The Zen of Creativity
Cultivating Your Artistic Life
By John Daido Loori
(Ballantine Books, Paperback, 9780345466334, 272pp.)
Publication Date: May 31, 2005
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
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For many of us, the return of Zen conjures up images of rock gardens and gently flowing waterfalls. We think of mindfulness and meditation, immersion in a state of being where meaning is found through simplicity. Zen lore has been absorbed by Western practitioners and pop culture alike, yet there is a specific area of this ancient tradition that hasn’t been fully explored in the West. Now, in The Zen of Creativity, American Zen master John Daido Loori presents a book that taps the principles of the Zen arts and aesthetic as a means to unlock creativity and find freedom in the various dimensions of our existence. Loori dissolves the barriers between art and spirituality, opening up the possibility of meeting life with spontaneity, grace, and peace.
Zen Buddhism is steeped in the arts. In spiritual ways, calligraphy, poetry, painting, the tea ceremony, and flower arranging can point us toward our essential, boundless nature. Brilliantly interpreting the teachings of the artless arts, Loori illuminates various elements that awaken our creativity, among them still point, the center of each moment that focuses on the tranquility within; simplicity, in which the creative process is uncluttered and unlimited, like a cloudless sky; spontaneity, a way to navigate through life without preconceptions, with a freshness in which everything becomes new; mystery, a sense of trust in the unknown; creative feedback, the systematic use of an audience to receive noncritical input about our art; art koans, exercises based on paradoxical questions that can be resolved only through artistic expression. Loori shows how these elements interpenetrate and function not only in art, but in all our endeavors.
Beautifully illustrated and punctuated with poems and reflections from Loori’s own spiritual journey, The Zen of Creativity presents a multilayered, bottomless source of insight into our creativity. Appealing equally to spiritual seekers, artists, and veteran Buddhist practitioners, this book is perfect for those wishing to discover new means of self-awareness and expression—and to restore equanimity and freedom amid the vicissitudes of our lives.
John Daido Loori is one of the most well-known and respected Zen teachers in the United States. He is a successor of the late Taizan Maezumi Roshi and has received transmission in both Soto and Rinzai lineages of Zen. He is the author of numerous books, including Mountain Record of Zen Talks, Making Love with Light, and Riding the Ox Home: Stages on the Path of Enlightenment.
“A well-written, wise, insightful book on creativity and Zen, a subject made all the more intriguing and persuasive by Daido Loori’s long experience as a student and teacher in both. The text is enhanced by fine Zen dialogues and stories, poems, koan, photographs, and illustrations as well as apt, stimulating quotations from many writers and Zen teachers. An altogether excellent book.”
—PETER MATTHIESSEN (Muryo Roshi)
“Zen is the immediate suchness and spontaneity of life, a creativity that is art itself. John Daido Loori, one of the truly great American Zen masters, has given us a simple yet profound guide to art, creativity, and life itself—for they all spring from the same source, the same ordinary magic of this and every moment. The Zen of Creativity is a rare, elegant, beautiful book, highly recommended.”
—KEN WILBER, author of A Brief History of Everything