Founder and Director, Pacific Zen Institute

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