The old Zen teachers thought awakening is the moment that changes everything—The Buddha looked up and saw the morning star and a gate opened in his heart. The spiritual path is full of stories of the journey to awakening, of dark nights and great discoveries. The Zen idea was that even hearing such stories makes gates open for you. The stories are called koans.

Making yourself available to awakening depends on the confidence and freedom that comes from knowing who you really are. Mainly it depends on being willing to rest in uncertainty and let the koan stories of thousands of ancestors keep you company. Meditation is usually about not trying so hard and trusting the universe to work things out. You can’t break a koan and you can’t do it wrong, but if you keep company with the stories, you find that your thinking changes and you are always welcome in your own life.

This retreat will involve sitting meditation, walking meditation, teachings, and conversations.


John Tarrant is a Zen Roshi who has developed new methods of teaching people with no experience of Zen or even meditation. He also holds a PhD in Psychology and spent many years practicing Jungian dream work. John founded and directs Pacific Zen Institute, devoted to koan meditation and the arts. His books include Bring me the Rhinoceros & Other Zen Koans that will Save Your Life and The Light Inside the Dark: Zen, Soul & The Spiritual Life.


Through Garrison Institute

A limited number of partial scholarships are available for those with financial need. For more information, please refer here.

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