Never for an instant forget the effort to renew your life, to build yourself anew. Creativity means to push open the heavy, groaning door of life itself. This is not an easy task. Indeed, it may be the most severely challenging struggle there is. For opening the door to your own life is in the end more difficult than opening the door to all the mysteries of the universe.

–Daisaku Ikeda

An Ultimate Kind of Creativity

Daisaku Ikeda is a Buddhist teacher. The quotation from him in the epigraph, found here, deeply inspires me. I urge you to read the statement from which the quotation comes in full, so here it is:

The Creative Spirit

by Daisaku Ikeda

The times when I have most intensely felt and experienced the inner reality of creation have been those times when I have thrown myself wholeheartedly into a task, when I have carried through with that task to the very end. At such times, I experience a dramatically expanded sense of self. I can almost hear the joyous yell of victory issuing from the depths of my being.

This sense of fulfillment and joy is the crystallization of all the effort—each drop of sweat, each tear—expended to reach that moment. Life’s inherent creativity, its dynamic vitality, is brought to the surface only through the strenuous exertions of a life of consistent action.

Such a way of life will meet with storms and heavy rains, times of seeming defeat. But the creative essence of life is never crushed or vanquished by such things. It is sustained by knowledge of the brilliant rainbow whose bright arch will eventually stretch across the inner expanse of your being.

Indulgence and indolence produce nothing creative. Complaints and evasions reflect a cowardly spirit; they corrupt and undermine life’s natural creative thrust. When life is denuded of the will to struggle creatively, it sinks into a state of hellish destructiveness directed at all that lives.

Never for an instant forget the effort to renew your life, to build yourself anew. Creativity means to push open the heavy, groaning doorway of life itself. This is not an easy task. Indeed, it may be the most severely challenging struggle there is. For opening the door to your own life is in the end more difficult than opening the door to all the mysteries of the universe.

But to do so is to vindicate your existence as human beings. Even more, it is the mode of existence that is authentically attuned to the innermost truths of life itself; it makes us worthy of the gift of life.

There is no way of life more desolate or more pitiful than one of ignorance of the fundamental joy that issues from the struggle to generate and regenerate one’s own life from within. To be human is much more than the mere biological facts of standing erect and exercising reason and intelligence. The full and genuine meaning of our humanity is found in tapping the creative fonts of life itself.

The struggle to create new life from within is a truly wonderful thing. There is found the brilliant wisdom that guides and directs the workings of reason; the light of insight that penetrates the farthest reaches of the universe; the undaunted will to see justice done that meets and challenges all the assaults of evil; the spirit of unbounded care that embraces all who suffer. When these are fused with that energy of compassion that pours forth from the deepest sources of cosmic life, an ecstatic rhythm arises to color the lives of all people.

As you meet various trials and difficulties, thus polishing all the many facets of the jewel which is life, you will learn to walk that supreme pathway of humanity. Of this, I am confident, and I am confident too that those who embrace life’s native creativity now stand and will continue to stand in the vanguard of history. Bringing the creativity of life to its fullest flowering is the work of human revolution. Carrying out this kind of human revolution is your mission now as it will be throughout your lives.

We often talk about innovation as being something outside of ourselves, a necessary aspect of the work of our organizations, a process to be liberated based on knowledge and human creativity. But what about inner innovation at the core of who we are? What would such innovation look like to you?

If it is, as Ikeda states, a difficult enterprise, surely it must also be one of consummate joy, like grabbing hold of the principle of life itself.

A bell rung in the inner darkness and stillness of the night may heard more clearly than one whose sound is covered over by the outer clattering purposes of the day. But either way, the bell is there.

That bell must surely bring us back to ourselves, to the exact matrix of reinvention and source of all innovation, a place where we really cannot tell the difference between inner and outer at all, where we are simply part of the flow.

In fact, I might ask, who can genuinely innovate in their work and projects who doesn’t have a sense of that moment-to-moment inner renewal? Who could be ready to radically re-write the rules that govern what we do, what we offer, how we relate to one another, without the seeds of a very private personal revolution also being planted nearby?

I think Ikeda’s nailed it, naming so naturally the challenge and fulfillment of an ultimate kind of creativity. Don’t you?

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