zen & creativity

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  • Zen & Creativity

    Cultivating Open Awareness

  • Where do great ideas come from?

    Often out of nowhere

    In the shower While exercising While relaxing

    Archimedes - Eureka!

    Newtons Apple

  • Where do great ideas come from?

    But also from intense, focused activity

    Related to the desired objective

    Or even unrelated

  • Flow - Zone - Zen

    Flow, also known as the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does.

  • Components of Flow

    Intense and focused concentration on the present


    Merging of action and awareness

    A loss of reflective self-consciousness

  • Components of Flow

    A sense of personal control or agency over the situation

    or activity

    A distortion of temporal experience, one's subjective

    experience of time is altered

    Experience of the activity as intrinsically rewarding

  • Can we cultivate Flow?

  • Zen practice is highly relevant

    Being intensely aware, focused, but more importantly

    No subject/object separation - I/Me is removed.

    How to build that type of awareness and focus?

    Meditation and awareness practices - the Zen Arts

  • My Meetup Intro

    "Randy is a Business Analyst at work and a Zen Chaplain in his spare time. In other words, he goes back and forth between full-blown analytical mode and "letting go of thoughts".

  • My Analytical Bio

    BS in Physics, MBA (Quant. Analysis) Naval Officer (Nuclear Engineer) Engineer in defense industry IT manager, 10 years in Europe Career break for 7 years

    No visually creative talent! (have you seen my slides?)

  • My Zen Credentials

    Meditator since late 70s

    Formal Zen training from 2003

    Ordained in Soto Zen tradition

    Silent Thunder Order

    Shukke Tokudo 2013

  • What is Zen?

  • What Zen is Not

    A Theology

    System of Metaphysics

    A hippy excuse to zone out


  • The name says it all...









  • Zen is a Practice

  • Zen Patriarchs - Bodhidharma and Dogen

  • Eihei Dogen - founder of Soto Zen

    To study the Way is to study the self.

    To study the self is to forget the self.

    To study the self is to be enlightened by the ten thousand things

  • Sound a little familiar?

    Lets parse it out and see...

  • Study the self

    Study the person - what are their wants, needs, pain

    points, and behaviors?

    Understand how they relate to and interact with the


    Maybe develop a persona!

  • Forget the self

    Remove the subjectivity.

    Realize that there is no self independent of


    Once we have studied and see ourselves clearly, we can

    observe objectively.

  • be Enlightened by the ten thousand things

    Idiom for everything.

    Basically, if we remove our filters and biases, whats left

    is reality, truth.

    Data driven research!

  • Don Norman

    Author of The Design of Everyday Things and co-founder of the Nielsen Norman Group

    Its Everything


  • Focused Awareness

  • The Traditional Zen Arts

    Chado - the way of Tea

    Shodo - the way of the Brush

    Kado - the way of the Flower

    Kyudo - the way of the Bow

    Haiku - live words

  • Shodo Examples

    When the self disappears, the brush paints by itself the poem writes itself. There is no longer a gap between artist, subject, audience, and life.

    John Daido Loori - Abbot MRO.

  • EnsSymbolizes absolute

    enlightenment, strength, elegance, the universe, and mu

    (the void).

  • A Han with Enso Calligraphy

  • Haiku - a Personal Example

    Traditional Haiku adhere to 3 key principles:

    17 Syllables in three phrases of 5, 7, and 5 (this is the one most

    Americans know)

    A seasonal reference (most dont know)

    The essence of haiku - the cutting word - which often represents the

    juxtaposition of two images or ideas.

  • Haiku - a Personal Example

    Spring in a new land

    A teacher plants learning seeds

    Duncan now blossoms

    Written at the end of the school year

    when we had first moved our son to

    the USA from Europe. in appreciation

    for the huge impact his teacher had

    on his transition.

  • They dont exist for the sole purpose of creating a work of art, but they are

    rather a method for opening the creative process.

    D. T. Suzuki

  • Zen Arts Extended ...

    But really, is the art of Process

    Zen and the Art of

    Archery (Herrigel)

    Motorcycle Maintenance (Pirsig)

    Anything and everything, really, even the mundane...

  • Chado - the way of Tea

  • Practice: Direct Experience

    The tea ceremony in Zen involves experiencing a cup of tea, but an important part of the ritual takes place at the end of the ceremony, when the tea master brings out all of the implements used for the guests to examine and appreciate. The tea bowl is presented as a unique work of art, without peer. It is examined by the guest both visually and tactilely.

  • Practice: Direct Experience

    See for yourself if it is possible for you to take up an ordinary teacup and just experience its physical existence, without naming, analyzing, judging, or evaluating it. Just feel it. See it. Through it. Experience it without the mind moving. When you find your mind moving, acknowledge the thought, let it go, and come back to the cup in the same way that in zazen, you let it go and come back to the breath.

  • John Daido Loori - Abbot and founder of Mountains and Rivers Order

    Single-pointed concentration develops our intuition. We become more directly aware of the world. We notice in ways that are not clearly understood, but are very accurate.

  • How to Meditate?

    Think Non Thinking

  • 5 Minute Guided Meditation

    The basics of Zazen:

    Body / Breath / Mind

    5 Minutes Now

    Instructions for home: https://zmm.mro.org/teachings/meditation-instructions/


  • Practice: Meditation

    Set aside some time on a regular basis, daily is great, but whatever you can manage. Start with short periods, even just a few minutes. Use one of the many online guided meditations or instructions.

    Dont just do something - sit there!

  • This is really hard to do

    But it gets easier, with practice

  • Process is Meaningful

  • Creativity as Process

  • Perform a ritual until it becomes empty of meaning.

    Then, fill the ritual with your own understanding.

    Zenkai Taiun Michael Elliston - Abbot of the Silent Thunder Order

  • Setting Up my Desktop

  • The Problem

    I need to set up my desktop every day.

    Same apps, same screen layouts.

    Tedious, repetitive, no value add.

    For me, not the same as a craftsman laying out tools.

  • The Solution - I wrote a script to automate my morning desktop setup

  • I created a Github account! Does that make me a developer?

  • The Solution

    Effective and Efficient - it takes less time and is


    I can modify my script as needed.

    It is elegant - I am pleased every time I use it.

  • Practice: Caretaking

    Create a simple practice for yourself using some routine task that you do every day, such as washing the dishes, sweeping the floor, or making the bed. Make an agreement with yourself to perform this task with total awareness. When you wash the dishes, just wash the dishes. As Thich Nhat Hanh said, You can wash the dishes in order to have clean dishes, or you can wash the dishes to wash the dishes.

  • Practice: Caretaking

    The same is true of any other task that we do almost mindlessly. Try bringing to it a mindfulness that is not critical, evaluating, or analytical, but focused simply on being present in the moment.

  • Milton Glaser - designer of the famous I NY logo

    Were always looking, but we never really see its the act of attention that allows you to really grasp something, to become fully conscious of it.

  • ryki(vessel that contains) just enough

  • ryki

    Eating utensils for the personal use of Buddhist monks, ryki also refers to a meditative form of eating using these utensils that originated in Japan and emphasizes mindfulness awareness practice by abiding to a strict order of precise movements.

    Along with the robe, the bowl itself is considered a symbol of transmission from teacher to student.

  • The Problem

    How to serve food to many efficiently.

    Medieval sanitation.

    Support mindful awareness practice in silence.

    The first two are very common requirements, but the third

    makes all the difference.

  • ryki Demonstration

  • The Solution

    Effective and Efficient.

    Innovative, then and now.

    Actively in use for seven hundred years.

    Most importantly, it not only consistent with awaren