Was planning on going to the Zen Mountain Monastery for a month of art and meditation with John Daido Loori next summer when I got a Tweet that he was retiring. A selfish thought popped up at once, “Could he not wait for another year? He cannot be that old!”. Then I read that he had a few days left to live and now an email (very glad I did not get that news as a Tweet!) from Dosho saying Daido Loori passed away.
I never knew him but in my heart of hearts he’s been one my teachers. I read “The Zen of Creativity” when I knew little of Zen and had a very solid idea of what art was about and that I was never in it. Daido Loori showed me that art could be a doorway to serious and transformative spiritual practice, no matter whether we call ourselves an artist or not. It is not a level of technical skill or originality that matters but how intimate we become with the subject, like in his work The Tao of Water . In order to do that we have to learn to develop a new, dynamic seeing (with the whole body and mind) and become unhindered by our own ideas and attitudes.
I never knew Daido Loori personally but I am grateful I have come to know about him and his life. That alone had an impact on my seeing and perceiving. Another thought that came was, “Well, what do I do now?”. I guess I will just keep practicing dynamic seeing and relaxing into the creative process moment after moment, day after day.
My heart goes to all those who knew John Daido Loori and whose lives he touched.