How Service Begets Magic (and Creativity)
by Ruwan Meepagala Sep 3, 2014
"When you're full, the only thing that feels good is to serve."
When you hear someone say they are some sort of artist, there is almost always an assumption that they do or did some sort of service work. "I'm an actor/painter/dancer/musician..." comes with "...and I wait tables, bartend, PA."
The mechanical rationale for such is that such creative jobs are more like play than work, therefore there is a lot of competition, therefore it's hard to get paid to do them, therefore artists must supplement their income with a low-demand flexible side job, and service work is easily accessible. It makes rational sense. And as a magician learns, rationality only explains what's on the surface. I started thinking maybe that explanation of the relationship between service and creativity is not why artists end up doing service, but how.
In On Becoming an Alchemist, Catherine MacCoun discusses the distinction between 'How's and 'Why's. The how is the event that allows something happen. For example, being a offered a marketing job is how I ended up moving back to New York City. The why is the significance of an event in the story of your life. That I would something find my real calling as a coach after discovering OneTaste New York is why I was offered that job in the first place. It
For those who scoff at the thought magic, bear in mind, alchemy is a way to model reality. The map is not the territory, and as the progression of science shows us, no man-made model of reality goes long without being disproven. That said, models are useful for navigating the inexplicable.
Viewed from the alchemical model, the relationship between service and creativity can be flipped. Creativity, the ability of allowing resonant expression to flow through you, requires surrender of the ego. In the same way, service, the practice of bringing joy others, requires a dissolved ego. Service in that way is a practice of clearing your ego-based impurities to be a clean channel for energy.
That energy is what OMers refer to as orgasm. Through the practice of Orgasmic Meditation, we cultivate that energy in our bodies. We "fill up." And that's only half the process.
Orgasm must flow. As it comes in, it must empty out. It's like blood. Allowed circulate in and out, it will feed your tissues vital nutrients. If it flows in, but not out, it becomes rancid.
Energy follows attention.Only putting attention on yourself has the same effect as only eating without ever pooping. You get "sick." There's only so much about yourself to think about. If we continue thinking about ourselves past necessity, our minds create new internal problems to just keep entertained.
Hence the necessity for service. When you let yourself become consumed with bringing joy to others, there is no room for problem creation. Energy follows attention. Service is a way to metabolize and empty out the energy you've consumed.
I've heard my teacher Rachel Cherwitz say a million times,
"Fill what's empty and empty what's full."This means cultivate energy as you need, and recognize when it's time to put it out. Any person serious about cultivating power must have a practice of giving.
Service is creativity training. It's the practice of clearing your ego to allow your creative beast out. Creativity, in this sense, is any expression of the soul. Creativity can be art in the conventional context, or anything expressed joy when your attention isn't on yourself. Art from the ego is not art; nor is service. When really thing about it,
Service and creativity are the same thing.