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What is the Spirit of Creativity -A Gift of Intuition?

Anand Amaladass S.J.

There is a ruling power beyond the visible world is an accepted faith down the centuries. This power is worshipped as God by the believing communities. But the rationalists argue that this is a constructed myth. There is also a power beyond the control of nature which is named differently — the spirit, devil, evil force, Satan etc. It can directly attack the living beings or influence indirectly the atmosphere, the family, health etc. The people are frightened of this and seek the help of sorcerers, magicians, and exorcists. The rationalists dismiss even this as superstition. Whether this is true or not continues to be debated at length.

Now another spirit has emerged, artificial intelligence, which enables us to send messages through mobile phones, create automatic cars, and now it can also overhear what others communicate through mobile phones — Pegasus. At present all these devices enslave human beings, but ultimately the final victory is with the human beings.

What is inspiration?

An idea comes to a person without any pre-warning. It appears to come from nothing on a sunny day, or while crossing the road sitting in the brain of a person, creates space for itself in order to grow. The believers think it is divine presence. The poet-saint Nammāḻvār, of the Tamil Vaiṇava tradition, was quite aware that he composed his poems, but his Lord took hold of him and speaks his message through his words. Such a Lord is a cunning thief (vañcak-kaḷvaṉ). So the poet confesses in loving reverence.

Artists and poets are said to be mad possessed by the muses, according to Plato, since no man in his sound senses deals in true and inspired divination. Freud attributed all creative activity to a response to the basic instincts. Karl Jung postulated the theory of archetypes, which come from the collective consciousness, that gives them the skill of creating images.

Is this moving spirit sacred and secular?

When the cave man painted wild animals on the walls of their cave dwelling, was it their magic to subjugate the animals before their hunting or was it a worship or just decoration? When the Buddhist monks painted the cave walls of Ajanta and Ellora, were they doing it for meditation or propagation of their faith? Are the Moghul miniature or pahadi paintings secular or sacred?

There is another way of explaining this phenomenon in the Sanskrit tradition (Bhartrhari, the author of Vākyapadīya) by the word pratibhā, which is a flash of intuitive insight. What is it? It is an innate power inherent in all reality, which manifests itself in different ways. The entire world moves by this power — such as the ripening of the fruit. ‘Who changes the song of the male cuckoo bird in the spring? Who taught the birds to build their nests?’ — asks Bhartrhari.

It can arise by nature, by study, from yoga, or from an unseen cause. What it reveals is not some ‘thing’, nor some definable ‘idea’ and so it is indescribable. Rather it is the dynamic interrelatedness of things which is recognized in a spontaneous insight, giving rise to action. It penetrates to all levels, directing the actions of the birds and beasts just as much as those of man. The intensity of the intuition, its ‘degree’ or ‘level’ may depend on one’s relative proximity to its source.

We recognise this usually in artists, but it is operative in all beings. We say artists are prophets; through their vision they take us to an invisible dimension of the reality. They communicate through symbol language. Thus the artists are fore-tellers or forth-tellers or trend-setters. But even the sandy beach or withered tree could evoke. However this innate power eludes any definition.

Anand Amaladass S.J.



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