In yesterday’s and today’s meditations we are looking back to earlier DMs when we talked about Meditation that leads to prophetic action. Why? Because we want to underscore the importance of the Via Creativa in nurturing prophets—which is all of us. The Via Creativa prepares us for the Via Transformativa. The words of previous meditations are reproduced here in italics.
Aren’t we desperate today for all humans to tap into their calling as prophets, as spiritual warriors? To stand up and be counted and to link hands and interfere?
Hildegard of Bingen said that “there is wisdom in all creative works” and that is foundational for realizing the power of the Via Creativa. Knowledge alone will not save humanity—wisdom is needed at this critical time.
Following are additional teachings from people who recognized the prophetic dimension to art.
“Art seduces us into the struggle against repression….What the great world needs, of course, is a little more Eros and less strife; but the intellectual world needs it just as much.” (Norman O. Brown)
“There is no creativity without fantasy and play.” (Carl Jung)
“The nearest thing to contemplation is play.” (Thomas Aquinas)
Rabbi Heschel teaches that the prophet speaks not from an inner peace and calmness (the introvert way) but “charged with agitation, anguish, and a spirit of nonacceptance.” Art as meditation reigns: Not only were Isaiah and Jeremiah great poets but Hosea was likely a farmer and a baker; Amos a herdsman and a gardener; and of course Jesus a carpenter, peasant farmer and parable maker.
We need to reflect on the political implications of an exclusively introvert meditation practice. The empowerment that comes by way of Art as meditation is rarely encouraged by fascist or imperialistic forces. There is a danger that introvert meditation can render people passive citizens to the extent that they withdraw to another world—one where peace, harmony, and unity exist oblivious of justice, injustice, or compassion.
The prophets, far from setting spirit off from body, were in fact sensual, passionate persons. Theirs was not an ascetic mortification of the senses. Says Heschel: “Asceticism was not the ideal of the biblical man. The source of evil is not in passion, in the throbbing heart, but rather in hardness of heart, in callousness and insensitivity…. We are stirred by their passion and enlivened imagination…. It is to the imagination and the passions that the prophet speaks, rather than aiming at the cold approbation of the mind.” Nietzsche observed in the prophets—a “kind of consecration of passion.”
See Dailymeditationswithmatthewfox.org, June 14, 15, 17, 18. Also September 20, 23, 24.
Also see Matthew Fox, Original Blessing, pp. 188-201, 250-256.
Banner image: Memorial coffins on the US-Mexico barrier for those killed crossing the border fence in Tijuana, México. (c) Tomas Castelazo. Photo licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.
Queries for Contemplation
In light of our recent Via Creativa meditations with Ken Feit and Bob Fox and Mary Oliver and more, do Heschel’s teachings of the prophet appealing to “to the imagination and the passions” rather than “the cold approbation of the mind” become more meaningful to you? Why? Or Why Not?
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.