Compassionate Creativity: Revisiting Our Definitions

Compassionate Creativity: Revisiting Our Definitions

By Jake Sapon: On Tour, April 2016

I wrote, at the beginning of our process, a few definitions of Compassionate Creativity.

Now, after over 15 gatherings and 7,000 miles of experience, I feel it’s time to revisit these definitions—to notice what about my relationship to our project, to compassion, and to creativity has evolved.

Throughout our journey, each person and place we have encountered has helped me to reflect upon my values, my dreams, and the limitless ways to be both compassionate and creative in the world.

From Lindsay in Fayettville, and Claire in Philadelphia, I learned how hospitality is an art form. From Kenny and John in Bisbee, I learned about generosity. From my cousin Rena in New York City, I learned a new frame through which to think about compassion and creativity. From guests at our gathering in Kansas City, I learned the importance of courage and openness in sharing my own art. From Ravi in Silver City, John in California, and my Aunt Sarah and Uncle Richard in Philomath, Oregon, I learned the importance of spiritual practice to my life.

The list goes on and on.

In each place we arrive, we bring all of these people and all of these lessons with us. As we continue, our definitions and values evolve, shift and grow. I write to you with immense gratitude for both all that I have received and learned and for what I have taught and given.

Through this learning, I have come to understand Compassionate Creativity as an attitude towards our relationships with ourselves, others around us, and the world. I associate the word Creativity with a sense of moving within a realm of expansiveness and imagination—a willingness to believe in possibilities, and to choose which possibilities to make real. I associate the word Compassion with a sense of connection—a felt sensation of the interconnectedness between all people.

Kāli describes her new book as a memoir that looks at the integral relationship between Compassion and Creativity, especially within moments of uncertainty and when moving through deep grief.

When I let these two qualities interact within me, I find myself creating and refining a system of values and beliefs through which to live my life:

  • Compassionate Creativity is assuming that everyone is an artist. It’s believing that creativity is not some special characteristic only available to a select few, but the basic core of human expression. Compassionate creativity is understanding that the way we live our lives is our Art.
  • Creative Compassion is listening. It’s listening to each other and to ourselves not only with our heads, but also with our hearts and our guts as well. It’s learning how to communicate, even when we think it’s impossible, and learning how to believe that healing is constantly possible. It’s understanding that every person, every animal, every child, and every being can be our teachers.
  • Compassionate Creativity is creating our own definitions of success, understanding that there are as many ways to be successful as there are people in the world. It’s knowing that you—not anyone else—have the power to define your own dreams.
  • Creative Compassion is believing in the power of human connection. It’s trusting that we have things to learn from our ancestors and our descendants, that community can sustain and empower us, that open hearts are just as important as sharp minds. It’s understanding that one small action of kindness or of healing can have a very big ripple.
  • Compassionate Creativity is understanding that our processes are perhaps even more important than our products, and that work can and should be playful and joyous and loving.
  • Creative Compassion is learning how to work with our own feelings, particularly our own negativity. It’s learning how to navigate our doubt and our fear, our anxiety and our depression. It’s learning to blow upon the tiny sparks of playfulness, joy and compassion that can warm and sustain us in times of despair.
  • Compassionate Creativity is courageously learning how to share your art and your work with the audacity to believe that you have the power to shift the whole world.
  • Creative Compassion is choosing to believe that people are basically good– that kindness and generosity tend to be the rule, not the exception.
  • Compassionate Creativity is creating or discovering your own system of values to anchor you through your journey in the world
  • Creative Compassion is understanding that these values will need constant interpretation, work and practice, play and love, and that the discipline of creating our lives requires both gentleness and precision.


What does Compassionate Creativity mean to you? Creative Compassion?

What have you learned about these words from your life experience?

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