In the Kabbalah, written by Hebrew mystics, centuries ago, I have found remarkable passages that speak to me of the birth of creativity and it's meaning in our lives. The God of the Kabbalah is not the dogmatic God of the old or new testaments, he is a gentle, thoughtful God, he is a feminist, he loves the earth, he invests donkeys and horses with great wisdom and meaning, they are wiser than priests and rabbis and prophets.
In the Kabbalah, God warns his people that they must take care of Mother Earth, or she will abandon them, and so will he. He speaks of Shekinah – the feminine spirit of God – and instructs her to find the polluters and despoilers of the earth and send a horde of angels to sting their cheeks.
In the third volume of the Kabbalah – there are many – God gathers the prophets and tells them of the creative spark, his gift to the souls and spirits of human beings. There is only one thing the people of the earth have to fear from him, he cautions, and that is their failure to heed the creative spark and follow the passion in their souls and beings. He has, he tells the prophets, given the creative spark to every person, it is the very idea of the divine.
These passages in the Kabbalah are astonishing, they have greatly affected my life. They are uplifting, beautifully written and inspiriting, they have given me the closest thing to faith that I perhaps will ever have. This is a God who is both generous and inclusive, he asks nothing more of people than they they free their inner spirits, let their passion live, use it to capture the light and color and meaning of the world and it's many forms, shapes and objects. It is the creative spark that refreshes and uplifts the people of the earth, and gives them hope and comfort.
It is, God says, a sin, to let one's passion languish and die, to let the spark go out. Ignoring the creative spark, he says, is one of the few things he cannot ever forgive.
I believe that passion is the one great force that unleashes creativity. The cellist Yo-Yo-Ma has said that if one is passionate about something, they are more willing to take risks with their head, with their heart, with their ideas. With their life. Steve Jobs said creativity was the ability to connect things, to gather the experiences one has had and synthesize them into new things, new ways of seeing things.
In our culture, the creative spark is seen as frivolous, dangerous, unimportant, the mark of the marginal people, the ones who will never be on television explaining how the world works or be granted political power or riches. The creative spark – the search for passion in life – is anathema to the corporate system, to the idea that money is not the point of life, to the idea that we will never die, but live forever. It is the antithesis of anger, hatred, argument and war. The creative spark does not put money in the bank, build IRA's, save enough for eternal and increasingly meaningless life.
But yet it is a glorious life, a sacred life, a life of passion and purpose. I do not proselytize, I speak only for me. People have to find their own way.
If you find your passion, if you know it, if you free it and follow it, then you are creative. There is no good or bad way to be creative, it is not up to others to judge, but to us to judge. Creativity is different in every human being, the creative spark is the fingerprint of the soul, no two are alike or ought to ever be alike. Creativity is a brave thing, it is frightening to open the gates of the spirit and let the passion go free, to bring it into the world and follow it's flight. And it is dangerous. Once this passion is unleashed, then it is almost impossible to return. The Kabbalah, along with life, has taught me that creativity is a leap of faith.
"I give you this precious gift of the creative spark," says God in the Kabbalah, "and I give it only to you. No tree or flower or plant or animal or bird or fish or rock has been given it…"
Creative souls take the leap, T. S. Eliot's hollow men can never bring themselves to jump.