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The Zen of Creativity: Cultivating Your Artistic Life Paperback – May 31, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (May 31, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345466330
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345466334
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #233,898 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Everyone's creative, right? In the post-New Age twenty-first century, isn't it insulting to think otherwise? Now even readers who've wrung their hands over their elusive inner artist can take heart as Buddhist teacher Loori, founder and abbot of New York State's Zen Mountain Monastery, uses ancient practices to jump-start those life-enriching creative energies. The author's Zen journey, initiated by a class with photographer Minor White and his "One Hand Clapping" exhibit, led to a new way of seeing. As Loori relearned visual language in an attempt to "photograph who you really are," he embarked on an admittedly crooked path to the mystical tradition of Zen and a deeper understanding of art. He uses anecdote, exercises, and visual tools to illustrate the tenet that Zen arts live in people; that the making of a poem or calligraphy, or the performing of the tea ceremony, can and does shift a whole being. Loori's handsome and practical book will find crossover audiences from self-helpers and artists of all stripes. Whitney Scott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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It also offers quite practical exercises to enrich one's creative experience.
W. Sudduth
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.
Verita
This book is well worth reading for anyone who would like to understand the creative act, even if they do not follow the practice of Zen.
David B Richman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

84 of 87 people found the following review helpful By Verita VINE VOICE on June 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book is a change of pace of artistic method. Precise and evocative, it's more like a cool drink of water on a quiet country afternoon, than the usual, breathless books on creativity that push you to produce, produce, produce. Here the focus is not on squeezing your mind for ideas, but on the quiet observation of oneself and life, and the exact origin of those mysteries we call inspiration, block, connection, as well as exercises to encourage us to trust our inspirations and see through the places we are blocked. It's about trusting yourself rather than about pushing for ideas.
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.
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53 of 55 people found the following review helpful By David B Richman on December 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful book. My older daughter gave me a copy for Christmas and I have been reading it with rapt attention (a good Buddhist word!) John Daido Loori, who was at one time a physical chemist and is now a Zen priest, shares with us his innermost thoughts on what creativity means to a practitioner of Zen, as well as to himself as a photographer and artist. Indeed, it means a lot! The attention given to seemingly simple tasks is the stuff of the best science, the best art and the best of religion. This book is well worth reading for anyone who would like to understand the creative act, even if they do not follow the practice of Zen. Indeed, "The Zen of Creativity" is a well prepared, but sensible, literary meal to be savored with each page.

The chapters are punctuated with quotations from the writings of Suzuki, Thoreau, Koestler, Emerson, Rilke, Dogen, Da Vinci, Gaugain, T. S. Eliot, Whitman and Einstein. Each has been well selected and fits with Loori's prose. The book is written with both seriousness and good humor. While I cannot agree with everything Loori writes (I find his one astrological encounter a bit odd, but than he never explains it as anything other than a strange prediction that somehow came true- I suspect that this had more to do with the astrologers shrewd judgment of personality than the alignment of the stars) I find myself agreeing with over 90 percent of it. He has a way of touching the essential points that I find refreshing in this troubled time. If only religion was always approached in such a reasonable way, we might not be in our current predicament!

If you are interested in art, photography, poetry, or Buddhism, or just in getting a fresh perspective on these subjects, this is a book you really should read.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By W. Sudduth on August 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I'm amazed. The Zen of Creativity is a wonderful story about the journey of reknowned Zen Master John Daido Loori into creativity. Told in Mr. Loori's inimicable and engaging voice, it relates touching and often humorous stories from his life. It also offers quite practical exercises to enrich one's creative experience. In short, a must-read for anyone actively pursuing a creative life or simply interested in the subject. Grade A.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By E. Alojzi Szolis on August 26, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I must say that this book spoke to me on a very deep level. I read a couple of lines from it while browsing and was stopped cold. In those few words Mr Loori had summed up much of what my life was about. This touched me so profoundly that I knew the book was for me, tears actually began to well in my eyes. One does not merely read this book, one enters it, as a practice, as a journey, one of great personal discovery. In a section titled "Jeweled Mirror" the author covers feedback groups and how to view art, not from the standpoint of criticism, but from the feelings evoked. He has a photograph and instruction for quieting the mind and viewing the image in a specific way. It is an amazing exercise! This book opens ones eyes to more than creative possibilities, but to deep personal insights as well. You cannot enter it and leave unchanged, unless you are already a Buddha.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Giuseppe Cavallo on July 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
The Zen of Creativity is not only an artist's guide to enhance your creativity. It is also a journey into the Zen philosophy with the guidance of a great master. In reading the book you will be encouraged to find the reason why you take a camera and choose to shoot a certain subject. After reading the book you will probably start looking inside yourself before releasing the shutter.
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