There have been periods of great creativity in the history of humankind. The Golden Age of Greece was a period of exploding creativity of all kinds—the emergence of democracy, of philosophy, of drama and the arts, science and architecture. Likewise during the Renaissance, following the Middle Ages. And then we think of our own history here in the United States, where from the early 1600s up through the 1800s, and beyond, there was a tremendous explosion of creativity of all kinds, and a sense of tremendous possibility for those who were coming from Europe, settling the continent.
What do all these periods have in common? What is it that calls forth tremendous creativity from an individual, from you or from me, or from any group of people? The answer is most obvious when we look at the settling of the United States of America. Europeans saw a continent spread out before them. Understanding all the ethical issues surrounding the treatment of the Native American peoples and Africans, nonetheless, in the eyes of Europeans who settled the United States, there was a vast, seemingly unlimited potential. So if you were willing to be adventuresome and strike out for the prairies, pursue gold in California, or go trapping and trading in the Rocky Mountains, the opportunity was seemingly limitless.
Actually the resources of the continent were not limitless. When Lewis and Clark returned from their incredible journey across the continent back in 1806, Jefferson estimated that it would take a hundred generations to settle America. In reality it took five generations. But it appeared to the people settling America that the resource was practically infinite.
Relatively speaking, the restraints on creativity were not present as they seemed to have been in the Old World, where restraints of government, culture, religion and property were inhibiting their pursuit of happiness. Here, the restraints to creativity seemed to be taken off, and therefore there was remarkable entrepreneurialism unleashed in the American spirit. There was also a remarkable creativity spiritually speaking. There was an explosion of religion of all kinds in the United States. So if we look across the spectrum of religion in America, all kinds of amazing paths were founded. As early as the 1730s there was a protestant religious revival, named the Great Awakening. America became a home for the Church of Latter Day Saints, the Quakers, Mennonites and much more.
The birth of Sunrise Ranch in 1945 occurred in the context of the religious freedom of America. Uranda, who founded Sunrise Ranch, celebrated the fact that we could do the work we do here in America in a way that might not be welcomed in other countries.
Today, much of America has been settled. So we are no longer in a period in which the option to go west, or to homestead, is so easily available. So what is the new frontier? Where do we see the field of creativity that is available to us that is without restraint?
There are those who promote the taking away of government stricture around enterprise. And the current White House is a proponent of the idea that if only we didn’t have all the government restriction that we have, we could again have unbridled entrepreneurialism. We could recall the creativity of our past and the spirit of America. We could make America great again because we could again rely on the industrialism, and perhaps even the agricultural domination of the continent, that we relied upon in the past.
Many Americans are suspicious of this approach. The resources of this continent are not infinite and must be respected. That became plainly evident when improper agricultural practices led to the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. The well-being of individuals matter, and so labor unions and labor laws were created to counterbalance the unrestrained exploitation of human resource. Developing the wealth of the United States on the backs of an enslaved people is morally abhorrent.
So today, there is an understanding from many that the unrestrained exploitation of the planet is not where we should turn to find the field of unrestrained creativity that should be ours today. The exploitation of other human beings is not where we should be turning. There are, rightly, restraints in both those fields.
Right here on Sunrise Ranch we had, as far as I knew, a perfectly good septic system. Ready for a little poop discussion? The EPA passed down lowered nitrogen levels that were allowable. Our estimate was that we didn’t meet those levels. So the State of Colorado, who was enforcing the EPA levels, required that we replace our old septic system. The whole matter was a little suspect to me, because I thought it was good to have nitrogen in the soil—we need that to grow things. We are looking to add nitrogen to the soil in our garden. But nonetheless, we accepted the law of the land, partly because it is the law, and then also just because we have a belief that while we did not quite understand where they were going with this one, there is a reason to have those kind of restrictions on how we can relate to the planet. So we are now building a magnificent poop processing structure to meet the new requirements.
To tell the rest of the story, we researched and researched to find a sustainable technology. Patrick Padden was promoting reed beds, but given the volume of poop being processed in a community of our size, it would have taken many acres. And it wouldn’t have functioned well during the cold Colorado winters. It didn’t seem reasonable to use reed-bed technology, and so we turned to what seemed to be the only solution we had. Every six months or so I would ask Michael Costello, “Isn’t there some other way we could do this?” And Michael would come back and say No, this is the only reasonable way to go.
And as it turns out, we have discovered that the water that comes out of our poop plant will be fit for swimming! Now, I won’t be swimming in it, but nonetheless it comes out that pure. And every one to three months, the solids have to be cleaned out of the structure, and they will be sanitary enough that we can spread them on our hayfields. And guess what those solids contain? Nitrogen! We are very close to obtaining a permit for doing that.
My point is that there are rightfully limits within which we function when it comes to our impact on our planet. And when we accept those limits, there is the possibility of a creative outcome.
The rape of the planet is not the area where there should be unmitigated “creativity.” According to some reports, we have lost close to a third of the species on the planet in recent years. We are already running into serious problems in terms of climate change and the rise of temperature.
Some say that exploration of space is where we should be looking. Star Trek dubbed space “the final frontier.” It was inspiring to send a man to the moon and it galvanized a nation, not only because the United States saw itself as being in competition with the Soviet Union but because it raised a sense of infinite possibility.
But is space really the new frontier? I suggest to you that it isn’t—that our tremendous creativity, if funneled in that direction, will end up leading to nothing, that it is a false promise, particularly if we don’t reconcile ourselves to the care of the planet on which we live.
So where, for you or for me and for us as a species, is the field that is opening to us, the field where we can apply ourselves without restraint and allow the tremendous creativity that’s within us to come out and show itself?
Reflect on Sunrise Ranch in this conversation. People come to the Ranch, and it appears to them that everything is in a certain order that perhaps they don’t fully understand, but it seems to working in a certain way, as if it’s always been happening that way and will always continue to do so. Often it seems that their contribution really doesn’t matter too much—that they are simply slotting into an unchanging reality. And please tell me where my place is on the org chart and what my job description is so I can fulfill my role.
What they do not see is that Sunrise Ranch is a fast-moving train; that it is in the middle of fantastic change; that if you came here two years ago you would know that today it’s radically different than it was even two years ago, and I suspect the same will be true in another two years. Truly, what’s happening at Sunrise Ranch is consequent upon the radical creativity of a few people who are applying great genius and passion to the area in which they are creating. And while we give people job descriptions and places on an org chart, mostly what we do is say, Go over there and create. We are encouraging them to find the unrestrained field for their own creativity. Of course, to really work, the person has to see how what they are creating is fitting within the organization and the culture and the entire creative project which is Sunrise Ranch. So this is not solely an individual creative effort. It is the tremendous creativity of people who are working together to create what is Sunrise Ranch, and the tremendous creativity of people here taking it into the future.
A visible demonstration of that is Gary Goodhue’s poetry. There is no poetry writing position on the org chart. He didn’t get a job description as a poetry writer at Sunrise Ranch. What actually happened for Gary was that he saw a vista of creativity as far as the eye can see. He looked out over the fruited plains of poetry and saw a vast wilderness of possibility and decided he was going to take his covered wagon into that field and see what could be created. What he has created is astounding to many of us, including a hundred or so Urantia Book followers in Denver last Friday night.
To the average person, the world looks like there are slots you can fit into. And if you find the right slot, you are happy. It might be an organizational slot, a family slot, or a community slot. But a life of great creativity is one in which the normal restraints that other people see somehow don’t apply to them, and they don’t stop them. They know what really matters is the creativity that is coming through them. They find a way to deal with the strictures of the world around them. They flow around those strictures, or go a different direction. Like water flowing downhill, they find their path. They are making it up as they go along, and they are enrolling other people in the creativity they are bringing. They are hugely entrepreneurial in whatever field they are in.
So what is the field of creativity that is open to our world today? What field invites the entrepreneurial spirit? The real frontier of creativity for us as humanity today has to do with the very core and heart of the human experience. It has to do with the working of human consciousness and the function of this species, humankind, as it provides an instrument for the expression of the creativity that is bottled up inside it.
There are Creation stories from around the world, including our own from the Judeo-Christian tradition, that speak of this creative intention. They speak of the intention that the creative genius that’s within the universe and is creating the universe could come consciously into the experience of a species on the planet and be operative through the conscious awareness of that species. As it was said, we are created to tend and keep the Garden. That is a lot different from raping the garden, which ultimately leads to self-destruction.
Looking at us as a species, we are apparently at a nexus point: a point where our very function as a species is at issue. At the very heart of that function is the core of experience we have as a human being. At issue is nothing less than what it means to be a human being. And therefore the field of unrestrained creativity that is open to us is in this field of the clear expression consciously of the creator-being that we are in our life experience. That has profound implications in the manifest world—it has implications for the poop plant at Sunrise Ranch and for all kinds of other things in the manifest world. At the very core of all that is happening in the human world—if you take it back, back and back from the outermost manifestation in physical form, back through the science and technology, back to the governance systems, back to the culture that creates them, back to the beliefs behind that culture—at the core of all that is the very core of the human experience. And it is the re-creation of that core experience, the rebirth of it for us individually and then us together as a species, that is the field of unrestrained creativity that is available to us.
I believe that unless that core experience changes, all the other efforts that we make as human beings do not change our direction as a species. Consider all the creative works that are being done in the world today. We can be grateful for all those efforts and celebrate the people who are carrying them forward. And yet, as you look at those activities that are perhaps charitable and well-meaning, that go to feeding the hungry and distributing health care and promoting technology and so on, here is the question that arises: Are those activities addressing the core issue that is present for us as humanity?
Consider something as noble as feeding the hungry. As noble as it is, if that is the only change that is occurring in the context of the crisis we are facing as a species, we may come to see it as palliative care. It alleviates some of the pain in the body of humanity. However, if wealth continues to be concentrated at the current rate, that palliative care can’t keep up with the concentration of resources for the benefit of a few. And why is wealth being concentrated in the unprecedented way that it is in the world today? There has to be some more substantial core change in the human experience to actually feed the hungry, to actually take care of that problem and do something more than palliative care for a few.
I don’t want to knock palliative care. If I am on my deathbed, and in need of palliative care, I sure hope someone comes and helps me out. But let’s not mistake palliative care for revitalizing health. When we look at the human experience, how much of what we’re doing ends up, in the larger context of our future, looking like palliative care that doesn’t address the core issue of the human experience driving us to do the things that we are doing that are not creative?
We have an opportunity for unrestrained creativity in our own conscious experience, in what pours through our own experience of heart and mind. Whatever else is happening in our human experience, coming back to that outpouring of creativity is job one. However it happens, wherever it goes, however much money you’re making from it or not, what really matters in the end, more than anything, is the outpouring of your creativity through your consciousness so that you are having new awarenesses, new ideas, new feelings, new ways of relating to other people, more emotional and spiritual intelligence about your life, and more powerful creativity coming through you at all levels. In the end, that is the game changer. It is for the individual and it is for humanity.
Nobody can stop you from letting that happen for yourself. You can take your covered wagons out into that field any day of the week and in anything you’re doing. No matter how trivial it might seem to be, it matters, if your unrestrained creativity is coming into your world, because you are changing human experience, starting with the most immediate field of creativity where nobody can tell you that you can’t do it. Government restrictions can’t stop you. The EPA is not going to be after you.
This is the first field for unrestrained creativity for the individual—the personal expression and embodiment of one’s own creative spirit. Here is field number two. We live together with other human beings, in families and communities and networks of people, in organizations and nations. So we have a great cultural experience to experiment with. We have the opportunity to come together with other people who are doing the individual experiment and experiment together, creating a culture that is radically different from the culture in which we are living. Does anybody disagree that we need a radically different culture? It seems like every day there are overt lies being proliferated and an almost constant offloading of responsibility—disempowerment of the individual constantly in all kinds of subtle and not-so-subtle ways.
So, as we enter the field that welcomes unrestrained individual creativity, we are also engaging in a cultural experiment. We are sharing greater genius, greater creativity, and greater love. Are you up for that? What else would we be doing other than create new culture that’s based on the great burst of creativity in the individual experience? All to express and embody the creator-being that we are individually and that we are in a bigger way, together, consciously thinking and feeling and acting and spreading the energy of creation through the human form.
When we are involved in this great experiment, at some point along the way we can reflect on our own experience and become aware of what has changed: I am different. I am not who I was. There is something more of who I am that has come forth into awareness, which is now operative as me. It’s rather hard to reflect on self-awareness. But nonetheless, we can notice that how we are being in our flesh, how we are thinking and feeling and operating, isn’t the same as it was. And then, in the cultural context in which we live, as we interact with other people, we realize we are not having the same experience as everybody else—that we’re having a new experience that isn’t subject to the same kinds of expectations and norms and restrictions and triggers that the people around us are subject to. In fact, we have inherited powers that the people around us don’t have—powers of innovation and ingenuity, powers of creative spiritual influence, essentially the power of love in expression, the power to uplift in subtle and sometimes obvious ways, the power to allow conscious shifts to occur in other people and in groups of people.
We realize that we are changing, we are different, and we are not done. But there is something happening in our human experience that is happening for us, and then it’s happening in the consciousness of people with whom we are sharing our experience. At some point in that shift, we become more identified with the emerging reality of the Creator that we are than with all the human feelings that resist that emergence and that are stuck in an old state of consciousness and in an old culture. We are consciously and deliberately part of the bringing of new consciousness. We are bringing it to the people around us and we are bringing it to ourselves.
That is spiritual maturity. The person has crossed over to the point where they are consciously and deliberately bringing the influence of the Creator into their world. They are not waiting for somebody else to do it; they are not waiting to find it outside themselves. They are conscious influencers. Anyone who is of adult age can cross that threshold. Anyone can come to that place in themselves where they are a conscious expression of the creator that they are. When that happens, what’s happening in the culture that we share accelerates and changes, because the old culture is no longer restricting what’s happening. There’s an open field of creation in the culture that we share together.
That’s what I want to be about with anybody else who wants to be about it.