Thirty spokes met at the wheels axis; the center space makes the wheel useful. Form clay into a cup; the center space is what gives it purpose. Frame doors and windows for a house; the openings make the house useful. Therefore, purpose comes from what is there because of what is not there. -- Tau 11.
An accomplished young monk named Erdijanzi came to his master seeking enlightenment. The master poured tea as the young man introduced himself. Erdijanzi spoke of his life and his accomplishments. The master continued to pour as Erdijanzi spoke. The tea began to pour over the sides of the cup. Erdijanzi cried out "Stop, don't you see what you are doing?" The Master replied with smile and twinkle in his eye. "You cannot fill a cup that is already full."
To learn, to truly receive, we have to empty our cup. We must empty ourselves of preconceptions, suspend judgment, clear away clutter. The Japanese refer to this as "white space" or yohaku. Adding balance to the whole is as important as the image itself. It is the space at the center that makes wheels, a cup, a bowl, a house and even our own minds useful. The space invites us to participate in the creative process, to draw on our imagination. Yohaku is the space of insight and creativity.
My research led me to describe the creative process as a period of conscious work -- i.e., setting an intention, a pause followed by another period of conscious work. I would suggest four stages: preparation, incubation, inspiration, and verification. What this looks like for an architect or artist: a sketch, notes, preliminary research, then a pause -- a time of conscious presence. A quieting of the mind. Then back to work, allowing the subconscious mind to go to work while the conscious mind "allows" does not step in and hinder the process. A sudden inspiration or insight will occur followed by recording and fine-tuning.
It is the period of incubation -- yohaku -- which leads to the inspiration. I believe that this is where the mind connects with what physicists call the "zero-point field." This is where we gain access to a data base of all information and to what some call God. This is where we have to go to "ask and it shall be given." This includes answers to most questions, as well as creative processes that lead up to new solutions. Meditation is the most powerful tool I have found to gain access to this vast well of knowledge.
History has proven that this process works. Samuel Coleridge wrote his poem "Kubla Kahn" after awakening from a dream, Dimitri Mendeleev awakened with a vision of the periodic table of elements, Thomas Edison was known to take naps in between experiments, which ended with him awakening to a new approach, leading him to many new patents including the electric light bulb. As a painter and a writer, I find that this works like a charm.
The interesting thing is that most of us approach a problem or a question by going into a mental loop we call worry. This leaves us mentally paralyzed instead of allowing a solution to surface via yohaku like those geniuses in the previous paragraph. We do not respond with "right action." In fact, quite the contrary. Lawsuits, divorce, anger, road rage, bar fights are all very ineffective, inefficient and expensive life management tools. They are all ego-inspired, fear-based responses that lead to the creation of poor solutions and more expensive, inefficient outcomes.
Most of us are urgency-addicted, compulsive humans, and it is hard, if not impossible, for us to imagine that working less and paying attention to "being" can possibly work for us. I was one such human, which lead me to do this research. I am an expert at what not to do. We can be more effective humans by being mindful of the space around us, the way we spend our time, and how we use our senses. Knowing when to exert effort and when to pause can help us become more effective humans, bringing greater joy to our lives. The process causes us to change the story we are telling ourselves while opening us up to a vast database of knowledge that contains all the information we need to create anything we desire. Empty your cup and allow the universe to fill it while you quiet your mind in thoughtful mindful awareness.
Many thanks for your "likes" and thoughtful commentary. Your participation is appreciated and your recognition is always honored. Best, Peter
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"Think Yourself Young" now available on Kindle -- I discuss diet and meditational techniques according to the Tibetan Monks that I was able to interview living amongst them while at the Lama Temple in Beijing, China. These folks appear to be able to stop physiological time dead in its tracks, with the net result being a high-quality life beyond 120 years.
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