Introduction to Barry Farrin (Ku San) Roshi and Forest Way Zen
Barry began the Forest Way Zen Group in 1989 on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. He began to meditate after his divorce in 1974 and in 1976 he became interested in Buddhism and particularly in Zen Buddhism. He first met Subhana Barzaghi in 1976 and she later became his main teacher.
Barry married Marie in 1979 in Sydney and they both began to sit in meditation. They tried TM in the early days and Barry was influenced to meditate by his involvement in Karate Do. After working towards his black belt and after a trip to Japan, Barry put more attention on meditation.
Marie and Barry moved to Queensland in 1987 and began to sit with the Queensland Zen Group. They travelled from the Sunshine Coast to Brisbane for three years almost every Sunday. This was a round trip of 300kms. There was no resident Zen teacher in Queensland at that time, so Rosalind Stone from Canada began to teach in Queensland.
Barry found that without a regular teacher to guide him he had to find a way of meditating and he began to use Shikantaza or just sitting as his main practice. He later developed this skill, or as he later learned Silent illumination, as one of his main meditation practices. His early training was mostly of a Soto style with teachers who came from the Joko Beck school in America.
Barry lived in a Korean Zen monastery in Brisbane during 1995 and 1996 for just under 12 months. He then went to study and train with Robert Aitken Roshi in Hawaii and completed an Ango (Training Period) for more than 2 months. During his time there he worked on building the temple for the Diamond Sangha in Hawaii and attended the last sesshin that Aitken Roshi conducted.
After his retirement Barry conducted many mindfulness meditation workshops per week at different locations around the Sunshine Coast while continuing to teach at the Forest Way Zen. He had used mindfulness meditation during his work in palliative care and cancer care as a psychotherapist.
After the bombings of the Twin Towers in 2001 Barry became active in creating reconciliation on the Sunshine Coast with Muslims and other faiths. He was a founding member of the Sunshine Coast Interfaith Network (SKIN). SKIN held regular meetings at the local university and church venues. This activity went on for 5 years. The seminars provided a place to express strong feelings and eventually a forum of healing.
Barry has attended over 300 days in sesshin, Zazenkai and other Buddhist retreats over the years and conducted over 150 retreats including sesshin, zazenkai and mindfulness training periods. He was made a practice leader in 1999 and was invited to teach as an apprentice teacher in 2004 after completing his koan study. He was given transmission in 2015 in the Diamond Sangha by Subhana Barzaghi and the title of Roshi.
Forest Way Zen conducts weekly sittings, regular Zazenkai, a five-day Sesshin and 2- 3-day retreats for Jukai celebrations. Regular introductions are held by senior students of Forest Way Zen.
Forest Way Zen recently conducted a Sunday mindfulness workshop for people with chronic pain, chronic illness, arthritis and other issues that reduce life enjoyment. This was run as the Forest Way Zen Care and no charge made to participants. Members of the Forest Way Zen engaged in helping in this endeavour to show compassion. This is a way of developing compassion within our sangha.
After completing high school Barry began a career in sales working in real estate and as a management consultant conducting sales training and management training for industry. After his divorce he changed direction and completed three university qualifications specializing in social science and psychotherapy and counselling. (see below). He spent much of his later years working in palliative care and cancer care before his retirement from paid work. Barry now spends 20-25 hours a week now in Zen teaching and training with the Forest Way Zen and the Forest Way Zen Care.
B.S.Sc. Queensland University of Technology
Grad. Dip. of Counselling Queensland University of Technology M.App.Sc. University of Western Sydney.