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Excerpted from Handbook for the Spirit by Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield (Editors). Copyright © 2008 by New World Library. Excerpted by permission of New World Library, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"When do you feel a connection to the Universe? Where is your bliss?"

  Matthew Fox, "Creation Spirituality"
in Handbook for the Spirit
Part 2

For myself as a writer – and for any artist in the process of creating – I realize sometimes that I am just an instrument, a channel, a conduit for a spirit far greater than myself. There's something truthful coming through me, partly because I've been so emptied by the Via Negativa that I'm not sitting around controlling things anymore. The Via Creativa is an immense experience of divinity for people. We all have it because we're all creative at some level of our being. This is the experience of cocreation. We realize, "My God, we're creating with God and God needs us to create."

The fourth path is the Via Transformativa, the Transformative Way. This path carries the imagination – this creativity, this new bliss, this new resurrection power – into society. This is the work of the prophet: to disturb the peace by sharing the good news, what Thomas Aquinas called "sharing the fruits of our contemplation." But not everyone is eager to hear the fruits of our contemplation, because people are content to live in the existing structures, psychic and social, of our society.

This is the path of struggle, the path of compassion, and the path of celebration. And the God of Celebration ritualizes with people, gets them to enjoy life again, to see life again as a child – to see the wonder, the awe, the marvel, the simplicity of the blade of grass. Path four is also about standing up to structures that are oppressing us psychically or socially. The movements of Gandhi or King or the Nicaraguan revolution, for example, are works of the artist's path carried into the social sphere.

How can you cultivate an intimate relationship with God? If I were giving advice, first I would question: What poets do you read? What music moves you? What social issues arouse your passion? What work do you most love doing? Eckhart said, "True work is about enchantments." When does enchantment strike you? When do you feel a connection to the Universe? Where is your bliss? And what about the darkness – what have you tasted of nothingness? What have you tasted of the God of the dark?

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