cover image THE ZEN OF CREATIVITY: Cultivating Your Artistic Life

THE ZEN OF CREATIVITY: Cultivating Your Artistic Life

John Daido Loori, Author . Ballantine $25.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-345-46201-5

"Naturalness, spontaneity, and playfulness are all aspects of the ordinary mind that catches a glimpse of the world of things just as they are," writes Loori, the founder and abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery, in the Catskill Mountains. Loori, who was once a research scientist, had his first taste of what he describes during a weekend workshop decades ago with the great photographer Minor White. Thanks to the guidance of White, Loori's love of photography became a lens that allowed him to glimpse what it might mean to really awaken. Zen training followed, first with the Japanese Zen master and artist Soen Nakagawa and finally with Maezumi Roshi. In 1980, Loori established the Zen Arts Center in Mount Tremper, N.Y., which soon became a monastery offering formal Zen training. Through exercises, anecdotes and illustrations of his own work and the work of others, he illuminates how in Zen the seemingly different pursuits of awakening and creative expression are actually kindred, even twins. The real aim of artistic expression is to point the way to the truth, Loori shows. True originality can arise only from having a real contact with our origins, with the ground of our being—and this is the aim of Zen practice. "Give yourself permission to be yourself, and don't be frightened by the unknown," writes Loori, and here he is writing of creativity, of Zen and of life itself. Loori offers a superb overview of the spirit and meaning of the Zen arts. More than that, he has created a fresh and persuasive (for he obviously practices what he preaches) guide to the art of waking up to the beauty and mystery of our own lives. Illus. Author tour. (June)