New Civilization News: Enlightenment and Story Writing    
 Enlightenment and Story Writing0 comments
8 Oct 2004 @ 15:17, by Craig Lang

An interesting observation from the creative writing class I am currently taking.

We are presently working on writing fiction at this point in the course, and discussing the key things needed in a good story. One of the things needed in a (good and interesting) story is a drama of some form. This generally takes the form of a conflict - which is required to make the story interesting.

This is an interesting contrast to what I've been studying in the Eastern Tradition. In studying Vedic philosophies and the meditative traditions, I have noted that it is generally a goal to somehow transcend drama. On the road to enlightenment, it is an objective to simply be, rather than do.

One idea in the Eastern Tradition (at least as I have studied it) is to transcend polarity, and to rise above the drama. At the highest spiritual level, there is no drama, no polarity. All is unity. Relationships are largely static and no longer have primariy importance in one's life. One simply is.

While this is all well and good, it doesn't make for a very exciting story line. So to write a good novel, one seems to envision a world which is a step or two down the ladder - to get a good belly full of polarity. One needs to build in a fundamental sense of conflict - good guys vs bad guys - light vs dark - objective vs opposition.

In contrast, I've noted that nonfiction, article writing and poetry are generally much more descriptive, depicting the world the way it is (or as we imagine it), and ourselves the way we are (or as imagine ourselves to be). Relationships are more static, and it portrays a sense of BE'ing. Whereas stories and novels portray a sense of doing - a sense of striving, of conflict and opposition. They rely on built-in conflict, and may even require it for an interesting plot.

Yet what I've also noted in the classic epics, mythology, etc. (Joseph Campbell had alot to say about this) is that the conflicts and dynamics of the story generally serve to bring out the higher ideals. It somehow portrays the higher ideal in conflict with it's lower opposition. Yet, in true enlightenment, one even rises above that polarity, and simply IS. So, in the end, even stories which bring about enlightened ideas, can not really capture the concepts of enlightenment.

So it seems to me that to some degree, storytelling seems to require elements of drama and conflict, which are the opposite of the meditative traditions. Yet while drama and conflict may be a step away from enlightened spirituality, they definitely make for a more interesting storyline. Maybe the intent of the eastern traditions is that we can observe the drama, understand it and enjoy it, without having to actually BE it. Maybe it is the understanding that we can read or write a good novel, without having to live the novel...


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