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.
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!
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.
John Tarrant tells a story about meeting whatever arises, in preparation for PZI’s first in-person retreat since Covid, and for other unexpected encounters. Meeting your true self: Turning toward the fire gives you your life. And, “Meeting the old familiar face from long ago,” from the first of Dongshan’s Five Ranks. The only now we have is ours, as intense and real as it might be. So, have your life! Being lost is better than being right. Recorded June 12, 2022. 9-minute video.
Writer & Roshi Susan Murphy, in conversation with Jon Joseph, reads from her books and talks about her childhood, family, lifelong relationship with the land, the disturbing evidence of climate change in Australia, and her ongoing, warm collaborations with indigenous aboriginal elders. Recorded April 25, 2022. Jordan McConnell sings the vows.
We abide in the inexplicable amnesty of hereness. Amnesty is also a metaphor for awakening. You allow your awakening to go all the way through. And you can be free, then caught, then free again. Recorded April 17, 2022. Music from Michael Wilding. Todd Geist sings vows.
Here is a curation of our Fall Sesshin dharma talks on a single page, for easy finding and listening. A sesshin is always more than the sum of its parts or its recorded talks. There are morning rituals, greetings, incense passed magically through the screen, the changing light, rich silences, moments of humor, tech gremlins, tears, synchronicities, dogs barking, dreams, and awakenings that we share. It is the timeless play of the universe, with each other. As recorded in the PZI Digital Temple, October 19-24, 2021.
SUTRA: Shitou Xiqian’s ancient Sandokai translated by Joan Sutherland and John Tarrant, entitled Taking Part in the Gathering.
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.”
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?
Distraction can have a long arc, and until the end of the story, you can’t say what’s a distraction and what’s a calling.
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.
Love is an enlightenment story available to everyone, and that story includes being attacked by demons as well as being showered with roses. If we widen our gaze, in love, we discover what we like about ourselves and how we want to live our lives.
Day two of 2018 Winter Sesshin. John Tarrant introduces the great koan “No,” a gift from the ancestors. The gift is what happens when we hang out with the koan. “No” as the purest gate. When we step through, we find out we’re here! It’s not personal, you’re harmonizing with the universe. Transcript from a recording on January 17, 2018.
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.
Allison Atwill & Tess Beasley are guest hosts in John Tarrant’s Free & Easy Wandering Series. They each tell a story of being at a threshold—knocking on doors not knowing who would answer, and how the gifts of the universe appeared. PZI Zen Online, as recorded May 30, 2021. Vows with Jordan McConnell. Music for meditation from Michael Wilding archived separately.