Quantum Creativity and Adaptive Creativity

In this talk from the online course Riding the Dragon, Doug and Catherine explore the concepts of Quantum Creativity and Adaptive Creativity. They discuss how imagination springs forth from spaciousness and how it is the remedy for habitual mind. Surrendering, or letting go, into this spaciousness allows us to move beyond simply running on instinct and tap into our fullest potential.
Here are the links referred to in the episode:
Register for the free online course called Wake Up: 4 Paths to Spiritual Awakening at planetdharma.com/wakeup.
Learn about upcoming online courses by visiting planetdharma.com/events.
Learn more about Wasteland to Pureland, download a free chapter, or purchase your own copy by visiting planetdharma.com/pureland.


Podcast Transcription:


HOST: Welcome to the Dharma If You Dare. Today’s recording comes from Doug Duncan and Catherine Pawaserat’s recent online course, Riding the Dragon. In this talk, Doug (Qapel), and Catherine (CS) explore the concepts of quantum creativity and adaptive creativity. They discuss how imagination springs forth from spaciousness and how it remedies the habitual mind.  Surrendering or letting go into this spaciousness allows us to move beyond simply running on instinct and tap into our fullest potential. We’re very excited to announce that we’ve just launched a free online course that gives an introduction to the main approaches that Doug and Catherine employ with students to help them find their speediest path to spiritual awakening. It’s called Wake Up: Four Paths to Spiritual Awakening and you can register by visiting planetdharma.com/wakeup. And now, here’s today’s recording. 




Q: As you may have noticed, if you`ve read the book Wasteland to Pureland, we talked about two kinds of creativity – quantum creativity, that’s the spaciousness, and adaptive creativity, that’s the relationship of objects, how things work, and how that spaciousness gets interpreted in the object and the world. 


CS: The relationship between spaciousness and the objects. 


Q: Quantum creativity arises out of the unknown. You don’t know where it came from, all sorts of scientists and artists say they don’t know where it came from. It just came out of nowhere. 


CS: Didn’t Einstein say that he solved or clinched the theory of relativity when he was looking out of the window? 


Q: Yeah I think so, yeah. 


CS: He had spent all this time with his chalk on the blackboard but that wasn’t when it happened. Ananda awakened –  he meditated and meditated and meditated and meditated and he finally gave up and threw himself on his mat and he awakened.


Q: In midair. Between being vertical and throwing himself on his mat. He awakened in the falling, in the spaciousness. 


CS: Right, in the spaciousness and the letting go, in the surrender.


Q: So quantum creativity arises spontaneously out of the unknown, out of the void, out of the spaciousness, based on your question, based on your interest, based on your investigation. Adaptive creativity is what you do with it in the world. How you put it to work, how you mesh it, how you craft it, and how you make a better apple pie.



CS: So it’s worth saying again that when we’re in this space, in this gap, in this spaciousness, there’s no sense of “I” right?  That’s the surrender part and that’s really key for what we’re calling quantum creativity, which is like radical creativity, game-changing creativity, such as the theory of relativity, such as awakening. 


Q: So we’re suggesting that the British have an advantage. We think the British have an advantage for awakening because everywhere you go in London they say `mind the gap`. Maybe they don’t know what I`m talking about. In the tube, the subway system, there’s a gap between the platform and the train car so there are signs everywhere saying `mind the gap`. So the British must be great meditators, I guess. 


CS: But they’re trying to not fall into the gap.


Q:  That’s true and we want you to fall in the gap. That’s true. That’s true. Got a problem with that one. Anyway, all mystery traditions, all spiritual traditions have said the same thing forever. Basically, that God or spaciousness, humanity as we know it, without that spaciousness, without that gap, we revert to animal consciousness. We revert to just running on instincts, running on sensation, running on the chemicals or the desire mind. And it’s the spaciousness, it’s the gap, it’s the transcendent aspect of that that makes us human, particularly human. And our ability to work together is because of the gap, because of the spaciousness. 


CS: As far as we know, human beings are the only beings on this planet who can awaken. I’m willing to be proven wrong on that. But as far as we know, that’s true. And any of us can do it, it is within all of our reach.



Q: And every tradition has said it. So we’re going to give you a few examples. For instance, Genesis One from the Bible says, “In the beginning, God created heaven and earth and the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. 


CS: It`s about spaciousness, in the Old Testament. So these are different ways of describing the spaciousness. So here’s another one from Lao Tsu. “The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal name. The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth. The named is the mother of 10,000 things. Ever desireless, one can see the mystery. Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations. These two spring from the same source, but differ in name. This appears as darkness, darkness within darkness, the gate to all mystery.” 


Q: So that’s Taoism.


CS: That`s about labels.


Q: Then you have the Diamond Sutra from Buddhism. It says, “Lest shall ye think of this fleeting world, a star at dawn, a bubble in the stream, a flash of lightning in a summer cloud, a flickering lamp, a phantom and a dream”. How would your life change if you entered into every object relationship that you had every day from that perspective? 


CS: And Western science has the Big Bang. The obvious question is what was before the Big Bang? Supposedly nothing, So nothingness. 


Q: Nothingness. So we see this in meditation and this is one of the reasons we push meditation so much is because you eliminate 90% of your objects and you’re just left with you on a cushion and you really start to see the mind in its gap and its spaciousness. You really start to feel the space between the arising of one thing and the passing of another. The gap.


CS: That’s later, right. First we see how much our minds are running around and sticking labels on things. And we get tired of that. And so then we start looking for the space.


Q:  So if you want to do yourself a favor and get better contact with this, the best way to do it is to look at the end of an arising. So for instance, usually when we’re meditating on the breath we see, okay, a dog, and then our mind jumps to the next thing called a cat, and it just jumps from object to object. So what we’re suggesting here is to focus your mind on the ending of things. The end of the dog, stay there. Then the cat. The end of the cat, stay there. You see how things are always dissolving out from underneath us, always dissolving out from underneath us. And that gives you this contact with the gap. It also teaches you non-clinging, right, because you can’t hang on to anything, ever, really.  




CS: So when we talk about surrender, there’s an important distinction between what we call surrender, which is letting go, and submission, which is kind of agreeing to let go even though you don’t want to. It’s an important distinction and worth reflecting on. So here we’re talking about surrender, surrendering into the space, surrendering into the gap. 


Q: I just want to repeat that as I think it’s an important point. The difference between surrender, which is letting it fall through your hands, and submission, which means you kind of go along with it, but secretly, in your heart of hearts, you’re still hanging onto it. And from the point of view of transcendence and from the point of view of the spiritual life, the thing that we keep saying we`ve let go of, is our ego, our self-image. “I’m going to let go of my ego. I’m going to let go of my self-image. I’m going to rest in emptiness. And here I am, doing it.” “I am letting go of emptiness. I am letting go of the object. I am resting in emptiness. I am in emptiness”. Who’s talking? Yeah. You can also do it at the beginning. But the problem is that Westerners are so object-orientated. We are such greedy guts. We`re such greedy guts, we just want… “oh yeah, I want to think about my cousin” or “oh yeah, I want to think about Friday night” or “oh yeah, I want to think about what I’m going to do next week.” But you could do it before those things arise. So it’s easier in a way to do it at the end of an arising because there’s the room for letting go. But you could do it before something arises because of course, they’re the same place. But one, you’re focusing your mind on the end, and one, you’re focusing your attention before your arising. So I think it’s easier if you focus on the end, at least initially. 


CS: So for those of you, if you’re not familiar with these expressions, an arising could be a sensation, could be a feeling, could be thought, could be like, “oh, it’s hot today”, “I feel hot”, that’s an arising or it could be “I want ice cream”, that’s an arising. 


Q: So like we said, this gap we feel is the origin of creativity. It’s from where creativity comes and in that sense, there’s nobody being creative, there’s nobody doing creative things at the quantum level. At the quantum level, it just happens in front of you. So Einstein, for instance, said that the great achievements of science must start from intuitive knowledge. It’s another way of saying from the gap. 



CS: Intuition is more about letting go, isn’t it? You can’t really make intuition happen. He (Einstein) also said, and this is so interesting, this is Einstein, right, the quintessential scientist. He said, “I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”


Q: So the source of imagination? Remember, imagination means to make images. Imagine that! You’re making an image. The source of imagination is intuition. Intuition is based on a question. From a spiritual point of view, your question is, “where’s the gap?” What takes you into adaptive creativity, into “what is this?”, “what’s going on?” But the question, “what?” comes from the gap, comes from the intuition.


CS: You’re referring to quantum creativity and adaptive creativity and I’m not sure everyone has read Wasteland to Pureland. If they have, they know what we mean, but if they haven’t, they may not. 


Q: Do you want to explain it?




CS:  Well quantum creativity are those world-changing arisings, life-changing arisings. It could be the discovery of fire. Can you imagine being the first person to think about striking flint together, that occurring to somebody? Or it could be just realizing, “oh my gosh, I don’t want to be a doctor, I want to be an artist.” That could be quantum creativity for an individual, if it’s a radical life change. Can you think of any other examples? 


Q: Whoever came up with the idea that the Sun was the center of the solar system rather than the Earth? Because for centuries people thought that Earth was the center. And then somebody came along and said “whoa, the data indicates that we’re not the center”. So they used adaptive creativity, the studying of the data, and they went, “oh, the data doesn’t fit with what we consider to be true. What’s going on here? He goes into the question, `what’s going on here?` This opens his mind to not having to hang onto an old object, and the insight comes that the Earth is not the center of the solar system. That was radical, revolutionary and heretical.


Imagination arises from the images that we present to ourselves. So if we present images of “I’m no good” “there’s something wrong with me”, “I’m not smart enough,” then the imagination is going to feed you that data. The subconscious feeds you the data that you’re expecting to hear. So if you put a new imagination… 


CS: And there’s not any space in those thoughts, right. So quantum creativity is not going to be able to arise because those are heavy, heavy thoughts.




Q: So the important part of imagination is to create a field of question that leads you to new territory, new understandings and new openings, which means you have to let go of the habitual mind, the same old dialogues running on and on. Right? And so the easiest way to do this is – what are you curious about? What engages you? What is it that makes you kind of want to step out of the form, out of the mold of what you do every day and takes you to new territory, new land, where you’re not just running the program. 


CS: I like a kind of alternative take on that. What is it you really are not attracted to and don’t want to do or explore? Because if you can get interested in that, then it gets really curious. 


Q: Because sometimes what you’re not attracted to is actually your greatest strength, but you don’t know it yet. Or your greatest potential. Because you haven’t met it yet. If you want to transcend the suffering in your life, you have to go back to the emptiness. You have to go back to the spaciousness. You will not resolve the suffering in your life by manipulating, controlling and rearranging the objects. It won`t work.




CS: We were talking at lunch today – there’s a kind of B movie of me, right? Not a very good movie, and one that we play again and again and again and again. So we’ve got to get a new movie, right, create a new movie. We’ve got to create the movie that is going to be really good and that we want to see. And to do that we’ve got to challenge ourselves and go to places we haven’t gone before. 


Q: Another way to put it is the ego, which means you and me and everybody else, we`re typecast. We’ve been typecast into a B movie and we keep playing the same roles over and over and over and over again and we wonder why we’re bored or we`re restless or there’s something missing in our lives. And it’s because the ego does not want to step out of its self-imaging habitual patterns because it’s afraid that it’s going to fail or not succeed or it’s going to hurt or something bad is going to happen. I think you need to put in your imagination – no no no, something good is going to happen! 


HOST: We hope you enjoyed this episode. Please rate and review Dharma If You Dare on Apple podcasts to help more people find and benefit from these teachings. Today’s episode featured a recording from Riding the Dragon, an online course based on the ideas in Doug and Catherine’s best-selling book Wasteland to Pureland. You can learn about upcoming online courses by visiting planetdharma.com/events and clicking on online courses. You can learn more about Wasteland to Pureland, download a free chapter, or purchase your own copy by visiting planetdharma.com/pureland. See you next time and may all our efforts benefit all beings.