Loading Events

« All Courses

  • This event has passed.
Nothing is Hidden: The Psychology and Insight of Zen Koans
Dates: Oct 24, 2019 - Oct 27, 2019
Days: Thu - Sun (3 Nights)

Instructor(s): Barry Magid, Max Erdstein

Course Navigation


Although koans are often perceived as riddles designed to unlock our ego-centric consciousness and propel us into hitherto unknown experiences of “no-self” or “oneness,” their actual function in practice may be to compel us to understand and engage the deep psychological dualisms or conflicts within ourselves. The spiritual longing for “not-self” often masks a desire to uproot the “not-me,” all of the dissociated or split-off aspects of myself—my vulnerability, dependency, sexuality, mortality—that can be sources of shame and self-hate. Dharma practice, rather than leading to the mastery over our minds we all secretly crave, requires us to face those aspects of our self that we probably came to practice, in the first place, to escape. Through the vivid imagery and emotionally evocative metaphor of traditional Zen koans, along with guidance in the meditative art of shikantaza, “just sitting,” we will experience how these practices can illuminate the splits in our own psyche, and ultimately return us to a fuller engagement with the whole of ourselves, a wholeness far greater and more encompassing than we ever imagined.

Learning Intentions:

To understand that practice is fundamentally not about self-improvement, progress, or mastery but rather a request to deeply engage with ourselves as we are, and life as it actually is; cultivate one's practice as one of sitting in the fire of spiritual, psychological and ordinary dukkha; and discover wholeness and freedom as we are.

Experience Level:

Suitable for both beginning and experienced practitioners

  • Barry Magid he has been teaching Zen for over 20 years, having received Dharma Transmission from Charlotte Joko Beck. A practicing psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, he has been at the forefront of integrating Zen and psychodynamic theory, and has explored the pitfalls of emotional bypass and dissociation that all too often warp Buddhist practice. He is the author of “Nothing is Hidden: The Psychology of Zen Koans.”

  • Max Erdstein teaches at the Insight Meditation Center and the Insight Retreat Center. He is trained as a teacher by Gil Fronsdal. Max has practiced Vipassana and Zen in America, Japan, Thailand, and Burma. He received lay ordination from Sojun Mel Weitsman at the Berkeley Zen Center. Max completed the Spirit Rock/IMS Dharma teacher training program and trained in Buddhist chaplaincy with the Sati Center. With Gil he taught the first weeklong retreat at IRC in November 2012. Max holds an AB degree from Stanford and worked at Google for five years. He is a husband and father of two girls.