Via Creativa: Compassion, Creativity, and Everyone an Artist?

Potter, poet, painter and philosopher M. C. Richards writes: “We have to realize that a creative being lives within ourselves, whether we like it or not, and that we must get out of its way, for it will give us no peace until we do.”  Is she correct?

“Feeding the Hungry.” Photographer unknown. Pixabay.

There will be no compassion without creativity.  Whether we are talking about making work or living situations more compassionate, about making economic systems or the relations between haves and have-nots more compassionate, whether we are facing the issues of food and famine, energy or nuclear proliferation, unemployment or overemployment, boredom or alcoholism, climate change and extinction spasms of numerous creatures, creativity lies at the heart of relieving the pain. 

We need a new way of living and working if the species homo sapiens is to survive.  And maybe we need a new kind of homo sapiens….Without this creativity, as psychologist Carl Rogers has warned, “the lights will go out.”

“Carpenter with Wood Planer” Photo by Burst on Pexels

Even where there is industrial employment, frustration and violence remain at a high level.  Why is this?  Must the human animal be violent, frustrated and mean?  Is passion-with (com-passion) a mere wispy ideal?

Jose Arguelles suggests that the answer to violence is related to the lack of creativity in peoples’ lives.  Says he: “When a person is deprived of the power of expression, he will express himself in a drive for power.”  Creativity, our power of expression, may be the richest source of answers to overcrowded prisons and to violence and to the unemployment that so often haunts society, because investment in persons whose work it is to turn others on—whether as play-actor or violinists, as story-tellers or clowns, as composers or as dancers, as film makers or writers—is a way to put many, many people to good work. 

“At the foot of the storyteller’s chair” Mosman Library, Flickr

Buddhist philosopher and poet, Kenji Miyazawa, says: “We must forge our own beauty.  We must set fire to the greyness of our labor with the art of our own lives.  In this kind of creation, every day becomes a pure enjoyment…”  For this to happen we must recognize how all are artists. 

He goes on: “What do we mean by Artist?  The idea of ‘professional artist’ should be tossed away.  Everyone should feel as an artist does.  Everyone should be free to let his or her inner mind speak to him.  And everyone is an artist when he does this…Here, then, are many truly free artists.  Unique billions of geniuses live together in our world.  Earth is heaven.” 

Adapted from Matthew Fox, A Spirituality Named Compassion, pp. 104f, 107f.
Banner image: “Photographer at Sunset” Photo by John Hernandez on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

Is M. C. Richards correct that every person has a creative being dwelling in them?  If so, what are the implications of this? 

Is Kenji Miyazawa correct that we should toss out the notion of “professional artist” and honor the artist within all of us?

Recommended Reading

In A Spirituality Named Compassion, Matthew Fox delivers a profound exploration of the meaning and practice of compassion. Establishing a spirituality for the future that promises personal, social, and global healing, Fox marries mysticism with social justice, leading the way toward a gentler and more ecological spirituality and an acceptance of our interdependence which is the substratum of all compassionate activity.

Because creativity is the key to both our genius and beauty as a species but also to our capacity for evil, we need to teach creativity and to teach ways of steering this God-like power in directions that promote love of life (biophilia) and not love of death (necrophilia). Pushing well beyond the bounds of conventional Christian doctrine, Fox’s focus on creativity attempts nothing less than to shape a new ethic.

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7 thoughts on “Via Creativa: Compassion, Creativity, and Everyone an Artist?”

  1. Avatar

    Matthew Fox mentioned Eric Fromm not too long ago. Eric Fromm was a social psychologist along with other titles. In his classic book The Art Of Loving Fromm states that: most people have never met a truly loving person. These daily meditations along with other daily meditations like that of Richard Rohr are teaching us how to be truly loving people.

    1. Avatar
      Barbara Schwartzbach

      I like and agree with your response. I read Art of Loving many years ago, I am inspired to go back and re read. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    2. Gail Ransom

      Thank you, Gary. and isn’t it notable that loving is an art, with many aspects to consider, and refinements requiring constant attention and practice. How we love the divine is how we love each other.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

  2. Avatar

    It is not uncommon for writers to comment on approaching the common tasks of daily life in an artistics manner. In general, I believe the suggestion is to approach all tasks with contemplation and care. Or, a small dose of deliberate thought can enhance all lives.

    1. Gail Ransom

      Yes, John,
      Thank you for adding your thoughts. Daily life is where all this is put into play.
      It has been my experience, and others’ that the contemplation and deliberate thought you describe can make all the difference in one’s days – in productivity, in positivity, and in connectivity to the mystical sphere where good intentions magnify, connect, and transform.
      Gail Sofia ransom
      For the Daily Meditations Team

  3. Avatar

    This sounds so great to me. I believe the same as the preceding passage in that God has placed in us seeds for our calling or form of art. If everyone knows their calling, and was able to pursue it with all of their passion, we would have heaven on earth. People would feel the greatness of creativity and the following rewards and favor from God. There would be a lot less violence and greed on this planet.

    1. Gail Ransom

      Dear Chuck,
      Thank you for gathering up Matthew’s words and arranging them so succinctly. This call you mentioned is not only a call to DO something, but to also BE in God’s co-creative stew, swimming (!!) in divine creativity, taking various forms as needed even more than being called forth. The calling comes from a welling within us more often than a voice from outside us. May you keep listening.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

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