Part IIB: How We Live Today - The First Half of Our Life
“What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous.”
Thomas Merton (1915-1968)
Trappist monk, writer, and mystic
The last post, we talked about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and two of the three forces (instincts and conditioning) that guide us. Today we will talk about the third force—the force of creativity.
The Force of Creativity: This inner restlessness is the third force, the potential latent force of creativity knocking on our doors, reminding us that we have lost touch with our true nature and need to reconnect with it. It is the force that we must consciously reawaken if we are to move beyond the survival living of the first half of our life.
Forces That Shape Our Lives
Most of us only make use of our instincts and our conditioning, and so we end up stuck in the first half of our lives—reacting to our environment. The creative force is a potential force that is available to all, but we need to awaken it to transition to the next phase of our lives.
When we were children, we were naturally creative, but most of us lose this state of creativity as it is overpowered by logic and conformity as our conditioning sets in. As Alison Gopnik, author of The Philosophical Baby, said, “Children are the vibrant, wandering butterflies who transform into caterpillars inching along the grown-up path.” We do tend to use our creative abilities to solve problems when we need to, but unfortunately, for most people, the creativity state itself is never fully realized again—it stays dormant for the rest of their lives. I am talking about creative living—a non-dual or whole-seeing mindset, childlike, curious, excited, and invokes fun as we learn and develop. In other words, it is about awakening ourselves to our surroundings—not creative endeavours, like art, painting, and music. Many people are creative and awake when creating their art but do not necessarily know how to live a creative life. Some straddle the two halves of life but cannot seem to transition completely into their second half and are mired in internal conflicts.
Maslow called this reconnection with our creative or natural state of being, something that is beyond the ego consciousness. It is self-transcendence or self-transformation, not an incremental change but a transformation of consciousness. It is a dimensional shift in the way we perceive the world to meet life’s challenges. This way of perceiving comes from a different state of mind or an expanded consciousness. This way of living is not new. It is living in creativity. We access this state occasionally but generally are unable to sustain it and drop back to our ordinary egoic way of living. The inability to maintain this creative state creates the condition for stress to take hold in us, causing most of our mental distress and suffering.
Our society is based on the rational and analytical mode of consciousness. We are a verbal and intellectual society, and our emphasis is on the intellectual and scientific way of thinking rather than an intuitive, creative way of perceiving. When people refer to their minds as computers, they are referring to their thinking mind—the rational, analytical left-hemisphere brain. With this way of thinking, the focus is on the external world of objects and things, the world of our senses—a world of matter that we can touch, feel, and see—which is vital for our survival.
In comparison, the non-dual creative way of perceiving builds on our everyday way of looking at the world by giving breadth and depth to our daily experiences. In other words, it adds the intuitive and holistic perspective to our rational, linear, and detailed way of seeing things. This opens up the whole undivided world to us. It observes the entire forest as opposed to just seeing an individual tree. Learning to observe the world from a holistic creative perspective is what Einstein was referring to when he said, “You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. You must learn to see the world anew.”
For many of us, the intuitive right-hemisphere brain seems irrational and useless in working with and understanding the world, and not necessary for our survival. So, we gradually lose touch with our feelings and the intuitive wisdom and creativity of our right brain.
As Marilyn Ferguson, author of The Aquarian Conspiracy, remarked, “Without the benefit of a scalpel, we perform split-brain surgery on ourselves. We isolate heart and mind. Cut off from the fantasy, dreams, intuitions, and holistic processes of the right brain, the left is sterile. And the right brain, cut off from integration with its organizing partner, keeps recycling its emotional charge… [creating]… a kind of cosmic homesickness.” This homesickness is the longing, the inner restlessness that we all feel.
The Famous Left and Right Brains
(Two modes of consciousness—two different ways of perceiving the world)
|Left Brain||Right Brain|
|Focus on the outer world.||Focus on the inner world.|
|Rational and detail-oriented.||Intuitive and holistic.|
|Things happen in sequence, one thing at a time.||Everything happens at the same time right here, right now.|
|The this OR that dualist point of view. It can’t be both.||The this AND that non-dualistic approach. It connects everything.|
|Noisy brain—home of the ego and the mind chatter.||Silent brain—directly connected to the innate intelligence.|
|“Doing” consciousness.||“Being” consciousness.|
In summary, we have created an “analytical barrier” that needs to be lowered for any transformation to occur so that we may move to the second half of life and let in the wisdom of the intuitive brain to start using whole-brain thinking and knowing. To move to the next stage and realize our full potential, we have to make it happen by setting off on our own inner journey of transformation. We have the capability and the capacity to transcend to our highest state, but ultimately, it depends on us—on whether we want to make the jump out of survival or settle and be “happy” living in the survival mode.
In this first phase of life, we are trying to change our external world because we live with a survival mindset, but as Rumi said, “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself”…and we need this mindset to transition to the second phase of our lives.
The following post is Part IIB in a four-part series that touches on The Secret of Aging with Grace and Wisdom. For more information on what you can expect for this series, take a look below.
Part III: The Bridge of Transformation – Entry or Crossover Points will be available next week. This section will describe the bridge of transformation and what is needed to fully embrace the second half of life.