Zen and Creativity and Innovation
The principles of the Zen can inspire the means to unlock creativity and find freedom in the various dimensions of our existence.
Naturalness, spontaneity, and playfulness are all aspects of the ordinary mind that catches a glimpse of the world of things just as they are. However, as the predominant note on Zen Buddhism is more intellectual. Zen teaches to have a thorough insight into the nature of Mind. Zen the seemingly different pursuits of awakening and creative expression are actually kindred, even twins. Creativity is a nebulous topic that fascinates everyone endlessly.
Zen is an art of self-discovery and awakening which the disciple must experience firsthand. Creativity is the ability to associate seemingly unrelated concepts in your mind; and then combine, branch and recombine them until you get an A-HA moment. This is the manner which new ideas, products, processes, and business models are innovated. Most of us use this method subconsciously, but there is a certain mystery and awe around our creative facilities. This intangible process makes our creative process and emergent outputs seem somewhat unpredictable and serendipitous.
Creativity is a property of consciousness itself. Broadly shared by all schools of thought, which is the unity of nature with human thought. Simply put, in ancient Chinese thought humans and nature are actually the same. All the principles that apply to nature could also apply to man. Thus, humanity could experience the process of the development of the universe, just as could the universe itself, or every other being in the universe.
A recent IBM poll of 1,500 CEOs identified creativity as the No. 1 leadership competency of the future. Yet it is not just about sustaining nation’s economic growth. All around us are matters of national and international importance that are crying out for creative solutions, from saving the Gulf of Mexico to bringing peace to Afghanistan to delivering health care.
Koan and Creativity
Suzuki roshi emphasized simple daily zazen practice and ordinary everyday living. Zen Buddhists may practice koan inquiry during sitting meditation (zazen), walking meditation (kinhin), and throughout all the activities of daily life. Koan practice is particularly emphasized by the Japanese Rinzai school, but it also occurs in other schools or branches of Zen depending on the teaching line. A koan is a story or dialogue, generally related to Zen or other Buddhist history; the most typical form is an anecdote involving early Chinese Zen masters. These anecdotes involving famous Zen teachers are a practical demonstration of their wisdom, and can be used to test a student’s progress in Zen practice. Koans often appear to be paradoxical or linguistically meaningless dialogues or questions. However, to Zen Buddhists the koan is the place, the time, and the event where truth reveals itself unobstructed by the oppositions and differentiations of language. Answering a koan requires a student to let go of conceptual thinking and of the logical way, we order the world, so that like creativity in art, the appropriate insight and response arises naturally and spontaneously in the mind. Koans and their study developed in China within the context of the open questions and answers of teaching sessions conducted by the Chinese Zen masters. There are also various commentaries on koans, written by experienced teachers that can serve as a guide. Koans are not scripture in any traditional sense. Bodhidharma said that Zen is without doctrine, without words either written or spoken. Koans, like meditation, are thought of as road signs in these traditions.
The ancient masters devised a way to explain Zen using ox-herding pictograms, which represent ten stages of self-discovery. The ox represents the mind or the self, ego, or pre-conditioned responses. The ox herder is the practitioner attempting to understand his or her nature and, therefore, his or her mind. Throughout the series, these two entities slowly merge until they eventually become one with each other. All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.
Zen inspires our creative soul. To practice “Zazen” is to see into one’s “own nature”, which is from the very beginning, pure and calm, and every being in the world has it.
Creative thinking requires focusing on a problem followed by defocusing, i.e. relaxing and letting the mind wander on its own, creating opportunities for sudden insights to occur. The soul of creativity arises from an undivided mind.
Zen is a great way of relaxing the mind and body. The quieter you become, the more you can hear. Zen is a very creative experience. The wise practice the six virtues of perfection to get rid of confused thoughts, and yet there is no specific consciousness on their part that they are engaged in any meritorious deeds. Obey the nature of things, and you are in concord with the Way. The rare invaluable gem is never impaired however much one uses it. Moving in the direction of your dreams, furthering the life you would love to create. Zen teaches to have a thorough insight into the nature of Mind. The only way to grasp higher order happiness (emptying mind) is through a calm and settled mind. When you see into your own nature, you know who you are, you know what, and how everything and being in the world really is. From this, your action and reaction will be in harmony with the whole and in situations around you.
The Six Glorious Virtues of Zen Buddhism
Every great religion contains precepts or exhortations toward a better life. In Buddhism, the Paramitas are a set of “Virtues” describing qualities of thought and action, which, if made a part of one’s life, will reveal the mysteries of the universe and of man. It has also been said that their practice by the sincere aspirant will lead ultimately to complete higher order happiness.
I. Charity — the key of charity and love immortal;
II. Uprightness — the key of harmony in word and act;
III. Forbearance — patience sweet, that nought can ruffle;
IV. Dispassion — indifference to pleasure and to pain;
V. Dauntlessness — the dauntless energy that fights its way to the supernal truth;
VI. Contemplation — the open doorway to truth. It is only when a system or code helps us to channel our aspirations that it becomes a bridge to a fuller comprehension of existence
Creativity is strongly linked to receptiveness to life and what it has to offer us. It means being open to what is true, about ourselves and about others. Creativity flourishes when the truth about things is admitted to oneself.
Koans and mondos are used to exhaust and disable the analytical mind, paving the way for (existential) insight. Zen is an authentic religious experience. Its authenticity is in its inspiring conscious creativity in human beings. Harmony begins with trust and a positive view of human nature. Harmony is enhanced by practicing a non-judgmental attitude towards others they only contemplate their own words and deeds. The human need to explore, discover, decorate, dominate, conquer, protect, invent, tell stories and make magic goes all the way back to our origin as a species. Zen inspires being Natural, that is examining dispassionately various phenomena in life and drawing indisputable conclusions. It pays attention to very accurate and precise details, and portrays things as they are. It is believed that we cannot create adequately from the control and illusion of the mind.
Both Zen and innovation:
I. involve exploration and discovery
II. Uncover latent possibilities
III. Strive for a breakthrough
Innovation is driven not just by the need for business growth or market dominance, but also by the imagination, creativity, and ingenuity of the human mind. Whatever learning there may be in Zen, it comes from our own mind. The future demands the whole brain- integrating the left-brain with the creative and intuitive modalities of our right brain. Cultivating mindfulness will help you to innovate and enjoy life more. Focusing on one task at a time, putting yourself fully into that task, is much more effective than multi-tasking.
Ideation is the creative process of generating, developing, and communicating new ideas, where an idea is understood as a basic element of thought that can be visual, concrete, or abstract.
Ideation is all stages of a thought cycle, from innovation, to development, to actualization. As such, it is an essential part of the design process, both in education and practice. Creativity and innovation based on the power of our subconscious. Our subconscious mind is constantly processing the ideas and stimuli received consciously. A useful technique is to work on a problem before going to sleep, allowing the subconscious to take over. Review any ideas when you awake, and make sure you have a pad and pen by your bed to record the ideas.
Focusing on one real objective at a time is also more effective. Focusing on what you are doing right now is highly effective. You are more productive and innovative when you are mindful. Insight is preceded by, but is not the result of, logical effort. It comes suddenly out of “nowhere” and with a feeling of absolute certainty. Nowhere is the creative mind associated with the right hemisphere of the brain. A person, who never has time to think, may turn into a thoughtless person. Likewise, an organization that does not have time to think may turn into a thoughtless organization. Society is moving out of the Information Age, dominated by ‘left brain’ analytic modes of thinking. The future demands our ‘whole brain’, integrating the holistic, visual & symbolic, synchronistic and intuitive modalities of our ‘right brain’. We need to activate the power of your imagination and intuition.
A synergy of techniques, including meditation, drawing, improvisation and visualization teach us to expand beyond the boundaries of our habitual awareness. Words (affirmations) and images (visualizations) affect your mind and body. We cultivate holistic,
intuitive and ‘super-conscious’ capacities that utilize the full spectrum of human potential.
It has well known by now that we only use 10% of our minds, and the other 90% is the unconscious portion. Creative imagination allows people to tap into this unconscious portion of their minds and harness its potential power. Imagine more creative space in your mind and in your workspace. No matter how compelling the two-dimensional image will never measure up to the molecular resolution of physical holographic reality. Finding your voice is your key to the realm of infinite creativity.
Missing link between success and happiness was lack of awareness of one’s “inner self”. To achieve sustainable peak performance, learn to transform your motivation from fear of losing to joy of action. Cultivating a deeper awareness of one’s self can be learned like any other skill through practice.
True inspiration for inspiration is not physically measurable, nor tangible in any concrete way.
Innovation Capacity =
Preferences + Innovative Work Behaviors + Innovation Practices
Innovation and growth is not just about products or solutions – it is about creating a transformational change in the way people live, work, and play. Zen leads the transformation.