Sunday, April 29, 2007

Zen and Now

One of the many books decorating my end table this week is called The Zen of Creativity: Cultivating Your Artistic Life: by John Daido Loori. A photographer and a Buddhist teacher, author John Daido Loori is also the founder and abbot of New York State's Zen Mountain Monastery. Loori's book offers many useful insights into meditation as a starting point for the act of creation. I highly recommend this text to any artist who seeks to broaden his or her craft by delving deeper into the psyche of the artist as a seeker of "first thoughts" - as Natalie Goldberg might phrase it (author of Writing Down the Bones). Loori brings to the forefront the need to center yourself as a photographer or writer, and then approach your subject matter by letting the subject "speak" to you, even if the subject happens to be a rock or a tree. He suggests that if you honor the subject by sitting with the ocean or the sky, and wait for the right moment or light of day to capture an aspect of the subject's essence, then you will be creating from a different level than you would otherwise. This is truly an inspiring book and one which has changed my current writing practice. I always sink into a state of intense focus when writing, so this philosophy makes sense to me. I have found that the technique of finding a connection with the subject first, before diving into the act of creation can result in the Muse knowingly and willingly stepping into your frame and lending a hand. Give it a try and better yet, read this book!

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