Milwaukee Edition

Barnet Bain on How Creativity Can Save the World

Fresh Thinking Challenges Rigid Mindsets

Filmmaker Barnet Bain’s credits include writer/director of Milton’s Secret, due out this fall, starring Donald Sutherland and Michelle Rodriguez and based on Eckhart Tolle’s book, producer of the Oscar-winning What Dreams May Come, executive producer of the Emmy-award nominee Homeless to Harvard and writer/producer of The Celestine Prophecy movie. Now, as author of The Book of Doing and Being: Rediscovering Creativity in Life, Love, and Work, he offers tools that everyone can use to develop a creativity practice designed to move us beyond our unconscious hand-me-down worldview, escape mental and emotional straightjackets and unlock great reservoirs of imagination. In so doing, we discover we can create anything we like; from a work of art to a fulfilling relationship.

Why is creativity so vital now?

More than ever before, the nature of human consciousness today is making it apparent that we live inside stories and are pushing up against their edges. Strategies we’ve used to try to attain control, success or empowerment—structured ideas about how the world works, false assurances and guarantees about life—may not be working. As a result, we are mired in anxiety, stress and crises. It all offers us the opportunity to wake up to a larger truth that supersedes everything else: We must discover where our true safety resides, in building newly intelligent relationships within, as well as with others, using capacities beyond logic and reason.

Why do we need an internal sense of safety?

Safety found within shows up in our experiences of the world. As we become increasingly reliant on and confident in our creative skills to survive and thrive, we give ourselves the gift of resilience in chaos.

Humanity’s creativity must be awakened in order to meet the challenges of a changing world and effectively address problems that appear to have too few solutions. The same inner awareness and skill set that give birth to the creative process can be applied to all aspects of life. Only through creative acts can we rise above unworkable paradigms, group thinking and earlier conditioning to create new and more fluid stories that grow from revised thoughts, beliefs, choices and attitudes that mature from the inside out.

Deep, compassionate understanding of how we arrived at this point allows us to shed restrictions. It begins with facing the whys and wherefores of our most intimate consciousness.

How do male and female energies play into this?

Everyone possesses both masculine and feminine energies; neither is better or less valuable than the other. Doing and acting characterize masculine energy, which makes things. It builds, structures, orders and files. Being characterizes the feminine, womb-like energy, pregnant with possibilities and subsequent manifested outcomes. The capacities to imagine, feel and receive also are feminine. In the dance with the masculine, the harmony of these feminine qualities is the primal desire for and the impulse of creativity itself.

When the masculine and feminine energies are balanced and intimately joined, they express the ability to act, create, manifest, build and bring order. When we learn how to balance them, we become more creative and effective, individually and collectively. We are better at meeting challenges and responding to opportunities.

How does chauvinism block creativity?

Chauvinism, an elevation of masculine over feminine energy, would separate us from our feelings. It does violence to femininity and castrates legitimate masculinity. The mildest trace of such subordination diminishes and reduces primal creative energies to second place, so that nothing new can arrive. Civilization suffers from this systemic disorder to the degree that we believe our needs won’t be met unless we are controlling or relying disproportionately on action principles. A culture that elevates doing over being is ignorant of how to pop the clutch and shift into neutral, and so keeps driving down the same road without hope of changing direction.

When spirituality was more alive inside religious traditions, we honored the sanctity of the Sabbath and the importance of putting aside doing in order to be intimate with the mystery of life. It’s what breathes new life into our thoughts and feelings, arousing body, mind and spirit to new heights.

Every creator understands that all creativity is a gift of the feminine energy and a gift of the gods. Integrative masculine energies are always constellated around such a gift. Allowing ourselves to become intimate with a greater state of being rather than doing, we open ourselves to receiving a new relationship with life.

Linda Sechrist is a senior staff writer for Natural Awakenings. Connect at

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