We are pleased to announce that John Tarrant will be teaching a workshop on myths and koans at the California Institute of Integral Studies in November. For more information, visit their site.
‘The old Zen teachers thought awakening is the moment that changes everything. The Buddha looked up and saw the morning star and a gate opened in his heart. When this happens, you are at home in the world and difficulty becomes play. Those old teachers thought telling the stories of awakening to be a sympathetic thing—it helps you absorb the discoveries they reveal.
These same teachers also told stories or riddles to encourage awakening in those who hear them. These stories were called koans and when you heard them, they followed you around like a good dog, a friend to help you along your journey.
These stories still have this effect and our times are much like those ancient times. There were invasions, migrations, wars, and great art. People took stories of awakening and stories that encouraged awakening into their work, as they still do today. Images of awakening were helpful too. People entered their difficulties and found a light there. Kindness and beauty were important and appeared when the masters befriended the uncertainty in the world. It was a path into creativity and leadership. Everything they did became meditation.
In our current times, awakening stories happen too. You might be sitting on a hillside in summer, or tumbling in a car wreck, or being kissed, or hearing a song, when suddenly everything changes.’
“Making yourself available to awakening depends on the confidence and freedom that comes from knowing who you really are. Mainly it depends on being willing to rest in uncertainty and letting the koan stories keep you company. Meditation is usually about not trying so hard and trusting the universe to work things out. You can’t break a koan and you can’t do it wrong, but if you keep company with the stories, you find that your thinking changes and you are always welcome in your own life. ”
– John Tarrant