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Out of Stillness, an Idea

My friend Pauline was trying Zentangles—doodling exercises that promise to pull your concentration into drawing in a way that frees the rest of your mind to come up with creative ideas. Since I’d been stuck in a creative block for months, I decided to follow her lead.As I waited for my workbook to show up, I thought about how creative longtime practitioners of Buddhism tend to be.When I was in South Korea on a pilgrimage 14 years ago, it felt like every third monk was a gifted artist of some form: an illustrator, a renowned potter, a poet. The sutras, or teachings, of the Buddha could have something to do with this.The Diamond Sutra, for example, is an ancient story that manifests creativity through and through. It starts out slowly and carefully. Shakyamuni Buddha gets up one morning, puts on his robes, goes on a begging round, comes back, eats, washes his feet to freshen up, straightens out his robes, and sits down. No big deal.Then one of his longtime followers, Subhuti, speaking for the 1,200 people sitting around Buddha, asks him a simple question: “How can a person be of service to the world?” Wit …

Geri Larkin is the founder and former head teacher of Still Point Zen Buddhist Temple, a Zen meditation center in the heart of inner-city Detroit. She is the author of many books including Stumbling Toward EnlightenmentBuilding a Business the Buddhist Way,Tap Dancing in ZenFirst You Shave Your Head, and The Still Point Dhammapada

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