Boundless Way Zen

James Ishmael Ford, Senseiclick to email

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Introductory note from James Ford, Sensei.

John Tarrant was born and raised in rural Tasmania. His earliest influences included Catholicism (particularly the Latin Mass), Aboriginal culture and English literature and poetry, for which he developed an almost endless appetite. He attended the Australian National University where he earned a dual degree in Human Sciences and English Literature.

Before and after school he worked at a variety of jobs ranging from being a laborer in open-pit mine to fishing the Great Barrier Reef. He also found himself a lobbyist on behalf of the Aboriginal land rights movement. After discovering Buddhist practice he moved to Hawaii where he studied with the renowned koan master and social justice activist Robert Aitken. He is Robert Aitken’s first Dharma successor.

Later he earned his doctorate in Psychology and worked for several years as a psychotherapist. A poet, he has contributed to various journals and is anthologized in Beneath A Single Moon: Buddhism in Contemporary American Poetry and What Book!? Buddha Poems From Beat to Hiphop.

Arguably the most interesting and talented koan master in the west, John Tarrant’s many teisho and Dharma talks - collected around the web and beginning to be archived here at the Boundless Way Zen website - are creative and inviting, allowing the reader just as much as the original listener to find ways into this discipline that are both authentic to the tradition and yet as contemporary as this very breath.

A teacher of teachers, a lecturer and retreat master, John Tarrant’s published writings now include The Light Inside the Dark: Zen, Soul and the Spiritual Life, which is rapidly being considered a classic of our western Zen way. He now is nearing completion of his next book, a study of selected koan materials. Divorced, he lives in Santa Rosa, California, where he devotes much of his time to being the parent of a teenaged girl. He is also a founder of and continues as Director of the Pacific Zen Institute.

For anyone seeking to understand their own heart and mind, who wishes to go to the depths of our lives, to discover the truth of the matter, this collection of John's talks and writings may prove invaluable. But, beware, his inviting manner may trick you. His goal is nothing less than opening you to that great matter, revealing who you really are. But then, what else do you think you were born for?

James Etsujo Ford
Rohatsu, 2003
West Newton, Massachusetts


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