One of the best ways to understand what we do, and how to get the most out of it, is through a koan small group. This is one of our innovations. When we work with koans in a group, we learn to embrace whatever in our lives rises to meet the koan. That becomes our gate of entry. Brightness appears through whatever is in front of us, whether beautiful or difficult.
Groups give us a chance to listen, too. When we really hear someone, without any agenda, we meet life at a deeper level. It is fairly common for someone to say “I listened to the sound of the rain and it was inside me and I became one with the rain. The colors are fresher and I’m in love with the world.” Garden experiences of freedom like this are exactly what the ancient masters used to notice, and they are wonderful. And as with rain, so with people. Koan meditation is just consciousness—it’s a natural capacity that is always available, in the woods, on a city street, in a room full of other human beings.
We teach our group leaders by the same process of group koan work: they work with the koans themselves and then facilitate other people to do the same.
The groups happen in different ways in different locations. Some groups happen through our established centers, with senior teachers nearby. A lot of times they happen farther afield.
We currently have Koan Small Groups in the following places:
Open Door Interfaith Zen – Santa Rosa and Eureka, CA
Rio del Mar Meditation – Santa Cruz, CA
Monterey Bay Koan Salon – Monterey, CA
Nevada City Koan Groups – Nevada City, CA
Roseburg Zen – Roseburg, OR
Seattle Koan Discussion Groups – Seattle, WA
Santa Fe Rhino Book Group – Santa Fe, NM
Desert Lotus Zen – Tempe, AZ
Bottomless Bucket: A Koan Meditation Group – Kansas City, MO
Open Door Interfaith Zen – Lexington and Berea, KY
Knoxville Koan Study Group – Knoxville, TN
Hudson Valley Koan Group – Red Hook, NY
Koan Meditacion Salon Oaxaca – Oaxaca, Mexico