We live in a universe of law and order – which includes personal expression and achievement. In order to express yourself on higher levels of your potential, in any area of your life, it’s necessary to know the underlying law, principal or formula. Once you know the formula, you can adapt it to any creative goal whether in your art, business, relationships, work, hobbies, etc. The formula is a universal template upon which you can just fill in the blanks.
The formula consists of three integrated parts: (1) you, the personality that does all the expressing, (2) you, the creator from which the thing to be expressed comes, and (3) the outcome or expression itself. Each part needs to function appropriately for the formula to work.
Let’s look at how each part works – or is supposed to work. First, the personality. Your personality is your medium or channel of expression. Or as professional actor’s term it – your instrument. It’s the vehicle that receives an impression or idea from within and communicates it outwardly. Now this vehicle does not and cannot have any ideas of its own. It is nothing but a medium of exchange from spirit to mind and body. It has no ego of its own. No intelligence or power of its own. It is, as it were, totally selfless. All it has is its own individual way of expressing. And even that’s not his doing because everyone is different. You cannot help but be different no matter hard you try not to be.
That’s what Zen means when it says you are “nothing.” It means you are nothing but a medium. Now to the degree you maintain yourself a selfless medium and nothing else – your expression will have beauty, intelligence, power and originality. The way to be a good medium or instrument is to be silent, receptive and open-minded. Only then is your instrument playable. Again, the instrument is not the creator; it’s the thing being played – like a violin. And it’s only because the violin doesn’t have an ego of its own that it can be played at all.
The second part is you, the creator. This part of you is the inner, subconscious source of all outward expression. This is your higher self or higher power, your Muse or your God, etc. – Call it what you will. It is the musician or player of your personality instrument. You, the medium, wait and listen in patient silence and stillness until you receive inspiration from this subconscious self. “Inspiration” means it now wants to, through your personality, say something, write something, play something, do something — express itself. Then you obey its leading to the letter to the best of your ability. How successful you are at perfectly translating or mirror-imaging this idea or inspiration into sensual reality will depend on the degree to which you’re able to put aside your “personal” will in the matter and maintain indifferent neutrality.
The third part of the formula is the outcome or result. It’s the thing expressed or created – the words, music, product, etc. You can’t know or control what the outcome will be in advance because, remember, your personality is just a medium and has no say in the matter. If you try to have a “personal” say, try to configure the end result, you nullify the formula and get a disappointing outcome. This is the definition and method of letting go, and is the mode necessary to higher creative expression.
The words, music or action comes out the way it comes out. It’s spontaneous, and has to be so. Were you to know the outcome in advance, it wouldn’t be “creative.” It would be predictable — not special or unique. It would lack the joyous surprise and power of originality. (The only way you can control and predict an outcome is to repeat what has worked before. For example, playing music someone else wrote, or duplicating a product or process someone else invented, etc.)
The first part of the formula – being a receptive and passive instrument, is the only part you can control. And this won’t be easy because the personal, egotistical self clings to the erroneous, insidious idea that it alone is running the show. So correcting this false notion is where most all your personal development work needs to be focused.