You go to visit a family crypt. It is a stone mausoleum in the cemetery. You go at night when there is no moon. You decide to open the gate and go in to be nearer your ancestors. It is pitch black. A fierce gust of wind blows your candle out and you hear the heavy gate slam shut behind you. There is no one around. There are no windows and the door is locked from the outside—how will you get out?
– PZI Miscellaneous Koans, Case 20
John Tarrant Roshi leads a conversation on koans that reveal themselves through predicaments. “I might find myself imprisoned in a crypt, or hanging from a branch by my teeth. Or trapped in a job or relationship I think I cannot escape.” A lively exploration follows. July 11, 2013.
On the second day of Bare Bones retreat John brings to light the many ways in which we find ourselves in situations where we feel hopelessly trapped. Often we are not even aware that we are living in the stone crypt; the door closes and we can’t remember we were ever somewhere else. Working with a koan might just be the way to open the door. January 20, 2014.
“Late one night, you decide to visit the family graveside, where (as a point of somewhat snobbish pride) your family’s personal tomb resides…” During the 2015 summer Sesshin at Land of Medicine Buddha in Southern California, John Tarrant talks friends, the feverish scheming and planning of the mind, and the predicaments faced in life.