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Roshi Paul Genki Kahn FOT 2023

Paul Kahn

Roshi Paul Genki Kahn - Focusing as a Zen Way of Being: Navigating HERE-NOW as the Unknowable and Indeterminate Pivot for Non-Linear Dynamic Systems Perspectives

Zen draws upon the philosophy of the syncretic Chinese Buddhist school, Huayen, considered by many scholars as the apogee of Buddhist theory. Huayen philosophy integrates Madhyamika deconstruction and Yogacara’s constructivist world-as-consciousness with tathagatagarbha and Buddha Nature theories. The dynamics described are interactive, co-creative, and inter-affective allowing infinite points of awareness among the one and many, differences and sameness all within a nondual unity.

This Huayen philosophy is the background of the famous Zen Koan training system and the writings of Soto Zen Founder, Dogen Zenji, one of the Japan’s most revered Buddhists. Zen anchors this metaphysics into an existential way of practice and experiential way of being. As with Buddhism itself, Zen rests in the non-substantiality and the ever-changing nature of all things.  

In its unique form of nonduality, Zen trains a therapist to shape shift through various identities and perspectives fluidly as discerned appropriate to situation and context without reifying or privileging any one of them.  This training system helps us recognize where to place therapeutic attention in the flow of emergent material while allowing awareness of totality, unity, mutuality, no-thing-at-all and a particular. Zen training guides a therapist in how to develop skills that modulate therapeutic distance in practice along a continuum of difference and merger.

The skills Zen teaches are applicable to any situatedness. Within The Zen Garland Order Focusing is one of the 8 Core Practices, and Focusing is used for discernment in another Core Practice, “Service as a way of being,” which can include social service and activism as well as other ways to work for the wellbeing of all.  

This presentation will introduce participants to the rich potentials Zen training brings to human being as well as therapists and Focusing Oriented Therapy.  The time of the presentation will be divided into thirds: an explication of Zen theory and practice; two examples of the application of Zen in the therapeutic process and one example of a social service project with an Afghan refugee family; Q & A and discussion. 

Roshi Paul Genki Kahn is a lineage-holding Zen teacher in the Japanese Soto Zen lineage of Taizan Maezumi Roshi. He has been practicing Zen since 1970. He is Co-Founder with Roshi Monika Genmitsu Lang Kahn of The Zen Garland Order, an international order for Zen practice, education, healing, and service. Roshi Genki is a psychotherapist in private practice and has led freestanding and hospital based mental health programs and clinics for thirty years. He has studied FOT under Lynn Preston and has used Focusing in his clinical practice and teaching of clinicians for decades. He and Roshi Genmitsu lead Zen Focusing training for Zen students and have made Focusing one of the 8 Core Practices of The Zen Garland Order.