Watching a fantastic nature show on PBS about the Pacific Ocean I was reminded how creative life is. Now, I know to some that sounds like I am slipping into intelligent design. Think what you will, but how can you look at the awesome variety of life and not be just overwhelmed? Why, though, use the word creative? Especially since it sounds like intelligent design, that dastardly back door creationists and other religious zealots use to seek religion into schools? Fair question.
Because for me, the word ‘creative’ fits as well for the canvas of life and being, as it does for a painting or a poem.
Creativity could be defined just as some human activity, or a brain activity at most (extending the attribute to a few other animals); fine, I wont argue. I’m just not so taken with the primacy of brain activity.
I like a bigger definition of creativity because it works for me, it captures something relevant, I think. Expanding the word creativity beyond clever brain burps that re-arrange the deck chairs of our perceptions captures the amazing, unrelenting tendency of the universe to come up with an expanding array of form and function.
There is a continuity of life, a center that is manifest in our genes, and in our bodies, but there has been a tinkering on tinkering still seen clearly in our genome and in the fossils, in the earth itself, that records how we changed, then changed the environment, then we changed again; a dance of four billion or so years.
Creative because life is always something old that becomes something new. It reaches into and changes around every possible nook and cranny. It never stops, it isn’t reaching a goal, it is always creating new forms most wondrous.
So still, is that really creative, just because there are never seen before variations? Don’t we have a special clever input into our creativity?
Yes and no.
Yes, regarding a special attribute that is creativity, that is our conceit. We make art. We have creative impulses. We project that out. We want meaning in our creativity, meaning that gives us meaning.
Again, fair enough f you define it that way.
But maybe the answer is no, there’s more.
Where do our creative impulses come from that act on the materials, the media, we fashion in our creativity? Are they really that different from the spark of a virtual particle arising at the vast, if not infinite, unperceivable (except indirectly) quantum foam, or the quantum fields of energy that can not be measured directly, but only as they change and morph, become manifest to us as particles? How creative is it to go from a unified source of all energy, a single force, an infinitely small whatever, a singularity in the jargon, to a universe, as science teaches us happened?
Or is it an infinite universe where all things that can happen will? That may be the most creative of all, the essential creativity of being!
I this creativity really different using, being, the simple substrate of a few types of atoms arranged in patterns that will encode information and interact and produce such a pageant of pulsating, squirming, burrowing, swimming, soaring complexity of life as we see around us, as we are in it and it in us?
I was talking about my fiction writing with someone a couple of days ago. I do work with a general outline, but what is most fun for me, whether good or bad form the literary viewpoint is irrelevant, is when the story, the characters just come out. They surprise me. They come from a quiet place. It isn’t a question of uniqueness (Buddhism 101: all things, all composite entities,express karma uniquely as the result of contingencies upon contingencies, no beginning, no end) or talent (the skill of achieving the result you are after and the aesthetics of pleasing others. That is not the essence of creativity, though it may be a factor in whether you spend time or money on a work of art as a consumer).
The quiet place is the source.
A straight line is an infinite set of waves that can form incredible patterns, but as long as they cancel out over all, if the same amount of up equals the same amount down at the point of the line, there is no array of of the vast potential of intricate patterns, only the line. Of course the line itself, made up of points that are mere constructs, and for that matter the point on the line we are looking at, doesn’t exist. It’s the nothing left over that the waves would have been above or below if they weren’t perfectly balanced, perfectly symmetrical, above and below (or in 3 dimensions, they also balance front and back, and in four, five dimensions…).
Just perhaps, it is all creativity all the time, this vast arising and falling in the quiet place, the dream we tell stories our about.
Does it mean an outside creator intelligently designing?
No, I reject that dualistic notion.
Some call it Mind, or consciousness, or Buddha.
You don’t have to give it a name or conceptualize it. That’s the point of the tetralemma in buddhist logic; whatever you can say, you’ll be wrong. After all it’s not: true, false, both or neither.
It’s Zazen, the quiet place.