The Double-Edged Sword of Creativity

rosepetals-sea_jeri_johnson_webSitting out here in the wind, the dancing trees, a peace washes over me and a sadness. I feel the fear of merging with that which annihilates me—the powerful force of creativity moving through me—and simultaneously the longing for it, because what is annihilated is the illusion of the small self, the separate me.

I feel the balm of poetry moving through me, the longing to write words, the healing they offer. Yet later, those same words will come to seem so inadequate, will become a thorn bleeding me with my own judgment, the same flower that offered salvation.

How painful to let myself go in that world of creation. No small wonder we avoid and distract. This two-edged sword is my deepest grace, my harshest measure.

Allowing You to flow i feel most like my true self, i feel the oneness. Flowing You into the world, sharing my words, i cast myself upon the rocks of rejection, doubt, criticism. What paradox. Sharp thorns, blood-red rose.

—Maxima Kahn

Photo of rose petals by Jeri Johnson.

You can read more of poems and musings at  Click on Poems or Musings in the drop-down menu to find them. Creative Sparks contains helpful, inspiring tools, tips and inspirations to sustain your creativity and your heart’s dreams.

A Deeper Acceptance

DissolvinginTruth_RogerBurkhardToday, as i sit with my candle, i bring my loving awareness to those places of low self-worth, of feeling undeserving and guilty, in me, and to the sadness, the unloved feeling that goes with them, feeling not good enough.

I know loving awareness is enough if i keep bringing it to bear on what i feel and think. Everything dissolves gradually of its own in the presence of Truth. So, it is a matter of remembering to bring awareness to what is occurring and not to believe the lies the thoughts tell or get lost in the feelings.

What is here to be felt needs to be felt and not pushed down or run from, but at the same time not to wallow in the feelings by replaying the stories i tell about them, but to let them flow as energies, weathers that want to move and shift, release and heal.

To be able to lead others to this freedom within, i have to find it myself.

There is a deeper acceptance i need—of all my selves, all my facets, of others, of the world as it is now—a deep embrace and acceptance. From there comes peace and any truly sane, helpful movement. There is still too much i reject in me, don’t like or want, and that creates a split, suffering, inner war, ineffectiveness, confusion.

How about just being exactly as i am, with my sadness, busy mind, confusion, and all the rest? To really embrace the shadows and thus find a greater compassion for—and ease with—self and others.

—Maxima Kahn

The Healing Presence – Rumi, May 29

The Healing Presence – Rumi, May 29

“Pure quiet,” Rumi writes. My own soul is restless today, angry and torn. All of this is “you,” says Rumi, meaning me, us, soul, the One. Even this terrible tumbling.

He writes of a great healing presence. Call it Shams of Tabriz (his teacher and friend), call it God, call it the Heart. I long to take my hundred flaws to that river of being and be healed. I keep trying, and coming up wet and troubled.

When do we get torn asunder completely, so we can dissolve into pure quiet? This cacophony inside is hard to bear, like being in the midst of a loud party full of people and music you don’t like.

The healing presence is hiding inside, I know, and here with each breath, but when Life presses on me like a thumb crushing an ant, all I feel is my exoskeleton breaking, everything that has held me up shattering, my legs giving way under me, the old me being squeezed out. I don’t feel the life I’m about to become.

This post is based on the poem by Rumi for May 29 in A Year with Rumi translated by Coleman Barks. To read the poem you can visit:

Some Song or Something

Some Song or Something

Rumi writes of ecstasy, of being used by the Divine, being sung through, the longing to be used in such a way, to praise the Divine. I am not in ecstasy, but I long to be used nonetheless, to be sung. We all do. To feel something greater than the small, worried ego, motivating our actions, thoughts, being. To feel purposeful, inspired, part of some greatness.

This moves us to do stupid things sometimes, like joining some nationalistic cause and killing or condemning others. But it can also move us to beauty, kindness, giving, to our best selves.

The bird’s song calls us home to simplicity, joy, the music in all things. The wind in the trees reminds me of effortlessness and being danced. And, yes, I have a great longing for that.

Please, Beloved, use me for some great purpose, or better yet, just some simple, sweet song. Please make of me a song, so that my cells become notes, my bones rhythm, my nerves melodies, my blood harmony, my skin orchestration. Let me be Your song and nothing else, dissolved completely in the One Being.

I can come to you with my sadness, my hatred, my depression—and You can transform them into light or beautiful darkness, the singing void, womb from which creation comes. I don’t have to be ecstatic to reach You or be worthy of You. Take me as I am and use me. I am willing. That is enough.


This musing is a response to today’s poem in A Year with Rumi: Daily Readings, translated and assembled by Coleman Barks. I cannot print the poem here because of copyright, but you can read the poem at:

Time to Forgive

Time to Forgive

(This is one of my journal musings followed by a valuable life practice added to the end. Hence, the intimate, personal style of the beginning.)

Time to forgive the horrors of the past, the wounds I carry:  CalArts, my parents, an  unforgiving world, our sick culture. Time to love all our inadequacies, frailties, slights, wounds, mistakes, the human drama. Time to say, You were wounded, I am wounded, we are all wounded, we are blind and deaf and confused and hurt, and we don’t know what we’re doing. We make mistakes. We long for love, peace, forgiveness.

I long to forgive it all, release the past, be deeply free, be love now, be peace-not namby pamby, but truly – to truly forgive – to say to all of it, my life, the people, places, things: I love you. I am sorry for my part in it. Please forgive me. Thank you for your gifts. To start unconditionally embracing this world of horror and woe, beauty and wonder-unconditional friendliness, kindness to it all. A kind heart is at peace, and I long for peace-to be kind to the whole mess, my mess, our mess-what a mess!


In this musing above, I talk about the Hawaiian practice of Ho’oponopono (which I am NOT an expert in). My understanding of this practice is that you say to anything or anyone in your life where there is suffering, “I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.” And you keep doing this, so that you can be released of suffering, they can be released of suffering, healing and wholeness can be restored. You keep doing it so you can feel it and mean it deeply and be a part of the healing of our world.

How does it work? I’m no authority on this, but my understanding is this. You think of somewhere where there is suffering, maybe it’s something in yourself that you don’t like or struggle with, maybe it’s another person you know who is suffering that you are concerned about, maybe it’s our economic system or the ecological conditions of the world. And first you say, “I love you.” This step is about embracing of all of it, the full catastrophe, as Jon Kabat-Zinn called it, really embracing it with love. Not just accepting it, but embracing and loving it as it is and sending it love.

I believe if you can truly do this step, that is all you would ever need to do, and you would create profound healing within yourself and rippling out from you to countless other beings in your world.

But since, as humans, most of us struggle to truly love the suffering, the ugliness, the brutality, the lies and so forth, we have three more steps in this practice to help us and to deepen the healing and blessing.

The next steps are “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.” They go together, as any sincere apology, needs to include a request for forgiveness, not a demand but a sincere request. “I’m sorry. Please forgive me” is about taking the radical step of acknowledging our part in the suffering, no matter how unrelated to us or distant from us it may seem, no matter how much it appears to be someone else’s fault and not our own. We take radical responsibility for our part in it, our contribution to the situation, the suffering, the lack of well-being.

For instance, if someone we love is ill, we simply say “I’m sorry. Please forgive me,” opening to the fact that we are all one, and I am somehow a part of your illness. Nothing is separate. I’m sorry for how I have consciously or unconsciously contributed to this. I’m truly sorry for my part in this. Please forgive me for anything I may have done, said, thought, however I may have contributed to this. And at the same time, we need to forgive ourselves.

And the last step is “Thank you.” What a beautiful, important step. In this step, we give thanks for any blessings, seen or unseen, any learning, any gifts whether they are hidden or obvious to us now, that have come or will come from this situation, for however it is helping us to grow or heal or shine or who knows? Thank you. Thank you for the gift of being alive, of being part of the whole mess.

Try it with something small first and then expand. Try it with someone you want to help. Try it with something in yourself you want to heal. Try it on aspects of your body you reject. Try it on world conditions you don’t like or accept, that you wish were different. Try it on everything. Also, I find it can be helpful with practices like this to decide in advance, I’m going to do this for 5 minutes or 10 minutes and then let it go, or another way I like to do this is while on a walk. See what happens and let me know.

To your inner freedom, maxima

Stopping Efforting, Finding Ease

Stopping Efforting, Finding Ease

Stopping Efforting, Finding Ease

I am exploring stopping without stopping, letting things move in me that have no name, watching the mind’s hunger for fear and control, tuning again and again to the body’s language, the quiet of the heart.

What does it mean to stop without stopping, to continue engaging with life, taking actions, doing what is needed, but from an inner place of stopping the efforting, the anxious drive, the grasping, from an inner place of resting, of pausing, of listening?

I am exploring the possibility of moving from a different place; rather than from fear, control, efforting, I am exploring leaning back in myself, listening, waiting, releasing, being moved, being danced by Life.

I am exploring the body’s wisdom, the heart’s knowing. Mostly, the mind is very loud, full of chatter, endlessly proposing new strategies, calculating numbers, marketing fear to me.

So, in this transitional place, where the despair and panic I was feeling have drained out of me and i endeavor to see through the mind’s chatter with heart, i find myself very tired, depleted by the fear-mongering and its abuses of body and soul.

I use the mind to question the mind, to find more openness, spaciousness, peace.

Meanwhile, the architecture of our contemporary way of life and my own habits within it crumbles a bit. I wait for collapse eagerly. Something crumbles and erodes inside that has been trying to hold me up too long, with damaging results, despite also the apparent accomplishments.

Today on my walk as the mind proposed one solution after another, i kept stopping each train of thought and asking, What if i simply listen and let life show me the way?

Now i take time to walk, write, pause, stop, but also to see how i can act without efforting, taking the next action that presents itself. I do my best to listen to what i can actually do with love and ease.

Can i stop efforting now? That’s my inquiry. And really staying in the now as the only moment there is.

– Maxima


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