Creativity: The Greatest Effort


Prem Sarva,


creativity is the highest peak of your consciousness; hence it is painful, it is arduous.

You are going uphill. To be uncreative is very comfortable; it is a downward journey. You need not do anything, nothing is needed on your part; just the gravitational pull is enough. When you are coming down from the hill towards the plains you can just turn your car engine off, no gas is needed; the car will go on rolling down. But if you are going uphill then effort is needed, great effort is needed.

Creativity needs the greatest effort because many things have to be dropped when you are moving upwards; unnecessary weights have to be dropped.

And you are carrying so much luggage; it is all unnecessary, it is useless. But people go on collecting, people are great collectors. They will collect any kind of rubbish, hoping that maybe some day it will prove of some use. They are greedy and they feel empty so they go on stuffing themselves with every kind of thing.

You are so full of ego and ego is a great weight. You cannot move upwards. You will have to put the ego aside — and that is the greatest pain.

To be a creator means you drop the very idea that “I am separate from existence.” Creation happens only when you are one with the existence. Creation happens only when you are so in tune with the creator that there is no disturbance from your side. And the greatest disturbance comes from the ego. It nourishes itself on disturbance, it lives on disturbance. Ego means the idea that “I am separate.” And if you think you are separate, you are living in a lie — and creativity flows out of the experience of truth.

You have to know the truth, that you are not separate. No man is an island, we are all part of one vast continent.

The whole existence is one, it is one organic unity; hence all that is great has come out only in those moments when the creator was dissolved into the whole.

Great paintings, great poems, great music, great dance, all happen only when you are dissolved, when you are no more. If you are, suddenly you become the block, you stop the flow. Then God cannot use you as a flute, he cannot sing through you. The flute has to be just a hollow bamboo, just an open space, just a vehicle. The great poets, the great musicians, the great dancers, are all vehicles. They don’t dance, they are being danced. They don’t sing, some unknown energy sings through them.

That’s why creativity is painful, because nobody wants to melt and merge and dissolve. We cling to our identities. In fact, we want to be creative so that we can hang a few more awards around our egos — so the ego can become more famous, so that you can say, “I am somebody special. I am a great poet or a great composer or a great author” — or something. And that’s the greatest problem to be faced by any creator: that he has to drop his ego.And in the beginning it is for the ego that you want to be creative. It is a very paradoxical process: you have to drop the very ego that was the impetus in the beginning, that wanted to be famous, that wanted to leave its name resounding down the corridors of time, that wanted to make history. That very same ego becomes the cause of stopping the flow of unknown energies in you. Otherwise God is always pouring; you have just to be open, available. You are not to be separate.

It hurts in the beginning; it hurts more if you are resisting. If you are not resisting much it hurts less; if you are not resisting at all it doesn’t hurt at all. Then dropping the ego can be one of the most joyous acts.

That’s what sannyas is all about. The whole message is based on this single phenomenon: dropping the ego joyously.

It is not a question of surrendering your ego to me. Ego is not something that you can surrender; it is just a fiction, it is not a reality. So when the master says, “Surrender your ego to me,” he is simply giving you a device, because you live with the idea that ego is very substantial. He knows it is nothing, so he says, “Surrender it to me, give it to me, and you be free of it.” Not that you are giving anything — there is nothing to give; not that he is receiving anything — there is nothing to receive. But to help you to get rid of a false notion, a device is created. Once you have dropped the idea, suddenly you see the whole thing: nothing has been given, nothing has been taken. You are the same, only the old wrong notion has disappeared. People are very reluctant to surrender…

You ask me, Sarva, “Why is creativity so painful?”

It is because of the ego. And then there are other problems also. If you are too knowledgeable it will be difficult for you to be creative. In Zen they have an ancient tradition. They say if you want to become a painter, for twelve years learn as perfectly as possible the technique of how to paint, and then for twelve years forget all about the technique and painting; do something else. Turn your back on painting completely; forget all about it, as if you have nothing to do with it. And then one day start painting again.

This is something significant. For twelve years you have to learn the technique, because without the technique your painting will be childish; but if it is just the technique, then technically it will be perfect but it will not have any life, it will not be creative. So you have to learn the technique, let it soak in and then forget all about it so it becomes part of your blood, of your bones, of your marrow. And then after twelve years, one day suddenly start painting again. Now you don’t know the technique. In a way you know, existentially it has become part of you; it is no longer knowledge. So your painting will not be just technical and it will not be childish either. First learn the technique and then unlearn the technique. Only then one day does creativity explode. First learn the technique of how to dance, then forget all about technique and become spontaneous. Then only….

And there are two types of people — one who will think that there is no need to learn the technique: “I want to be a creative person, not a technician.” Then their painting, their music, their dance, will remain just a childish effort, amateurish; cannot be of much value. And then there are the opposite people who will learn the technique as much as they can and then they are caught in the technique. They paint perfectly but something is missing: the soul is missing, the spirit is missing; it is a dead corpse. So you have to drop all knowledgeability. You have to unlearn so again you can become fresh, innocent.

And third: if you are trying to be creative with a certain hidden motive you will never find the right direction for your energies, because if painters are famous then there will be many painters. For example, in France there are many painters. In India you will not find so many painters, but many saints — just whatsoever is the fashion. In France painting is fashionable; the people who are thought to be intelligent should be painters. In India they should be saints — the same fools! If they were born in France they would be painting; in India the same fools have become saints. In each country the fashion is different, and at different times. For example, in India no saint will ever think of painting, but in Japan all the saints try to paint. They learn calligraphy and painting — just the fashion.

When you are living according to a certain prevalent fashion, that simply means you want to be famous, you want to be accepted by the tradition and by the people. You are not inquiring about your real potential; you are far more interested in other people’s opinions. You have to drop that too. Don’t be worried about other people’s opinions; simply find out what feels good for you. Nobody may ever appreciate it — so what? You may not become famous — so what? Don’t be worried about it.

The reward is not in being famous; the reward is in being involved, totally involved in creativity. The reward is in the act itself; it is not beyond the act, it is not after the act. It is not when you have painted the painting and people have appreciated it and it is being exhibited all over the world. No, the reward is when you are painting it, when you are utterly absorbed in it. That silence, that joy, that energy, that moment when you are not and God is: that is the reward.


This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune. 

Discourse name: The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 11
Chapter title: Rising in love
Chapter #6
16 April 1980 am in Buddha Hall


Osho has spoken on creativity, surrender, energyin many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:

  1. The Book of Wisdom
  2. The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha
  3. The Wisdom of the Sands, Vol.1-2
  4. The Heart Sutra
  5. Hari Om Tat Sat
  6. YAHOO! The Mystic Rose
  7. Unio Mystica
  8. Zarathustra: A God That Can Dance
  9. Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol 2, 6
  10. The Ultimate Alchemy, Vol 1
  11. Sufis: The People of the Path, Vol 1, 2
  12. My Way: The Way of the White Clouds
  13. Ecstasy – The Forgotten Language
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