To recover our essential autonomy is the bottom line of all spiritual practice, although it’s seldom referred to in those terms. It’s called finding Truth, or God, or the Real. It’s called awakening or enlightenment or salvation. But the core concern is to rediscover for ourselves who or what we actually are. It’s probably the most important – and challenging – thing a human being can do, because it boils down to fundamental freedom from all inner and external influences.
Artists whose practice is part of their spiritual ‘recovery’ know how powerful the creative process can be in exposing the conditioning that controls our habitual responses.
How do we find our ‘own’ artistic style? How do we find our unique voice? How do we find what really matters to us; what’s important enough to be expressed in visual or verbal language?
These are questions familiar to those of us who fail to be satisfied with recreational approaches to creativity and who long to express from our ‘own’ autonomy. I love the way Adyashanti links spirituality, autonomy and creativity together:
. . . the culmination of spirituality lies not only in discovering our inherent unity and freedom, but in opening the way for life to express itself through us in a unique and creative way.
Such uniqueness and creativity is not to be found in anything the human mind has ever created, nor is it to be found in our ideals of human perfection or utopian dreams.
True autonomy arises when we have broken free of all the old structures, all psychological dependencies, and all fear. Only then can that which is truly unique and fearless arise within us and begin to express itself. Such expression cannot be planned or even imagined because it belongs to a dimension uninhibited by anything that has come before it.
True autonomy is not trying to fit in or be understood, nor is it a revolt against anything. It is an uncaused phenomenon. Consciously or unconsciously all beings aspire to it, but very few find the courage to step into that infinity of aloneness.
Image from the wondrous Michael Leunig, who has succeeded in finding a voice that expresses his creative, spiritual and political concerns. Gratitude!