Stephen Batchelor and Ruth Ozeki on Buddhism and Creativity

As part of the celebration of the 30th anniversary of Tricycle magazine, Stephen Batchelor and Ruth Ozeki discussed the role of creativity in their work and in the dharma. The online discussion was hosted by Tricycle editor-in-chief James Shaheen on 15 April.

Stephen Batchelor is a secular dharma teacher and writer. A co-founder of Bodhi College, his books include Buddhism Without Beliefs, Living with the Devil, Confession of a Buddhist Atheist and After Buddhism. His most recent publication, The Art of Solitude, was published by Yale University Press in 2020.

Ruth Ozeki is an author, filmmaker, and Zen Buddhist priest.  Ruth Ozeki’s books have garnered international acclaim for their ability to integrate issues of science, technology, religion, and environmental politics . Her new novel, The Book of Form and Emptiness, is forthcoming from Viking in September 2021.

In their conversation Stephen and Ruth discussed how their creative process depends on cultivating a mode of being in which they are open and relaxed to what will emerge for them when they engage writing. As Stephen said, ‘it is when I feel most fully alive’ that he is able to explore topics creatively and ‘find his own voice’ rather than follow the norms and forms learned in his family, culture, and society.

Both also emphasized that creativity depends on being able to loosen our attachments to a fixed notion of the self and, instead, to recognize the ways in which we are constantly changing and constituted by a multiplicity of voices.

To learn more about this fascinating discussion, click here.


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