Seeing forms with the whole body and mind,
hearing sounds with the whole body and mind,
one understands them intimately.

– Ehei Dogen


By definition, “intimately” means that there is no separation. To “be intimate” means to be the thing itself.

In intimacy there is no internal dialogue letting you know that you are sitting well or not sitting well, constantly evaluating, comparing, analyzing, judging. The witness disappears–there is no body, no mind, no self, no other. No subject or even object of your attention exists. When you are the thing itself, it pervades the whole universe. When the thing itself pervades the whole universe, the reference system that we use to evaluate, analyze, judge, understand, and know is gone.


John Daido Loori, Floating Rocks

Floating Rocks
16 x 20cms, Fujix Print


Painter, brush, canvas, image, subject–they are not many. The painter is the brush, the image is the painter, the subject is the object, the canvas is the paint. Those things only separate themselves when we separate them by the way we use our mind. Whether you are speaking of a painting, Mu, a tree, a Buddha, or a plum branch– how you see it, how you relate to it has to do with how you live your life, with the question of life and death itself.

– John Daido Loori, The Eight Gates of Zen


Every image presents a multitude of perspectives
if there is the eye to perceive them.


John Daido Loori, Male Stone

Male Stone
16 x 20cms, Fujix Print


rock and water
practice together


Naturalness, spontaneity, and playfulness are all aspects of the ordinary mind that catches a glimpse of the world of things just as they are.  To live this life fully means to see all of it.  The doorway to this experience is the creative process.  Please delve deeply into it.  Give it a chance to do what it is capable of doing.  Engage it fully with the whole body and mind.  If you do, sooner or later, this limitless way of being will be your own.  It will never make sense, and you’ll never be able to explain it to anybody, but you will experience it, and by so doing, you will make it real.

– John Daido Loori, The Zen of Creativity

All text and images copyright © John Daido Loori.

Other pages by John Daido Loori:

let your subject find you

zen arts

John Daido Loori: The Zen of Creativity

The Zen of Creativity: Cultivating Your Artistic Life
John Daido Loori

More books by John Daido Loori


artisans’ gallery