The Heart Sutra Koan

Evening dharma talk by John Tarrant in Summer Sesshin. As recorded June 14, 2018.

The Heart Sutra and Koans

The Heart Sutra in the context of its relationship to koans and what koans are. I want to pursue that line a little bit.  And the first thing to say about – probably the first attitude people have to koans is that they are a sort of tool, a gadget of some kind, and you use them and you concentrate on them, and you use them – a can opener for the mind

Heart Sutra Variations

The Heart Sutra, like any koan, contains the universe, and so you have to go in somewhere.  I want to go in through the “Mantra of Great Magic.”  Even the word “mantra” is, in a certain way, a reference to magic, a sort of portable access to reality that you can carry around with you. And the word “magic” is also used for the word “mantra,” so where we use “mantra” to produce magic, there’s a transformative quality about the mantra so that, when you repeat it, when you keep company with it, you end up in its world.

Heart Sutra

John Tarrant gives a talk on Thursday evening of the 2018 Summer Sesshin. June 14, 2018.

Heart Sutra Variations

John Tarrant gives a talk on Tuesday Evening of the 2018 Summer Sesshin. June 12, 2018.

Heart Sutra

Rachel Boughton gives a talk on Tuesday morning of the Summer 2018 Sesshin. June 12, 2018.

Meditation: Abiding Nowhere the Heartmind Comes Forth

A 32 minute Meditation: The tale of the Diamond Sutra with John Tarrant. Koan meditation, as recorded March 21st 2021.

Dharma Theme: Pacific Zen Institute Sutra Book

A collection of Pacific Zen Institute’s Sutra Service & Sesshin Closing Ceremony materials. Includes all Sutras, with sheet music as available, text, lyrics, readings, and audio of original Dedications for Remembrance.

Audio Excerpt: Guanyin Air & Breath Arising with Sarah Bender

PZI Zen Online: Audio excerpt from Guanyin in the Pavilion Under the August Moon. Sarah Bender Roshi contemplates the call and response of compassionate exchanges. Air as breath of life. Anchored in the Heart Sutra. Dream of a room, barely there, full of gifts for all times and places. As recorded August 23 2020.

The Moon Sets at Midnight

We have such a passion to know and to be certain but, in practice, much of what we think of as knowledge is just untested thoughts. As the Heart Sutra says, even thoughts are empty, and if we are willing not to know, willing to walk through life without believing every thought that rises, then we’ll find a path out of suffering.

Dragons of the Blue Cliff Retreat – Part 2: Hands & Eyes

How does the bodhisattva of compassion use all those hands and eyes? How do I express Guanyin? How is Guanyin showing up in my life? John Tarrant’s afternoon meditation & talk, Part 2 of this two-session Dragons of the Blue Cliff 1-Day Retreat. In the PZI Digital Temple, as recorded June 6, 2021.

Free & Easy Wandering Series: Mysterious Meetings in a Mysterious Time

We’ve been in a long monastic retreat during this pandemic. Time has slowed. We are opening up gradually now to the world, as more people are vaccinated. We realize we are not going back to anything. The time is changing. We’re all stepping off into the mysterious. Musician: Jordan McConnell. PZI Zen Online: Sunday talk as recorded May 23, 2021.

Every Day Is a Good Day

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.

14 When Something Confronts You, Don’t Believe It – The Zenosaurus Course in Koans

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.

Secret Fidelity & One Finger Zen, Even in the Bardos

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.

The Journey, the Reaching, & Luopu’s Last Words

There was a teacher called Luopu, a Chinese teacher, and he said this interesting thing. He said, “You have to directly realize the source outside of the teachings.” That’s the whole thing about it. That’s Bodhidharma’s thing, the direct realization outside of scriptures. The scriptures are nice and the teachings are nice, but really, the direct understanding—the direct meeting with life—the direct meeting with awakening is the thing.

Class 6 Curriculum Notes: Vast Emptiness – Call & Response Koans

Class 6 Curriculum Notes: Vast Emptiness – Call & Response Koans. Please do not share, this is core curriculum. July 25 2020.

No Rank! – Or the Wild Path of Awakening

So…tonight I want to talk a little bit about the course of the inner work — the dharma work — in terms of this book, the Book of Serenity. And you know, it pretty much is the second case is the one we’re going to mention, about Bodhidharma meets The Emperor Wu.

Joy, Mosquitoes & Zen

Joy and peace don’t stop the mosquitoes from biting. All these things have their source in meditation.  So you want to open your heart.  You want to –whatever it is – during meditation.  That’s what he’s saying.  Right.  It comes from within.

Trapped in a Stone Grave – Rising from Stillness Retreat

And so you go out to the cemetery and you find your family vault. It looks a little bit overgrown; you haven’t been there for a long time. But you’ve got a key and you put it in and you pull the big stone door and it opens, just like that. It’s great. So you walk in just to kind of pay your respects; you haven’t been here for ages. And a sudden gust of wind….

The Way Things Are Is Mysterious & Hard to See – Refuge Vows As Koans

Allison Atwill, Tess Beasley & Jesse Cardin lead us into the heart of PZI practice—what it means to take refuge, and how to work with the vows as koans. Purification Sutra and vows sung and played by musician Jordan McConnell. PZI Digital Temple. As recorded April 25, 2021.

Dharma Theme: Spring Sesshin 2021 – After the Dark and the Cold, Come the Blossoms

Curated links to Dharma talks, guided meditations, music, art, closing words, and more from Spring Sesshin 2021.

A True Person of No Rank, No Color, No Gender: Seeing Through All Distinctions

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.

The Everlasting Body Runs Deepest Indigo: Meditation for Troubled Times

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.

13 No – The Zenosaurus Course In Koans

Zenosaurus Curriculum 13: The link between the koan and the transformation of your life is real, but since the process isn’t linear you might not notice it at first. The link might seem to be in a black box—invisible.

16 A Treasure Hidden In The Body – The Zenosaurus Course In Koans

Zenosaurus Curriculum 16: There is a very old idea that the human body is itself a map of the cosmos, the fragment that contains the whole.

You Know Nothing (of Zen) – The Woman at the Inn

You can trust that the thing that you are doing is going to work. It’s underground. There’s a growth happening in the dark. You don’t even have to see it. But, after a while, you start to notice it. It’s kind of a cool thing, actually. You think, “God, even me! Even I have some part in this.”

10,000 Things

When something confronts you, don’t believe it. Whatever appears, shine your light on it. Have confidence in the light that’s always working inside you. When the heart rises, the 10,000 things arise too. When the heart is still, the many things cease. They come to rest. When the heart does not rise… when the heart is not anxious, as John put it last night… when the heart does not rise, the 10,000 things are without blame. So when something confronts you don’t believe it. Don’t believe it. That’s been such a kick to sit with. I just noticed that I start suffering, and when suffering comes it, it doesn’t even name itself. I’m not even aware of what I’m wrong for doing or not doing.

Dreams

Tonight I want to talk about another aspect of the koan about who’s hearing, who am I, what am I. There’s a spectrum I’ve been talking about so far for all of one previous talk. And I wanted to get at it slightly at an angle by going in through dreams, and the idea of is there a difference between what we’re doing and dreams anyway, which is certainly relevant to who we think we are. 

10,000 Things

I like having a roomful of things and a roomful of people. So my plan for this talk is to say a little bit of some of the things I’ve
been thinking about as I sit with this koan, and talk a little bit about retreat, and then to have some time for conversation and questions and observations.

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New to Pacific Zen Institute? – Welcome!

WELCOME! At PZI we’re creating a culture of transformation through meditation, koans, conversation, and the arts. Explore and connect in PZI Zen Online events, our extensive Koans and Liberation Project Archive (KALPA), and more.

Events

Register: Fall Sesshin with John Tarrant & Friends – Metamorphosis

SIX DAYS: OCT 19-24
The PZI Digital Temple: 4:30pm
PDT The Universe

Events

Register: Bodhidharma Returns to India – Monday Meditation & Talk with Jon Joseph

MONDAY AUGUST 2nd
PZI Zen Online: 6pm PDT
The Universe

Audio Recording

What Is the Mysterious?

Sunday Talk excerpt from John Tarrant’s Free & Easy Wandering Series. In uncertain times, Dalung’s koan is something to trust. The mystery of your life is endless, the mystery gives endlessly. As recorded May 23, 2021.

Events

Register: Hearing Secret Harmonies – with John Tarrant & Friends

SUNDAY AUGUST 8th
PZI Digital Temple: 10:30am 
PDT The Universe

Audio Recording

I Vow to Do Good: Vows as Koans, Part 2

I Vow to Do Good—the second of the Three Pure Vows. Talks by Allison Atwill, Tess Beasley & Jesse Cardin from The Three Pure Vows as Enduring Koans of Everyday Life; Part 2 of a 3-part series on the vows of our tradition. Complete session, as recorded June 14, 2021.

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