We are happy you are here, peering through that gate, ready to embrace your own life.
Here are the ways we practice, communicate, & gather
After twenty years of teaching koans in a classical way, John Tarrant discovered ways of teaching koans that can orient anyone, including people who have no experience with meditation or Zen, towards a rich, full engagement with their own lives, and towards awakening.
Working with a koan is like meeting a friend. They work with us on all levels and can emerge anywhere with a message: in dreams, in the middle of daily life, as synchronicities, in a quiet room or in a raging gale.
Koans and vows understood as koans take us down a level to put us in touch with the deeper, mysterious current of things. This is where practice becomes a path. A path can lead toward working with a teacher on a koan curriculum and taking refuge. A refuge ceremony can be a station on this path as well, as a blessing and an initiation.
We wake up together in koan meditation practice. Most koan meditation sessions involve a followup conversation where individual insights are shared with the group. This is not compulsory and every group is unique, but group meeting and exchange is part of developing a greater capacity to notice the ways our minds work. Koans help point out assumptions and default responses to situations. They help us choose aliveness over beliefs.
Through practice, we create a culture of transformation
Awakening can occur in any moment anywhere – it may rock you with a big change in awareness or deliver an aha moment while shopping at the grocery store.
The important part of awakening, the fun part, is to embody the transformation and actually live in the world that’s transformed. We find out what it’s like to be free, to live inside a mind that’s open and free — and that’s worth a lot. One feature of awakening is that it’s light; you can ‘travel’ easily because you don’t need a lot of equipment. Effort and apparatus turn out to be optional. It’s something anyone can do.
We meditate with Zen koans
The Nature of (Koan) Practice with John Tarrant
The world is made up of marvelous things, and in the koan work we notice how they come to us and gather themselves, and become doors, and we step through. —John Tarrant
In practice you are traveling, you are on a path. It is different from a plan because you are on uncertain turf. Practice also has more love in it because you are moving in the dark in a positive way. The koan is like the dog that follows you around with a ball—it foils your serious plans.
Buddhist meditation is something to do, not to believe…
It is a practice—something you do over and over again, as in “I’m practicing the guitar,” or “I’m practicing my video game.” If you practice meditation in this regular way, Buddhism has a mysterious and unpredictable healing power. By mysterious, I mean that while the effect of meditation is more or less as advertised, you are on a journey that does not reveal all its features at once, and even the destination is uncertain.
Koans spark creativity
John Tarrant on Creativity
John Tarrant recently sat down with Jane Kolleeny of the Garrison Institute to discuss the approach to creativity, koans, and meditation that John and the PZI community have developed over the last 30 years.
Watch that 4-minute video here.
Here’s a koan for practicing together
In the old days there were sixteen bodhisattvas.
They all got into the bath together and realized the cause of water.
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.”
—The Blue Cliff Record, Case 78