“Sickness and health are in harmony. The whole world is medicine.”
We are excited to have John Tarrant return to the Glowing Body! For two days, John will share an innovative way to practice with koans through meditation and conversation.
There are many different meditation techniques with differing goals. Some techniques help dis-identify with thoughts and feelings, some help develop compassion, some help quiet the mind. Koan meditation helps us find openings in narrow views of ourselves and loosen the knots around our ideas through integration of various aspects of consciousness.
Koan meditation can be used as a sole practice. It is also a great complementary practice to other methods. No particular experience or belief system is needed. Koans are accessible for beginners and experienced meditation practitioners.
Starting in Chinese culture 1400 years ago, koans were often used as a way for regular folks to experience freedom in everyday life. Common people needed an interesting, easy and direct way to experience the limitations of the dualistic tendencies of the mind – good or bad, right or wrong, this or that.
This accessibility is due in part to the relational aspect of koans. John Tarrant teaches koans in a modern way – which is more like the original practice in China. He offers the koan as an opportunity to relate to the ordinary movements of the mind in a new way. There is no need to train the mind or control it to create ideal conditions. Your interaction with the koan is the ideal condition.
Koans are also an excellent means of self inquiry. Sometimes, the ability to see how we tighten ourselves up in knots can have as much benefit as seeing how free we are. Koans aid both in seeing the way we keep ourselves from freedom as well as the spaciousness of freedom available to us. Because they work effortlessly on many levels, they are a unique yet accessible way to practice.
John creates a supportive meditation environment. He skillfully facilitates discussion and everyone’s input is integral to waking up—for ourselves and for each other.
John Tarrant taught Zen in the traditional way for 15 years before developing a new way to teach koans that is accessible to people with no experience of meditation.
John writes regularly for Lion’s Roar and publishes in poetry magazines. As a poet and a writer, he understands personally the benefit koan meditation has to opening up to creativity. He has a PhD in Psychology and for many years had a practice in Jungian dream work. He helped design and develop the pioneering Art of Medicine curriculum for the Fellowship in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, developed the leadership program for physicians and executives at Duke Integrative Medicine, and in addition designed a mind-body curriculum for the large medical residency system at Duke Health. He worked to support caregivers from the early days of the AIDS epidemic. He is a Zen Roshi and the director of Pacific Zen Institute
John has also written Bring me the Rhinoceros & Other Zen Koans that will Save Your Life as well as The Light Inside the Dark: Zen, Soul & The Spiritual Life. You can find his Zenosaurus Course in Koans online.