Matthew Anderson B.A., M.Div., D.Min. is a Life Coach, artist and writer of over 40 years. He is in the fourth year of a 33 year plan to live to 100+. His new book The Resurrection of Romance: How to create and sustain a world class romantic relationship that lasts a lifetime is available on Kindle books.
Here is an interview with him on his creative influences.
TRM: What were your favourite texts growing up?
MA: My favourite texts growing up were a combination of biographies and spiritually related books. I loved reading about heroes of early America like Kit Carson, Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone and Jim Bowie. Then as I grew into my late teens I began to read heavier works by author such as Dietrich Bonheoffer and Paul Tillich. My favorite book at that time was Bonheoffer’s The Cost of Discipleship. I was deeply impressed and inspired by his commitment to his faith and the fact that it led to his martyrdom at the end of WWII. Then in my early 20s I began to read Herman Hesse and was most moved by Siddhartha. Around my 25th year I was introduced to Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda. It opened my mind to alternate realities and meaningful spirituality outside my own very cloistered childhood. (I was raised a Southern Baptist in the American South).
What texts do you keep coming back to and why?
I frequently come back to Yogananda and Hesse but only rarely to Bonheoffer. Yes I did grow up being very influenced by the Christian Bible. I was the religious context that I lived, played and worked in from birth and yes I did go to seminary and get ordained at 25 as a Christian minister. But life (and God) seemed to want me to expand beyond that and I moved on to a more liberal denomination and then left the church entirely.
My religious background was highly influential in my creative process in a somewhat strange way. Baptist churches, in the 50s and 60s and even now, have almost no art. They remain in an opposition to Catholicism and dropped all forms of artistic expression (except music) from worship and church construction. My home church was rather large with about 3000 members and we had a very large church with a substantial educational building attached. Not one wall space contained a picture or work of art. The walls were blank, empty and void of energy. I came to hate the colorless walls and the lack of creative energy. I am certain that this creative void had quite a lot to do with my immense need to self-express in every way I could imagine. This has included making significant changes in lifestyle, living in 7 different states across the USA, writing books, changing professions to Life Coach, doing fine art photography and studying Jungian psychology in great depth.
Are there texts that relate to your life?
I have a bookcase in my office with about 200 books that have the most meaning to me. They range from Jungian psychology to Buddhism, to an extensive collection of Rumi’s poetry and then to the poetry of contemporary poet David Whyte and finally to philosopher Ken Wilber, theologian Matthew Fox and finally a set of personal journals I have kept since I was 25.
Are there any artists and texts that influence you creatively?
Nikos Kazantzakis (Zorba the Greek and The Last Temptation of Christ), Herman Hesse, Carl Jung and of course Michelangelo, and especially Rumi. Rumi remains the major spiritual resource for me and in many ways is also a creative inspiration. His Mathnawi was over 64,000 lines and his life was a magnificent creation of what Sufis call a True Human Being.
Are there any quotes or other words of wisdom you find helpful for your practice?
There are many, many quotes that inspire me. Here are just a couple that I love and often share with clients and friends.
“Come. Whoever you are. Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving. Come. This is not a caravan of despair. It doesn’t matter if you have broken your vow a thousand times, still come and yet again come.” – Rumi
“Christian, Jew, Muslim, shaman, Zoroastrian, stone, ground, mountain, river, each has a secret way of being with the Mystery, unique and not to be judged.” – Rumi
“Don’t be humble with fools and don’t take pride into the presence of a master.” – Rumi
“Prayer is an egg. Hatch out the total helplessness inside.” – Rumi
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back.
Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.
A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance,
which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.
Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” – Goethe