“The thing that blinds us and deafens us is the ceaselessly moving mind, the preoccupation we have with our thoughts. It is the incessant internal dialogue that shuts out everything else. That is the problem with trying to take a preconceived photograph. Before you even walk out of the building, you blind yourself. All day long we talk to ourselves. We preoccupy ourselves with the past, or we preoccupy ourselves with the future, and while we preoccupy ourselves, we miss the moment and miss our lives. Looking, we do not see. It is as if we were blind. Listening, we do not hear. It is as if we were deaf. Loving, we do not feel. It is as if we were dead. Preoccupied, we do not notice the reality around us. How can we be present? How can we taste and touch our lives? The answer to these questions is not outside yourself. To see this truth requires the backward step, going very deep into yourself to find the foundation of reality and of your life. To see it is not the same as understanding it or believing it. To see it means to realize it with the whole body and mind. To realize it transforms one’s life, one’s way of perceiving the universe and the self, and of expressing what has been realized…When you practice the Zen arts, practice your life – trust yourself completely. Trust the process of sitting. Know that deep within each and every one of us, under layers of conditioning, there is an enlightened being, alive and well. In order to function, it needs to be discovered. To discover this buddha is wisdom. To make it function in the world is compassion. That wisdom and compassion is the life of each one of us. It is up to you what you do with it.”
~ John Daido Loori
John Daido Loori (June 14, 1931 – October 9, 2009) was a Zen Buddhist roshi. He was born Catholic in Jersey City, New Jersey. As a child Loori loved photographing things, once using his family’s bathroom as a makeshift dark room. He served in the U.S. Navy. Later after studying at Rutgers, he worked as a chemist in the food industry. As an adult he distanced himself from Catholicism and explored a variety of other religions. In 1972, he began his formal Zen practice later becoming a Zen priest. Loori was a professional nature photographer and his works have been published by Time-Life and other publications.
Here’s one of his photographs and related quotes:
Wet with the morning dew,
the tips of ten thousand grasses
all contain the light of day.
- John Daido Loori (1931-2009)