Einstein, Lao Tsu, William Blake, Imagination, Intuition, Innocence, Children, and Art

Today 2 of my child art students created letters with text styles.  The project was very simple–really no more than typing the letters of their names into small, separate Photoshop documents; saving each one; and then pulling them back into one large, combined document.  Along the way, they had to select various Photoshop Styles to decorate their letters–or to create text effects.   Each of the girls were in a private class; therefore, neither had any peer influence; and I certainly did not influence their choices.  As I observed their confidence in selecting the styles that they most preferred, I was reminded again how children absolutely have less fear about creating than adults have.

I have written several articles about how children have a stronger sense of intuition–and how that makes a child’s art purer–more authentic than that by most adult artists. The artist’s intuition [child artist or otherwise] is essential to making correct artistic choices.

Shakti Gawain very accurately describes the artistic impulse or the process by which intuition guides an artist.  She calls this force “…an intuitive sense [that] operates moment by moment, giving us only the piece of information or the energetic nudge we need to take the appropriate action right now.  If we keep following the energy, the next impulse will come to show us the next step.  As we keep following our inner guidance, a path unfolds that takes us in the exact direction we need to go. ” Shakti Gawain, Developing Intuition, pgs. 70-71.

During the harrowing experiences of maturing, adults begin to doubt the choices that the intuition seems to be making.  Gradually, they become more other-oriented than internal. This is often caused when we regard the expectations of others more than we regard our own feelings.  Shakti Gawain says that our cultures also increase our self doubts. She adds: “Our culture conditions us to believe that we must always be doing something outwardly productive.  [Not many people feel that creating a painting is outwardly productive.] … We have lost the value of being–taking time to rest, relax, contemplate, explore the inner realm, and generally replenish ourselves.  We are terribly out of balance in this respect.” -Shakti Gawain, Develop Your Intuition, p. 87

The damaged adult versus the innocent child was the theme of Romantic writer William Blake.  Other Romanticists also wrote in support of the innocent child; but William Blake’s writing is obsessive.  Blake ultimately described a new religion based on the state of innocence and its untainted imagination.  He pleaded with mankind to return to the religion of innocence and his literary character Los [who was the embodiment of imagination] was the Christ-like figure who would lead his followers back into the fold of innocence.  I have written several posts about all of the topics that I am exploring here.  You can search for other posts via my search window.

As I have said before, Blake and the Romanticists were not the first to expose the trappings of adulthood.  Ancient philosopher Lao Tsu also developed the theme, as he depicts the results of a life that is not centered upon the pure, the inner being, or as William Blake called it, innocence For instance, formal education is a product of our cultures.  Lao Tsu warned against cultural demands, calling these demands the Rules of Propriety:

The rules of propriety are the semblance of loyalty and faith, And the beginning of disorder. Traditionalism is the flower of Reason, But the beginning of ignorance. Therefore great organizers abide by the solid, And do not dwell in the external. They abide in the fruit, and do not dwell in the flower.” Chapter 38

“One who knows others is clever, but one who knows himself is enlightened. One who conquers others is powerful, but one who conquers himself is mighty.” Chapter 33

The wise are not learned; the learned are not wise.” Chapter 81 Tao Te Ching

In other words, traditional teaching seeks productsexternalized behavior which suggests that learning has taken place. Education is not from within–it is not the essence.

The externalized rules of education are much the sames as the rules that men apply to spirituality.  Religions are born out of rules.  Spirituality is an internal source–not a man-made framework for that source.  Wisdom is the source of knowledge; education is a man-made framework.  Many philosophers have criticized what education has done to the process of learning.

When we begin to rely more upon these external rules–the outward expectations for us–we begin to mute the voice of the intuition. The life product that William Blake called Experience; and that Lao Tsu called the Rules of Propriety; Albert Einstein called “Common Sense.”  The following Albert Einstein quotes are very appropriate to this discussion:

Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age 18.” – Albert Einstein

The “common sense” and the “rules of propriety” educate–rather than inspire:

“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.” – Albert Einstein

 “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” – Albert Einstein

“Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.” – Albert Einstein

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” – Einstein

“Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.”

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