koan practice

Video February 8, 2020
42' 38"
Video December 26, 2019

Walking the Mysterious Path Together – Koans, Transformation & PZI

John Tarrant

John Tarrant, Roshi, Director of PZI and author, talks about the mystery of meditation as he first experienced it in the ancient forests of Queensland; about transformation on the ancient koan path we follow, and the evolution of Pacific Zen Institute as a community, and koan school with a new online resource center, the KALPA (Koans and Liberation Project Archive) Library. Your support helps produce PZI’s ongoing retreats and dharma talks, John’s writing projects, and spreads the teachings.

8' 16"
Video September 18, 2019

Gratitude for the Path

David Weinstein

A most heartfelt conversation about David’s spiritual journey. Beginning with his teacher Lama Yeshe to the practice of Zen with John Tarrant and the Pacific Zen Institute community. July 15, 2014.

56' 14"
Video June 7, 2019

It’s Alive, It’s Alive

John Tarrant

John Tarrant presents a dharma talk at the Winter 2011 Bare Bones Sesshin on the experimental nature of PZI koan practice, and being “alive.” January, 2011.

54' 17"
Video June 7, 2019

The Continuous Flowing Nature of the Mind

John Tarrant

The Zen Koan for summer sesshin was “Who Is Hearing?” The talk by John Tarrant and ensuing conversation regards the nature of the mind, and aspects of practice. June 22, 2011.

35' 15"
Video June 2, 2019

Abiding with Koans, the Mind Comes Forth

Rachel Boughton

Rachel Boughton, Director of the PZI Santa Rosa Center, how-to talk on working with zen koans.

A Zen ancestor was gathering wood and heard a line being recited that struck him. “What was that again?” he asked. “Oh, it was just something I heard up north in a temple.” So he went to study up north.

34' 55"
Video July 20, 2017

Allison Atwill’s Art Talk, Part 1

Allison Atwill

Allison Atwill discusses her art and its relationship to koan practice. Part 1. 2010.

6' 56"
Video July 20, 2017

Allison Atwill’s Art Talk, Part 2

Allison Atwill

Allison Atwill discusses her art and its relationship to koan practice. Part 2. 2010.

8' 16"
Video July 20, 2017

Allison Atwill’s Art Talk, Part 6

Allison Atwill

Allison Atwill discusses her art and its relationship to koan practice. Part 6. 2010.

4' 35"
Video July 20, 2017

Allison Atwill’s Art Talk, Part 5

Allison Atwill

Allison Atwill discusses her art and its relationship to koan practice. Part 5. 2010.

8' 54"
Video July 20, 2017

Allison Atwill’s Art Talk, Part 4

Allison Atwill

Allison Atwill discusses her art and its relationship to koan practice. Part 4.

4' 25"
Video July 6, 2017

The Question of the Tail

David Weinstein

David Weinstein Roshi continues the conversation during retreat regarding the ancient Koan about the buffalo passing through a lattice window. How can the buffalo get through the lattice window – all but the tail? What is it that is difficult for me to let in? Can we be compassionate with ourselves when we find the place on our life where there is a no trespassing sign?

23' 52"
Video July 6, 2017

The True Person of No Rank

John Tarrant

John opens the evening with the koan “The True Person of No Rank.” It goes something like this: “There is a true person of no rank who is always coming and going from the portals of your face.” Who is that person of no rank? Linji was a great teacher and the ancestor of most of the koan lines of Zen and this is a koan of his. It has been used since ancient times as a meditation both for beginners and advanced students. Probably the best way to work with it is to play with it. Don’t rank how you are doing. Just let it keep you company, like an animal would. You forget about it, but every time you look, there it is! And after a while it doesn’t go away. October 17, 2013.

31' 11"
Video July 6, 2017

The Stone Grave

John Tarrant

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.

31' 8"
Video July 6, 2017

Go Straight Down a Road with 99 Curves

John Tarrant

This sesshin, John introduced a series of miscellaneous koans, the first being “How do you go straight down a road with 99 curves?” February 12, 2014.

33' 50"
Video July 6, 2017

Stop the War

John Tarrant

“John had us work with a series of miscellaneous Koans during retreat. Stop the war was one of my favorite talks. Looking at how I/we are at war within ourselves and how that internal war becomes a battle with those around us. A cold war or a war of words, fists or weapons. By practicing meditation we can mediate a truce with our fears.” – A participant. January 22, 2014.

43' 52"
Video July 6, 2017

Stop the Fire Across the River

Allison Atwill

Allison presents a talk on another miscellaneous Koan, “Stop the fire across the river.” This is like stopping the war within ourselves: where does this fire arise within us and what form does it take? Passion, anger, demons, delusions all take form within us.

Allison demonstrates the possibility of working with the fire of anger through humor and diligent practice and attention to what flares up within the body. January 22, 2014.

55' 23"
Video July 6, 2017

The Storehouse of Treasure

John Tarrant

John Tarrant Roshi completes our week-long Sesshin retreat with the miscellaneous koan, “The storehouse of treasures opens by itself; you can take it and use it any way you wish.” January 23, 2014.

After the talk we did a writing exercise with these questions, “what storehouse treasure is closed to you, what is a problem that is not resolved and what is a treasure?

58' 42"
Video July 6, 2017

The Spirit of Love, Joy and Play with Koans

John Tarrant

John opens the first evening at summer retreat talking about the spirit of a koan. We were nestled in the lovely redwood mountains of Land of the Medicine Buddha in Soquel California. We were meditating, walking and diving into the great koan, Sickness and Medicine. It is based on a koan which goes like this, “Sickness and Medicine are in accord with each other. The whole world is medicine, what am I?” July 14, 2014.

24' 45"
Video July 6, 2017

Meeting a Face from Long Ago

Rachel Boughton

“It’s passed midnight, the moon has not risen, in the thick, deep dark, you meet a face from long ago: but you don’t recognize them. No need to be surprised by this.”

John Discusses koan tradition, the “five steps” of enlightenment, and communication between student and teacher.

46' 6"
Video July 6, 2017

The Curiosity Shop

Rachel Boughton

Rachel Boughton discusses techniques of meditation during sesshin; darkness, light, curiosity, and learning how to sit attentively with a koan. 2014.

46' 7"
Video June 30, 2017

When the Seas Got Rough

Allison Atwill, David Weinstein, John Tarrant, Jon Joseph, Rachel Boughton

“Not deciding it is or it isn’t, do you have the courage to be at peace with this? Everyone wants to leave the endless changes, but when we finish bending and fitting our lives, we come back to sit by the charcoal fire.”

During the final night of the 2015 January sesshin, the teachers have a conversation about identity, art, intimacy, and the nature of koan study.

21' 10"
Video June 30, 2017

Radical Transparency and Koans as Frenemies

Rachel Boughton

Rachel Boughton, at the June-July sesshin held at Land of Medicine Buddha, talks hackers, privacy, and zen koans in an age of technology.

19' 36"
Video June 30, 2017

Koan Party

David Weinstein

“We go to wild places in search of our self nature. Looking in the darkness of the tall grasses of abandoned places. Now, honored ones, where is your self nature, when you are searching for your self nature?”

David Weinstein talks about culture and ideas, and recounts stories of enlightening adventure.

23' 45"
Video June 26, 2017

The Teachers Speak

David Weinstein, Illana Berger, John Tarrant, Steven Grant

On Friday evening, the last night of the October 2015 sesshin, all the teachers weigh in.

23' 0"
Video June 26, 2017

The Relationship to Koans

Steven Grant

Steven Grant discussing the relationship to koans at 2016 Winter Sesshin.

1' 52"