the heart of creativity


John Daido Loori: Think Non Thinking

John Daido Loori, Roshi, Think Non-thinking, 2000
Sumi-e on paper

The still point is at the heart of the creative process.  In Zen, we access it through zazen.  The still point is like the eye of the hurricane.  Still, calm, even in the midst of chaos.  It is not, as many believe, a void to retreat into, shutting out the world.  To be still means to empty yourself from the incessant flow of thoughts and create a state of consciousness that is open and receptive.  Stillness is very natural and uncomplicated.  It’s not esoteric in any way.  Yet it’s incredibly profound.

. . .

“I find myself agitated most of the time,” said a young man, so it’s difficult for me to sit. What would you suggest I do?”

Eido [Shimano] reached for the pitcher of water that was sitting next to him.  He lifted it with a swift jerk, causing water to spill.  “What can I do?”  Then he jerked the pitcher to the right.  Again water spilled. “I don’t know what is happening.”  Again to the left.  “I can’t settle down.”  Again to the right.  Suddenly he held the pitcher high above his head and in a deep voice shouted, “TIME TO SHUT UP AND SIT!” and slammed the pitcher on the floor.  He reared back, stared at the pitcher, pointed at it, turned to the audience, and said, “Look, it’s still.”  Again he folded his hands, lowered his eyes, and became silent.

John Daido Loori, Roshi

Source – both of these passages come from The Zen of Creativity: Cultivating Your Artistic Life by John Daido Loori, Roshi

5 thoughts on “the heart of creativity

  1. Wonderful quotes and the painting is amazing as well.

    I revisited Loori Roshi’s book, “The Zen of Creativity” after you reminded me of how remarkable it is.

    Thanks for posting.



  2. Thanks for stopping by Luke – and for leaving a comment.

    Yes, The Zen of Creativity is a treasure – one of the permanent residents on my bedside table!

    I’ve just been over to your blog Luke – what a delight! The rest of the day can confidently be written off …

    Love –

    miriam louisa

  3. I second what Luke has said and it is wonderful to revisit this classic.
    Many thanks Miriam.

    Warm wishes

  4. ah, that still point. i have a south node Virgo, which means that my instinctual reaction to life is to take care of the details, to become swamped by the details. to move into the still point is a daily work for me. i thought i had gone far, until a new phase of life opened up. now, again, i am tested to find the still point again.

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