How to Practice Zen Koans

By John Tarrant, in Lion’s Roar (2016).

A koan is a little healing story, a conversation, an image, a fragment of a song. It’s something to keep you company, whatever you are doing.

Meditation Basics for a Time of Tyranny – A dharma talk with John Tarrant

January 2, 2017

In the wake of the recent U.S. election, John Tarrant offered a dharma talk on impossible situations at the Santa Rosa Creek Zen Center. We meditated with the koan:

A woman raised a goose in a bottle. When the goose had grown, she wanted to get it out without harming the goose or breaking the bottle. How do you get the goose out of the bottle?

You can watch the video here.

Using Koans to Navigate a Disaster

by Rachel Boughton

The question of how to deal with difficult times is fundamental for a spiritual practice, and really, for any human life. During our Winter Sesshin in January 2017, Rachel Boughton, Roshi addressed questions and feelings about navigating these political times, and your everyday life, in the company of koan practice.

Here you can watch a video of her dharma talk, or read the essay on the same topic.

How to Use Koans to Navigate Disaster – A dharma talk with Rachel Boughton

During our Winter Sesshin in January 2017, Rachel Boughton, Roshi addressed feelings and questions about navigating these political times, and your everyday life, in the company of koan practice.

You can watch the video here.

The Power of Koan Practice

By John Tarrant, in Shambhala Sun (2003).

If it turns out that koans suit you or — to put it in more koan-like language — if koans choose you, then they are a help in living with less fear and more happiness in a quite individual way.

Working with Koans

A talk by John Tarrant, at Summer Sesshin 2004

“A koan is a piece of old wisdom in a very concise form. I think of it as a vial of ancient light.”

There Is No Future, Really

An essay by Rachel Boughton Roshi, December 2016.

The morning after an unaccustomed shock brings thoughts about how much I really know about the future, and curiosity about the possibilities of living in the present.

How to Welcome the End of the World

An article by John Tarrant, in Lion’s Roar (November 2016)

Ten Zen pointers on the practice of welcoming.

Why Play With Koans? An interview with John Tarrant

PZI Director John Tarrant discusses the play and purpose of koans in Spirituality and Health Magazine (May 2016).

The End of the World As We Know It

A post by Rachel Boughton

The story of an astonishing evening.

The Tea Lady and the Fox

A post by Rachel Boughton

Women who ran tea houses in China appear often in Zen koans and stories. The tea lady often holds the role of the trickster, cleverly disguised as not-a-teacher, magically making certainty disappear.

Enlightenment is Something We Do Together

An article by John Tarrant, in Buddhadharma (Spring 2014)

There’s a romantic idea of enlightenment as a solitary and heroic act, but even if you’re off by yourself in a cave, you are still part of a culture, and it’s observable that some cultures are more friendly to discovery than others.

A Beautiful Mistake

An article by John Tarrant, in Shambhala Sun, September 2013

The practice is to notice things as we stumble along. Even the stumbling, even groping for the wrong thing, is already perfect. That’s what meditation is.