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Bring Me the Rhinoceros

And Other Zen Koans to Bring You Joy
Paperback Book
November, 2008
$22.95 CAD
Banyen's Description: 

Originally from Tasmania, John Tarrant is a Jungian therapist turned Zen teacher who also wrote The Light Inside the Dark. In Bring Me the Rhinoceros, he offers an unusual path to happiness and a can opener for your thinking. It doesn’t encourage you to strive for things or manipulate people or change yourself into an improved, more polished version of you. Instead, it deftly shows that, rather than laboriously building happiness, you can just unbuild, unmake, toss overboard, and generally subvert unhappiness.

It can be consoling to discover that you don’t have to believe in your own thoughts.

The secret to this path lies in the ancient art of Zen koans—the stories or brief pointed encounters between a Zen master and a student that have been used in the Zen tradition for more than a thousand years as a means to liberation from suffering. John Tarrant spent thirty years studying and teaching koans and in the process has discovered ways to make them accessible and meaningful to people living in the modern “whirled.”

Tarrant vividly retells fourteen traditional koans (which are partly paradoxical questions dangerous to your beliefs and partly treasure boxes of ancient wisdom) from the point of view of the student to help readers discover the joyful peace of mind available at any moment. Koans remain a precise and imaginative method for seeing past self-imposed limits and finding freedom right in the middle of our everyday muddle.

It is the job of a koan to take down the walls… to undermine your fictions. Then, you might discover that you are not really suffering from other people or from circumstances. You are suffering from your maps, your stories, your fiction, your prison. You are suffering from bad art.


Compassion has to start somewhere, and embracing your own life is itself the beginning of a change of heart. Some people do speak of a koan as a lover in their arms.

Publisher’s Description: 

Bring Me the Rhinoceros is an unusual guide to happiness and a can opener for your thinking. For fifteen hundred years, Zen koans have been passed down through generations of masters, usually in private encounters between teacher and student. This book deftly retells more than a dozen traditional koans, which are partly paradoxical questions dangerous to your beliefs and partly treasure boxes of ancient wisdom. Koans show that you dont have to impress people or change into an improved, more polished version of yourself. Instead you can find happiness by unbuilding, unmaking, throwing overboard, and generally subverting unhappiness. John Tarrant brings the heart of the koan tradition out into the open, reminding us that the old wisdom remains as vital as ever, a deep resource available to anyone in any place or time.

To learn more about the author, visit his website at

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