CHAPTER 6 - Creativity and Freedom: Individualism and Universalism
Creativity is inseparable from freedom. Only he who is free creates. Out of necessity can be born only evolution. Creativity is born of liberty. When we speak in our imperfect human language about creativity out of nothing, we are really speaking of creativity out of freedom.
Viewed from the standpoint of determinism, freedom is “nothing,” it surpasses all fixed or determined orders, it is conditioned by nothing else; and what is born of freedom does not derive from previously existing causes, from “something.” Human creativity out of “nothing” does not mean the absence of resistant material, but only an absolute increment or gain which is not determined by anything else. Only evolution is determined: creativity derives from nothing which precedes it. Creativity is inexplicable: creativity is the mystery of freedom.
The mystery of freedom is immeasurably deep and inexplicable. Just as deep and inexplicable is the mystery of creativity. In creative freedom there is an inexplicable and mysterious power to create out of nothing, undetermined, adding energy to the existing circulation of energy in the world. As regards the data of the world and the closed circle of the world’s energy, the act of creative freedom breaks out of the determined chain of the world’s energy.
Creativity is something which proceeds from within, out of immeasurable and inexplicable depths, not from without, not from the world’s necessity. The very desire to make the creative act understandable, to find a basis for it, is failure to comprehend it.
To comprehend the creative act means to recognize that it is inexplicable and without foundation.
Freedom is the ultimate: it cannot be derived from anything: it cannot be made the equivalent of anything. Freedom is the baseless foundation of being: it is deeper than all being. We cannot penetrate to a rationally-perceived base for freedom. Freedom is a well of immeasurable depth—its bottom is the final mystery.
Freedom is positive and full of meaning. Freedom is not only a denial of necessity and determinism. Freedom is not a realm of chance and willfulness, as distinguished from the realm of law-abiding and of necessity.
Man’s spirit is free only in so far as it is supernatural, transcending and going beyond the order of nature. Freedom and creativity tell us that man is not only a natural, but a supernatural being. And this means that man is not only a physical being and not only a psychic being, in the natural meaning of the word. Man is a free, supernatural spirit, a microcosm.
Freedom is positive creative power rather than negative arbitrariness. The negative consciousness of one’s freedom as arbitrary free will is a falling into sin. Negative freedom, freedom as arbitrary free will, is freedom without content and void. To desire freedom for its own sake, freedom without purpose or content, is to desire emptiness, to turn away towards non-being. Freedom, conceived only formally, without purpose or content, is nothing, emptiness, non-being. Freedom in the Fall was this kind of negative, formal freedom and emptiness and non-being—it was freedom for freedom, i.e. freedom from rather than freedom for.
Freedom in the Fall was not freedom for creativeness, not creative freedom. The falling away from God deprives freedom of its content and its purpose, impoverishes it, deprives it of power. The positive, creative purpose and content of freedom could not yet be conceived at that stage of creation, the seven-day stage, since in creation there had not yet been revealed the Absolute Man, the Son of God, the revelation of the Eighth Day. In the seven-day creation there was possible only a trial of freedom.
This freedom is born of the union of the human nature of Jesus with the divine nature of Christ. The cosmic mystery of the redemption overcomes formal and empty freedom and the necessity which is born of it.
Human nature, become son of God, rises to the consciousness of material freedom full of creative purpose. Freedom is penetrated by universal love. Freedom is henceforth inseparable from its universal content. Freedom from is in sin: freedom for is in creativeness. Adam’s freedom in the seven-day creation is different from his freedom in the creation of the eighth day. The freedom of the new Adam, joined with the Absolute Man, is creative freedom, freedom which continues the work of God’s creativity, freedom which does not revolt against God in negative arbitrary willfulness.
Adam’s freedom was the first stamp of man’s likeness to the Creator. And even in paralyzing sin there was still a sign of man’s power.
Love is the content of freedom—love is the freedom of the new Adam, the freedom of the eighth day of creation.
Love is creativeness.
The all-vivifying and spiritualizing rise of fallen man is possible only through the advent of the Absolute Man, bringing man’s nature into communion with divine nature. The Redeemer and Savior of the world exorcizes the spell and casts off the fetters of necessity. He is the Liberator.
Individualism is a devastation of individuality, its impoverishment, a diminution of its universal content, i.e. a tendency towards non-being. Individuality and individualism are opposites. Individualism is the enemy of individuality. Man is an organic member of the universal cosmic hierarchy, and the richness of his content is in direct proportion to his union with the cosmos. Man’s individuality finds complete expression only in universal, cosmic life.
Man is infinitely poor and empty if there is nothing higher than himself, if there is no God; and man is infinitely rich and meaningful if there is something higher, if God does exist.
To know the creative activity of the person means being a creatively active person. Like knows like. The inner relationship between the subject of knowing and the object of knowing is a necessary condition of true knowing. Only the free man knows freedom; only the creating man knows creativity. Only the spirit knows the spiritual. Only the microcosm knows the macrocosm. To know anything in the world is to have this in oneself.
Every creative act has universal, cosmic significance. The creative act of the personality enters the cosmic hierarchy, gives it deliverance from the power of lower materialized hierarchies, unfetters being. In its freedom and its creativeness the personality cannot be separated from the cosmos, cannot be divorced from universal being.
In its mystic essence the Church is universality, a cosmic organism, a universal, cosmic hierarchy with Christ in the heart of being.
Solitude is not necessarily individualism. Solitude, a man’s being alone, is not alienation from the cosmos. It may be only a symptom of the fact that a personality has outgrown certain conditions under which others live, and its universal content is not yet recognized by the others. The supreme solitude is divine. God, Himself, knows great and anguished solitude. He has the experience of being deserted by the world and by men. Christ was solitary and not understood during His life. Men accepted and understood Christ only after His death on the Cross. Solitude is quite compatible with universality: there may be more of the universal spirit in solitude than in a herded society. Every act of courage, every creative initiative, gives a sense of solitude, of being unrecognized—transcends every given community.
We must never forget that the religious way moves from the personality to society, from the inward to the outer, toward the cosmos by way of individuality.
God expects from man the highest freedom, the freedom of the eighth day of creation. This, God’s expectation, lays on man a great responsibility. The final, ultimate freedom, the daring of freedom and the burden of freedom, is the virtue of religious maturity.
To arrive at religious maturity means to know final freedom. The immaturity of Christian consciousness has hitherto made impossible a knowledge of man’s ultimate freedom. Christianity has always been a training, a guardianship of the immature. And hence Christianity has not yet revealed itself in fullness, as an experience of freedom.
The religion of freedom is a religion of apocalyptic times. Only the final time will know the final freedom. Christianity, as a religion of training and guardianship of the immature, as a religion of the fear of temptation for the immature, is being deformed and is becoming torpid. But only a religion of freedom, a religion of daring and not of fear, can answer to man’s present age, to the times and seasons of today.
We can no longer refuse the time of freedom: Christian men are now too old, not only ripe but over-ripe for that. At the end of the Christian path there dawns the consciousness that God expects from man such a revelation of freedom as will contain even what God Himself has not foreseen.
God justifies the mystery of freedom, having by His might and power set a limit to His own foreseeing. Those not free are not needed by God, they do not belong in the divine cosmos. Hence freedom is not a right: it is an obligation. Freedom is a religious virtue. He who is not free, the slave, cannot enter the kingdom of God: he is not a son of God; he is subject to lower spheres.