One of the best ways to understand what we do and how to get the most out of it, is through the koan groups. This is one of our innovations. When we work in groups with koans, we embrace whatever in our lives rises to meet the koan. That becomes our gate of entry. It is compelling but also transparent. The brightness appears through whatever is in front of us, whether beautiful or difficult.
Groups give us a chance to listen too. When we hear someone without any agenda we meet life at a deeper level. It is fairly common for someone to say ‘I listened to the sound of the rain and it was inside me and I became one with the rain. The colors are fresher and I’m in love with the world.’ Common or garden experiences of freedom like this are exactly what the ancient masters used to notice. And it’s the same with being with people—like being with the rain. Koan meditation is just consciousness, it’s a natural capacity that is always available. Sometimes we notice it as if putting a hand in a river. The koan work changes our lives on its own; it’s not really about expertise or holding your mouth right—more a matter of not getting in the way.
If you are working with a koan in a group you have been given a chance to let go of your ideas about how others might perceive you. You can let go of managing other people’s impressions and live for yourself, which is to live for the universe.
We teach our group leaders by the same process of group koan work—they work with the koans themselves and then facilitate other people to do that.
The groups happen in different ways in different locations. You can check and see if one is happening near you. The koans on the Zenosaurus blog are also intended for you to explore ways to keep company with the koans.
Small Koan Group Contact Info
Nevada City, CA
Group Leader: Jenny Wunderly, in collaboration with her long time Zen practitioner husband, Michael Katz
When we meet: One Sunday per month, 3-6pm
Where we meet: at Jenny and Michael’s home just outside Nevada City
We meditate on a new koan each time, sit in meditation for two 30-minute periods, each followed by sharing and discussion; we have tea and time to slow things down enough to notice the unexpected; sometimes we indulge in a koan exercise; we learn from each others’ insights and enjoy the thread this practice weaves through our daily lives.
Everyone is welcome to our koan salon.
Contact: Jenny Wunderly by phone (530) 478-9028 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Group Leader:Jesse CardinWhen we meet:Twice a month, on Tuesdays | please contact Jesse Cardin for details
Where we meet: The JMRL Central Library in downtown Charlottesville (Jefferson room)
They called out, “This subtle touch reveals the light that is in everything. We have reached the place where the sons and daughters of the Buddha live.”
For me, the name 16 Bodhisattvas reflects a sense of being submerged in this life together; it’s an acknowledgment of the way that we find awakening not only through our own personal practice, but also through our connection to others. When we move, ripples flow outward in all directions and when the wind rustles through the trees, something in us rustles, too. It’s good to have company: we support each other, we irritate each other, and we teach each other. We can’t really ever know which we’re doing at any given time, so the best thing might be to just dive in with an open heart. We don’t get enlightened on our own–even the uneven sidewalks and crunchy autumn leaves play their part–and even if we did awaken in isolation there would be no one with whom to share the luminous life we’d found.
So that being said, there’s a nice hot bath waiting for you. You’re already in it, but you can always decide to notice it.
There is no cost or requirement for membership. All levels of experience are welcome.
San Francisco, CA
Group Leaders: Chris Wilson & Michael Kallus
When we meet: Wednesdays, 7 – 8:30pm
Where we meet: Potrero Hill Zendo, Wind-in-Grass Sangha
This small group meets every Wednesday evening after the regular weekly meeting of the Wind-in-Grass sangha. Everyone is invited and encouraged to come at 7 and stay through the small group meeting.
More Info: Wind-in-Grass Sangha website »
Santa Barbara, CA
“The Next Thing That Happens Might Be Wonderful”
Group Leader: Allison Atwill, PZI koan teacher for Santa Barbara, and PZI Art Sensei.
When we meet: Varies.
Where we meet: In the Santa Barbara area. Information available from Allison.
The ancient wisdom of Zen koans tells how to make room in your life for the unaccountable. You don’t have to worry your way through a predicament; it is more like when you hear music and your body just dances. Koans are a great treasure that anyone can bring to life. They can show you how to be at home in the universe, including your own life.
Koan Small Groups are a way to meditate together and explore the surprising effect that koans have in freeing the mind and heart. No experience with meditation or Zen is required.
This six-week course is based on “A Short Course in Koans” developed by John Tarrant, Roshi.
There is no cost for the koan group series.
Contact: Allison Atwill by phone (805) 969-1562 or email: email@example.com
Group Leader: David Parks-Ramage
When we meet: Wednesdays, 6:30 – 8:00pm
Where we meet:
First Congregational United Church of Christ
2000 Humboldt Street, Santa Rosa
The First Church sitting group is a PZI koan group hosted by a progressive Christian congregation. Traditional Zen koans are used for meditation. Occasionally, the parables, sayings and doings of Jesus are approached as koans, opening a new avenue for spiritual exploration and discovery.
All are welcome! Drop ins are encouraged.
To find David’s blog, “Jesus Points to the Moon,” go here: jesuspointstothemoon.blogspot.com »
Contact: David Parks-Ramage by phone (707) 546-0998 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Santa Rosa, CA
“Koans and the 12 Steps”
Group Leader: Bill Krumbein
When we meet: The second Friday of each month,
7 – 8:30pm
Where we meet: Santa Rosa Creek Zendo
825 Sonoma Ave., Santa Rosa, CA
You are invited to join us for a monthly meditation meeting discovering how 12 Step practice and Koans influence each other. No experience required in either 12 Steps, Koan practice or meditation.
Sitting with the 12 steps will deepen their influence upon you, enriching your life of recovery. Applying koans will take you deeper yet, in all aspects of your life; they bring a practicality and usefulness today, just as they did in Lin-Chi’s time (9th century), where you can pass your wisdom (prajna) on to others, especially to those you sponsor. This has been a powerful experience for me.
The format is sitting with a koan for 25 minutes, then opening it up for discussion.
We meet on the 2nd Friday of each month. The step we’ll work on will correspond to the number of the month.
Please go to my blog for more info: 12 Steps and Zen Koans »
Together let’s take this leap from a 100-foot pole! After all, what worked for me can work for you.
— Bill Krumbein
Contact: Bill Krumbein by email: email@example.com
Group Leader: Karen Waskow
When we meet: in the Spring, for 6 weeks
Where we meet: 2190 Garfield St., Eugene, OR 97405
This koan study group meets for one six-week period each year, in the Spring. After a period of meditation we have an informal gathering where, together, we take up the question of what koans might mean in the midst of our own lives.
Everyone is welcome.
Contact: Karen Waskow by phone (541) 543-5344 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Group Leader: Jacqueline Kramer
When we meet: ongoing, self-paced
Where we meet: online
This group is designed for women, particularly moms. It is associated with the Hearth Foundation, an organization that offers support to mothers who want to develop a home-based spiritual practice.