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