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Jivamukti Focus of the Month April 2016, Creative Action, by David Life

If we could perform just one action perfectly, we could know the perfection of everything. We could attain enlightenment. Yoga is the perfection of action.

There is a traditional story told of an enthusiastic student of mysticism who was given the assignment to write a poem. He worked through the night and rushed to his teacher the next morning with the following poem:

A Butterfly Remove its wings And you get a pepper

His teacher looked irritated and shook her head from side to side. She took the paper from the boy and wrote the following:

A Pepper Add wings And you get a Butterfly

The teacher was telling the student that for an act to be truly creative, it must be con-structive rather than de-structive. It is not enough for an idea to be revolutionary; it must be evolutionary.

What are the criteria of a perfect creative or artistic action? Actions are of three basic types: thought, word and deed. An imperfect thought leads to words and actions that mire us more deeply in samsara (the cycle of birth and death). So we must strive to purify our thoughts and motivations through self-reflection and mantra. Even if our thoughts are of a divine status, our bodies and minds are encoded with cultural conditioning that prevents the execution of perfect deeds or the uttering of perfect words. We must undergo a revolution of sorts, or a reintegration with an unconditioned state. This means that an action must be out of the ordinary, or even shocking, as it presents a new reality. It is common for revolutionaries to take on the attributes of their oppressors, usually because they are acting from a similar cultural and historical context and they don’t have any better ideas. When actions are repeated blindly, they will bind the actors to their role. When actions emerge from the ground of Being, improvisation and invention is possible as new forms appear on the horizon. That does not mean that form is bad and that anarchy is the true path. The techniques of a Yoga practice are the tools that we use to strip away the cultural conditioning of the body and the mind. The result of the practice is a lessening of inhibition and an increase in Self-esteem.

When John Lennon and Yoko Ono moved into Tittenhurst Park, a large house outside London, they chose to leave most of the rooms empty and painted everything white. What if you acquired a house and needed to decide on the perfect way to deconstruct it and to construct a new, perfect house. Does it just need a renovation? A few repairs? Complete demolition? Aluminum siding? Landscaping? And then you have to choose what to fill it with. All the stuff from the old house, kept in the meantime in some out-of-the-way storage facility? A lot of new stuff? The most modern equipment, furniture and library?

You have inherited a house—from your own past actions—called a body and mind. Your parents named the house, and you began to fill it up with stuff. You must decide on the perfect way to revolutionize it and construct a perfect new one—to perform the ultimate creative act, producing an angelic body, a butterfly, the House of the Lord.

—David Life, Jivamukti Yoga

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