From Creativity to creativity

by Sw Prem Abhi

definition of a real Creative Artist? Well it’s someone who completely dedicates every possible minute, thought and energy to his Art. It is also someone who is immensely talented, extremely versatile, prolific and successful in his domain. Anything short of that is… well sorry, but it’s not the Real Thing!!!”

This is the idea I carried on my shoulders for many years. Constantly present, it helped me decide whether or not I could consider myself a Creative Artist.

Obviously I have never fit my Grand Description of an Artist, thus never seeing myself as Creative nor Artistic. Just missing the Artistic label was not very serious in itself. The real damage these perceptions caused me was to suffocate the free-flowing creative energy that was part of me.

Over the past year, a lot of this has changed. A process has taken place which led me to “uncapitalize” the words Creative and Artist. And this is the process I would like to share with you.

It started without my knowing. Just before I left for a trip around the world, which would include a long stay in Poona, my jazz piano teacher refused to give me any new practice material. This frustrated me as I knew I would finally have the time to dig my heels deeper into theory. Instead, he gave me a pile of blank music sheets and a Walkman and said: “Just play, improvise, transcribe and record any new musical ideas.” Fifteen thousand kilometres later, I found a practice space in Poona and, unwillingly, but in respect for my teacher, I did as he said.

Days went by and life was certainly not the same anymore. Craziness and “hecticness,” my so-dear companions in Vancouver, were being replaced by quiet walks, meditations, silence, love and Osho’s wisdom. These were probably all the ingredients necessary to dissolve the potent glue holding the door shut on my creativity. So there I was every day sitting at the keyboard, behind me a four-foot picture of Osho, playing the guitar and giggling.

With each week passing by, playing sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, I started to get acquainted with new companions: patience and compassion. It became a very intimate and personal relationship. The more I allowed myself to feel this new and delicate connection, the more I also started to feel the suffocation and the pain my critic had caused me over so many years.

My playing became a kind of spontaneous story-telling of emotions. Hearing and feeling those emotional tales from within myself and from the outside – floating on notes – I became more and more aware of and captured by silence. Not a silence before, between or after music. A silence around music, with music. Those were moments when silence became my world. In retrospect, I understand those moments as being experiences of the Watcher.

Healing continued but still without my full awareness. I was becoming freer. My relationship with the keyboard was changing. To my amazement, I discovered the music writer within. I started to spawn musical ideas, moods and songs. They were all very simple yet they communicated something. Something of my experience of being in Poona, with my partner, doing intense groups – a roller coaster of joy, pain, gratitude, anger, craziness, sadness... The magic of those moments was like what happens when a four-year-old child, a huge box of crayons and lots of paper are left alone in a quiet room.

Months of holidays were given to my old and heavy judgements on Creativity. Well, to some extent. While I was elating in my creative playground, more than forty new musical ideas/songs came, three of which were to become the music for a new meditation done live in Buddha Hall. But my zealous judge was hiding in some deeper corner of myself. How did I find out? Simple. Out of the blue, one morning, after a delicious and long breakfast, a musician whom I had just met invited me to play in Buddha Hall. Caught off guard and not realizing exactly what he meant, I accepted. Only to find out afterwards that he meant for the next night at evening meditation!

“I am not good enough. These players are professional musicians. I don’t have enough experience...” were the messages I heard in my head – just to name a few – for roughly twenty-four hours. Needless to say, it made me very nervous. But once I was sitting in my keyboard chair that night, I could feel a new magic operating on my persistent self-doubt: hundreds of people sitting in meditation, then elated and celebrating and most of all, Osho’s presence. Again I could surrender to music. And, despite my whole body still shaking and trembling, music happened. Gracefully. I was invited more often and became a regular, playing two or three times a week. In this way, it was possible for me to become more anonymous and transparent. I felt as if I was not playing anymore for the meditators or for Osho but experiencing being with the music as another way of sitting silently and meditating. Precious moments.

My experience with creativity was now becoming a nourishing and healing daily experience. Not that I had become a virtuoso or a genius. But I rarely cared. I welcomed the music I was playing, either in private or in Buddha Hall, with much more gratitude and contentment.

Back in Vancouver, several months later, I continued this healing journey consciously with a book called The Artist’s Way. The twelve-week program thoroughly examines the process of creativity, all the possible blocks standing in the way and how to open wide the natural creative channels. This course perfectly complemented my healing experiences in Poona and supported my current creative journey. With the new musical material that had come to me in Poona, I felt inspired to choose ten songs and experiment – completing them, adding arrangements, inviting other musicians and finally recording them. These were all first-time experiences for me; a perfect situation to witness the remaining obstacles to creating as pure enjoyment.

For me creating is now more and more like jumping without a safety net. Every time I sit at the keys, I renew my acceptance of being a learner. I acknowledge that in each moment I do not know either what the process will be like, nor the end results. And only when I allow this not-knowing with patience, calm and trust, can existence enter to create what needs to be in that moment. I then can experience being the hollow bamboo flute, as Osho has so often described. The wind of existence can then play through me.

So what would my life be without the inner critic? Immensely peaceful I suppose. Yet I sometimes think I will never know this state. But what I have learned over the past year is that the critic is exactly that, a critic. It is not my true self, my inner wisdom, life’s wisdom or truth. I have learned to surrender to creativity rather than my inner critic. I need not ever become a Creative Artist. Just to be, creative in whatever form, has become synonymous with being alive... or should I say juicy.

more by this author

Contents 3