Connect by Connecting

Buddha on the road

I’ve spent my life writing. I work as a journalist, but I also write fiction and poetry. The creative work solves something inside . . . a need for discovery, a need to grow.

I’ve taken a wealth of writing classes, read scores of books on writing. I’ve taught writing for years. One thing I’ve seen that’s true – you never stop learning how to write. Another true thing – you reach a point when only writing teaches you how to write.

It’s the same with spirituality. I’ve studied spirituality, and I’ve taught spirituality. Here’s what I’ve learned: If you meet the Buddha on the road kill him. Or . . . if you meet the writing teacher on the road, ignore him. Killing him isn’t necessary.

Spirituality is connection . . . connections inside, connections outside, connections in every moment. In time, nothing teaches us how to connect except connecting.

We each have our own spiritual DNA. Everything is everything, but each thing has its own particular way. We learn this in writing. If you want to talk about struggle, you talk about one person’s struggle. In To Kill a Mockingbird, we learn about the Jim Crow South from one young girl, Scout. In The Diary of Ann Frank, we learn about the Holocaust from the specific experience of one 13-year-old girl.

We learn about spirituality from our own particular path.

Instruction helps. Books help. Meditation helps. They teach us about the world within, how the path is laid out in perfect detail, designed exquisitely for each one of us, designed for where we are and how we are. If we trust it, it will become as familiar as our own skin, in time, more familiar.

We learn our path by traveling our path. We learn how to live by trusting this path.

I spent years learning enough about writing to finally let the writing teach me. I spent decades learning how to let the path within guide me. I will spend the rest of my time learning to trust that path.

Image from fractalenlightenment.com

Who’s Speaking through Me?

Most creative people have experienced the sensation that they were being used as a tool by something outside themselves. So many times I’ve heard the exclamation, “Whoa, where did that come from?” Whether it’s a piece of writing, music or visual art, some of the effort seems to comes from another place.

As a writer I’ve experienced the sensation countless times. In prose, it can come in the form of seeing insights on the paper that I didn’t know I had. In poetry, whole portions, sometimes the entire poem will show up seemingly out of nowhere. The phenomenon is often called inspiration.

I went through a year-long period where I tried to conjure that flow daily. I would lie in bed with a pencil and a pad of paper and try writing with no idea what might show up. Sometimes something showed up, sometimes nothing showed up, but the meditative process was very satisfying.

As I moved forward in spirituality, I began to gain a different understanding of the phenomenon that is so common in creativity. Maybe the work wasn’t coming from somewhere else. Maybe it was coming from the true self, the connected self. Maybe the “other” was the self holding the pencil in hopes of something showing up.

The uninspired thinker – the me, the ego – is the really the strange part of the equation, not the inspiration. The inspiration is what’s natural, what’s true, what’s real, and what lasts. The thinking me, the ego me, will go away at some point, leaving only the connected self, the inspired self that knows exactly what needs to be said and exactly how to say it.