Are creativity and imagination the same?
Acharya Prashant: You are getting muddled up between, building and creating. Creation is not a physical reality. Imagination is the mind rendering within its limited domain of experiences. Experiences that it has gathered through the senses. It might have seen something or read something or heard of something, right? That constitutes the set of experiences that the mind has.
Whenever you will imagine, you will never go beyond what you already know, beyond what has already happened at some point or someplace. Imagination will never take you beyond that. The last time I was here I asked you, can you even imagine that you are speaking the Russian language? Those who do not know that language, do not have any experience of the language, they can’t even imagine. Even to imagine, something about it must already be there in your past.
So, imagination is when there is something in the past and from that, you bring forth something else, which obviously has its roots in that which is already present.
Creativity is totally different. Creativity means, there is nothing by the way of experience yet something comes up. Something comes up from nowhere. Something arises from nothing. Something arises from nothing. So, there is an absolute newness to it. It is not coming from experience. It is not coming from something that I have read or heard or gone through. It is not at all related to my past or the past of mankind.
From where is it arising? From where is it then arising? That point from where it arises, that is the mystical point called ‘the source’ or ‘the center’. It is that point. Creativity has no history. Creativity has no past. That is why creativity is so unpredictable. Even the creative mind cannot know what will sprout forth. Even the creative mind will be surprised by what it does or says or starts knowing. It will wonder, from where has this come. I never had this, I had never read of this, I had never planned this. From where has this then come? And that is why creativity cannot have any process.
Imagination on the other hand always has a history and a process and a thinker. Wherever there is a thinker, he would be limited by the domain of his thought.
Now there is no point saying that one should not imagine or one should be creative. These are not prescriptive things. This is not a moral lecture where one would say that you should not imagine. What else then the mind would do? The mind keeps imagining. The only thing is to know that creativity is at a much higher plane than imagination. They are different dimensions altogether. There are instances when you do imagine. And that is alright. In day-to-day living, imagination does play a role, so it is alright. But the two are incomparable.
The two are in no way comparable.
The creative mind and the imaginative mind, they are two very very different entities. But you see, if imagination fascinates us so much and if imagination, even imagination can benefit us, just imagine again what can creativity do. Are you understanding this?
Imagination is always at a far lower plane than creativity, and if imagination can give you such fruits, which it has given us, there is no dispute in that, then imagine what all can creativity give you. But creativity is such a rare thing, such a rare thing that we know nothing of it. We know all kinds of imaginations and that is all right.
Do you get the fundamental difference between the two? When you imagine then you do not create. Imagination is followed by construction or building. But building is not the same as creation. Building always comes from a past. Something leading to something else. Imagination has a past. Creativity has no past. Creativity is when something arises from nothing. No past no background. Nothing to suggest that something is going to happen. Yet something happens. The most important aspects of life are also examples of creativity. In fact, life itself is an example of creativity.
You see, from where does life come into a bundle of material?
What is this human body? Material. Material like all other materials around us. From where does life come into it? Can one explain it? Is there a process to it? See, Sodium and Water combine and you get Sodium Hydroxide. And if somebody asks you from where has NaOH come, you can explain that sodium and water got combined and such was the configuration of the electrons and then they get together and this is the new chemical that results, right? But how will you explain that from the soil a human being Rises, a conscious human being?
Now, something is coming from nothing. Something is arising from nothing. This is creativity.
Are you getting it?
Similarly, joy, or freedom, or love, there can be no background to it. If it is real it will be history less. It will not depend on the past. It will just happen. And that is a very good instance of creativity. Something is happening. Why? No reasons. Why? Well, no process. Why? Well, no cause, no history. It’s just happening.
So, Creativity is uncaused. It is not a part of the normal cause and effect chain. Whatever you see in life is always cause and effect, right? Look at anything around you and you will find that there is a cause behind it, and you will go behind that cause and you will find another cause, and another cause, and another cause. Creativity is that which lies outside this cause and effect chain. There is no cause. It’s unreasonable. It’s beyond reason. That’s why I said it’s like love. There is no reason. Somebody asks you why you love, You’ll say, “Well I don’t know, and there is actually no reason to know, it’s just there, just there.” Creativity is like that. Just there, uncaused, unimaginable. And that’s why so difficult to understand and equally simple.
-Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity
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