- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1 edition (May 31 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0345466330
- ISBN-13: 978-0345466334
- Product Dimensions: 18.8 x 1.5 x 23.1 cm
- Shipping Weight: 499 g
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #94,643 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Zen of Creativity: Cultivating Your Artistic Life Paperback – May 31 2005
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“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
From the Hardcover edition.
From the Inside Flap
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 ourendeavors.
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.
"From the Hardcover edition.See all Product description
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All the pushing--it's as if to say that you can be creative and not necessarily have it change the rest of your life. There is the problem of the artist or writer who drinks or uses drugs, perhaps to avoid confronting the need for change. This book is holistic: "...make a choice about what's important, and... let go of all the rest," Loori says (p. 154) in the section about simplicity. When you think about all the pressures that keep us from our creative selves, all the things we think we need that cost time and money, create worries that disturb our minds and block our creative output or influence our work for the worse, when the real problem requires that we go deeper and identify the changes we need to make, even begin to make them with Loori's gentle and persuasive support. You will sense him there, offering himself as guide, and offering his experiences of raising a family, changing career from scientist to photographer to Zen master, founding a monastery where thousands of people have gone for retreats on Zen and Zen arts.
A work of art itself, The Zen of Creativity also has beautiful black and white illustrations that are used as examples. If you are willing to slow down and take a close look at your mind and at your artistic process, then I think you will really enjoy this book.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I once owned two copies of Mozart's concerto for flute and orchestra No 1 (K313). One version had perfect technique and the passages were as smooth as cream, but it left me unmoved. I gave it away. The recording I kept has a rough texture in places, but it dances with joy. It demonstrates the essence of what Loori is talking about.
"The Zen of Creativity" is not just a play on the word "zen." It IS zen. Neither does it mimic the popular format of "Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance" as so many other authors have done. Loori draws the reader into the very nature of the creative process itself, giving far less importance to technical skills. In fact, if you are looking for ways to improve your artistic competence, you will need to look further afield. Loori's focus is on making a work of art real rather than on making it commercial. His quote from Leonardo Da Vinci is apt; "Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art."
There are many useful books on art techniques out now that teach how to apply your art medium in a skilful way. But none of these provide what "The Zen of Creativity" does in helping the artist recreate the essence of what he or she sees.
If "The Zen of Creativity" seems too great a leap into the philosophy of art, a simple introduction to these concepts can be found in a book produced by the Society of Layerists in Multi-Media (SLMM.) It is "The Art of Layering: Making Connection." Short excerpts from the book are available on their website. For photographers, "The Tao of Photography" by Tom Ang has much the same philosophy of putting heart into one's art.
And if you really want to stretch your creative mind; add Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit: Learn It And Use It For Life, and Stephen Nachmanovitch's Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art.
These three books, in my humble opinion, make up the definitive library on developing one's creativity.