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On Koan Work

 Zen doesn’t purport to dispense the truth; the truth is the birthright of each of us, embodied in our living experience. The teacher can do little more than use whatever means are at hand to direct the student’s attention to this self-revealing reality.

As generation after generation of teachers found creative ways to nudge students toward a realization of the inner truth, records of these improvised teachings were passed forward in the form of “koans”. These brief texts are widely used in Zen training as a prod to move the student beyond conceptualization, toward a direct experience of the same living truth that those ancient masters were thrusting before their students. For those who are ready and willing to undertake an uncompromising inquiry into the very source of our being, koan work is an unparalleled vehicle.

Our temple is heir to a long tradition of rigorous koan training, carefully preserved in all of its vitality. Once a student has developed a degree of stable, focused attention, koan work may be offered as a way to harness that attention in a dynamic way.