Preparation' for Creative Inspiration: From the teaching of Japanese classical 'Keiko; exercise and expertise'
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This paper discusses creative inspiration. These special experiences occur when the person undergoing them experiences without intention, plan, or expectation. Such experiences seem to happen by themselves, arriving like a gift from an unknown sender. The key questions thus become: Can we somehow 'prepare' for this gift? Are there any special conditions which facilitate the arrival of such experiences? According to the Japanese teaching of Keiko, there is a kind of 'reversal' or 'turnaround' in the process of exercise and expertise. At first the approach is aimed at mastering skills but thereafter the 'aim' is to be free from those same skills. Skills and techniques are important. However, there is the danger of being attached to methods to such an extent that it disturbs the fluidity of natural movement. The Japanese teaching of Keiko transmits the state of 'no intention' or 'no artificiality' in daily performance. This stage is said to be 'Beyond Skills.' This stage overlaps with the 'Setback Situation', a state in which the usual method no longer works. In other words, the conventional approach no longer yields results and seems to lead one into a dead end. According to Keiko, however, such darkness is also potentiality, the source from which something new will arise. If we attend to ourselves in this darkness, the time will come when the sprout of potentiality begins to emerge. During this 'incubation period' we must not be in hurry, as creative inspiration emerges on its own. It always grows beyond the grasp of intention. It appears out of nowhere and of its own accord. This is the flow of the Keiko teaching, as represented in the 'Innovation Diagram'. However, doubts often rise when no results are forthcoming from this incubation period--no innovation, no original ideas, no sprouts. Instead, the period is marked by great ordeal of trial and error, darkness and usually much doubt. Is such an 'incubation period' still worthwhile? The teaching of Keiko affirms 'yes'. The 'incubation period' is always of value, but just as it is: it is important not because it will yield a new sprout but because it is the place we find our alternative self as the fluidity of natural movement. It thus becomes most difficult for us, in the Japanese classical teaching, to evaluate such an 'incubation period'. To be sure, resignation is the optimal condition for awaiting the gift of inspiration, but such resignation is not synonymous with despair or hopelessness. Rather, this resignation should convey a sense of 'beyond skills', 'beyond conventional framework', 'free from any presupposition' and 'free from any articulations'. 'Free from articulations' is valuable not because of the intended result, but instead because this freedom itself of its intrinsic value. Potential evaluators should view the 'incubation period' without expectations of results because, on the first level of productivity, this is the optimal condition for creative inspiration. But on the second deeper level, this is because 'to be free from articulations' is valuable and luminous by itself. This is the essential point of the classical Japanese teaching of Keiko.
- Journal of Integrated Creative Studies
Journal of Integrated Creative Studies (2017), 1-8, 2017-03