We are excited to share with you the newest episode of the Wisdom Podcast featuring Zen teacher John Tarrant Roshi.

Uncertainty and Insight recorded March 2021

He and host Daniel Aitken speak about one of John’s favorite topics: Zen koans. As a meditation teacher, koans are a core foundation of John’s teaching methodology, and he has spent a lifetime refining his understanding of their function as a gateway to insight as well as a teaching tool. For John, a koan is not a gadget but a method and an environment.

Instead of viewing Zen as a set of rules and procedures, he discusses koan practice as a creative process. Like a poet who trusts that the next line will appear in his or her poem, engaging with a koan requires a similar leap into uncertainty. Likewise, uncertainty can itself function as a method and an object of trust. John also speaks to the function of beauty, art, and music as being koan-like in their ability to spark insight.

A native of Australia, John also considers the parallels between Aboriginal spirituality and Buddhist practice and shares stories from his early years meditating in the rainforest that laid the foundation for his spiritual practice. The podcast concludes with John sharing a reading of “The Master Song Man: An Australian Koan” from his book Bring Me the Rhinoceros.

John is the Dharma heir of Zen teacher Robert Aitken Roshi and is also the director of the Pacific Zen Institute, which has centers in California, Arizona, and Canada.


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