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Creativity surviving? |


Creativity surviving?

I had coffee with a writer friend. She was lamenting how the artists in the country were not being given the chance to express their highest and best self. She had no work and was looking for editing jobs so she could keep on writing her novel. Creativity is being killed by the requirements of survival – economic survival – to keep body alive. I agreed 100 percent with all her sentiments. I know full well the struggle and deep angst of the creative people, whose muses bring them to heights and depth of inspiration so they can reflect back those flights, and express them in whichever way they choose – music, dance, poetry, theater, a painting. This theme was the same I had heard through the past years from artists, all friends – a dancer whose expressionist art cannot find a commercial return, a writer whose intellectual sophistication cannot be understood by a non-reading populace (who are themselves in the cycle of trying to survive), a sculptor who must struggle to find commissioned works just to give his men salaries for their families to be kept alive, a musician who must write jingles for commercials just to put food on the table. A theater performer who had to take a side role in a sexy film. And the poets – well, they teach. The dancers, they go off to jump around as Minnie Mouse in Disneyland. Filmmakers create product or corporate AVPs and inane fantasy shows to put on screen.

Such is the state of our country where everyone, creative or not, is forced to go on survival-mode. Where the few who manage to do so continue to find work abroad, through revenues from foreign enterprises, or battle the corporate world. The economics of survival in the Philippines seems to have dictated that one must work 24/7 and still not be able to take a vacation. And the artists feel it the most. Why? Because what they create and try to sell, or develop an audience for, is to celebrate and share the many nuances of the Spirit. And survival is about the Body. Between both polarities is the great divide where angst means having to make both ends meet.

I remember telling an artist friend once that if we lived during the times of the Renaissance, artistic genius is recognized for what it is. But we live in this period where money’s importance reigns supreme, and thus, corrupts the spirits and souls of majority who are not aware or conscious of a higher life or even feel God. Survival, the mode of animals, separates people in fears and anxieties, greed, power struggles and one-upmanship.

So art and creativity is forced to compromise. Artists must look to the market to design and create within advertising or design groups. Artists must take their creativity away from the higher spheres and move it towards the world to understand that to survive in it, they must learn to play by some rules of the world. To understand the commercial paying markets; to enter the game of promotions; to work to build relationships that will garner some monetary return; to take time to comprehend financial issues.

A new term has emerged in the past five years – the "Creative Industries" – or translated roughly as how to make creativity’s artistic by-products sustaining and sustainable for the artist and his community. We hear happy news of the Filipino animators, artists who are working with technology, are in demand all over the world. We see art moving to design to meet the demand for functional wares. We hear of designers being pirated to work in international companies abroad. And so they fly – with the hope that what they make financially can also allow them to be creatively fulfilled on some level.

"I do not want to compromise, I will not compromise," thus replied my gifted writer friend when I was throwing some ideas about possible funding sources. And my heart broke in listening to her as I understood her totally - in fighting to keep the Muse intact, untainted. And knowing that she will continue the suffering of a deep angst while trying to find ways and means to survive and keep her stand.

Creativity – oh it’s there in the Filipino all right, in abundance. But its very soul is dying. The artists are being humbled. And I look around, feel deeply with them – for am I not painter and writer, too?

But I always like to see things from a different perspective and level. That we are going through a collective karma as a race and a people, in a time where great evolutionary changes are happening, in a period called "The Cleansing." Where each and everyone, artistic and creative or not, will be challenged to bring out the best and highest part of themselves despite all the challenges. All the suffering and angst is rooted in the ego, that false self (that harbors selfishness, greed, jealousy) that sees only the personality and the physical body’s reality (from the perspective of fear and alienation). The challenges of life, the situations that make us struggle so are mere tests to peel away the veils of the false self. And this ego is not only about the artists (who traditionally are considered to have the biggest egos), but for everyone.

Carl Jung wrote a book called Modern Man in Search of a Soul wherein he talked about four stages that people go through to reach maturity. The highest stage is that of the Spirit. Reaching here will make us finally recognize that we are not an artist, an athlete, a warrior, or a statesman. That we are in this world, but not of this world. We will recognize that we are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but are spiritual beings having a human experience in a life so very temporary.

It is a spiritual life that we must look to. And for the artist, a creative life founded on the spirit. A life founded on the higher values for everyone – sharing, forgiving, healing, understanding, helping, reaching out, loving. Mere words yes, but actions rooted in the spirit of these words, bring us and our communities to a higher state. It’s in the taming of the ego that we will find the sacred in our life. It is the detachment from the small egoist self that will allow us all to lighten up and understand our higher purpose. When we can learn to surrender the outcomes of what we work and strive for, even if we try very hard to continue surviving, we will come to understand that we are not alone. And that we are being guided by some Higher Hand and Intelligence to the perfection that we can be, within this period of cleansing. If we can, in our daily struggles, keep our minds mostly in the realm of the Spirit, there will be no worry or guilt. All answers will come when we allow the Higher Self to guide us. And the magic and mystery is that there will be the blessing of food on the table.

So I tell my angst-ridden co-artists (and all who have such creativity inside them): From this state will emerge the true genius of the Artists who has surrendered their creative power to the Source of all creativity. These artists will become vessels that will continue to create art, regardless of the difficulties. And beauty, music, dance, theater and art will continue to be born to illuminate this tired world.

To honor and maximize Mercury Retrograde’s energy for deeper learning, I will be conducting a lecture on July 22, Saturday, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. It is entitled "Introduction to Astrology And Your Birth Chart." It will be held at the Sai Shanti Yoga Shala at 40 Rocha Street, San Lorenzo Village, Makati City. For more information please e-mail

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