Sadhguru defines creativity, explains where creativity comes from and gives an insight into his own creative process.
The Real Definition of the Word “Creativity”
Sadhguru: I do not believe a human being can be creative. If we perceive creation around us with a certain profoundness, we can imitate in many different ways, in permutations and combinations, and seem creative in society, but actually, we are not really creative. Everything that can be created has already been done in creation. We are clever craftsmen at the most. If you define the word “creativity” as really creating something – whether you make a movie, paint something, build a building, speak, or whatever else – this is not really creative – it is clever imitation. Because we have paid attention to different aspects of life, we are able to imitate in ways that others have not thought possible. Or if you do not like the word “imitate,” you could say “replicate.”
Creative Process – A Mystic’s Insight
If you look at human beings – no one has horns, an extra arm, or three eyes – everything is the same, but everything is different. This is creativity. If you want to describe the characteristics of human beings in simple terms – everyone has two legs, two hands, one nose, two eyes, and so on. But just see what a unique happening each one of them is in every way. This is the nature of creation.
Anything you create, whether it is a piece of jewelry or clothing, a building, or whatever else, in any form and color, already exists somewhere in nature.
No human being should ever think that we are creating something. In some way, knowingly or unknowingly, we are reproducing a few things from the impressions we have taken in. No one can really create anything new here. Anything you create, whether it is a piece of jewelry or clothing, a building, or whatever else, in any form and color, already exists somewhere in nature.
You have taken in so many impressions, not all of them consciously. Some of these forms and colors and shapes that are there in your mind may find unconscious expression. In this context, when someone says the ashram is beautiful – I did not make the mountains, and that is the most beautiful part of the ashram. They are setting a background, though most people may not notice it.
Once it happened, Shankaran Pillai came to the Isha Yoga Center, and he wanted a room with a view. We gave an appropriate room in the Chitra block. Then he complained, reiterating, “I wanted a room with a view.”
We said, “This is the room that has the best view.”
He said, “The goddamn mountains are in the way.”
This is what has happened to a lot of human beings. They do not see things as they are. Instead, they have ideas. If you want to make something beautiful, the first thing is you should not have any idea. An idea need not necessarily have anything to do with reality. If instead of having an idea, you have perception, and you simply drink life all the time, if you want to create something or you want to make something happen, it will all be with you – in terms of shapes, forms, colors, sounds, or whatever else. Whether you want to create music, clothing, or a building, if you pay enough attention, it will all be there.
Can Creativity Be Developed or Is It an Inherent Trait?
Question: Sadhguru, is creativity inborn or can it be nurtured?
Sadhguru: What we are looking at as creativity is essentially coming from keenness of attention. Certain people are very attentive to words and meanings, so they bounce back certain things. Certain people are very attentive to forms and colors; they will find expression in a different way. Certain people are very attentive to sounds; they may be able to produce music very effortlessly. How keen and profound your attention is reflects in you in some way.
The essence of what I have been trying to do is to get millions of people to really pay attention without intention. If people can do this one thing, multi-dimensional creativity is very much possible. It is not that they have to practice. What is lacking in human beings is attention.
What is taking away human attention is simply their own cerebral activity. People do not know how to handle their memory and their attention separately. Their memory always floods into their attention and clouds it all the time. People may call this clouding of the memory as thought or emotion, but it is essentially the accumulated memory which interferes with one’s attention. Otherwise, it is very natural for you to be attentive. When you are awake, you are attentive, how else can you be? It is only because memory seeps into every aspect.
This is the fundamental work that I have always been trying to do that people should be able to separate their memory, attention, and imagination. Imagination is not a problem, because imagination is an extrapolation of one’s memory in many different ways. All the animals have very keen attention, but they do not have a vivid sense of memory like us. But instead of using this memory as a phenomenal capability, most people use this to cause misery to themselves. Most of the time human beings are suffering what happened ten years ago, and they may be also suffering what may happen day after tomorrow.
Animals have their struggles, but they are not suffering their memory; they are suffering life. Human beings are just suffering memory most of the time.
Can Anxiety Fuel Creativity?
Question: Where is the creative idea born? Is it born out of a certain restlessness inside or certain anxiety? Otherwise why do I want to express myself? Is it important for creative work, ideas, poetry, music to come out of turbulence or anxiety?
Sadhguru: The problem with most human beings is that unless you put a pin into them, they will be half alive most of the time. Inertia is a choice that people have taken to. Because of inertia, nothing may be happening. People who are in that state, only when a threat like a war, a pandemic, or some tragedy comes in their life, they will become concerned about life. It is an unfortunate way to be. You must have this concern every moment of your life. Concern should be because of involvement, not because of being instigated by some situation.
We know life only to the extent we are attentive to it. What is the depth of your attention, only to that extent do you experience life. If your attention is very profound, your experience of life is very profound. When your experience of life is very profound, it may find some expression in just the simple work that you are doing, or it may find expression in poetry, music, or whatever else.
What kind of expression you will find simply depends upon what sort of attention you have. Is your attention simply there for everything? Is it like a simple light bulb – if you turn it on, a light bulb’s light falls on everything – or do you attend to only a certain type? Most people can pay attention only to a certain thing that they think is of interest. What is worth your attention and what is not– this is a wrong way to look at life. The source of creation did not pay any less attention to creating an ant than creating a human being. When this is the nature of creation, who are you to decide what is worth paying attention to and what is not?
What Is the Inspiration Behind Sadhguru’s Creativity?
Question: When you are writing poetry or painting, what kind of mindset do you have?
Sadhguru: This may sound a little strange, but when I write poetry, I do not even read it the second time. I do not think of a particular concept. In some way, I drip poetry. That same thing may be becoming a painting in some form. Whether I am speaking, driving, teaching, writing, or painting, for me it is just about the same thing. Finding expression is not the word because if you want to express you must have some thought, idea, philosophy, or ideology. For me, it is more of a drip than an expression. I am always willing, but if the situation is willing, I will become a torrent, otherwise I will drip.
Sadhguru’s Perspective on Art
Question: Sadhguru do you distinguish between popular art and fine art? Do you think art has hierarchy at all?
Sadhguru: No, not at all. If at all if I have to make some kind of categorization of art, I would separate art coming from deep levels of frustration from art coming from joy. This art coming from deep levels of suffering and frustration became the style of European art at a certain period of time, and the whole world is trying to imitate that now, which is a very negative thing, because when such things are always on your walls, slowly it will have an impact on you. If it cannot have any impact on you, it cannot be called art. It is capable of impacting you– in many ways, not just visually.
Unfortunately, the religions in the world have eulogized suffering. In the Yogic culture, we have always valued ananda, blissfulness, and ecstasy as the highest value. Suffering is not valued because we always saw suffering as self-created, whereas joy as not self-created. When you are connected with life, you are naturally blissful; when you are unconnected with life and become a mental mess, and then you have suffering and frustration. So I would like to categorize art in these two ways – art which comes from that deep level of frustration and suffering, and art which comes from a joyful expression of life.