I’m interested in Zen as a way that transforms the mind. This means that innovation is essential. Imagination and the arts are too, and I like to write about Zen and write poems. I studied and taught Zen in a classical manner for about fifteen years before developing new ways of introducing koans that even people with no experience of meditation can find useful.
Zen as a set of rules and procedures is not so interesting to me. I learned Zen when we were still trying to find what worked in the West. And people now seem to find freedom more naturally than I had assumed during my own initial studies. My experiments have led me to trust people more than I once did, and to teach people to trust their own moves. To me this means that koans are not a gadget that you put all your effort into using. They’re an environment—you wander around and they teach you. You have to listen and look.
Other background: For a couple of decades I did Jungian dream work and I have a PhD in psychology. I helped design the pioneering mind-body curriculum in Integrative Medicine at The University of Arizona at Tucson. It was intended to develop a culture for change in medical education. I also helped design the original curriculum at Duke Integrative Medicine.
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Books by John Tarrant
- Bring Me The Rhinoceros — and Other Zen Koans That Will Save Your Life. This is a calling card for our approach to Zen.
- The Light Inside the Dark – Zen, Soul & the Spiritual Life. This is an integration of Zen and western approaches, especially art, Jungian work and the imagination.
- Uncertainty Club: A Magazine of Zen and the Arts. Uncertainty leads in the direction of not being separate from the life we’re in. It’s also in the direction of not believing most of the things I might otherwise have believed, even things about who I am. Not believing things is an important job for artists and scientists and meditators right now, when the world of power is full of vehemence.