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Can stream entry interfere with creativity?

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Buying into linguistic labyrinths and being lost in them is a big part of text production. So I was wandering if attainment of stream entry could somehow negatively effect the ability to write passionate texts full of existential angst? =)))
For instance the way in which Franz Kafka describes all his experience in his diaries is very detached and he seems to have somehow penetrated the illusion of a "self". Yet when he spoke to Rudolf Steiner after listening to his lectures on theosophy, he was afraid to commit to any practice because he was worried that he would lose his ability to write.
I'm really no expert in this, but it seems to me that he must have been a chronic dark night yogi. As well as Dostoevsky, Khlebnikov, Salinger, Khlebnikov, Pelevin, or any other writer with a longing for some kind of mysticism for that matter. It is almost as if it has something to do with finding the actual physical reality a bit boring and predictable and wanting to simultaneously create and buy into ideas that are more extravagant.
To me the idea of stopping the thought process seems very scary because I find my thoughts terribly entertaining and I really love buying into this kind of content. =))
I have also noticed funny correlations between the so-called "three doors" and language and ideas that many post-structuralists point to.
I am well aware that the only purpose literature could possibly serve is entertaining the mind, and that this somehow opposes meditation. But I'm really not sure what to think of all this.
Any ideas? =))

RE: Can stream entry interfere with creativity?
Answer
9/25/12 4:44 PM as a reply to Svetlana Grishina.
Disclaimer: I'm not a stream-enterer or above.

I don't think you will "lose" the ability to appreciate literature, but
Personally, I no longer find "existential angst" texts to be entertaining, to me they usually seem silly and tend to lose the point. But on another note, I still find japanese animation to be really entertaining, and like to see a few from the latest season.
I also don't think meditation opposes entertaining the mind with these kind of things, except when you are meditating ;-)
The way I see it is: the way of the buddha is the middle way.

About stopping the thought process I don't think this is something that would happen without you desiring and striving towards it. But I believe the end result is more pleasant than the possible entertainment the thoughts can give, even more so after you start consistently seeing them and how most of the time they have completely useless content.

RE: Can stream entry interfere with creativity?
Answer
9/25/12 6:13 PM as a reply to Svetlana Grishina.
Svetlana Grishina:
Buying into linguistic labyrinths and being lost in them is a big part of text production...
I am well aware that the only purpose literature could possibly serve is entertaining the mind, and that this somehow opposes meditation.


Why is entertainment the only possible purpose? When I was first beginning to learn about Buddhism, I couldn't really wrap my head around ideas like emptiness and no-self. When I read Beckett's The Unnamable, it seemed to illustrate the emptiness of the self with terrifying immediacy. I can think of dozens of works that affected me as much, all in different ways.

In fact, I think intensively reading poetry lead to my engaging with the world, getting into concentrated states, and questioning my basic assumptions in a way that directly lead to my A+P initiations.

It may be that meditation will help clarify your ideas about writing. If you think of it in terms of "text production," and as essentially useless.... Man, what a bummer.

Philip Whalen was the abbot of the San Francisco Zen center. His poetry is dense and deft and very playful. Of course, there's Gary Snyder, and several other Buddhist poets in that circle. Their attainments in meditation and writing may vary, but I would guess Whalen was advanced in both.

I'm not a big Allen Ginsberg fan, but he was pretty creative anyway, and a devotee of Trungpa.

I'm convinced that John Cage, the composer and writer, was at least a stream-enterer. His work is pretty far-out and enlightening.

And there are endless histories of Zen poets and mystic writers and artists from every tradition. Rilke was terrific and beatific. Leonard Cohen (who lived in a zen monastery for 2 years) is actually a good poet, imho. Every see John Daido Loori's photography? Really great. He taught that art practice was intrinsic to awakening.

There are some interesting videos on the web of Alan Moore discussing the connection between writing and magic. In that vein, there's also Harry Smith - definitely a crazy wisdom practitioner (he even has his name on a building at Naropa!)

Personally, I pretty much gave up writing because I felt like it was making me crazy. Now, no more crazy. Hmmm... time to write?

Last thought: A theory - maybe spiritual practice is the key to creative power without having to become a drug-addict or insane?

RE: Can stream entry interfere with creativity?
Answer
9/25/12 7:56 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
True true true =)))))
I find myself thinking about this stuff alot lately. It is often claimed that thought doesn't have the power to make spiritual insight.
But there is a very clear connection between art practices and spiritual practices. I just can't quite figure it out what it is. But think it's got something to do with the 4th jana? I am not a particularly experienced meditation practitioner. But while I was reading MCTB, many-many thoughts of post-structuralist ideas and late psychoanalytical stuff (e.g. lacan and laplanche) were arising... =)))
It's just the whole thing of not following your thoughts but brining your attention back to the breath... if a thought is just a mental sensation (the sixth sense door), then the process of following a thought, and therefore, observing it - is a form of meditation... =))))
Cicero claimed that "to philosophise is to learn how to die" and quite recently I joined a meditation group and heard a similar idea about meditation practice... And thinking is definitely a rather meditative activity, as is reading.
Hmmmm I wander if it is possible to become an arahat just by being super-thoughtful =))))
Funny how this now becomes the complete opposite of what I started with.

But then there's this thing which somehow contradicts it... That if you were to describe an insight with language it would only be transparent for someone who already understood that very same thing too, and therefore not of much use. And also the fact that the purpose of language is talk about things that aren't there - because when they are you can just point at them...? =)) I suppose there also must be a reason why so many meditation retreat are silent...

I dunno... most writers and poets seem to (sometimes unknowingly) have a foot in spirituality of some sort.

I am also very interested in the idea that some of them have a strange prophetic talent - Dostoevsky's "demons", for instance is a very accurate description of the political events took place very soon after he finished the novel. The bombed twin-towers of 9/11 were described by both Baudrillard and Pelevin before the actual event actually took place... Let alone people like Kafka and Orwell...

Another interesting thing is the intuitive urge to renounce of people like Salinger and Tolstoy... both actually studied spiritual traditions, but still.. =)) I dunno... when I was reading about the stages of insight in MCTB I kept trying to diagnose writers and philosophers. =)

RE: Can stream entry interfere with creativity?
Answer
9/25/12 9:57 PM as a reply to Svetlana Grishina.
Svetlana Grishina:
True true true =)))))
I find myself thinking about this stuff a lot lately. It is often claimed that thought doesn't have the power to make spiritual insight.
But there is a very clear connection between art practices and spiritual practices. I just can't quite figure it out what it is.


Both art and spiritual practices take you beyond thought. I'd bet that if you find out what those writers you like say about their working methods, they will all include statements to the effect that their best writing does not come from their conscious selves. That there is a form of mysterious dictation that takes place. So, setting aside the self, and self-referential thoughts, is key to both. So there is another way that meditation might improve the creative process: by clarifying and taming self-referential, discursive thoughts that inhibit spontaneity and insight.

Here's another spin on it: What's true of both art and spiritual practice? If you're thinking about it, you're not doing it. emoticon

RE: Can stream entry interfere with creativity?
Answer
9/26/12 9:05 AM as a reply to Svetlana Grishina.
Svetlana Grishina:
It's just the whole thing of not following your thoughts but brining your attention back to the breath... if a thought is just a mental sensation (the sixth sense door), then the process of following a thought, and therefore, observing it - is a form of meditation... =))))
Cicero claimed that "to philosophise is to learn how to die" and quite recently I joined a meditation group and heard a similar idea about meditation practice... And thinking is definitely a rather meditative activity, as is reading.
Hmmmm I wander if it is possible to become an arahat just by being super-thoughtful =))))
Funny how this now becomes the complete opposite of what I started with.

I disagree with you about that. Not because languages use symbols and are not direct experience, but because when you are being "super-thoughtful", what you are doing is clinging and indulging in thoughts, not being able to see the 3C.

Svetlana Grishina:
I suppose there also must be a reason why so many meditation retreat are silent...

I'm not sure, but once somebody told me that these retreats are silent because by becoming more silent the mind tends to become silent too.

RE: Can stream entry interfere with creativity?
Answer
9/26/12 6:21 PM as a reply to Svetlana Grishina.
Not only does creativity not decrease, I might argue that it increases it. You become much more connected to the direct source of creativity.

Do these people seem like they've lost their creativity?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cdshiy7CrwA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqOwPteS_Xg (I love this one, the man dips right on the spot)

Hear the metta in their voices, see it in their eyes

To me the idea of stopping the thought process seems very scary because I find my thoughts terribly entertaining and I really love buying into this kind of content


Your thought process will not stop. If you need to think you will. I still day dream all the time, in fact it seems as if day dreaming plays some sort of important function in the mind.

Anyway there are so many fears people have about enlightenment.... will I turn into a vegetable, will I still be able to do my job, will I still fulfill family member functions, will I still like sex.... they all turn out to be unfounded. There is nothing to worry about ;) But if you wanna worry that's ok too.

RE: Can stream entry interfere with creativity?
Answer
9/26/12 11:05 PM as a reply to John P.
Hmmmm I wander if it is possible to become an arahat just by being super-thoughtful =))))


Not "just being super thoughtful", but if you use thoughts as an object of meditation you might... however, you should try to see for yourself the difference between buying into content and just observing thoughts.
There is a nice description of thoughts observation in MCTB in the impermanence chapter...

Personally, I no longer find "existential angst" texts to be entertaining, to me they usually seem silly and tend to lose the point.

Me too; I think it's quite common...

However, I never heard of anyone losing anything at all after stream entry...

RE: Can stream entry interfere with creativity?
Answer
9/27/12 4:51 AM as a reply to Bailey ..
Blue .:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqOwPteS_Xg (I love this one, the man dips right on the spot)


Hi Blue,

How do you know he 'dips'? By 'dip' I am assuming a goenka tradition explanation of a 'dip in nibbana'. What gives it a way? That he answers the question in the positive about God?

And I have found in my own experience, the further one progresses past 4th path as talked of in MCTB and the DhO, the less one daydreams till there is very little to no mental imagery that arises. I'd say daydreaming is a result of not paying attention to something. Little to no imagery does not mean no creativity. Don't ask me how but creativity is freed up. Seems visualisation within the mind's eye isn't so necessary for being creative. Don't ask me how, it just is.

My 2 cents
Nick

RE: Can stream entry interfere with creativity?
Answer
9/27/12 5:54 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..

RE: Can stream entry interfere with creativity?
Answer
9/27/12 8:57 AM as a reply to Svetlana Grishina.
As someone who does quite a lot of artwork, video post-production and music production within various genres, as well as operating a microlabel, a design label and working with about three or four different comedy-based projects, I can say with complete certainty that it doesn't interfere with creativity at all.

RE: Can stream entry interfere with creativity?
Answer
9/27/12 8:25 PM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Oh, I'm not sure. I just assume he does. That's how their lineage does things. This one's pretty fun too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4PZL7wg_g4 (skip towards the end)

RE: Can stream entry interfere with creativity?
Answer
9/28/12 5:09 PM as a reply to Bailey ..
Thank you, all =))
As a matter of fact my favourite writer and my favourite musician are both buddhists (which is why I developed an interest in Buddhism in the first place - it was all because of Pelevin, whose work I love beyond all words =)) ) so it was rather odd that I ended up phrasing the question in the terms that I used. =))

But I suppose I was thinking more of a dark-night-yogi'ish messed up type - e.g. Kafka, Van Gogh, R.D. Lang (at later stages of his career when he turned himself into an alcoholic) - those guys.

I also found myself thinking about the trio of Fyodor Dostoevsky/Vasiliy Rozanov/Venedikt Erofeev lately... All of them - grand sufferers, preachers of morality, and devoted Christians. Interestingly enough, their works, despite being rather crazy, are really full insights somehow.

Anyway, I just thought that spiritual insight in literary tradition is a rather fun subject to think about =))

RE: Can stream entry interfere with creativity?
Answer
10/13/12 2:12 PM as a reply to Svetlana Grishina.
In my personal life, meditation has only ever had the complete opposite effect, that of strengthening my connection with creativity, sometimes very (relatively) powerfully so. Being able to concentrate on what one is doing (Shamatha) and not get pulled away by distractions is an essential tool in any creative endeavour, as well as being able to open up and flow with whatever you are aware of (a la Vipassana), so one could argue that meditation is the perfect creativity training tool!



I've seen it argued that shamatha or other "thought-decreasing" techniques could interfere with creativity but I don't think that idae has been (ironically?) thought through, or at least looked at closely enough. That could be the case if one's idea of enlightenment is shutting off their brain through repressing their thinking and becoming a vegetable but in that case one isn't doing meditation at all of course.

All the creative and amazing artists I admire seem to be quite in touch with reality very deeply and far along the Path(s), it seems somewhat obvious or clear to me that the closer one is to understanding and synching with higher-levels of reality and truth, the more creative one will be and vice versa, so nothing to worry about!


The one thing that is true, however, is that if you limit your definition of what creativity is to you, then indeed, anything that makes you grow or develop or change in some way will likely change also your relationship to those aspects of your creativity. If you are quite attached (go buddhism!) to existentialist angst type writing/art, but personally develop in such a way as to no longer feel any existential angst yourself, then unless you let your creative energies flow out of wherever they find themselves right now, and instead expect them to keep on doing what you used to like, then sure, one could say your creativity has been interfered with.

But that's like saying that taking art lessons interferes with your creativity because now that you can draw properly you're no longer interested in the primitive form of just copying characters from comics (ignoring the fact that you are now at a higher level where you can make your own characters woo!)

also: how do you know for sure that the only purpose of literature is to entertain the mind?
surely literature can have the purpose of developing the mind, paying attention to it and learning from it, and also of developing it? surely all the arts are forms through which people can exercise and gain insight into the different aspects of consciousness and humanity that they effect;
and given that there are seemingly various levels of mind, literature could also possibly be a tool through which to develop many of the Morality aspects of buddhist training (which must be why literature always plays such a big part in all the religious traditions) and perhaps even a way to develop along the Progress of Insight, if one is paying extremely close attention to one's experience while writing (as I imagine many of the chronic dark night literature yogis you mentioned must have been doing).

RE: Can stream entry interfere with creativity?
Answer
10/17/12 10:07 PM as a reply to Svetlana Grishina.
Another perspective on creativity: Creativity 'closely entwined with mental illness'