Thursday, May 1, 2008

Karma and Creativity

Karma and Creativity
Sometimes I hear people say, "Karma is going to get that person." Usually it's when someone behaves in an unpleasant or unethical way. The sentiment, of course, is that what you put into something is what will come back to you. Dependant on your motivation, however, that is less like karma and more like a boomerang or a checking account.

In Buddhism, it is recognized that life is suffering. To free yourself from suffering, you must lead a life that eliminates the causes of suffering, such as attachment to material objects, dependence on substances or people, and more. You also must extend compassion to all beings. By extending that compassion, you can help alleviate the suffering of others.

This notion of compassion can be seen paralleled in other religions, such a Christianity, when Jesus even extended love and compassion to those who did him harm. When we practice this love and compassion, we too enrich our own lives, and extend the invitation for compassion and love from others. Be careful, however, the reason to extend compassion should not be in anticipation of receiving it in return, but simply because it is the right thing to do. Often, we realize the benefits of this sort of behavior, but because this life is inherently one of suffering, it is perfectly common to extend compassion in every aspect of your life, yet continue to endure suffering

So what does all of this have to do with creativity? It deals directly with your motivation for creating. If you are writing , painting, composing, or dancing strictly for money and adoration, you are creating for the wrong reasons. When this happens, you invite suffering, because invariably, some people will not like what you have created.

If, however, you create because, as a creative person, it is the right thing to do, you will find your work much more rewarding. I would argue that the artist writes because only he can put those words to the page. The artist paints because his imagination and the blank canvas interact in a way that is uniquely hers. When the artist composes, it is because his song has never been sung before. When the artist dances, it is because her body is led by her spirit.

A funny thing happens when you create for yourself. You will notice that, the more you do it, the more your spirit comes through. The easier it becomes to write your story or sing your song. Compliments will mean more; and your detractors will mean less.

Like compassion, when you practice creativity, you free your spirit. And that is more valuable than any paycheck or critic's praise. And in some respects, that is the true reward of karma in creativity.