The mind is a great artist, ceaselessly creating and assessing problems. The territory of the koan is finding the delicious helplessness of the mind and body, and settling into that—it’s the robe of the moment.
Links to Audio, Video, & Text on the topic
The mind is a great artist, ceaselessly creating and assessing problems. The territory of the koan is finding the delicious helplessness of the mind and body, and settling into that. It’s the robe of the moment.
VIDEO: It’s Hard? Then Let the Koan Carry You – John Tarrant, Summer Sesshin 2022
Drifting without Oars
DHARMA THEME: A Solitary Boat Making Its Way
A solitary boat is making its way without oars in the dim moonlight.
When I turn my head, I see waterweed motionless on the ancient river bank.
MINI-COLLECTION from WINTER SESSHIN 2023
AUDIO: Carried in the Dark: Lostness & the Spiral Path of Practice – John Tarrant
AUDIO: Timelessly Carried by the Way – David Weinstein
AUDIO: Trusting in the Dao – John Tarrant
AUDIO: Carried by Kindness & Joy – Tess Beasley
No matter what you think, or why you think you’re doing the things you are doing, the universe is carrying you in the great current. No oars or effort needed, just awareness—noticing how your head is turned by synchronicities as you drift along.
Drifting towards Demons
KOAN: The Land of Demons – Entangling Vines Case 42
AUDIO: Drifting Toward the Land of the Rakshasas – John Tarrant, Sunday Zen, Fall 2021
Asking, “Where is home?” is our practice. It is hard to say whether circumstances are fortunate or not. Are we drifting toward the rakshasas (flesh-eating demons), or is it clear sailing?
TEXT: Meditation for Troubled Times – John Tarrant, Sunday Zen, Summer 2020
VIDEO: Gifts from the Far Ocean – Jesse Cardin, Sunday Zen, Spring 2023
There Was No Wind, Then a Lot
We sailed out of Sausalito.
There was no wind, then a lot.
We sailed to San Francisco.
A queue of freighters came in through the Golden Gate against the ebb.
One of the ships had big cranes on the deck and was obscured by smoke.
It looked like a ship from the London dockyards a century ago.
We came back around Angel Island.
We did more than nine knots.
In Raccoon Straits there was a tribe of seals and hundreds of sea birds.
The seals barked.
The wind died.
We saw a whale. It had barnacles and dark flukes. It was heading for the Golden Gate.
We saw the whale again.
A boat was adrift. We took it in tow ….
TEXT: Transparent Poems & Poems That Are Journals – John Tarrant, Zenosaurus Course in Koans
Gazing at Birds
“Oh, I’m not as different from that bird as I thought I was.” And that’s part of the mystery of life, is that we’re all in it, and all together.
AUDIO: Watching the Tracks of the Flying Birds – John Tarrant, Sunday Zen, Spring 2023
AUDIO: Freely I Watch the Tracks of the Flying Birds – John Tarrant, Sunday Zen, Spring 2020
TEXT: Freely I Watch the Tracks of the Flying Birds – John Tarrant, Sunday Zen Spring 2020
ARTWORK: Bird Disappearing Among Clouds – painting by Allison Atwill, 2008
“Oh, I’ve got to get ready. I’ve got to get my body right. I’ve got to get my mind ready. I’ve got to get rid of the things in my mind.” But, actually, meditation does everything for you.
Just listen to the hawks.
Related Materials and Koans
AUDIO: Jiashan Meets the Boat Monk – David Weinstein, Summer Sesshin 2022
KOAN: Make Yourself A Raft – Mazu Daoyi
KOAN: Changsha Wandering in the Mountains – Blue Cliff Record Case 36