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Deep Creativity: the power of story telling in everyday life

February 15, 2010

Deep creativity is a term suggested by a Mi’kmaq storyteller. It emerged from a conversation on the power of story telling in everyday life. The art of sharing oral histories is embedded in every culture. The respectful sharing of these oral histories, such as the First Nations creation stories, requires a deep teaching and learning process.

But there are other forms of story telling that serve to elevate conversations through the sharing of concise but rich descriptions of historical and contemporary people, places and events. These stories include intergenerational stories of human error and consequences, of mistakes made and lessons learned, of noble acts and funny but embarrassing moments. They cause laughter and tears. They remind us that that we share a common humanity.

What do we do with stories of bitterness, despair, anger, sadness, frustration or humiliation? How do we respond to stories that provide the teller with a place to release pent-up anger or frustration? How often does the hearer feel the bite of judgmental stories shared simply to hurt or shame others? Is the story teller aware of the effect on others? How do we respond to situations where anecdotes turn into a backbiting frenzy? How can this be turned around so everyone leaves a conversation feeling enriched? “How can we learn the art of dynamic story telling that is free from all backbiting, name dropping, excessive moralizing (finger wagging) and depressing realism? How can stories be told that contribute to spiritual and moral empowerment but are not laden down with a sense of self-righteousness and moral superiority?

My Mi’kmaq friend pointed out that effective stories often weave humourous and dramatic elements together. First Nations peoples have suffered oppression for centuries and yet humour is one of the recurring themes in arts and crafts, especially storytelling. The compelling trickster is often a central figure in stories where moral lessons are conveyed and laughter evoked. Who in your group of friends is holding a treasure house of powerful stories but is unable to share them because of shyness, modesty or even language difficulties? How can we encourage each other to be better story tellers and use the power of story telling in our everyday lives?

Memory work is a process of engaging with the past which has both an ethical and historical dimension.[1]

Examples or stories to look for could include stories that emphasize a small “h” hero who survived a challenge through his/her resilience and progressed in his/her path of character development. On the contrary it may include stories of human errors that led inevitably to a life change. It involves finding even a momentary sense of power, hope, dignity or humour in the midst of challenges and difficulties. These may be the teaching and learning moments, the shining moments that lead to unexpected, unusual or unique outcomes.

We like stories that ring true. If the story teller gets confused about details like where, when and who – particularly if the story is based on a well-known template – the story itself loses its impact. Practicing with trusted friends is one way we all have to improve story telling.

If the original story is too intense or lacks sufficient descriptive elements, these can be added through research. Details about actual geographic locations, unique ecological features, historical events can enhance some stories as long as the teller of the story does not get lost in irrelevant details.

The characters developed in the stories, even if autobiographical, need to be believable. How can this be enhanced?

Learning to pronounce names and places in advance adds to the stories.

Repeating a story word for word only works in some instances and can be extremely frustrating for listeners.

Thematic Writings on Creativity

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“The Fifth Taraz: regards the preservation and protection of the stations of the servants of God. They must not make light of any matter, but speak in truthfulness and sincerity. The people of Baha must not refuse to discharge the due reward of any one, and must respect possessors of talent; and they must not stain their tongues with slander like unto the former community.
In this day the sun of arts and crafts is manifest from the horizon of the heaven of the Occident, and the river of skill is flowing from the sea of that part.
One must speak with justice and recognize the worth of benefits. By the life of God, the word Justice is shining and luminous like unto the sun: We beg of God to illuminate all with its lights. Verily, He is powerful in all things and is worthy to grant! In these days, truthfulness and sincerity are captive in the claws of falsehood, and justice is oppressed by the scourges of injustice. The smoke of corruption has so enveloped the world that naught is seen from any direction save armies and naught is heard from  171  any region except the clashing of swords. We beg of God to assist the appearances of His power in that which is conducive to the reformation of the world and the welfare of nations. (Compilations, Baha’i World Faith, p. 170)”

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The following is from:

‘Abdu’l-Bahá. [1912-12-26] (1972). “Should Prayer take the form of action?” 97 Cadogan Gardens, London, in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. [1912-12-26] (1972). Paris Talks. UK Bahá’í Publishing Trust. 1972 11th Ed. pp.176-7.

Prayer

Talk presented at:
97 Cadogan Gardens, London,
December 26th, 1912

‘Should Prayer take the form of action?’

‘Abdu’l-Bahá. “Yes: In the Bahá’í Cause arts, sciences and all crafts are (counted as) worship. The man who makes a piece of notepaper to the best of his ability, conscientiously, concentrating all his forces on perfecting it, is giving praise to God. Briefly, all effort and exertion put forth by man from the fullness of his 177 heart is worship, if it is prompted by the highest motives and the will to do service to humanity. This is worship: to serve mankind and to minister to the needs of the people. Service is prayer. A physician ministering to the sick, gently, tenderly, free from prejudice and believing in the solidarity of the human race, he is giving praise” (‘Abdu’l-Bahá. [1912-12-26] 1972).”


‘What is the purpose of our lives?’

‘Abdu’l-Bahá.—‘To acquire virtues. We come from the earth; why were we transferred from the mineral to the vegetable kingdom—from the plant to the animal kingdom? So that we may attain perfection in each of these kingdoms, that we may possess the best qualities of the mineral, that we may acquire the power of growing as in the plant, that we may be adorned with the instincts of the animal and possess the faculties of sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste, until from the animal kingdom we step into the world of humanity and are gifted with reason, the power of invention, and the forces of the spirit.’ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. [1912-12-26] (1972). “Should Prayer take the form of action?” (‘Abdu’l-Bahá. [1912-12-26] 1972).”

Resources on Creativity

“The most mature mode of perception, the allocentric is to perceive the world and its objects in their fullness, irrespective of the personal feelings of the observer. It is to explore the object by sublimating ego-centricity to examine its ‘being’. It is to grasp the reality of the object by transcending the definitions of natural language and culture. It is to be ‘at-one’ with the object, or phenomena, by having no ‘I-ness’ (being in a state of ego-lessness) so that everything can be perceived as if it had never been experienced before. Allocentric perception of an object is to take a global perspective in which the object as a whole is perceived both in its uniqueness and in its connectedness to everything else. This is to reach toward the infinite where all is connected to all in connections beyond those made by our limitations as observers within the frame of bivalent logic.”

Lawrence; W. Gordon. Long, Susan D. 2008-06-22. “The Creative Frame of Mind: New Ideas, New Meanings.” Phenomenology of creativity and the unconscious infinite in dreaming.” ispso.org The International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations 2008 Symposium. Motivation and Meaning at Work.

Conscious thinking is restricted to operating within laws of logic framed by three dimensional space and finite time. The 3Rs (reading, writing and arithmetic) are prime examples of finite sets (Matte-Blanco). Reading, writing and arithmetic operate on rules of Aristotelian logic.

The unconscious operates on infinite sets.  Infinite space-time with infinite dimensions frame symmetrical thinking. Unconscious thought is revealed when the conscious mind is relaxed and the rules of bivalent logic are suspended when one is temporarily ego-less.

Resources on Storytelling

Technological Resources

Materials to aid and encourage the study of Nabíl’s Immortal Narrative

This resource for young people includes maps.

Webliography and Bibliography

‘Abdu’l-Bahá. [1912-12-26] (1972). “Should Prayer take the form of action?” 97 Cadogan Gardens, London, in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. [1912-12-26] (1972). Paris Talks. UK Bahá’í Publishing Trust. 1972 11th Ed. pp.176-7.
Systematic Teaching and Learning Themes

Who’s Who

Abdu’l-Baha (b. 1844-05-23 d. 1921-11-28), born Abbas Effendi was honoured with this title which means “Servant of the Glory [Baha].” Abdu’l-Baha who was the eldest son and appointed successor of Baha’u’llah, the Prophet and Founder of the Baha’i Faith, was imprisoned and exiled with his family including his father by the rulers of the Ottoman Empire. When freed from prison in Palestine at an advanced age and in poor health, Abdu’l-Baha , was invited to Europe, Canada and United States to to share the teachings and vision of the Baha’i Faith with the people of the West. His public talks held in Paris in 1911 were compiled into a publication entitled Paris Talks which in which he covered topics such as the nature of humankind, the soul, the Prophets of God, the purpose of religion, the eventual establishment of world peace, prejudice, the equality of men and women, science and religion.

Deep Creativity

Creativity is the human quality by which new ideas, approaches or actions are produced through imagination and inspiration. Creativity involves capacities such as inventiveness, risk-taking, self-sufficiency, adaptability to change, and the ability to synthesize new forms of knowledge from diverse sources, divergent thinking where multiple answers to a set problem are generated.

“Creativity is the ability to illustrate what is outside the box from within the box.” -The Ride –

According to author Denis Brian (1996: 159) Einstein admit that although he spent years of research on the topic, his solution to the general theory of relativity, came through an image that came to him while dreaming: “like a  giant die making an indelible impress, a huge map of the universe outlined itself in one clear vision” Brian, Denis. 1996. Einstein: A Life. John Wiley & Sons. p. 159.

Dan Pink’s six essential senses: design: moving beyond function to engage the sense; story: narrative added to products and services – not just argument. Best of the six senses; symphony: adding invention and big picture thinking (not just detail focus); empathy: going beyond logic and engaging emotion and intuition; play: bringing humor and light-heartedness; meaning.

Key Concepts
spiritual empowerment,
moral empowerment
deep creativity vs busy hands

Thematic Categories
Education of Children
Education of Pre-Youth

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