"In the beginning . . ." lights faded and the timbre of

anticipation congealed into a rhythmic clap.

Engulfed in darkness, a rhythmic pulse increased in speed and amplitude. Small beams of

lights appeared, swinging through space as if they were floating in the blackness. Each

moved hesitantly to a separate position and then disappeared again into the darkness. A

unified rhythm formed becoming still more thunderous until at last it broke into thousands

of smaller cadences babbling in a cacophonous roar. That, too, vanished into the darkness.

"In the beginning . . ." curiosity drew me to this place, a

chance invitation.

I knew little about what would unfold from the darkness before me but my hands, too,

joined in the rhythm of the night. They found their own cadence, and then settled back at

my sides in the silent cover of the night. Tints of lime green and a rich lavender slowly

appeared from the darkness, washed over the area, and flooded my eyes. Vivid colors

pierced my separateness and stirred the core of my being.

"In the beginning . . ." I was furious. Why him instead of me?

Why not me? If not me, what am I to do? No answers!

Internally, order crumbled; meaning I believed I had found, dissolved: again, I stared

into void. Two hours passed as the figure entranced the crowd. I hated the way I loved his

act. Still no answers! I recognized the way his music knew me. It touched me in spite of

my defenses. Out of order I returned to chaos and chaos I recognized. I wasn't at the end:

I was in transition. I hadn't stepped from the looking glass nor from the spotlight. I was

the receptive aspect of the creative process and just as vital in this moment of creation.

I was the living "feedback" in a system larger than the experience to which I

surrendered. I was personally "in the beginning . . ." .

Beginnings, like births, are hard painful experiences. The event described above

was for me a moment of re-creation, of re-birthing from a perspective as a performing

artist, to an understanding of the creative process as an inseparable duality. Creativity

is a spiritual process that unfolds around us and requires our action and compels the

participation of our audience. It is the dual dance of the spirit in the creative process

I wish to address in this writing. Creativity is ostensibly like a Mobius strip, the

one-sided plane of Euclidean geometry that casts the illusion of duplicity, yet, is

infinitely one.

Accessing our inner creator is a sympathetic process with which we learn to resonate.

Thus it replicates itself, and beginnings beget beginnings.

People commonly view creativity as something possessed by some (those in a

spotlight whether scientific or artistic), and not by others; yet, creativity equally

mystifies those "who have it," and those "who don't." Creativity is

transcendent yet it is our ground of being, natural and inescapable. Our human creative

ability is but a part of a larger universal pulse.

I do not claim to prove what creativity is; that continues to elude.

Rather, I seek to stimulate a new view of creativity that shows the unity in perceived

duality; and diminishes the separation between those who feel they lack creative ability,

and the artist-scientist-creators (from here on called creators), who are banished to live

in the spotlight.

It all starts....

. . . In the beginning this world was merely non-being. It was existent. It

developed....It was split asunder. (ChandogyaUpanisad)

. . . In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without

form and void . . . (Genesis 1: 1-2)

. . . In the great beginning, there was non-being. It had neither being nor name. The

One originates from it; it has oneness but not yet physical form....That which is formless

is divided [into yin and yang].... Through movement and rest it produces all

things....Being one with the beginning, one becomes vacuous (hsu, receptive to all), and

being vacuous one becomes great....one is then united with the universe. (The Chuang


There is a striking resemblance amongst creation stories: order emerging from

chaos. Balance is ever represented in them. Western religions focus more on order while

other religions see the void as the ultimate. They all indicate that polarities, whether

physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual, are attributes of creation. Creative

individuals also balance a paradox of polarities.

The ability to conceive of antithetical ideas simultaneously, that is, bringing

together "habitually incompatible frames of reference," for example, light and

darkness, is called "janusian thinking" or "bisociation" by Albert

Rothenberg and Arthur Koestler respectively. Creation involves polarities and the

emergence of form through their bisociation.

Taoism provides a clear example of this in the formless, nameless Tao, its

supreme ultimate. From the Tao emerge first yin and yang, and then form. Being from

non-being. One may think of the Tao as the chaos of non-being but the void is unitary. Can

there be chaos in unity? I believe this Chinese metaphor proposes another role for chaos

in the duality of the creative process.

Yin is the receptive principle and yang is the creative principle. (Since the name

creative principle may cause confusion I will refer to yang as the projective quality and

yin as the receptive quality. Creation involves yin and yang equally.) Interaction between

yin and yang produces form, and thereby, order: they are an intermediary step between

non-being and being. I suggest that chaos emerges from the Tao as duality and that from

the interaction of duality comes order. Chaos is fixation in either extreme of the

yin-yang polarity.

Figure 1

Figure #1 illustrates these fixated positions. Imagine, if possible, being

solely at either the yin or yang pole. The experience at either extreme is chaos.

  • If you fixate in yang, everything projects and moves away from you without constraint or

    return. It is like staring into the void.

  • From the yin pole the opposite would be true. Everything is drawn in, introjected. It is

    an onslaught from which nothing escapes.

Within the physical universe, one might think of quasars (yang), "stars" that

seem to project matter endlessly, and blackholes (yin), gravitational fields that draw

matter in without escape, as metaphoric examples. Chaos has a distinctly different face at

either extreme.

If chaos exists at both poles, then form and order must inhabit the territory between

them; accordingly, form (whether a poem or universe), arises in the interactive tension

between the two extremes.

Figure 2

Figure #2 illustrates this range where order is created and suggests that

varying degrees of balance are possible between the poles. A contemporary creation story -

chaos theory - may be a metaphor to explore this range of tension. Chaos theory addresses

the multi-dimensional aspect of creativity, but for simplicity's sake I will discuss only

the original pair of opposites, the receptive and projective principles. I will first

detail the stages of the creative process and then relate them to the projective/receptive


Graham Wallas began a model of the creative process in The Art of Thought.

The stages in this model are: Preparation, Incubation, Illumination, Verification (see Figure3).

Figure 3

  • In Preparation, everything draws together with intention. If the product is

    artistic, you formulate an idea, equip yourself, and try combinations of the collected

    parts. Nurturing, research, and continuous input characterize this stage.

  • During Incubation, input of information, nutrients, or ideas becomes difficult:

    all is satiated to the point of compression. Incubation is the mysterious "black

    box" stage in which the creation forms but remains inseparable, unknown and unable to

    survive independently. It is symbiotic.

  • The aggregate gestates and concludes with sudden Illumination or output. Ripened

    and settled, the accumulated resources thrust into a new state of being. It is independent

    and takes on a "life"of its own. Illumination is glamorous, appearing easy, as

    if the creative product springs forth effortlessly.

  • The final stage, Verification, reviews, refines, and adjusts the product of

    Illumination to the realities of reason: it must actually work in its applied field. This

    stage separates fantasy from creation.

Unencumbered, creativity is a natural process that flows through the stages

repeatedly like a rhythmic pulse.

Figure #4

The wave form in Figure #4 shows the rhythmic pulse of the creative cycle

overlaying a simile of the Tai Chi, the Taoist symbol of the interplay of yin-yang. This

portrayal suggests the quality of the interplay in each stage of the process.

The I Ching (Book of Change), further illustrates the qualities of this

interplay. The I Ching uses lines depicting yin (-- --), and yang (-----) to build

hexagrams (six lines stacked vertically), that show the pattern of change applicable to a

specific question. The lines are either young (as shown above), or old, shown as follows:

yin(--O--), and yang (--X--). Old lines change into their opposite.

In Figure #4, preparation and incubation dip into the lower hemisphere: yin most

strongly influences them. Preparation is like young yin; that is, it is in the seductive

"flower of receptive youth." Incubation, like old yin, has matured and begun to

lose its attractive power. Illumination and verification arc into the upper hemisphere

which represents yang. Illumination, like young yang, is active, aggressive and projects

the ripened product outward. Verification then, like old yang, seeks validation as its

strength wanes until it reverts into yin.

The cycle requires both yin and yang: neither principle dominates exclusively. Form

dances on the border between the two faces of chaos.

Mystic teachings refer to this narrow path along the border. It is the terrain a

creator must traverse . . .

Christian mystics stress the importance of keeping to the straight and narrow

path, the center between the polarities of heaven and earth.

In A Treatise on White Magic, Alice Bailey teaches:

"Let the magician [creator], guard himself from drowning at the point where land

and water meet. The midway spot, which is neither dry nor wet, must provide the standing

place....there is the place for magic to be wrought."

An important word of caution: the duality of yin/yang and its myriad derivatives

in form is not, repeat is not, the same as the duality of good and evil. Good and

evil are both served by entraining with the power found upon the middle path: they both

unify the natural duality yin/yang in the act of creation. It is the intention

of the adept creator that separates good from evil. One fosters evolution toward harmonic

unity, while the other brings quick personal reward, stagnation and separation.

Gopi Krishna speaks of the awakening of the Kundalini force that lies sleeping

in human kind. He believes it is synonymous with creativity. It is a path of re-creation

that again involves the "bisociation" of opposites, Shakti and Shiva. He urges

aspirants to cling to the middle path and avoid the extremes they will meet. If an

aspirant directs the Kundalini upward, it is an evolutionary force that brings union with

the Divine. If the aspirant loses the balance on the middle way, the Kundalini force can

turn downward bringing destruction, separation, and madness.

Inward and outward, balancing opposites is the rhythm of mystic teachings and the

creative process; for creating, on every level of being, is a transpersonal act: it is the

domain of spirit, a land of magic that demands respect. With care we develop vision to

find the way between these polarities and participate in the act of creation.

Harnessing this creative force requires that we see more fully despite our

limited human perspective. We pursue such vision in a creative act through what St.

Bonaventure describes as: "the eye of the flesh, the eye of reason, and the eye of

contemplation." We must learn through which "eye" we perceive a given type

of reality, and in which realm a specific creative task lies. Thus, to be a creator is to

perceive knowledge with these three"eyes," give it meaning in the world, and

bring it to form.

Such knowledge applies to discrete realms of experience and of the creative process.

Failure to discriminate between the perceptions of these different "eyes"

results in what Ken Wilber calls "category error." It renders creation impotent,

if not destructive, and often fragments, blocks, or limits the creative processes of our

species. I will briefly describe these three ways of knowing and relate them to the act of


  • The "eye of the flesh" gathers empirical knowledge. We learn and verify it

    through the physical senses, or instruments that extend them.

  • The "eye of reason" is interpretive. It symbolizes, organizes, and interprets

    ideas, impressions, and feelings. St. Bonaventure said this realm deals with the

    "threefold activity of the soul"; that is, the psychic functions of memory,

    reason, and will.

  • The "eye of contemplation" beholds transcendent realms in the experience of

    gnosis. It is the instrument of inspiration. In gnosis, one unites with the transcendent

    realm of inspiration and illumination.

Religious traditions allude to transcendent states but debate their names and

descriptions perhaps because of our inability to convey ecstatic experiences adequately

through language: we only reduce them.

Ken Wilber explains how reduction takes place when information transfers from a

more complex, to a less complex dimension:

"Whenever higher dimensions are represented on lower ones they necessarily lose

something in the translation...whenever a three-dimensional sphere is reduced on a

two-dimensional surface it becomes a circle."

The next logical reduction is that the circle represented on a one-dimensional media

appears as only a straight line. "Higher" transcendent dimensions (inspirational

experiences), are similarly reduced, and abstracted through reason and empirical

application. It is often diminished to dogma.

The skill needed by a creator is to capture inspirational experience in its purest form

and transmute it so the eyes of reason, and of the flesh, perceive it. Creation myths are

products of Gnosis so transmuted to the "lesser" dimensions of reason and the

empirical flesh: they suffer from their reduction.

The three "eyes" described by St. Bonaventure have very practical

application for a creator when combined in a rhythmic manner. They offer you access to

your inner creator. I call this process Rhythmic Imaging.

  • First use the eye of the flesh to prepare your creative task using all the attractive

    determination you have.

  • When you can no longer prepare, incubate your creative task by forming a mental symbol

    of it in your mind's eye, the eye of reason. This impregnates your deep subconscious mind

    by actively sending this image inward. You may find the contemplative state is more easily

    achieved using a repetitive rhythmic event, for example, watching the waves, or the wind

    blowing in the trees.

  • Let your image disappear repeatedly into the chosen rhythm. Then open your attention,

    for after some time the eye of contemplation will return the symbol reformed.

  • This symbol holds the birth of your creation, interpret it again with the eye of reason.
  • Finally, bring your creation into form through active physical effort.

"Imagine a great number of tiny bells hanging near each other.If some of these are

struck sharply, they will transmit their own resonance throughout the ensemble. No bell

will remain the same, thus creating a new state for the whole of them".- The

Universe Is A Green Dragon, Brian Swimme.

Like these tiny bells that are each responsive to the whole, humankind is inextricably

embedded in a universe of creativity: our independence is an illusion. Creators serve as a

vehicle through which information transfers from the infinite to humankind. In creators,

the first overtone of resonance appears: humankind, like the rest of the universe,

resonates in response, or be shaken from existence. Like the bells, when one creator

"chimes", a new state exists in us all.

The laws of physics explain the transfer of resonance between the bells, but the

information transfer in great creative works transcends physical law: it is transpersonal.

That is, it transcends individual personality and includes the interaction of spirit.

There are many examples of great artistic and scientific work that are remarkably similar,

though their authors have had no exposure to one another. It as if both creators perceive

the same information through the eye of contemplation and transmute it independently into

physical form.

Transpersonal creations go beyond physical, emotional and mental information exchange

to touch and alter our collective consciousness. We know them deeply and a new

consciousness emerges in the whole. Through them we entrain with one another and perform

"as if" one: through them we touch our common spirit.

Not all creators achieve this transcendent state nor transmute it in their work,

but when successful the transpersonal transfer includes the receiver. The experience

unites and changes both the creator and his/her patrons. Through this vehicle in its

highest form, creators inspire and evolve humanity.

Creativity is a universal process in which we participate. I have attempted to

synthesize diverse examples in this writing to reveal a common pulse: the creative pulse

upon which the myriad forms cavort. The pulse portends omnipresence; and entraining with

this rhythm, as we are able, may reveal a deeper understanding of creativity.

William S. Condon discovered that muscles in separate individuals entrain in

micromotions as they communicate with each other. We learn it as infants staring into our

mother's face. We must entrain in this way to understand each other in conversations.

Failure to do so causes miscommunication, conflict, or isolation.

How much more perilous is it to be "out of sync"with the beat of creation?

Like bells, we are "a chord" resonating in a universe of vibration.

Tung Chung-Shu said of harmonic entrainment twenty centuries ago:

"A beautiful thing calls forth things that are beautiful . . . an ugly thing . . .

things that are ugly . . . for things of the same kind arise in response to each


By learning to entrain, or "tune into," the larger creative pulse, we

increase our individual creative expression. Taoists call this finding one's Te, one's

unique, individual expression of the Tao. A universe of rhythm is lacking without your

unique harmonious beat.

In The Silent Pulse, George Leonard expresses:

"At the heart of each of us, whatever our imperfections, there exists a silent

pulse of perfect rhythm, a complex of waveforms and resonance, which is absolutely

individual and unique, and yet which connects us to everything in the universe. The act of

getting in touch with this pulse can transform our personal experience and in some way

alter the world around us."

Participating in the dance of Shakti and Shiva, the dance of creation, requires

perception with the three "eyes" St. Bonaventure described.

  • The "eye of the flesh" makes preparation in the empirical world.
  • The "eye of reason" separates "the wheat from the chaff" and

    provides entrance to the receptive womb that sustains the embryonic creation.

  • The "eye of contemplation" perceives illumination and births the ripened


  • The "eye of reason" then becomes the birth canal transmuting illumination back

    to the empirical world.

  • Finally, the "eye of the flesh" verifies the creation in the world of the



  • It begins with a broad base in the physical world, the Preparation stage.
  • We then form symbols in our mental reasoning; this is Incubation.
  • The Illumination (or Inspiration) stage occurs when we surpass reasoning

    and allow ourselves to merge with the unknown in contemplation.

  • This creative inspiration is then converted back into symbols that we verify internally

    in the Confirmation stage.

  • Finally, the creative product is formed in the world of the senses and validated by its

    usefulness -- the Validation stage.

The creative process cycles through St. Bonaventure's three realms of consciousness, as

illustrated in the triangle above. There are various stages, as illustrated on the

circumference of the circle. I have adapted Wallas' four-stage model mentioned earlier by

expanding the verification stage. Confirmation is the internal process of

verification that uses the eye of reason. Validation occurs in the external

world and is the empirical verification provided by the world around us. Thus in

The Cycle of Creative Consciousness, creation takes place as the individual's

consciousness rises toward the apex of the triangle and then returns again to the

empirical world in the cycle shown circumnavigating the triangle. The successful

translation from one "eye" to the next is the key to creativity. (The Enter

Quest process described elsewhere in this site accelerates the entrance into reverie, thus

allowing access to the contemplative state in which symbols are transformed.)

A Course In Miracles describes our place in the creative process with

spiritual eloquence as follows:

"Creation is the sum of all God's thoughts, in number infinite,and everywhere

without all limits . . . God's thoughts are given all the power that their own Creator

has. For He would add to Love by its extension. Thus His Son [creation] shares in

creation, and must therefore share in the power to create (Anonymous, 1976).

In conclusion, I seek to empower you, the reader, with a new view of the

creative process. Through this new view, I hope you discover your own creative rhythm and

sound your own unique chord in a vibrant universal symphony.

As a creator, you do not create in a vacuum. Your work, like a stone cast upon the tiny

bells, resonates far beyond your view. A painting may inspire a song, a song may inspire a

book, a book may inspire a movement or simply a smile to someone who needs it and that

smile may inspire a song.

No matter what your work, you initiate a new state in us all.

  • Re-create the world in your work as if the world depends on it.
  • Re-create the world in your work to conform with your highest vision.
  • Re-create the world in your work as if it matters.

After all, the universal symphony infinitely begins its play, and your inner creator

already knows the dance.

1996 by Carlisle Bergquist. All rights reserved.

Author's Bio: 

CARLISLE BERGQUIST, Ph.D.c.., M.F.C.C., is a psychotherapist

and creative theorist with a background as a creative and performing artist. Carlisle is

co-developer of Vantage Quest, a revolutionary new

personal creativity tool on compact disk, just released and available at this site. He

also offers individual work, workshops, and seminars on creativity, spirituality, and

organizational transformation, independently, or through sponsoring organizations. You may

contact Carlisle directly for workshops and