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What Is a Zen Koan?

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Our intellects can help us surmise that one plus one equals two, or that we need a key to start the engine of our car, but in the face of existential questions, ordinary understanding comes to a screeching halt. Master Bon Yeon (Jane Dobisz), the guiding teacher of the Cambridge Zen Center, says that koan practice begins in these “don’t know” spaces—the questions we can’t rationalize or figure out. Drawing from her experience working with Zen koans over several decades, Bon Yeon will show how the Zen tradition’s parables and riddles can bring about spiritual insight through shock, surprise, and disruption.