The Heart Sutra says, “Form is no other than emptiness, emptiness no other than form. There are no walls in the mind.” We are the world unfolding.
Green Glade of Meditation: Our culture needs to renew its dreams. We are still held by vastness, and it is good when the bottom falls out: our job is to work in harmony with the universe. Take the role of host for everything that appears. Allow “not knowing.” If you know who you are, you can not take a step! Nothing before us, and only a wake behind. The empathic nature of emptiness, blessings of the goddess. PZI Zen Online, as recorded July 26th, 2020.
Green Glade of Meditation: There is a framework in our practice for relying on emptiness and freedom, not holding pre-set views. Blessing things beyond approval and disapproval. I am you = emptiness. In Zen we shift to “before” the demons grabbed our ankles. You can’t rely on what you believe. We accord with the Dao, we can’t fall out of the dream. PZI Zen online, as recorded July 19, 2020.
Class 6 Curriculum Notes: Vast Emptiness – Call & Response Koans. Please do not share, this is core curriculum. July 25 2020.
A great meandering conversation bookended with Hosho Peter’s poems and reminiscences: It was in the late 1960s when Peter first met poet Gary Snyder, a meeting that forever changed his life. Emulating Snyder, he began a regular Zen meditation practice, later joining the San Francisco Zen Center. A conversation with Jon Joseph. March 28th, 2022.
Zen Luminaries: Bill Porter (aka Red Pine) joins Jon Joseph Roshi in meditation and conversation on the topics of Heart Sutra, his translation work, and life in Zen. Jordan McConnell sings the Heart Sutra. As recorded December 20, 2021.
Modern Zen Luminaries: A series of Zen Buddhist scholars, writers, poets, translators, and practitioners join PZI’s Jon Joseph Roshi for lively discussions online, with a focus on our Chan lineage. Includes all recordings beginning with the series’ launch in September 2021.
Text of the Great Prajnaparamita Heart Sutra (short version.) Musical score by PZI’s Richie Dominge, 2007, is in a separate post.
Article by John Tarrant for Lion’s Roar magazine. A traditional Chan way to approach the question of death is to stroll, stumble, hurry, struggle, fall accidentally through the gates of samadhi—the deep concentration of meditation—and look around. When you really enter this moment, it has no end, no beginning; it is older than the universe that seems to contain it. Then it will inevitably occur to you: “I’ve always been here.”
Once you really have a good connection with spirit, it will always be available to you if you turn towards it in a dark time. I’m not saying spirit is a false promise. It’s a true promise, but it doesn’t do our living for us. That living is the part we have to do for ourselves. And when we do that, then the soul comes in.
“You must in the destructive element immerse…” You have to go through it otherwise you can’t have real resolution. Not fleeing the difficulty of things, and orienting yourself to the infinite. “A person on a raft flows on the stream by throwing themselves away.” The importance of the smallest things in the this-is-it dream.
In forty years, the earth itself, beyond our control, and human violence, also beyond our control, will have changed all our assumptions. Even so, what do I want the teachings to be?
It’s easy to forget to be curious, and to grab an off-the-shelf knowledge, something like “This is awful.” Not reaching for off-the-shelf understandings, though, is an important skill.
What is the gift of the universe? We receive unexpected help when we are “living down a level,” living things before we construct them. Not constantly consulting your “me,” you open to the invitations and gifts that appear; trusting in the Dao.
The small self is always trying to hold off the world. But we are really a kind of flow. We feel the warm empathy at the bottom of all things. All things have Buddha nature. Not opposing reality is the beginning of all awakenings.
Meditation offers a path out of the burning house, without abandoning the promise and good-heartedness of being human. Practice is the last best hope of living up to that good-heartedness, the only thing that never hurts and usually helps. And even at the beginning of the meditation path, on a good day it’s exciting. It actually makes you happy.
Even a time of torpor, or a time when plans come apart, or we thought the culture was going in one way and it’s going in another—we rely on the spaciousness, we rely on not what we’ve planned and schemed, but we rely on what’s been opened up in our hearts. Transcript from the PZI Zen Online recording from Sunday, June 21, 2020.
Roshi Jon Joseph assembled a panel of 4 PZI meditators, who deal with various experiences of chronic and severe pain. Koan meditation has helped all of them to find a way to allow the pain in—not to exclude it, and to see it as a profound teacher and ally. As recorded May 31, 2021.
What is the journey for? What is it to have this life? We’re in it—it’s so marvelous, so overwhelming and so incomprehensible. You’ll find, I think, that you can’t stand back from it and answer that question. So the “good day” is just how it is. It’s like the gift of the universe, and you’re in the universe, having received the gift. Transcript of John Tarrant’s dharma talk in Winter Sesshin 2020.
In even the simplest life, pain and disappointment accumulate—and at some moment everyone longs to walk through a gate and leave the past behind, perhaps for an earlier time when the colors were bright and the heart carried no weight. The quest for a fresh start is so fundamental that it defines the shape of the stories we tell each other. Article by John Tarrant published in Lion’s Roar magazine on July 1, 2007.
Turning your thoughts upside down is almost always progress, especially with conflicts that seem old and full of certainty. Article by John Tarrant published in Lion’s Roar magazine June 9, 2009.
Jon Joseph Roshi, Director of San Mateo Zen, considers the 8th Ox-herding picture along with a verse from 12th century poet Kuon Shihyuan. What happens if Ox and Self disappear? PZI Zen Online. As recorded May 3, 2021.