Every being has a uniquely creative contribution to make to life. Each person is born with a creative potential to realise, and its discovery, development and expression is an important aspect of the journey to self-realisation. Many of the personal and social problems of individuals and society today arise because no positive outlet has been discovered for the creative impulse to be expressed.
It is a tragedy when a person dies having never uncovered or fulfilled his purpose in life. When a person enters the closing years of life he should be able to rest peacefully in the knowledge that he has achieved something truly worthwhile for mankind. He should not face only increasing frustration, disillusionment and regret, lost in dreams never realised.
Rectifying this situation is one of the most important roles of sannyas in the world today. Through the guru's guidance, and the intense efforts of sannyas life, the blockage to higher creative expression is removed. In the service of the guru, the sannyasins creative potential is awakened and fully utilised. The disciple's dreams and visions of what he can become, are materialised and become a reality in his life through his own efforts to make the guru's inspiration concrete.
Although everyone has creativity, its expression is generally mechanical and mundane. People go on creating thoughts, creating a family structure, creating children, but they usually do so in an uninspired way out of biological necessity. Very few people are ever able to enlarge the scope of their creativity from this limited field because they lack awareness and are selfishly motivated.
To lift oneself into the higher realms of self-expression is not an easy task. One faces the opposition of his whole lower nature. One needs a guide and preceptor who can sustain the vision.
By taking sannyas we are trying to give uninterrupted expression to our innate creativity. In the ashram environment under the guru's encouragement, the situation is created in which the normal inhibitions, barriers, repressions and self-imposed limitations are removed from life. The sannyasin is led to a state of clarity in which he is able to see the higher vision and, more importantly, make it manifest in the world. Thus he becomes an historical creator and not just an ordinary one.
Traditionally, sannyasins restricted their efforts to the study of the scriptures of the world, attempting to attain self realisation by following the dictates of the great sages in their daily lives. Other forms of self expression were considered a side-track or diversion, because they had not yet discovered the Self which they wanted to express.
Modern sannyasins approach self realisation in a different way, in accordance with the present age. For this reason, many sannyasins continue to develop their artistic talents in service to the guru. Their talents develop tremendously as they learn to express themselves creatively in the spiritual quest, as a part of karma yoga. They no longer only paint, sing or write whenever and whatever they feel in the mood to express, but do so according to the guru's vision of how their talents will help others to better see, feel or understand the truth. In this way every painting, every poem, story and article, and every song has its meaning and its purpose, not only to satisfy the artist but to help lift the veil of ignorance from me eyes of the world.
The arts are not only for creative expression. They are also useful in guiding and inspiring others. In order to create for the good of others, one must first be able to surrender all one's creations and all one's abilities to the real master so that he can work through you and inspire you, towards a higher purpose. With this surrender, the artist can continue his work on the sannyas path, and whatever he creates will be of utmost benefit to mankind. In sannyas one can be sure that his abilities will be utilised fully to help others towards liberation. This is surely the only real measure of an artist's success.
To be creative, one does not have to be a painter, writer or musician. There are as many creative paths as there are individuals. The guru shows a way of life in which every activity becomes a medium of creative expression. The sannyasin seeks to perform every action with inspiration and awareness, so that all of life is transformed into a dance or play which utilises the cosmic creative force in an infinitely changing pattern. A sannyasin is characteristically positive in all his actions, whether big or small, vitally important or trivial. That is the difference.
For a sannyasin, no action is insignificant, and all activities are equally important. For him there is no preference, because once the creative mechanisms are awakened, the stream of conscious awareness is forever turned on. Creativity is but the efficient use of the mental apparatus we all possess, to channel our life force positively, expressing the inspiration which is constantly received from the higher regions of consciousness, and acting accordingly. Sannyas life leads one out of frustration, lethargy and uninspired living, away from habitual negative thought patterns and personal problems into the realm of intuitive awareness and inspired, efficient action. By karma yoga, the sannyasin becomes very efficient and very aware of his surroundings. He enters a state of profound creativity and deep fulfilment as the higher evolutionary energies progressively awaken.