Creativity Is the Smoke That Rises

Posted on in Healthy Living by Kapil Gupta


The greatest masterpiece that you will ever produce will be the one you don’t know how you produced.

The world has become anesthetized against the fundamental mysteriousness of the human being in exchange for the measurable banalities of science. That which is measurable is not art. That which can be didacticized is not creativity.

When I am working with an elite performer or a world-class athlete, my foremost tenet is not to help him or her become “better,” but to help him or her become free.

For without freedom, creativity is only an idea. Without unscripted experimentation, art remains a remote possibility. For art is a visceral expression of the hidden mystery of man.

Imagine for a moment the works that you have been most proud of in your own life. The works that you incessantly admired. Perhaps more than the nature of the product, you marveled at how it came to be. You marveled at the realization that you were able to produce such a thing. And if someone asked you how you did it, you would hesitate. Not because you wished to hold onto your secrets. But because you didn’t know what they were.

The world has become enamored with the idea of “how.” Whether it is in the coaching of athletes or in the instruction of schoolchildren, the how has taken center stage. And it has led to the death of creativity.

Why is this so?

Because the person who asks “how” is not serious about learning. And the person who teaches the how is more interested in the subject than he is in the student. For the how asks for a blueprint, a recipe, a formula. And if art were formulaic, we would have a Picasso and a Rembrandt on every street corner. But we do not.

Is this because the how has not been taught well enough?

Or is it because the how is insisted upon?

Blueprints and formulas all lead to the same place. But it is precisely the wayward wanderings from the straight lines of convention that lead to the possibility of art. For art is not really a creation. Create should not be a verb. For the greatest of art is not created. It does not “get created.” Rather, it emerges. And it emerges only when the artist has no specified goal, no grand methodology or presupposed design.

The greatest songs seem to surface during a hot shower. The greatest insights appear when driving down a dirt road. When no one is looking, when there is no one listening, art seems to blossom into full form.

Creativity is not in the product that is produced. It is the smoke that rises. And it rises when there is a complete communion between the artist and his art. It arises when the artist so disappears into his art that only the art remains.

My work with human beings is not to instruct them, but to liberate them. To liberate them from the shackles of societal influence. To liberate them from the need to create. To liberate them from the hope of greatness.

For the artist’s greatest journey is not the journey toward his art. It is the journey toward himself. It is a journey that leads him into the dark recesses of his reservoirs of feeling. It is a journey into the depths of his painful past. It is the journey into the cool space between his internal organs, wherein lies the possibility of alchemy.

The artist’s greatest journey is the journey home.

For it is within this home, within the long and winding corridors within himself that his grand possibility will be discovered. And it will only be discovered if he is willing to embark upon this journey, not as an artist but as a seeker. Not in boundless intelligence but in deplorable ignorance. Not in maturity but in profound innocence.

The artist will produce his greatest art not when he becomes more, but when he becomes less. For in this way, his presence will not be substantial enough to interfere with the art that is bursting within him. In this way, his persona will not grate against the work that arises within him. In this way, his mind will not judge the quality of the work or contemplate its significance.

True artists are rare in this world. And perhaps the reason that they are so rare is because they live in a world that celebrates mimicry and shuns originality. A world that is given more to scientific analysis rather than to objective observation. A world which values the imprisonment of obedience rather than the rebellion of freedom.

The greatest masterpiece that you will ever create will arise when you abandon the need to create it. And the greatest art that you will ever stand witness to will not be the one that comes from you, but the one that flows through you.

Dr. Kapil Gupta works with world-class athletes and performers around the world, helping them create a masterpiece of their craft through their cultivation of unbridled freedom.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Join our once-monthly newsletter to get all the latest news & resources

No spam. Unsubscribe any time.