Hope for a Better World

Yogananda taught that a better world cannot come from outer changes of political ideology, social or economic systems. Solutions generated on the same level of consciousness as the problem can only bandage. Real change comes from the evolution of our consciousness.

We are in the midst of a seismic change – not just of our society but of civilization itself. We are moving from Newton’s world of bricks and billiard balls to quantum realms of field and foam. In science our most basic assumptions of reality are shifting from solid foundations to fluid realms of uncertainty and shimmering potential. In all areas of life outer forms are dissolving. We are leaving an era of matter and form, entering an age of energy and inspiration. And yet our institutions continue to operate on the long-outdated assumptions of the 19th century.

The Age of conFORMity

Most of us grew up learning how to conform to form- to memorize data, repeat the sequence, follow the rules. Our school systems, created during the Industrial era, were conceived to meet the needs of manufacturing. The model of the factory, with its assembly line structure oriented to mass production, shaped education in its image. Children are moved along a conveyor belt of classrooms and curricula, injected with content and tested for compliance. As Sir Ken Robinson wryly observes “We even process children through a grade system based on the ‘date of manufacture”.

Factory Model Education

Factory model education rewards a way of thinking that repeats what is already known. It looks to the past for solutions- and this is precisely what we can no longer afford to do. We cannot solve the problems of our time with the same mode of consciousness that generated the problems in the first place.1 We can’t respond to an increasingly complex and fast changing world with the same ways of thinking our parents and grandparents used.

Even now schools prepare children to succeed in the Industrial era, but we are already living in a world that has evolved far past that era. The pace of change in the world is exponential. Today’s kindergarteners will likely have careers in fields that do not yet exist. The explosion of knowledge and technological advancement means that current knowledge is virtually guaranteed to soon be outdated. We can’t predict what the world will be like two years from now, let alone 10 years from now. Our sole certainty is that radical change is inevitable.

Core Survival Skills in the Age of Energy

When everything is changing around us, we can’t find security in outer forms- or even outer knowledge. Creativity and Intuition are core survival skills of the world unfurling around us. We must make our way in a world where everything we already know is insufficient and none of the conventions of culture can guide us. We need to draw our solutions, ideas and inspirations not from the past, but from the future. That is the territory of the arts.

Art as a Tool for Accessing our Divine Creativity

The arts teach us to be at ease in the unknown, to lean into what does not yet exist. The painter feels the shape of the clouds before the brush brings them into form, the dancer opens to the flow of energy and brings forth a new step. The creative process teaches us to open to new possibilities, to tune into ‘what’s trying to happen’. The arts are important not just for decoration and entertainment (as they were in the age of form) but as tools for awakening and channeling energy.

In the Age of MATTER we were taught that art is about reflecting or repeating form. In the Age of ENERGY we realize that the modalities of the arts are tools for channeling energy.

In the studio, we learn how to open the channel inside of us. We learn how feel and follow the flow of energy. In the flow of creative expression, we cultivate our capacity to receive inspiration from the infinite fountain of Divine Wisdom within. What we practice in the studio becomes a skill we can use in our daily lives.

Creativity and Higher Consciousness

Swami Kriyananda was a huge advocate of the arts. This was not just because he loved beauty and harmony- though he certainly did. Swamiji realized how important the arts can be in awakening higher capacities of consciousness. Every one of us can open a channel inside ourselves that allows the Divine Creative Energy to flow through us. When we can do that, we have all the resources we need because the source is no longer limited. We can meet the challenges of our lives- and of our times, with the resilience that comes from a power greater than our own. We can channel ‘superconscious’ solutions to the simple problems of our daily lives and for the dire problems of our era. In the emerging age of energy, expanded human capacities will be required. Clarity of perception, agility of thought, fluidity of perspective, sense of play and exploration, these are among the modalities of the emerging intelligence. This is what creativity cultivates. A new way of being in the world calls for continual expansion, for wearing roles loosely, holding opinions lightly; becoming not so much a fixed end-product- what Swamiji called “a bundle of self-definitions”, as a vessel through which life flows freely.

THE NOBLE NEW


Sing songs that none have sung, Think thoughts that in brain have never rung, 
Walk in paths that none have trod, 
Weep tears as none have shed for Lord, 
Love all with love that none have felt, and brave 
The battle of life with strength unchained, 
Give peace to all to whom none other gave, 
Claim him your own who is e’er disclaimed. 
–Paramhansa Yogananda, 1923

28 Comments

  1. Marvelous thoughts, Dana. Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. I have been finding the need to practice my art more urgently lately. This article is very helpful and hopeful for me right now. Thank you for the wisdom and encouragement.

    1. I feel that many of us are called to practice our art and creativity in these turbulent times. I am happy to hear you were inspired.

  3. Very inspiring 🙏🏼 Dana for all you do , namaste 🕉💫💜

    1. Manissha I look forward to seeing you in a class or workshop someday

  4. This is so beautiful. My daughter is a second grade teacher…and it is time for a paradigm shift.

    1. It sure is time for a paradigm shift! And I imagine your daughter is one of the pioneers

  5. So inspiring Dana! You define perfectly why we meditate, we are creating a new way of being in the world! Reminds me to be the flow not the outcome…

    1. Thank you so much Gitabai… YES to following the flow- and the deeper currents that carry us through these tumultuous times. I am so grateful you were able to join me in ‘Painting from the Heart and Soul’ last year.

  6. Thank you so much, Dana, for sharing these beautiful insights and truths from Yogananda. It is extremely important for the creativity of God to flow through us all to enliven the spirit for expanding consciousness. When we play with God within, joy and love abound from the heart and soul.

  7. Masterfully thought-through and stated. I am breathless with gratitude for this unprecedented expression of what the arts are about in our path. Thank you!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words Rambhakta! And thank you for being my cohort and colleague in bringing attention to the ‘JOYFUL ARTS’ that Swamiji pioneered.

  8. I love your theme, Dana…If we follow it with energy we will see the Way . And we will be growing through Birth Pains into Joy with one another.
    Thank you dearest one. What better to share with my kids and everyone.
    Bless You!
    ramani

    1. I love your theme, Dana…If we follow it with energy we will see the Way. And we will be growing through birth pains into Joy with
      one another. Thank you, dearest one. What better to share with my kids and everyone.
      Bless you,
      ramani

  9. Jai Dana and yay for art and creativity to change ourselves and the world. Aumm ❤️

  10. Dear Dana, this article is briliant! It decribes marvellously the new era requirements to which all of us are called to tune into! With the clarity of your words and Master’s guidance, may we all follow through. God and Gurus bless you!

  11. Inspirationally written Dana! As I found myself dwelling in a scientific mindset, I had a dream not too long ago that I was meant to lean into my art.
    Now I’m painting and singing everyday! When I first came to Ananda, it was your art that completely captured and inspired me. Thank you for being you and for continuing to share your gifts! Big Love and Gods Blessings 🙂

  12. Dana, I was in your O God beautiful course in August at Ananda Assisi. These words are a work of art. THANK YOU!

  13. Wonderful wishes, Dana! Looking forward to hearing more! Maybe you could give us a “at home, ‘how to’” guide for initiating this individual creative process. Keep up the beautiful work!

  14. Dearest Dana,

    I was feeling stuck….blocked as I was writing a talk I am assigned to deliver to our local meditation group. None of my “ writing methods” were working! Now I understand why. Master’s Teachings channeled through Your wisdom has helped me to open my mind and my heart to the Creative Process Within. With Master’s Guidance, I will research, process, and write with a new and elevated Energy Consciousness.

    Much Love and Many Blessings to you,
    Carol

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