PZI Zen Online: Audio excerpt from Guanyin in the Pavilion Under the August Moon. Fire & Radiance with Allison Atwill Roshi. As recorded Aug 30 2020.
Audio: Michael Wilding on Saxophone playing his original composition during Allison Atwill’s meditation and dharma talk on Guanyin as fire. This is a new recording sans the variables of bandwidth. A gift from Michael to PZI. Thank you!
John’s monthly talk at SRCZC, November 2019. The time of year for ghosts, memories. We’ve just come through another disastrous fire season. Our ancestors survived fires, plagues, famines, great crossings. John reads the teaching on the great zen temple fire of 1374 in which hundreds of thousands of precious texts were incinerated – and yet the temple master told them all had survived. Teachings that nourish us beyond scripture is the core of Zen.
Allison presents a talk on another miscellaneous Koan, “Stop the fire across the river.” This is like stopping the war within ourselves: where does this fire arise within us and what form does it take? Passion, anger, demons, delusions all take form within us.
Allison demonstrates the possibility of working with the fire of anger through humor and diligent practice and attention to what flares up within the body. January 22, 2014.
“Two swords are crossed, there’s no way to retreat; you’re a lotus in the fire, you can’t help it – you’re determined to go higher.”
John talks about the concept of enlightenment and serenity, and managing to love and appreciate the inner life of the mind.
Australia’s ancient forests were burning in September 2020. In the face of unfathomable loss John Tarrant writes, “It’s too early to despair, it’s always too early to despair. The world itself is a mystery school and teaches us what it needs. It gives us impossible tasks and impossible journeys, and all we can say is that we love the world without knowing outcomes, because it is the only world we have, and because we never do know outcomes.” Article for Lion’s Roar magazine, published September 14, 2020.
This is 8th century Zen ancestor Shitou Xiqian’s great song, the Sandokai—or Taking Part in the Gathering, as translated by Joan Sutherland and John Tarrant. This foundational text is often read at Winter Solstice. “When you let these words in, you encounter the ancestors.” Winter Sesshin January, 2020.
Bandicoots, wombats, and numbats surely do look as you would expect anything with such a name might, and there’s something wondrous about that. Musings and poem on how the world appears from silence, John Tarrant Roshi.
Everybody, every time, has its own difficulty and crisis. This is ours. We can trust our own lives that brought us here, and perhaps we have something to do here. And we don’t know what that is but we’ll find it as we keep walking. The thing about the meditation path is, I don’t have to think a lot about what’s mine to do. You just give yourself to the meditation, and it’s produced for you. It’s given to you. The path opens by itself, you know. Transcript of PZI Zen Online Sunday Talk with John Tarrant, recorded March 29 2020.
I was thinking about history and beauty and what an old old thing human suffering is, and how intrinsic it is. And we keep making things better and then they keep getting worse, and we’re making them better and they get worse. I guess I just wanted to say that it’s really good to have a practice at any time. Meditate—it will help. You will come from a position of peace rather than just fighting yourself. Being yourself, the true person, no rank. Transcript of PZI Zen Online Sunday Dharma Talk with John Tarrant Roshi, recorded June 7, 2020.
PZI Zen Online Transcript: It’s a very strong thing to be human, you can be subjected to all sorts of great forces. And sometimes you can win through, and sometimes you die. But we’re all of us doing that, all the time. So I was thinking about friendship and how good it is to love each other and how good it is to have friends and to make peace in our hearts to meet each other. Sunday talk with John Tarrant, recorded June 14 2020.
PZI Dharma Theme: Four PZI Guanyins reappear for Zen Tuesdays in October. They marvel at the immensity in all things from various perspectives. Drawing inspiration from Jane Hirshfield’s poem, “Tree,” The Doors’ “Light My Fire,” a golden crowned sparrow, a remarkable brother’s life, and more. Excerpts and complete audio sessions as recorded in October 2020.
Practice. The notion of practice, as something you embody, and you walk through, and you are—rather than something you add, like something added to gasoline. There’s also a sense of moving in the dark, in some way that’s positive. So that in a practice, “not knowing” is on your side.
PZI Zen Online: Allison Atwill Roshi’s Zen Tuesday dharma talk. The immensity of sound as it permeates all barriers. Cracks showing in our traditions and conventions, trying to get back to the old imperfect life. Jim Morrison and The Doors offer up “Light My Fire” as rendered on the Ed Sullivan show. As recorded Oct 12 2020.
Zenosaurus Curriculum 14: The dark, charged moments endure in us and they bless us. “This,” they announce, “is your life—here it is.” What you have always longed for has arrived.
Zenosaurus Curriculum 10: Why do people sit around the camp fire with flashlights under their chins telling ghost stories? As well as the shudder that takes us to another realm, ghosts bring romance and yearning—they account for incompleteness, the person you loved but who died or changed her mind, the uncontrollable residue of everything we do.
So, there’s a spaciousness inside all situations, is what I’m saying. We’re walking through them, and underneath our feet there’s space and light around us—and we’re walking through space and light. And knowing that then is the source, I think, of empathy and love—but we accompany each other. And we don’t have to take ourselves or each other so seriously. We don’t have to advocate for the direness of the human condition, which is something we find a lot of. [laughs]
I think this is a time when things are kind of changing and incredibly uncertain, and that fidelity to what’s really true to us is important and valuable. And we don’t have to pretend that when difficulties are here, they’re not here. But also, we don’t have to pretend that they cancel the illumination, because nothing does, really. Even if we’re dying, the brightness of life is still there. And after we’re dead, we’ll worry about that later, [laughs] when the time comes in the bardos.
PZI Zen Online – Hanging Lanterns at the Gate of the Autumn Temple: Orange skies, unhealthy air, apocalypse week in CA and the west. The old agreements are fragile—climate change a long gathering storm, fire a consequence. Having a practice—the simplest thing—a conversation with the vastness. Being lost is an opportunity, as old attitudes fall away. Don’t take yourself too seriously! “Each step along the way is of equal substance”—Hirada. Musicians: Amaryllis Fletcher, Cantor & Jordan McConnell, guitar. As recorded September 13 2020.
PZI Dharma Theme: “Guanyin Manifesting in the Elements: Space, Earth, Water, Air, Fire.” A Dharma Theme? It’s a gathering, a curation of events from our vast KALPA library, based in a theme that is current in our online sessions and practice. We’re offering a compilation of various types of files: transcript, audio, art, music, and video—all from PZI teachers.
PZI Zen Online: Audio excerpt from Guanyin in the Pavilion Under the August Moon: Saving houses from fire. Allison Atwill Roshi’s stories of fiery compassion and radiance. As recorded August 30 2020.
PZI Zen Online – Hanging Lanterns at the Gates of the Autumn Temple – As old agreements fall apart, practice is a kindness to yourself. What is the image of our time: A lamp that lights another without losing any radiance. It carries a moment of change with the warmth of fire. What is meditation: Any moment of sanity. As recorded, Sept. 6 2020. Michael Wilding Flute, Cantor Amaryllis Fletcher, violin prelude and Jordan McConnell 4 vows.
PZI Zen Online – Audio: Fiery Guanyin in the butterfly tent with open wings. Allison reminds us of all the elemental manifestations of Guanyin as Space, Earth, Water, Air, and finally Fire. Guanyin manifests solutions from unseen space in any situation that is deemed unfixable. Fire is an ancient symbol of transformation but also shows itself through Gunayin as the inner radiance of all things. Every appearance has its own brightness. The koan of the great temple fire of Engaku-ji Temple in Kamakura, in which everything was burned and yet nothing was destroyed. One of the 100 Samurai Koans. As recorded, with Michael Wilding on flute. Aug 30, 2020
So, rather than thinking a predicament is something we’ve got to get rid of, it’s just life—and it has its own dynamism. Maybe we have to walk through it, not run the other way. It’s all right to weep about it, or be frustrated and angry. You can’t be someone else, you are who you are. The gateway is yours, not someone else’s. From recording at Summer Sesshin, July 11 2013, Santa Sabina.
So, whatever your condition is, you can see the “I have joy.” Out of that emptiness, out of what seems unpromising—the dark material, the valley spirit, the enigma, out of the mystery, out of what I don’t understand—it just appears. The joy just appears.