The coin lost in the river is found in the river.
—PZI Miscellaneous Koans, Case 64
Modern Zen Luminaries: A series of Zen Buddhist scholars, writers, poets, translators, and practitioners join PZI’s Jon Joseph Roshi for lively discussions online, with a focus on our Chan lineage. Includes all recordings beginning with the series’ launch in September 2021.
Thomas Kirchner has translated, annotated, and edited great works in our Chan lineage, including Entangling Vines: Zen Koans of the Shumon Kattoshu, The Record of Linji, and more. He is a longtime Zen practitioner, was born in the US, and has lived most of his life in Japan. He joins Jon Joseph for a wide-ranging conversation about his life in Zen.
Zenosaurus Curriculum 11: This koan offers offers the chance of finding that there is a home in traveling, in the smell of toast, the chill of the morning air and even in the feeling of being far from home.
The practice part of it is that it doesn’t matter if you think you lost the coin and start to be unhappy about life. That is another theory. And it doesn’t matter how many times that theory rises. Even that theory is the coin. A koan practice means that you go back to the river over and over again and you can trust that process.
A koan is a little healing story, a conversation, an image, a fragment of a song. It’s something to keep you company, whatever you are doing. There’s a tradition of koan study to transform your heart and the way you move in the world. Article by John Tarrant published in Lion’s Roar magazine, March 2016 and September 2018.