LIFE IS A PARADOX
The frustrating thing about life is that everything comes down to paradox. We cannot find true and lasting freedom without the security of boundaries, but whose interpretation of these boundaries do we apply. Culturally, in America at least, we have never had more freedom of knowledge and opportunity to pursue our personal destiny, and yet we are in crisis everywhere we turn (McManus, 2003). In the past the human pursuit has focused on survival. The growing enlightenment is that without each individual confronting spiritual growth, our global survival has never been more at risk.
It does not matter what the subject matter might be, factual knowledge can only be applied in personal living through the freedom of flexible adjustment to changing contexts. Theoretical knowledge can only be applied amidst the chaos and changing context of daily life. Artful living learns through application what works the best where and when. Artful living is a process for spiritual growth and stress reduction. The psychological phenomena of creativity often only becomes recognized when faced with a crisis. Why wait? Exploring latent individual value and potential is a place to start in finding a path or artful living even and maybe even because of daily encounters with crisis and paradox.
Idealism can be a form of perfectionism that prevents the flow of vision and production into actual circumstances. Idealism is a form of contemplation without the obstacles presented in real life contextual situations (Fox, 1999). In order to progress to production and action we have to let go of the perfection of idealism and enter the realm of practical application through vision and wisdom that can function in spite of the obstacles. Formal education is much better at transmitting the knowledge of theoretical idealism than it is at teaching application through vision and wisdom.
Spiritual growth is actually a growing acceptance and healthy self-love of where I am now. Spiritual maturity desires progress, but rests in the life that is now. Creativity is a bridge between the psychological and the spiritual. The psychological as it is known and practiced in its most prevalent form at this time is a theory of norms. Comparisons for psychological health or level of functioning are compared to an “average” which is actually hypothetical. There is little individualization except for in the less practiced applications of Jungian Analytical Psychology and Psychoanalysis. The spiritual association with the psychological offers a path for individual uniqueness in development.
The individual path of development can benefit from understanding the potential of psychological and spiritual interface and dialogue. Traditional spiritual direction is cultivated from diverse religious theology and wisdom traditions. Psychology and spiritual wisdom traditions speak to the idea of self-development, maturity, sin and salvation in similar concepts but with different language. Spiritual traditions speak of good and evil spirits. Psychology speaks of healthy ways of balancing both objective knowledge coming to an individual and the subjective context within each individual.
Neither psychology nor spirituality can replace each other’s realm of wisdom, but something can be gained through their theoretical and implicational knowledge. Creativity, psychology, religion and spirituality all agree that life is most often a paradox and that something more is required than just human reasoning.
Fox, M. (1999). Sins of the spirit, blessings of the flesh: Lessons for transforming evil in soul and society. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.
McManus, E.R. (2003). Uprising: A revolution of the soul. Nashville, TN: Nelson books.