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Knot Zen

Knot Zen: an episodic podcast in which The Gang attempts to sneak a peak behind the (seemingly) enigmatic curtain of the classic Zen Koans.

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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Gutei's One Finger Zen

Mazel Tov!  It's Gutei's Bar Mitzvah! The Gang looks over the seemingly violent third case of the Mumonkan (where Gutei slices the finger off of a boy) and discusses why he would do such a thing.

1hr 4mins

1 Dec 2019

Rank #1

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Buddha Holds Out A Flower

Aww!  Buddha's giving a flower to Kashyapa!   Join "The Gang" as they discuss the potential meaning(s) behind this gesture and why Kashyapa couldn't help but give a big smile at the scene.

1hr 27mins

9 Jan 2020

Rank #2

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Nansen's Ordinary Mind

"Do you know da way?" The Gang discusses this formative Case of Joshu's Enlightenment.  What is 'The Way'?  How can we approach it?  Can we ever be good enough for enlightenment, inner peace, or making our parents proud? Join in for an episode that has the same trash-talk, goofs, and musings you're used to from Knot Zen with a little extra intimacy sprinkled on top (and not just from Nansen and Joshu!)

1hr 32mins

5 Jan 2020

Rank #3

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Bodhidarma and Emperor Wu - Part 1

What’s black, white, and full of holes? According to Boddhidharma, not even the holy truths! The Gang discusses the first Case of the Blue Cliff Record: the infamous exchange between the Emperor Of China himself and our good old grumpy grandpa, Boddhidharma. Join in as we discuss why our first Patriarch may have been so laconic in his answer to Wu’s question regarding the highest of holy truths. As for you, what merit have you brought to this kingdom? Welcome to the Sangha.


18 Feb 2020

Rank #4

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Joshu Greets The King!

Make Way, here he comes, ring bells, cloth-cover the drums! The King himself comes to greet one of our favorite Zen Masters, Joshu!  He is a bit surprised at Joshu's seeming lack of greeting him in return. Tune in and join The Gang as they question who the King might be, if Joshu is just too lazy to get out of a chair, and why he says who he will meet where (just make sure you don't slight The King).

1hr 21mins

30 Jan 2020

Rank #5

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Tardy: Yunmen's "When The Bell Sounds"

Move your feet? Lose your seat! In this week's episode, Zen Master Yunmen asks monks, when they hear the bell to go to class, why they're even getting up. Make sure you're on time to join as The Gang examines the question Yunmen asks us: Why are we here?  Why aren't we there? The world has many things going on - why are you listening to this instead of that?  Seeing this instead of tasting that? Don't think these are rhetorical questions... and, even if you think he's making fun of you, who's Yunmen to tell you what to do anyway??

1hr 26mins

29 Jan 2020

Rank #6

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Bodhidarma and Emperor Wu - Part 3

1hr 19mins

25 Feb 2020

Rank #7

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Joshu's "Picking and Choosing"

The Gang discusses the second case of the Blue Cliff Record where we'll see an uppity monk try getting the best of Joshu, maybe.

1hr 20mins

15 Dec 2019

Rank #8

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Bodhidarma and Emperor Will - Part 2

1hr 20mins

20 Feb 2020

Rank #9

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Joshu's "Oak Tree in the garden"

The Gang takes a look at the 37th Case of the Mumonkan to try finding some sap on this very short and seemingly enigmatic line from Joshu.

1hr 9mins

1 Dec 2019

Rank #10

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Yunmen's Statements Part 2: "An Upside Down Statement"

Yunmen's back at it again, only this time the tables are turned! Come join the Sangha as The Gang tries unscrambling the 15th Case of the Blue Cliff Record. See if you can discover who is "Dying with you, being born with you, to give your certainty."


28 Jan 2020

Rank #11

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Sliced: Bodhidharma's "Mind Pacifying"

Boddhidharma shows up the Second Patriarch by pacifying his mind with both arms tied behind his back! In this episode, The Gang discusses this visceral 41st Case of the Mumonkan where Huike (the Second Patriarch) stands, arm cut off in the snow, chit-chatting about his inability to find his mind when he searches. Join in on this cold night and join in the question: "Let it go?  Let it go?" 

1hr 43mins

11 Feb 2020

Rank #12

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Ryutan Blows Out The Candle

The Gang takes a look at "Ryutan's Candle" - the 28th Case of the Mumonkan (Gateless Gate) - where we see the enlightenment of Zen Master Tokusan (Deshan) after his perhaps not-so-humble beginnings.

1hr 21mins

10 Dec 2019

Rank #13

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Joshu's "Wash Your Bowl"

Does the cook do the cleaning? The Gang ponders the classic Case where Joshu congratulates a monk for eating breakfast before reminding him to do the dishes.


24 Dec 2019

Rank #14

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Joshu's "What Else Do You Dislike?"

Hold your horses before giving that rating!  In this episode, Joshu weighs in on raindrops on roses and girls in white dresses as "The Gang" discusses what there is to be disliked and why Joshu would give such a seemingly strange comment to a monk asking about Buddha.

1hr 17mins

15 Jan 2020

Rank #15

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Yunmen's Statements Part 1: "An Appropriate Statement"

Uh oh!  Looks like this is another episode of Knot Zen After Dark. The Gang explores the 14th Case of the Blue Cliff Record and pushes the limits of appropriate statements.  And this is just part 1!  Be sure to check out Part 2 where everything starts going topsy turvy!

1hr 4mins

23 Jan 2020

Rank #16

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Snow In a Silver Bowl

1hr 16mins

15 Apr 2020

Rank #17

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Grain of Rice

1hr 41mins

1 Apr 2020

Rank #18

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Not The Wind, Not The Flag

Size of the boat?  Motion of the ocean? Join in as The Gang investigates Mumon's bold move when he says the 6th Patriarch himself was wrong when he told the men debating some Newtonian Physics that neither the flag nor wind moved: it was your mind that moved. If a plane's wings are shaped to make the air going over the top move faster than on the bottom, why can they fly upside down?? Welcome to the Sangha.

1hr 10mins

26 Feb 2020

Rank #19

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Joshu's "I alone am the world honored one"


30 Nov 2019

Rank #20