The Creative Process. It’s a Spiritual Thing

Why is the Upper House of Parliament still called the House of Lords? If it was called the House of Ladies, would the Lords really stand for that?

The front page of the Observer Review today features a major 4-page article called, “Don’t Mess with the Baroness”. In it we’re informed of several Noble Ladies who are said to “come to the fore in their attempts to change a series of major coalition bills on health, welfare and legal aid”. Really? And what are they doing about education, we’re bound to ask. Nothing at all?

Today’s guest on Desert Island Discs (Radio 4) was Baroness Sheila Hollins, who said, “The joy of parenthood is discovering who your children really are”. We completely agree. What we need Baroness Hollins to do is to propose in the House of Lords & Ladies that all schools now begin to focus their efforts on enabling children (and the adults who are responsible for them) to know who they really are, as opposed to what our existing societal template demands they become: obedient little robokids, each possessing handfuls of exam passes, all at above average grades (!) – sufficient to guarantee them all a place at either Oxford or Cambridge. At least we think that’s the current policy of our major political parties.

Baroness Hollins, who is the parent of a child with severe learning difficulties, spoke on the programme about the importance of valuing children for qualities other than their intellectual or academic abilities – qualities which make them into unique individuals with distinct personalities – with personal, emotional, social and spiritual intelligence and a range of creative capacities.


Our recent blog posts have focused on some fundamental issues for child development and for education. We’ve highlighted the importance of enabling children and young people to discover their Element, and we’ve described the importance of spiritual intelligence and its relationship to imagination and creativity. The development of key skills and the right attitude is essential to becoming the people we need to be, and thereby find our Element.

There was an outstanding four hour Peter Bogdanovic film shown on TV last week which documented the life and work of Tom Petty – from teenage enthusiasm to musical greatness with his own band The Heartbreakers, and also with The Traveling Wilburys.

It was interesting to hear Tom talking about seeing The Beatles on television for the first time . “Everything changed.” This was the moment he knew what he needed to do with the rest of his life – to be in his Element. Like so many others he was transfixed by their originality, their musicality, their wit, their irreverence, their togetherness, their charisma and their charm. These were no manufactured or synthetic pop idols – they were a gang of cool dudes with a determination to do their own thing and to do it with style and imagination. Above all they had a strong bond and a spirit that soared and crackled with uncontainable energy.

Talking about his own gift for songwriting Tom said, “It’s a spiritual thing. It just comes out of nowhere. If you try too hard it just doesn’t happen.”

This corresponds exactly with Sir Ken Robinson’s thoughts on the creative process.

In Chapter 3 of The Element he describes the way in which The Travelling Wilburys came together – George Harrison, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison and Bob Dylan.

The Wilburys produced some of their best work when they were just trying things out and having a good time together playing music. Sometimes when we’re playing around with ideas and laughing we’re most open to new thoughts.

While you can see the dynamic nature of creative thinking in the work of single individuals, it becomes much more obvious when you look at the work of great creative groups like The Travelling Wilburys. The success of the group came about not because they all thought in the same way, but because they were all so different. They had different talents, different interests and different sounds. But they found a process of working together where their differences stimulated each other to create something they wouldn’t have come up with individually.

They all collaborated on songs. Each donated vocal harmonies, guitar lines and arrangements. They fed off each other, goaded each other, and, most importantly, had a great time. The result was a recording that was both casual – the songs seem invented on the spot – and unmistakably classic. I think that this is a great example of the creative process at work.

About 3D Eye

Gary Foskett and Clare Blackhall are educationalists, writers and consultants. We work with schools and other organisations who share our vision of how schools, businesses, etc should work in the 21st Century. We also run courses and contribute to conferences - speaking about our three dimensional model of intelligences and how schools, colleges and universities can develop the full potential of all their staff and students. We also offer consultancy for businesses and public sector organisations to support staff training and organisational change and development. For more detailed information read our blog at or see our website at
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4 Responses to The Creative Process. It’s a Spiritual Thing

  1. 3D Eye says:

    Thank you, Richard. I can also recommend to 3Di readers your piece on the secular meaning of ‘spiritual’ – “Spirit is experienced in the form of wisdom, compassion, integrity, joy, love, creativity and peace. Spirit runs spiritual intelligence.”


  2. SQ Institute says:

    I appreciate your article for highlighting that creativity is a form of spiritual intelligence. There’s another article about this topic here:


  3. 3D Eye says:

    Many thanks for this comment, ZM. This is a superb illustration of what happens when we go beyond normal or everyday performance and into “the zone”, and into what some call “flow” or “transcendence”. As you point out, we can all be creative in all sorts of circumstances, but when we find ourselves ‘in the zone’ then something special is likely to happen, without our willing it or controlling it, or necessarily feeling responsible for it. We’d love to hear about similar experiences from others who create in a variety of ways.


  4. Another insightful Blog Clare and / or Gary (wasn’t sure who authored this one). Oddly enough myself and my Musical m8’s have all found ourselves purchasing ukuleles so they’re always handy just like George did with his musical friends. We watched “Living in the Material World” the day it became available and became quite inspired from the interview where Tom Petty’s speaking about George’s automobile trunk full of ukuleles. George was right, you can never have to many ukuleles! My m8’s and I don’t always write songs but we do have fun with them every time we socialize. It has fostered abundant songs ideas that we’ve now started to record (The Documentary’s not very old).

    Throughout this series you’ve commented on the spirituality concept of creativity specifically music. This is something that most song writers (including my peer group) don’t ever leave the closet with and I’m grateful your concepts have included this as a major point of the information you’re passing along to others. That being said I am absolutely convinced, by way of skepticism, that some divine consciousness is pushing my pen, inserting melodies into my thought processes and providing rhythmic dictation at times when I write, compose and arrange. I can buy that it’s my “Higher self” and it’s just simply God, or the divine, whatever that may be, providing musical glitter, but clearly more than inspiring or musing me. It’s not myself, it is another consciousness somewhere, sometime, somehow. Channeling would be the proper word I reckon since I feel like a river passing water from point A to point B, it’s hard to describe without appearing daft or reducing oneself to a radio antenna.

    Not to say, and I mean this in as unpretentious way as I can illustrate, that I don’t write songs that come from inside and outside of myself on my own “self” and creative joo joo. I do! Many of them! However the times when it’s coming from elsewhere I’m very cognizant of the fact it’s from outside my ID, ego and super ego. Those times are magical! Those times create the finest songs of story and purpose in simple language that everyone can grasp a piece of and take it for themselves as the jewel it becomes to them. Those are the songs that you hear artists in interviews always say “I wrote the tune in 5 minutes, it just came like that.”

    As I get older and wiser I realize tapping into this spiritual aspect of creating music is where people like The Beatles, Tom Petty, Carol King, Kurt Cobain, Brian Wilson and Bob Dylan etc. likely exist when creating the art of music. Maybe that’s what songcrafters and wordsmiths should be learning how to do instead of or in addition to using mundane methods. How to tap into “that thing” is something that has changed my life, broken my fear, molded me into an independent thinking open mind that can commune with heaven by striking a chord and opening myself in every way I know of to the universe and giving salutations.


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