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 systemati 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 selfawareness and expression—and to restore equanimity and freedom amid the vicissitudes of our lives.From the Hardcover edition.
According to Zen teaching, everything in the universe exists interdependently, so valuing the welfare of one being over another, or of humans over the planet, makes no sense at all. This teaching, which can empower us to care passionately about the earth and its future, is not only a Zen principle, it's something that comes up for anyone who carefully investigates the nature of reality. It's a lesson found everywhere we look in nature. And the idea is also found in writings by figures as diverse as Lao Tzu, Walt Whitman, Hermann Hesse, and Henry David Thoreau. John Daido Loori reveals the underlying environmental ethic animating these teachings and shows how it can be a wellspring for our appreciation of the earth in the new millennium.
In this treasury of Zen wisdom based on his talks, the abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery in Mt. Tremper, New York, explores the eight areas of study that are the focus for training in his community: meditation, study with the teacher, liturgy, art practice, body practice, the study of scriptures, work practice, and the moral and ethical teachings. John Daido Loori also covers such topics as koans, the martial arts, and illness and healing, and he makes intriguing observations about the spirit and requirements of Zen in America.
"Maps and guideposts are helpful when we undertake a journey. The ten Ox-Herding Pictures, the accompanying ancient poems, and a modern commentary by John Daido Loori, sketch the spiritual path encountered in Zen training, a path of exhaustive study of the self and the realization of the ultimate nature of reality. The Ox-Herding Pictures can be our companion on the Way of self-discovery, our compass and perspective when we need one. They are a bottomless source of mysterious wisdom to which we can return again and again for inspiration, and they translate easily into the gritty reality of spiritual practice that emerges from and grounds us in the inescapable relevance of our daily lives.
There is a common misconception that to practice Zen is to practice meditation and nothing else. In truth, traditionally, the practice of meditation goes hand-in-hand with moral conduct. In Invoking Reality, John Daido Loori, one of the leading Zen teachers in America today, presents and explains the ethical precepts of Zen as essential aspects of Zen training and development.
The Buddhist teachings on morality--the precepts--predate Zen, going all the way back to the Buddha himself. They describe, in essence, how a buddha, or awakened person, lives his or her life in the world.
Loori provides a modern interpretation of the precepts and discusses the ethical significance of these vows as guidelines for living. "Zen is a practice that takes place within the world," he says, "based on moral and ethical teachings that have been handed down from generation to generation." In his view, the Buddhist precepts form one of the most vital areas of spiritual practice.
This accessible introduction to the philosophy and practice of Zen Buddhism includes a program of study that encompasses practically every aspect of life. The American Zen teacher John Daido Loori shows us that Zen practice should include not only meditation, the study of Zen literature and liturgy, and moral and ethical action, but should also manifest in work, artistic, and everyday activities. The Eight Gates are:
Zazen, a type of meditation described as "sitting Zen"
Face-to-face meetings between teacher and student
Academic study of the sutras related to Zen training, other schools of Buddhism, Buddhist history, psychology, and philosophy
Zen rites and rituals and their meaning
The moral and ethical requirements set in the Buddhist Precepts
Art practice as an extension of Zen practice
Body practice as an extension of Zen practice
Work as an active function of zazen
Beautifully illustrated with Loori's own photographs, this edition also includes a new introduction and an updated reading list.
Zen rituals--such as chanting, bowing, lighting incense before the Buddha statue--are ways of recognizing the sacredness in all of life. A ritual is simply a deliberate and focused moment that symbolizes the care with which we should be approaching all of life, and practicing the Zen liturgy is a way of cultivating this quality of attention in order to bring it to everything we do. Here, John Daido Loori demystifies the details of the Zen rituals and highlights their deeper meaning and purpose. We humans are all creatures of ritual, he teaches, whether we recognize it or not. Even if we don't make ritual part of some religious observance, we still fall into ritual behavior, whether it be our daily grooming sequence or the way we have our morning coffee and paper. We run through our personal rituals unconsciously most of the time, but there is great value to introducing meaningful symbolic rituals into our lives and to performing them deliberately and mindfully--because the way we do ritual affects the way we live the rest of our lives. The book includes instructions for a simple Zen home liturgy, as it is practiced by students of the Mountains and Rivers Order of Zen.
A collection of three hundred koans compiled by Eihei Dogen, the thirteenth-century founder of Soto Zen in Japan, this book presents readers with a uniquely contemporary perspective on his profound teachings and their relevance for modern Western practitioners of Zen. Following the traditional format for koan collections, John Daido Loori Roshi, an American Zen master, has added his own commentary and accompanying verse for each of Dogen's koans. Zen students and scholars will find The True Dharma Eye to be a source of deep insight into the mind of one of the world's greatest religious thinkers, as well as the practice of koan study itself.