Creativity and wisdom go hand in hand. As Hildegard puts it, “there is wisdom in all creative works.” In medieval Europe, when the university was invented, Wisdom was named Queen of the Sciences and Queen of the University. All science was to direct itself to wisdom.
When Thomas Aquinas, received his chair in theology at the University of Paris, it was the practice at the time that a new master deliver a formal inaugural lecture. He chose as his topic: Wisdom.
Wisdom, Aquinas teaches, “is manifest in creatures” and rules the cosmos. Wisdom has four tasks to perform including revealing the mysteries of the Source of all things; producing creation “like an artist births art”; restoring creation; and perfecting creation.
Wisdom is “of the heart” and is given us “on loan”—no one owns or possesses it and no one culture owns or possesses wisdom. Wisdom comes from the prophets and accompanies justice and while hidden and mysterious, nevertheless we all participate in it.
Years ago, I was asked to give a series of four lectures at the University of Vancouver and while I was free to choose the subjects of three of the lectures my opening topic was assigned: “Wisdom and the University.” I sweated over that talk until the last minute when I decided to tell the truth.
My opening line was this: “Talking about wisdom in the university today is like talking about chastity in a brothel.” With that I analyzed just why the modern university has banished wisdom—the banishment of the cosmos due to mechanistic science, the banishment of the feminine, the banishment of the heart and of creativity and more. A lively discussion ensued.
Wisdom cares about the cosmos and justice—she is a “friend of the prophets.” But she is also about joy—the Book of Wisdom says: “Once you have grasped her, never let her go. In the end, she will transform herself into pure joy.”
Creativity brings joy with it. That is my experience in working with inner city teenagers making their movies and rap and poetry. Joy ensues.
The Chandogya Upanishad of Hinduism teaches:
Where there is creating, there is progress. Where there is no creating, there is no progress; Know the nature of creating. Where there is joy, there is creating. Know the nature of joy. Where there is the Infinite, there is joy.
Human beings should be communicative and emanative with all the gifts they have received from God….People who do not bestow on others spiritual things and whatever bliss that is in them have never been spiritual.
This is strong language demanding we honor our creativity—and encourage others to. He goes on:
People are not to receive and keep them for themselves alone, but they should share themselves and pour fourth everything they possess in their bodies and souls as far as possible, and whatever others desire of them.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths, pp. 245, 247
Banner Image: “I’ve been driving all over Los Angeles…and stumbled upon a parking garage…that was floor to ceiling covered in murals. A variety of styles, a variety of artists, and a variety of emotions. I love how a dark place can be transformed by the use of bright colors and that this shot represents people of different styles and backgrounds coming together.” Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash
Do you see your creativity as a mandate, as Eckhart does, to give your gifts to others? Do you also see the joy in creativity that both Eckhart and the Upanishads promise?
One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths
Matthew Fox calls on all the world traditions for their wisdom and their inspiration in a work that is far more than a list of theological position papers but a new way to pray—to meditate in a global spiritual context on the wisdom all our traditions share. Fox chooses 18 themes that are foundational to any spirituality and demonstrates how all the world spiritual traditions offer wisdom about each.“Reading One River, Many Wells is like entering the rich silence of a masterfully directed retreat. As you read this text, you reflect, you pray, you embrace Divinity. Truly no words can fully express my respect and awe for this magnificent contribution to contemporary spirituality.” –Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit