9. Zen Koans

Zen literature is unique. It consists, in the main, not of talks or textual homilies but of encounter dialogs between Zen adepts challenging one another to discern the main point of the teachings as it manifests right now, on the spot, in the midst of things. The Zen koan literature is a record of such encounter dialogs.

In Everyday Zen we understand this literature as literature: stories meant to convey spiritual meaning. It is not part of our tradition to work with koans in the formalized style that has been popularized in Zen books and is used today by some Zen lineages. This method involves a step-by-step koan curriculum, with answers presented by the student (usually in few words, or in pantomime) in the interview room during retreats. Rather, we read, contemplate, and discuss koans, with the recognition that discursive meanings cannot do full justice to them.

Our effort is to let them seep into our bones, to live them. As you see, the Everyday Zen Study Guide contextualizes the koan literature in the larger framework of the whole of Buddhist thought, and within the understanding of Dōgen and Suzuki roshi. Zoketsu has for years been working on a way of speaking of and working with koans that honors our intelligence and understanding, and the problems of our daily lives, while at the same time not selling short the need to meditate on and spiritually penetrate this great religious literature.

Study Guide

Please note: we are currently the process of editing and properly categorizing our teachings library. The teachings will become available here in the study guide as soon as they’re ready, please check back soon.

1. The Gateless Barrier | The Wu-Men Kuan (Mumonkan)

By Robert Aitken | 1991 | North Point Press | ISBN 0865474427

Zen teacher Robert Aitken’s thorough-going translation of and commentary on the 48 koans of the Mumonkan.

2. The Blue Cliff Record

By Thomas and J.C. Cleary | 2005 | Shambhala | ISBN 159030232X

Translation (with traditional commentary) of 100 koans.
 
 
 
 
 

3. The Book of Equanimity

By Gerry Shishin Wick | 2005 | Wisdom Publications | ISBN 0861713877

New translation of Book of Serenity, with good comments by a contemporary American Zen teacher.
 

 

4. The Book of Serenity: One Hundred Zen Dialogues

Thomas Cleary, translator | 2005 | ISBN 1590302494

Translation (with traditional commentary) of 100 koans.
 
Norman gives his fourth and last talk of the Dogen on Karma 2022 series on "Identifying With Cause and Effect" - Shobogenzo Case 90 as found in Kazuaki Tanahashi's "Treasury
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Norman gives his third talk of the Dogen on Karma 2022 series on "Refrain From Unwholesome Action" - Part 2 - Shobogenzo Case 11 as found in Kazuaki Tanahashi's "Treasury
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Norman gives his second talk of the Dogen on Karma 2022 series on "Refrain From Unwholesome Action" - Shobogenzo Case 11 as found in Kazuaki Tanahashi's "Treasury of the True
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Sue Moon gives the first talk of the 2022 series of "Dogen on Karma" speaking on "Baizhang's Fox" Chapter 76 and "Karma in the Three Realms" Chapter 85 of Kazuaki
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Jeff Bickner and Sue Moon speak on the koan "Not Knowing is Most Intimate" based on a conversation of Dongshan (Daizeng) and his student Fayen.  This Koan can be found
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Taigen Dan Leighton gives the 4th and final talk on Zen Master Dongshan "Just this Is It:.  This series is based on Taigen Dan Leighton's book of the same name
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Norman gives his third talk on stories of  Zen Master Dongshan - "Just This is It."  This talk references the book by Daigen Dan Leighton: "Just This Is It :Dongshan
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Norman gives his second talk on Zen Master Dongshan  "Just This Is It" koans and stories about this seminal zen master.  The reference books used are; Taigen Dan Leighton "Just
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Norman gives his first talk on Zen Master Dongshan, "Just This Is It".  Koans and stories about this seminal zen master.  The reference books used are; Taigen Dan Leighton "Just
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Norman leads a memorial service for Thich Nhat Hanh followed by Chris Fortin speaking on Dogen's Mana Shobogenzo Case 213 "The Bodhisattva of Miraculous Powers." This koan can be found
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Chris Fortin an Norman Fischer both speak to the Dharma Seminar on "Baizhang's Fox" Mana Shobogenzo case 102; also Book of Serenity case 8, and Gateless Barrier (Mumonkan) 2. In
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Chris Fortin and Norman Fischer both speak to the Dharma Seminar on "The Bodhisattva of Compassion's Hands and Eyes'" Mana Shobogenzo case 105; also Book of Serenity case 54 and
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Norman and Chris Fortin both speak on Dogen's Mana Shobogenzo Case 34 - The World-Honored One's "Intimate Speech."  This case can be found in John Daido Loori's  book "The True
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Norman gives his talk to the EDZ December 2021 All Day Sitting on Case 58 of the Book of Serenity "The Diamond Scripture's Revilement".  In this koan the Commentary of
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