throw yourself completely into the delightful and transcendent practice of love play. This practice takes many forms, from breastfeeding your baby to creating beautiful and inspiring art. For many of us, erotic love play is one of the most compelling forms of this practice. In sexual union, we may know what it feels like to give ourselves to our beloved and to receive that beloved so completely that the apparent boundaries separating us from one another just melt away. And isn’t that experience of transcendent oneness the point of every meaningful spiritual practice?
If you have been The Lover even for an instant, you have already joined the Divine Party. Now, you can stay at this party as long as you like and invite others to join you. There are all kinds of treats and party favors to be savored and enjoyed here. I am happy to show you the delights and treasures I have discovered at this party and to share them with you, my dear friends. Why? Because I believe that YOU are the life of the party. Trust me, you are, whether you know it or not.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. For now, just invite yourself to the Divine Party. Take time today to say the following words to yourself while taking them in fully and feeling their power:
BE THE LOVER
be the lover
There is a remedy for everything that ails this world. That remedy has always been within your grasp. You may think that it is just too simple and too obvious to work. But it does.
Be the Lover. Find someone or something you love. Then love the Beloved passionately, wholeheartedly, with every ounce of your being. Express that love through your love play, in which you give yourself completely to the Beloved and take in the Beloved completely. In this way, the two become one, and the one becomes two.
Being the Lover is transcendent because Lover and Beloved are one. In their love play, the two share essence, showering each other with life, truth and beauty. Together they create through this shower of essence, which allows the following to be conceived, to be born, and to be nurtured: offspring and future generations; inspiring art; great ideas and innovations; communities, cultures, and civilizations; and the highest ideals and aspirations of humanity.
Every one of us is conceived, born, and nurtured through love play, which can culminate in a shower and a sharing of essence. In fact, everything in the universe is created through love play, and the Lover is only one. You know this is true because when you are immersed fully in love play, Lover and Beloved are one. That means one heart, one being, one essence.
So, here's the practice of Inspiring in a nutshell. This practice can and will change the world. And it begins with you: Be the Lover. Shower essence on the world. Aspire to maximize the essence that flows through you and minimize the poison. In your love play, channel the Lover that goes by many names and yet is only one, loving, creating, and abiding in everything that has ever been or will be.
When you are Inspiring, you are the Lover and everything you create is imbued with the pure essence that you shower on the world. This includes your art, your family, your vision of reality, your actions, and your experience of life. Here is the basic building block of a peaceful, sustainable, and balanced world. It is simple. Just start and others will want to join in. Why? Because it is the greatest feeling the world, one of the highest highs you will ever know. Everyone has the right to experience that for themselves, if they so choose. Those who make that choice will transform their lives and their world in positive and lasting ways.
I call “Bullshit.”
We are drowning in a sea of bullshit
Why do we insist on turning our lives into bullshit?
Most school is bullshit. Most work is bullshit.
The media is bullshit. The news we get is bullshit.
The powerful seek to divide us with bullshit.
The rich distract us from their crimes with bullshit.
Keeping all wealth in the hands of a few is bullshit.
Government is just powerful bullshit.
Politics is how the bullshit rises to the top.
Big business is big bullshit.
Free enterprise is the biggest bullshit of all.
Religion is “holier than thou” bullshit.
Glory to bullshit in the highest.
War is deadly bullshit. Fight and die for what?
Science is bullshit but at least it tries.
Ignorance is just undisciplined bullshit.
Corporations peddle bullshit,
They don’t care if we choke on it.
Their bottom line is bullshit.
They feed us bullshit and call it bliss.
They pay us in bullshit and tell us we’re rich.
Their promise of the future is such utter bullshit.
The only future they know is the next quarter’s bullshit.
Why are we helping them turn the world into bullshit?
They treat people like slaves, and that’s bullshit.
They don’t value life, and that’s bullshit.
They are indifferent to the future, and that’s bullshit.
They turn gold into garbage, and that’s bullshit.
They use the Earth as their toilet—the worst kind of bullshit.
Corporations alone are not to blame for this bullshit.
Institutions that try to control us are bullshit.
Strongmen pretending to be leaders. That’s bullshit.
Appealing to our lowest impulses. That’s bullshit.
Giving in to these impulses, we dive into bullshit.
Greed, hatred, aggression. All bullshit.
Fear, jealousy, suspicion. All bullshit.
Dishonesty, cruelty, domination. All bullshit.
Helping those who wish us harm. That’s some self-destructive bullshit!
Let’s stop this bullshit.
Today, we declare: No more bullshit!
We will NOT turn our world into bullshit.
We will find an island of truth in this sea of bullshit,
And make a life for ourselves, our children, our planet,
Devoted to truth, and free of all bullshit.
We will build a sanctuary, a place of refuge,
Where people can go to escape all the bullshit.
Built on a bedrock of truth free of bullshit.
There are three truths that connect us all, no matter:
Who we or what we think we are,
Where we live or how old we are,
The content of our genes or the color of our skin.
These truths offer us a fresh start,
As all the bullshit falls away.
They will change you forever,
If you take them to heart.
Simple and pure, here they are:
I AM, I LOVE, I FLOW
The first truth, I AM, is an awesome wonder.
How did we get here? Where are we going?
We may not know, but there is no denying,
The astonishing truth that I AM.
Say it: I AM; feel it: I AM.
Awaken to the truth of I AM.
Then rejoice in this truth!
Don’t waste your chance
To come alive, as alive as you can be!
Bask in the power and glory:
I AM, I AM, I AM.
Say it, know it, feel it, live it.
Here and now, mind and body,
Head to toe, heart and soul.
Revere and adore anything or anyone
That awakens you to the truth of I AM.
Who or what I am always changes,
But the fact that I AM never does.
The second truth, I LOVE, is the only religion we need.
Everyone has the power to love.
Find who and what you love.
Then love with all your heart.
Let that be your most precious art.
Let your beloved become part of you,
Merging with you, one with you,
Until you don’t know where you begin,
And where your beloved ends.
Sing to your beloved with total devotion,
The words of this love chant, this magical potion:
Lover and beloved are one.
I love you.
You beloved you, there is only you.
I give myself to you completely beloved
And I receive you completely
I am in you beloved
As you are in me.
You and I are one.
And so it is.
By invoking the power of love,
You make your essence flow,
And take in the essence of your beloved,
Until you are in two places at once,
Living in two bodies at the exact same time.
Knowing that lover and beloved are one,
Is not just another idea,
Not just a string of empty words.
Feel it, taste it, smell it, touch it.
To love fully is to know, not just that I AM,
But that I AM as YOU ARE.
The third truth, I FLOW,
Gives us the power to create,
The dream world we envision.
All that we are is a flow of essence,
Earth, water, fire and air,
Image, idea, sound, and gesture.
Become a stream of essence,
Flowing in and flowing out.
Take in only essence,
Only what nourishes and sustains you.
Give away only essence,
Nourish and sustain the world.
Make essence flow, let it flow,
Pure and inspiring,
Joyous and loving,
Beautiful, artful, blissful, delightful.
Here is where our dream world begins.
Here is how we leap to the next great stage,
And fulfill the promise of a bold “new age”:
Creating peace, sustainability, and balance.
We are only a stream of essence,
That is all we have ever been.
Let it flow purely and freely,
Embracing the truth that I FLOW.
Now you know the three truths,
That renew life in perpetuity,
And restore all hope for humanity.
So it is, and so it shall be.
The power of truth lives in you and in me.
What if our society treated sex the way it tends to treat creativity? Sex would be seen as a form of thinking or problem-solving. We would find book titles like “Sexual Thinking” or “Habits of a Sexual Mind.” Sex would also be equated with productivity, a type of behavior that leads to a goal like making a better baby, more babies, or both. You would be encouraged to do team-building exercises with your sex partner to become more efficient in your sexual practices.
Rarely would any scholar mention what it feels like to have sex. You would never find a scientific paper dealing with passion, desire, sexual arousal, orgasm, or love. It might be surprising to learn that sex involves any emotion or bodily sensation at all. You may even come to believe that a computer could be programmed to be more sexual than a person. Masturbation would seem like an oddity. After all, who would be sexual just for the fun of it? The primary reason to have sex would be to produce something that has value in the marketplace.
Now, let’s flip this scenario. What if we treated creativity more like sex? Creativity would be seen as a natural human impulse and part of our basic biology. It would be understood that every child is born with an urge to create that manifests itself when the time is right. Being creative would be perceived as a total-body experience involving feeling and sensation and not just thinking. In fact, at its most satisfying and delightful, a creative experience could free your mind of all thoughts, worries, judgments, or concerns.
In your creative experiences, you might not be solving any problem necessarily but just expressing who you are and what you are feeling. Before you created anything with another person, you would explore your creativity on your own. And you might discover the transcendent power of creativity at certain moments, when you lose awareness of time and space, hunger and thirst, and even yourself while becoming absorbed in the creative process. Your moments of creative inspiration could be as ecstatic and compelling as any feeling of sexual pleasure.
Then there is the matter of Tantra. Just as Tantric wisdom can elevate sexuality and transform it into a path of total love and freedom, the practice of Tantra could do the same for creativity. As it turns out, this is not a hypothetical. There is a Tantric practice that enhances and elevates creativity in this way. It is called Inspiring. Like other Tantric practices, Inspiring involves mastery of the breath, silencing of the mind, and full awareness and control of bodily processes.
The aim of Inspiring is not simply to create something wonderful in the world, although that is a legitimate by-product of the practice. It is to connect at the deepest level possible with your own true nature by embodying a universal creative process. This is where total freedom lies—and total love.
Stay tuned to my next blog for more details.
A VALENTINE TO MARIA
In honor of Valentine's Day, and to express my passion for my beloved wife, Maria, I wrote and submitted an article to Elephant Journal this week. Here is the article in its entirety:
I am blessed to have a Tantric marriage with my brilliant and beautiful wife, Maria, the woman who inspires and delights me on a daily basis. This is not conventional Tantra, I admit. We both know enough to steer clear of such labels. She is a pioneer in the field of yoga therapy, and I have devoted my life to the exploration of creativity, consciousness, chanting, and “the way of play.” Neither of us claims to be experts in Tantra, although we have both studied, read, and integrated certain practices into our lives.
Maria and I met in our late 50’s, at a time when each of us was comfortable in our own skin and had known our share of ups and downs. Falling in love was an unexpected gift. Both of us continue to be amazed each day at our extraordinary good fortune. It took me 13 months to propose, which is remarkably speedy for someone who had sworn off marriage altogether. Each of us had been happy and at peace living on our own. Yet, we both had enough sense to realize that when the love affair of a lifetime comes along, you jump on it!
Now, let me identify the five aspirations that make our marriage Tantric:
We do not always meet our aspirations because we’re human. But with rare exception, this is how we live. It’s not conventional Tantra for any number of reasons, starting with the fact that at its core, our marriage has been shaped by two revolutionary discoveries of the past half-century: holograms and fractals. Both of these breakthroughs converge on the same idea: that Nature is self-embedded wholeness, making each of us an embodiment of wholeness, a microcosm composed of smaller microcosms. I find this realization thrilling. It makes me tingle all over, filling me with astonishment and awe!
Maria and I view holiness and wholeness as inseparable. Both words have the same origin. In traditional Tantra, you practice seeing and treating the Beloved as a deity—your personal god or goddess. For me, Maria is the wholeness of Nature embodied in female form. And that form happens to be gorgeous, juicy, sexy and perfect. Lucky me! She is a microcosm, and a luscious one at that. Like a flower, a bird, or a grain of sand, she has her own unique beauty and splendor. She is also my portal into wholeness. When I am with Maria, I can’t tell where I end, and she begins. Just looking into her eyes makes me feel whole.
Adoration comes from the Latin “to prayer.” From the first night we met and really looked at each other for the first time, I have adored Maria. This is not something I intended or practiced. The feeling just came over me and has never left. Every day, I come to her with the reverence, anticipation, and joy of a pilgrim coming to prayer.
I enter into our Temple of Erotic Love through my desire for her. In that desire, I am at once a beast and a saint. She knows I want her insatiably and irrepressibly because my desire for her is a desire to be whole. Maybe all desire is. But knowing that it is transmutes desire into something higher: a holy fire that you celebrate and nurture.
Our sex life is Tantric love play, the divine frolic of gods and goddesses. What happens when two embodiments of wholeness intertwine in passionate embrace? The pure radiant essence of life flows through us, an ambrosia of bliss, ecstasy, and delight. As we melt into each other, we channel the awesome creative force of Nature, what physicist David Bohm calls “undivided wholeness in flowing movement.” We are caught up together in the rhythmic spiral heartbeat of creation through which the universe unfolds and enfolds, expands and contracts, merges and emerges.
In a crescendo of cosmic orgasm, we become a single embodiment of Nature’s wholeness. Within us, a universe is being created and annihilated through an endless stream of love and joy. In a climax that transcends space and time, each of us embodies the Fountain of Essence that bursts forth from Nature’s wholeness—from the center of the universe. And our shared essence illuminates all creation with the splendor of existence, which is the remarkable and mysterious privilege we all share.
This Tantric marriage happened because good fortune collided with a lifetime of preparation. Next time, I will share more about the nature of that preparation.
INSPIRING BEATLES VIDEO
Are you fascinated by the Beatles? Do you ever wonder why this one band from Liverpool, England, became such a global phenomena? What made the Beatles so compelling? Why does their music continue to inspire millions of listeners five decades after they disbanded?
Today, on the 53rd Anniversary of the Beatles' legendary rooftop concert, I am delighted to announce the premiere of my new 16-minute video, "The Beatles: Six Creative Secrets Revealed in Get Back."
This video explores the mysteries of creative genius as exemplified by the Beatles. Their extraordinary success was no accident; it had everything to do with the way they created music together.
I can't say enough about the importance of Peter Jackson's documentary, The Beatles: Get Back, which gives us a unique glimpse into the Beatles' creative process. Viewers get the rare opportunity to see moments of creative inspiration for themselves. As a creativity researcher, I am hard pressed to think of any other film that compares. The amazing footage in Get Back, which sat in a vault for over five decades, illustrates to perfection what I have been sharing with you about "The Art of Creative Inspiration." As this new video will show, the Beatles were masters of this art. As songwriters, John Lennon and Paul McCartney valued inspiration, intuition, and imagination in a way that only the most inspiring artists do.
I want to thank Peter Jackson and everyone involved in the making of Get Back first of all for their dedication to what was undoubtedly a painstaking process, as they spent years combing through old film stock in search of hidden treasures. Also, I am grateful to the filmmakers for their generosity in letting people like me use clips from the film so that we may offer our own take on what we have witnessed, observed, and discovered about the Beatles' uniquely passionate and playful approach to creativity. Please feel free to share your own impressions after watching my video. Thank you!
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