Gaia is the word for "unity-of-life-processes". The experiment here is to unify the various threads of voice and sense of self together into an undivided unity. Spirituality, economics, politics, science and ordinary life interleaved.

Friday, September 24, 2004


Have you ever created a baby? If so, you don’t need to read this article and you know how easy and pleasurable creating can be.

Al Secundo calls this the Pleasure Priority, but I think joy is a better word because it has none of the associations with animalism, corruption, escapism, or excess that the word pleasure has. If you’re in joy, you don’t need to do or be anything else but where you are now. Joy implies a sense of profound completeness.

Joy. It’s a bitter word for many, whose hearts and mind record and detail a world made bleak with obligation. But why, then, are they few at the top of the world, free to strive and create, and many at the bottom struggling and stressing to survive?

Perhaps one reason is that joy demands more of the few than we many are willingto give. We would prefer to hold onto our reliable, dull and measured daily pleasures than let go into the unfamiliar job of creating and joy.

It is helpful to remember that joy is our natural and public state, not the frenzy of busyness that normal life often seems. And it can also be freeing to simply acknowledge that joy is not possible at the present time, that suffering is real instead. Know that even in the midst of suffering, joy is forever more powerful. Breakthrough into inspirational clarity can occur at any moment.

Al Secundo puts it this way: When we create, it’s possible to enjoy the experience more than the results. It’s possible to realize more of your objectives with greater satisfaction and ease if you let the pleasure priority come before the precision of striving for mastery.

I agree wholeheartedly. But I see one main problem with this attitude. Ignorance of this problem makes his joyful advice ineffective for four-fifths of readers.

Here is the problem: in order to cope with the suffering of everyday life, four-fifths of humanity lives in habitual denial. Al’s marvellous advice will not work for them, because they will automatically value their self-deceptions more highly than they value the experience of creating.

This can unfortunately be seen in Alastair Reynolds work. It is safer to assume he is ignorant of the amoral and despairing effect of his work than to presume that he is interested in corrupting his readers. And the ignorance in the work implies the same dishonesty in the man, unfortunately.

So this is a tremendous problem that cannot be solved by us, but can only be solved by the greace of joy itself.

One of the most interesting, marvellous and revealing aspects of joy and of creating is dedication. A story is always dedicated to a moral reality of some kind, and to complete a story always requires dedication to that same principle that it teaches. it is rare that the quality of dedication in a writer’s story does not reveal the writer’s level of consciousness. Often a writer consciously dedicates his work with a statement at the front of the book such as “Dedicated to Sissy, with love, Herbert.”

Dedication is the trigger for joy: by dedicating your work to some bold and joy-creating principle such as Freedom, Peace, Love, Beauty or Genius, the work and to an extent the consciousness of the writer herself must reflect the conflict between principles within awareness.

This conflict will often occur unconsciously in the writer - that is to say in awareness but outside consciousness. But the willingness to tackle the principles that inspire whole civilisations in your public stories is the trigger for the heart-opening bounty of joy that comes from creating.

Here then are some steps that may help you in this enterprise:

STEP ONE. Learn to distinguish between activities and actions.

An activity is any habitual, continuing and distracting behaviour. An action is any intentional, one-off and focused endeavour that is aligned with being happy. Since four-fifths of humanity is preoccupied with wasteful, harmful, useless, meaningless and negative activities, it is 80% likely you are too. It is helpful to remember that these activities, which seem so familiar and easy, are the source of constant turbulence and suffering within and without; and that by simply recognising the need for action you are minimising that suffering. So you have a great incentive to take creative action, and a great disincentive to cease activity.

STEP TWO. Actions to set up the right context.

Creation appears when the right context is in place. Context includes your physical space, your health, your mental state. I promise you now that once your context is rectified, you cannot help but feel happy and create. It is inevitable.

On the other hand, until your context is rectified you will oscillate, swinging between extremes of inspiration and desperation, peace and stress, until you have simply eliminated whatever is in the way.

For instance, at this moment I have five boxes of writing from the last fifteen years piled by my desk. It effects my workspace and clutters it up. I have recognised that having this clutter in my life lets me create suffering for myself, so now every day or two I clear a little bit of it up, intentionally and in a laid back way. As a result, the internal suffering caused by the context of clutter has vanished, and the clutter is vanishing now too in its own time. More importantly I have a sense of peace about the mess and clutter that has harassed and upset me for so long.

STEP THREE. Dedicate yourself the right context.

Stephen Covey has popularised mission statements to business with his book The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People. These are simply statements of what you have begun aligning yourself with.

Many professional creators are quite orderly and discipled about it. But manyof these same creators will also be quite laid back about what they are aligned with; they know the source is always there, and they need only keep their lives and hearts clear and allow things to unfold.

That is the kind of statement you need to formulate. Simply writing the intended title of the story may be enough.

STEP FOUR. Take the thousand yard walk.

Creating is depends on being aware, and awareness, awareness of the vast and clear-blue-sky type, takes more energy to generate at the outset than the normal consciousness requires. So you need to consciously and intentionally dedicate yourself to creating a charge of energy and enthusiasm before you sit down to write. This is your responsibility, not the responsbility of the world, the story, the reader or the publisher.

And now I must confess, my thousand yard walk for many years, since I was a very small child, has been the passion and extreme delight that books evoke in my heart and mind. The books of other men and women give me such deep pleasure, that it were a lie to say how great my joy and love of them is.

Some others may have other mean; I must confess my ignorance of these other means. However you take the thousand yard walk, realize that not taking it is paramount to depending on the world to make you feel good. As soon as your story hits a hitch, will you have the charged awareness already prepared to self-correct and return to centre, or will that hitch topple you away from the Centre and from joy?

In finishing these four pieces, I must finally express my gratitude and wonder at the masters of creation I have mentioned that have taught me so much: to Robert Silverberg, Alastair Reynolds, David R Hawkins, John C Wright, and Al Secundo... thankyou for the joy your work inspires in me.


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