“We all have the urge to be better people, and behind all our self-improvement there is a profound impulse. Self-improvement is a gateway, the first step in a quest, a clue to a deeper life. The most beautiful form of the beautiful life is inner freedom, the awakening taught in the ancient spiritual traditions.” Published Shambhala Sun Magazine, September 2013.
“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.” March 2016.
You might think of consciousness as a lamp, making a cone of light on the surface of a desk. Outside the yellow circle everything is dark and unknown. The usual way of approaching things is to try to extend the yellow circle into the darkness. Or perhaps to drag objects in from the dark. That is conceivable. This meditation takes things the other way. n.d.
In the last of the famed ox-herding pictures, the disciple returns to the world with open, helping hands. That includes, says Zen teacher John Tarrant, the messy, neurotic, imperfect world of politics, the very place where the bodhisattva way is practiced and our realization is put on the line. Originally published in Shambhala Sun Magazine, May 2006.
Those who have used koans have described them as a poetic technology for bringing about awakening, a painful but effective gate into the consciousness of the Buddha, an easy method of integrating awakening into everyday life, the most frustrating thing they have ever done, an appalling waste of time, a tyranny perpetrated by Zen masters… Well, you get the idea — about koans, opinions differ.