Spiritual originality in a mundane world

The world puts a high premium on creativity. But truly fresh answers come from putting off the world and its ways.

In this age of rapid change and technological advancement, it's something of a paradox that human life can at times become monotonous and routine. Maybe we feel we have reached a point where there is no opportunity for new experiences or progress. Certain activities have become a matter of habit but they no longer satisfy us. Even in our day-to-day conversations we may find ourselves using polite, familiar phrases instead of speaking from genuine feelings.

How can our lives have more originality? Is it simply a matter of deciding to act differently? Do we need special techniques to become more creative and inventive? Efforts like these can sometimes achieve highly imaginative results. But even these assume that intelligence can accomplish only so much and that creativity may be limited by time pressures. And in the desire to be expedient, we may turn back to familiar solutions rather than look more deeply for an answer that responds precisely to the situation at hand. These are characteristics of material thinking— thinking that's strictly rooted in the belief that intelligence is finite and material.

There's a word that describes perfectly this kind of thinking —it's mundane. The word implies something that is worldly rather than spiritual and something that is routine rather than creative. Material thinking simply can't be fresh and new, because it can't get beyond its own limits. So if we're going to be truly original, we need to reexamine our assumptions about the source of our thought and creativity.

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The poet as activist
April 27, 1987

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