Through Forests of Every Color: Awakening with Koans (Paperback)

Through Forests of Every Color: Awakening with Koans By Joan Sutherland Cover Image

Through Forests of Every Color: Awakening with Koans (Paperback)


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An intimate spiritual and literary journey exploring how Zen koans make us permeable to the joys and the anguish of this life—and to the primordial mystery we glimpse behind the veil of the everyday.

In Through Forests of Every Color, renowned Zen teacher Joan Sutherland reimagines the koan tradition with allegiance to the root spirit of the koans and to their profound potential for vivifying, subverting, and sanctifying our lives. Her decades of practicing with koans and of translating them from classical Chinese imbues this text with a warm familiarity, an ease still suffused with awe.  
Interlinked essays on “koans as art,” “keeping company with koans,” and “walking the koan way” intersperse with beautifully translated renditions of dozens of traditional Zen koans. Sutherland also shares innovative koans culled from Western literature, as well as teachings on how to create idiosyncratic koans or "turning words" from the circumstances of one's own life.
“First honored is your yearning, the preparation made on faith that there is something that will receive you if you make yourself ready,” writes Sutherland of the koan seeker. “Bathed—attended to, washed free of complications—and then aspiring to the deepest kind of beauty—receptive, brave, dedicated, openhearted. Already you’ve begun to look like the thing you’re looking for.”
JOAN SUTHERLAND, Roshi is a teacher in the koan tradition and the first woman teacher in her lineage in the Americas. She is one of the founders of the Pacific Zen School, an innovative contemporary koan school that also includes Pacific Zen Institute. Sutherland taught in Santa Fe, New Mexico, through Awakened Life, the community that gathered around her teachings there. She is also the founding teacher of The Open Source, a network of communities in New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and California. In 2014 she retired from working directly with students and now focuses on Cloud Dragon: The Joan Sutherland Dharma Works, established to organize and disseminate her teachings. She is the author of Vimalakirti and the Awakened Heart, and her writing has appeared regularly in Lion’s Roar and Buddhadharma magazines. She is a translator from classical Chinese, collaborating with John Tarrant on a new translation of the Blue Cliff Record (forthcoming from Wisdom Publications). She currently lives on the coast of northern California.
Product Details ISBN: 9781611809862
ISBN-10: 161180986X
Publisher: Shambhala
Publication Date: June 21st, 2022
Pages: 208
Language: English
“Joan Sutherland has always seemed to be one of the ancient Chinese sages, reborn. They studied the mind and heart and found a way even in difficult times. She tells us the koans, healing stories, poems, and jokes that are so helpful to us now. It’s nice to be in the hands of a good writer too. If we’ll just step into the mystery, she’ll guide us on moonlit paths. She shows us a gate inside the obstacle, a path where there is no path. She is a true guide to the practices for our time.”—John Tarrant, author of Bring Me The Rhinoceros

“Joan Sutherland’s Koan Salon in Santa Fe was something new, an innovation in a very old tradition that loved and respected both the ancestors and the participants. The field in that room was alive and expansive. Something enlightening was going on. I’m excited that this book will introduce many more people to her work.”—Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones

“A clearer path or a better guide would be hard to find. Of course, you still won’t be getting out of this forest alive.”—Red Pine, author of Three Zen Sutras

“Lush and evocative. . . Almost every sentence pulses with delicate insight, illuminating for us how to ‘keep company with koans’ so that we might uncover the most intimate depths of our heart–mind. In Sutherland’s experience, a koan transforms through sustained engagement; what begins as an invitation to question eventually ‘starts to look like shelter.’ Through practice, koans become enduring, all-weather friends, ‘robust, capable of being hauled around, leaned on, and argued with’—friends that lead the way to the experience of freedom.”—Buddhadharma: The Practitioner's Quarterly

“Inherently thoughtful and thought provoking, informed and informative, exceptional in organization and presentation, Through Forests of Every Color will have a very special appeal to students and practitioners of Zen Buddhism and a highly valued addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library collections.”—Midwest Book Review