Zen Koan Study

< Back to Dharma Talks

Roshi James Kando Green is an unlikely Zen teacher. His tight smile, conservative demeanor, and slight Georgia drawl contrast with preconceptions of a Zen priest. Yet, behind these superficial layers rests a disciplined practitioner with decades devoted to realizing the essential mind. After a long career in plastic surgery and the recent passing of his master, Musai Roshi, James is working to continue the tradition of Zen practice.

Zen practice is not easy. It’s hard. Countless hours of mindful meditation (shikantaza), punctuated by cryptic, nearly unanswerable questions: What is the sound of one hand clapping? What do you call the world? Show me your face before you were born. Does a dog have the Buddha nature?

During private interviews with a Zen teacher of the Soto lineage, responding to Zen Koans is a keen method of training. The full course takes many years to complete. “Passing” a koan will typically take more than words. It requires a compelling embodiment of some fundamental reality.