Mind and Beyond Mind 6/9 | The Relationship Between Inner Stillness and Creativity

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“Enlightenment means rising above thought, not falling back to a level below thought, the level of an animal or a plant. In the enlightened state, you still use your thinking mind when needed, but in a much more focused and effective way than before. You use it mostly for practical purposes, but you are free of the involuntary internal dialogue, and there is stillness. When you use your mind, and particularly when a creative solution is needed, you oscillate every few minutes or so between thought and stillness, between mind and no-mind. No-mind is ‘consciousness without thought.’ Only in that way is it possible to think creatively, because only in that way does thought have any real power. Thought alone, when it is no longer connected with the much vaster realm of consciousness, quickly becomes barren, insane, destructive.” – Enlightenment: Rising Above Thought, Chapter 1. You Are Not Your Mind, THE POWER OF NOW (Eckhart Tolle, 1999), p19

“Your mind is an instrument, a tool. It is there to be used for a specific task, and when the task is completed, you lay it down. As it is, I would say about 80 to 90 percent of most people’s thinking is not only repetitive and useless, but because of its dysfunctional and often negative nature, much of it is also harmful. Observe your mind and you will find this to be true. It cause a serious leakage of vital energy.” – Enlightenment: Rising Above Thought, Chapter 1. You Are Not Your Mind, THE POWER OF NOW (Eckhart Tolle, 1999), p18

The mind is essentially a survival machine. Attack and defense against other minds, gathering, storing, and analyzing information – this is what is good at, but it is not at all creative. All true artists, whether they know or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness. The mind then gives form to the creative impulses or insight. Even the great scientists have reported that their creative breakthroughs came at a time of mental quietude.” – Enlightenment: Rising Above Thought, Chapter 1. You Are Not Your Mind, THE POWER OF NOW (Eckhart Tolle, 1999), p20

“The moment you start watching the thinker, a higher level of consciousness becomes activated. You then begin to realize that there is a vast realm of intelligence beyond thought, that thought is only a tiny aspect of that intelligence. You also realize that all the things that truly matter – beauty, love, creativity, joy, inner peace – arise from beyond the mind. You begin to awaken.” – The Greatest Obstacle to Enlightenment, Chapter 1. You Are Not Your Mind, THE POWER OF NOW (Eckhart Tolle, 1999), p14


 

Let me pose a question to you: Does creativity matter, at all? What’s at stake?

There is one great reason why I came to write this particular article: Ray Dalio’s creativity. Throughout Life and Work Principles, I was astounded by Ray Dalio’s ultimate creativity sparkling(!) through his innovative ideas as well as systems he adopted which are original and rare. It’s no doubt that his achievements and success are nothing but the reflection of his original visions and creativity – both himself and his firm, Bridgewater, as they are today.

The answer for the above question – Does creativity matter? -, is a definite yes.

Throughout reading, I found myself repeatedly asking questions: ‘Where does his creativity in all forms – ideas, insights, and innovations – come from? Is he a born innovator? Is creativity sort of an innate ability of him? Or, is there a certain method that only he has been able to nurture and practice? If so, can I find a clue that I can emulate?

To confess, it’s not only his creativity, but also all of qualities such as his keen intellect, a higher perspective and his fierce determination that pushes through anything that stands in his way in seeking the best answer – truth, that I wanted to know where they originate from.

Without doubt, throughout my reading of Principles, I found myself continuously putting exclamation marks with ‘Wows,’ page by page, and plenty of yellow post-its! I was so determined to catch clues that I was almost ready to chew the book.

I arrived at the answer after all: ‘Meditation’ played a great role. He is a meditator just like Steve Jobs. As we all know, Steve Jobs is considered an ultimate icon of an innovator. Dalio also briefly states that Bridgewater has been quoted as Apple of the investment industry, while he himself to Steve Jobs. I don’t regard this – both being meditators – as just a coincidence.

I need to clarify two things before moving on here. First, I don’t intend to advocate meditation itself in this writing. By meditation, I would rather like to  refer any practice of quieting our mind to reach no-mind state, as in Tolle’s terms. Second, ‘that meditation plays a role’ means creativity is a quality that we, i.e. anybody, can tap into and meditation seems one way out of possibly many that opens an avenue.

Then what do I mean by saying that anybody can tap into creativity? For this I need to briefly elaborate on why I believe ‘We and the Infinite Intelligence – the Creative Force – are one and the same.’

I would like to proceed this article firstly with a brief discussion about why we are one and the same with the creative force. Then I would like to move on to how to tap our creative potentials within us with Tolle and Dalio’s insights. And I would like to close this article with insights on how to harness our mind for the better.

Below are points of my discussion.

  1. We and the Infinite Intelligence – the Creative Force – Are One and the Same
  2. Where Does Our Creativity Come From?: Do We Access or Do We Receive?
  3. Closing: Creativity Is Contingent on Our Inner Stillness – Our State of Mental Quietude

 

We and the Infinite Intelligence – the Creative Force – Are One and the Same

You may recall one of my previous articles for Mind Series (Mind on Wealth, Health, and Success [4] – There’s No Such Notion Called Suffering: Reaching Back to Our Essence), where I contemplated on what’s our true essence in an attempt to understand the meaning of ‘ourselves’ when James Allen stated ‘mental harmony with ourselves.’

My conclusion was we, our essence, are the same as the universal Source, quoting insights of several authors as valid references. We not only came from the field of ‘intention’ that is in fact the Infinite Intelligence and that has seven faces (as per Dyer) but also are tapped into the Infinite Intelligence – the creative Source – through our subconscious mind (as per William James, Napoleon Hill and Joseph Murphy).

Eckhart Tolle’s description below doesn’t differ from above mentioned authors’ shared perspective.

“It wasn’t through mind, through thinking, that the miracle that is life on earth or your body were created and are being sustained. There is clearly an intelligence at work that is far greater than the mind.” – Enlightenment: Rising Above Thought, Chapter 1. You Are Not Your Mind, THE POWER OF NOW (Eckhart Tolle, 1999), p20

Joseph Murphy stated the existence of an Intelligence – being a harmonious system itself – that sustains and takes care of our body. It is our conscious mind that disrupts and breaks the harmony with destructive thoughts of worry, anger, fear and so on.

I suggested that our role then is gaining our power by recognizing our true nature. Maintaining a ‘harmonious relationship with ourselves’ means reaching back to our essence within by keeping harmonious relationship with the natural principles of the Infinite Intelligence, which is creative, kind, infinitely abundant, beautiful, loving, expansive and receptive.

Dyer’s suggestion to gain this harmonious relationship was matching our energy level up to the highest spiritual energy – field of intention – that is represented by the seven faces of intention stated above.

Murphy’s suggestion was of course to tap into the infinite possibilities by working with our subconscious mind – that is tapped into the Infinite Intelligence – by planting harmonious thoughts into our conscious minds. And William James confirms the same notion. (Please refer my article for more about this discussion.)

Where Does Our Creativity Come From?: Do We Access or Do We Receive?

Clear insights we can gain from above cases are that, firstly, our creative potential is already within us as our true nature but we should try to tune  ourselves into this potential and secondly, it lies in the higher energetic field waiting for us to receive.

It means that we don’t acquire or create creativity by our conscious, reasoning, logical and thinking mind. It is beyond mind’s level. Our creativity – ideas, visions, and inspirations – is something we receive when we match or tap ourselves into the higher energetic level of the Infinite Intelligence.

And we can find the clue of this from Eckhart Tolle’s messages. In other words, our ability to tap into the universal creative force – the Source -, depends on our ability to release ourselves from the mind energy and rise beyond it. What is there to be revealed when we rise? Being.

Being, according to Tolle, is a higher state of consciousness in higher energy level and is essentially our essence, that is only obscured by the mind-identified egoic state of consciousness.

“Being is the eternal, ever-present One Life beyond the myriad forms of life that are subject to birth and death. However, Being is not only beyond but also deep within every form as its innermost invisible and indestructible essence.” – The Greatest Obstacle to Enlightenment, Chapter 1. You Are Not Your Mind, THE POWER OF NOW (Eckhart Tolle, 1999) p10

This is can never be understood mentally and we know it only when our mind is still – when our attention is fully and intensely in the Now, in the present. Tolle’s description of this inner stillness, Being, is a state of ‘no-mind‘ – consciousness without thought.

If we assume the majority of us reside in the mind-identified egoic state of consciousness, which is a lower level, it can also be said that the vitality and infinite creative potential of Being, which is inseparable from the Now, is covered up and is obscured by the mind underneath.

“The mind, to ensure that it remains in control, seeks continuously to cover up the present moment with past and future, and so, as the vitality and infinite creative potential of Being, which is inseparable from the Now, becomes covered up by time; your true nature becomes obscured by the mind.– Create No More Pain In the Present, Chapter 2. Consciousness: The Way Out of Pain, THE POWER OF NOW (Eckhart Tolle, 1999), p28

Incessant and compulsive thinking leads to a leakage of our essential energy. As a result, our thought doesn’t have a real power when it’s required. I believe this is very important to note.

I remember a quote that says: It’s good for the mind to be calm, for the body to be busy. The real power of mind arise from its stillness. How do we reach inner stillness?

“When a thought subsides, you experience a discontinuity in the mental stream – a gap of “no-mind.” … When these gaps occur, you feel a certain stillness and peace inside you. This is the beginning of your natural state of felt oneness with Being, which is usually obscured by the mind. You will also feel a subtle emanation of joy arising from deep within: the joy of Being. It is not a trancelike state. Not at all. There is no loss of consciousness here. The opposite is the case. … In this state of inner connectedness, you are much more alert, more awake than in the mind-identified state. You are fully present. It also raises the vibrational frequency of the energy field that gives life to the physical body.” Freeing Yourself from Your Mind Chapter 1. You Are Not Your Mind, THE POWER OF NOW (Eckhart Tolle, 1999), p16

It is clear that finding inner stillness is paramount in several aspects as discussed above, not only for the benefit of creativity. Naturally, our task to tap into our creative potential is to rise above our mind-identified state and reach the inner stillness that connects us with the higher state of Being, spiritually speaking.

This can be done through meditation as a way to create a gap of “no-mind” but it’s just one example out of many other ways to ‘be intensely in the present, the Now,‘ according to Tolle. In this state of inner connectedness with Being, the power and infinite creative potential emerge within us.

This, I believe, also results in more effective use of our mind. We use our logical reasoning thinking mind only when required with more focused energy and power.

Dalio briefly mentions about the result of one study about meditation when he discusses on whether a physiological change of brain is possible: Our abilities associated with perception and problem solving can be nurtured.

Meditation that connects us with no-mind state – Being -, improves our mental capability in the form of focus and clarity when the usage of mind is required.

“Brain plasticity is what allows your brain to change its “softwiring.” For a long time, scientists believed that after a certain critical period in childhood, most of our brain’s neurological connections were fixed and highly unlikely to change. But recent research has suggested that a wide variety of practices – from physical exercise to studying to meditation – can lead to physical and physiological changes in our brains that affect our abilities to think and form memories. In a study of Buddhist monks who had practiced more than ten thousand hours of meditation, researchers at the University of Wisconsin measured significantly higher levels of gamma waves in their brains; these waves are associated with perception and problem solving.” – g. Understand how much the brain can and cannot change, 4.3. Understand the great brain battles and how to control them to get what “you” want, Chapter 4. Understand That People Are Wired Very Differently, Part II. Life Principles, PRINCIPLES (Ray Dalio, 2017), p224

We need to calm our mind to be receptive. We need to reach inner stillness – the ‘no-mind’ state – so that Being, our vitality and creative potential, that are normally hidden in the mind-state, can come into power, according to Tolle.

In this no-mind state of inner stillness that is beyond our conscious thinking mind, creative ideas, inspirations or visions are received. (I have also discussed this quality of receptivity as one of key traits of our subconscious mind. Check out for more insights: MIND ON WEALTH, HEALTH, AND SUCCESS [3] – I Am the Master of My Fate, the Captain of My Soul)

This power of our subconscious mind which we are to harness and to benefit from is never to be dismissed as something minor or insignificant.

Dalio also smartly points out this when he describes how to harness the power of our subconscious mind to get what we want.

“I also came to understand that while some subconscious parts of our brains are dangerously animalistic, others are smarter and quicker than our conscious minds. Our greatest moments of inspiration often “pop” up from our subconscious. We experience these creative breakthroughs when we are relaxed and not trying to access the part of the brain in which they reside, which is generally neocortex. When you say, “I just thought of something,” you noticed your subconscious mind telling your conscious mind something. With training, it’s possible to open this stream of communication.” – a. Realize that the conscious mind is in a battle with the subconscious mind, 4.3. Understand the great brain battles and how to control them to get what “you” want, Chapter 4. Understand That People Are Wired Very Differently, Part II. Life Principles, PRINCIPLES (Ray Dalio, 2017), p219

He shares his own experience of when he receives creativity and how meditation helped him.

“Many people only see the conscious mind and aren’t aware of the benefits of connecting it to the subconscious. They believe that the way to accomplish more is to cram more into the conscious mind and make it work harder, but this is often counterproductive. While it may seem counterintuitive, clearing your head can be the best way to make progress. Knowing this, I now understand why creativity comes to me when I relax (like when I’m in the shower) and how meditation helps open this connection. Because it is physiological, I can actually feel the creative thoughts coming from elsewhere and flowing into my conscious mind. It’s a kick to understand how that works.” – a. Realize that the conscious mind is in a battle with the subconscious mind, 4.3. Understand the great brain battles and how to control them to get what “you” want, Chapter 4. Understand That People Are Wired Very Differently, Part II. Life Principles, PRINCIPLES (Ray Dalio, 2017), p219

But he doesn’t forget to use reason and be logical in practical application too.

“But a note of caution is in order too: When thoughts and instructions come to me from my subconscious, rather than acting on them immediately, I have gotten into the habit of examining them with my conscious, logical mind. I have found that in addition to helping me figure out which thoughts are valid and why I am reacting to them as I do, doing this opens further communication between my conscious and subconscious minds. It’s helpful to write down the results of this process. In fact that’s how my Principles came about.” – a. Realize that the conscious mind is in a battle with the subconscious mind, 4.3. Understand the great brain battles and how to control them to get what “you” want, Chapter 4. Understand That People Are Wired Very Differently, Part II. Life Principles, PRINCIPLES (Ray Dalio, 2017), p219

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Closing: Creativity Is Contingent on Our Inner Stillness – Our State of Mental Quietude

Creativity is an innate ability for all of us. This is what I’ve perceived from several other books I’ve been referring and quoting so far.

The reason why some are more creative than others is not a matter of innate ability but a matter of knowing certain methods or habits such as meditation or being relaxed to free our conscious thinking mind or any method that can stop mental noises.

Does creativity matter?

I have so far shared that not a small number of authors highlight the importance of cultivating creativity – in such traits as original ideas, visions and inspiration. It matters for an individual’s self development perspective but it greatly matters in leadership aspect, especially.

The world moves and changes because of people who innovates and pushes to the limit. It is the very quality that is sought in every area, be it business, science, or artistic endeavors. It doesn’t stop there. In today’s innovation economy, engineers, economists and policy makers are eager to foster creative thinking among knowledge workers. 1

‘Why we need to work to reach our inner stillness’ has a few implications not only for nurturing creativity that our society requires.

First, working to reach our inner stillness means raising our state of consciousness into a higher level which is full of vitality and creative life force. In this higher state of consciousness, as a watcher of thoughts and emotions, we release ourselves from our unconscious and impulsive identification with our thoughts and emotional patterns played out. Enlightenment in a practical sense.

Second, it also means that we learn how our brain, in terms of our mind – both conscious and subconscious – and our emotion, works in tandem and that we harness our mind power to get what we want out of our life.

Given the fact that our thoughts are 80 to 90 percent repetitive, useless and barren and even can be negative (as per Tolle), it is paramount to raise our level by releasing what no more works for our benefit.

What can be the ultimate outcome of ‘harnessing our mind’ in terms of our power we gain?

Power 1. We know when to use our thinking mind with greater clarity, focus and energy and when to rest it.

Power 2. We know how to receive creative ideas.

Power 3. We know how to use our mind effectively without our vital energy being depleted (by compulsive and incessant thinking and wandering thoughts).

And I believe, we are seeing Dalio himself as a living example who proves that greatness can be built with a harnessed mind. Working within matters!

Jay

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“Note the yellow tags! These denote Dalio’s innovative and far-fetching (I would say – ‘radical’) ideas that made me really think! –  hard at that.” – Jay


 

Quote:

1. A Wandering Mind Heads Straight Toward Insight, Wall Street Journal, June 19, 2009 (https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB124535297048828601)  * This article is mentioned and recommended by Ray Dalio in Principles.

 

 

 

 

 

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