Not Knowing Is Most Intimate – Delight in the Chaos of Life

John Tarrant in Fall Sesshin 2019. Being lost or between places is a fundamental human predicament. Being lost delivers you to yourself with an unknown outcome. The teacher takes away the student’s need to know what’s unfolding on their pilgrimage. Zen likes predicaments as signs that things want to change.

Not Knowing Is Most Intimate

PZI Zen Online Audio: Sarah Bender Roshi reflects on the intimacy of not knowing, the nearness of all of us in this dreamy emergent time. Wandering and not knowing are allies now. Includes Sarah’s intro & dharma talk, silent meditation segments, and sharing. As recorded April 3 2020.

Not Knowing Is Most Intimate – Delight in the Chaos of Life

John Tarrant in Fall Sesshin 2019. Zen likes predicaments, uncertainty allows us to enter life more fully. The koans are allies in this. The unexpected questions are often those that help the most. To all the strategies that defend against life, a Zen entreaty: “Become more lost.” John Tarrant in Fall Sesshin 2019.

Not Knowing Is Most Intimate

Not Knowing Is Most Intimate

Using the koans Not Knowing is Most Intimate and Taking the Form of Guan Yin Find Shelter for the Homeless Person, John Tarrant talks about the intimacy that comes when we turn toward vulnerability and no longer need to defend against life.

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.

Enlightenment Is Something We Do Together

Conversation is itself a kind of meditation, a way we can accompany each other through life. We can share errors, painful mistakes, dreams, losses, discoveries, or just the ordinary glowing things. That’s a good day. Article by John Tarrant published in Lion’s Roar magazine February 18, 2014.

Self and Ox Forgotten

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.

Freely I Watch the Tracks of the Flying Birds

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.

The Nature of Practice

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.

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.

Albert Saijo and the Long Journey – The Zenosaurus Course on Koans

Zenosaurus: Kevin Diminyatz, an artist and long time friend of PZI, told me today that Albert Saijo just died in the volcano on the Big Island. Kevin is doing his funeral.

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.

10 Save A Ghost – The Zenosaurus Course In Koans

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.

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.

How Many Times Have I Gone There for You?

Just at this moment, the whole universe is holding us up. It’s nice for it to have a good job like that. That’s the thing that Master Ma said, the great master Mazu, “At a certain stage you have to make yourself a raft and a ferry for others if you want to go forward from the place you cannot go forward from.” This letting yourself feel—feel the moment and how it spreads out. There is no other moment. There is this, this, this, the Blue Dragon moment. It goes out through the galaxies.

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.

Çaoshan’s Dharma Body

Sarah Bender Roshi reflects on a koan: Wisdom has no knowledge, but there is nothing it does not know. Therefore, purity pervades with abundance. This is a purity of inclusion and intimacy, not exclusion and definition. That’s abundance. You are this abundance. As written April 17 2020.

Every Day Is a Good Day!

The whole thing about Chan is that it’s an improvisational culture. Because we love it? No, because that’s what life is! That’s the good day. Not-knowing is intimately tied to the good day. It’s not an achievement—it’s the gift of the universe, and you are in the universe having received the gift. Poetry, dreams, Linji’s death, and more. As recorded in Winter Sesshin 2020.

Vimalakirti & His Daughter, Moon Like Beauty

Allison relays the story of the encounter between Manjushri and Vimalakirti. Manjushri, among the 32,000 Bodhisattvas sent by Buddha to Vimalakirti’s , and asks him on his sick bed: ‘How do the Bodhisattvas enter the gate of non-duality?’ The response is an intimate silence. Allison’s story includes the karmic path that his daughter, Moon Like Beauty bore on her way to enlightenment.

Dongshan’s Five Ranks: Poem 4

Two swords are crossed (like in the movies, which actually I don’t think happens in real life, but it’s very popular in the movies. It was popular in the movies like 1200 years ago.) 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. Farther, higher, up , further, more. So 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. 

Ordinary Mind Q & A

John: So you want to say anything? Say something ordinary.

Goblins Q & A

Hakuin would paint that as a demon. This is demon number three. Which number demon is that? And the other things is that thing about how the thing we thought was the problem can transform, there is that real sense of what’s wrong with being a demon? If I think there’s a demon obviously I’m it.

Dongshan’s Five Ranks: Poem 1

This is from an old Chinese poet, and koans and poems were always, poems, koans, koans, poems, they’re always somewhat intertwined in their history. And so often poems were used as koans and vice versa. This is a series of five poems by an old Chinese teacher called Dongshan, who kind of did a map of the Way in five stages, because everybody knows there are five stages for the Way [laughter].

Stop the War

And so the certain categories of koans are designed to help us see the implications. We’ve been playing with a few this week, and the one I’d like to do today is “Stop the war.” It’s kind of succinct. Cut it out! Stop the war, or can you stop the war?

Soaking in the Bath, Releases the Light

This is one of those “in the old days, once upon a time” stories. There are a couple of interesting things about this. The first thing is about the idea of just getting in the bath, that maybe one of the metaphors for spiritual tradition is you get in a bath, and not only that, you do it together. We do it with each other. You could say we do it with the crows who call, we do it with the frogs, with the trees, with the birds. And then something happens in the bath. What happens in the bath, I suppose, is really most of what happens on the spiritual journey.

Loving This Life

June 2016 Retreat – You might have noticed that we started out with music and then saying a
koan. The koan is from the great old Chinese Master Lin-ji Yixuan and it’s
not so important what – When something confronts you, don’t believe it.

It Was Me Too

I began my meditation practice four years prior to arriving in Honolulu, first in Nepal, then in India and Korea. All of my teachers had been Asian. Without really knowing it, I had projected a certain mystique onto them.

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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.

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Register: The Lion with Golden Hair – Sunday Meditation & Talk with John Tarrant

SUNDAY JUNE 13th
PZI Digital Temple: 10:30am 
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Register: The Three Pure Vows as Enduring Koans of Everyday Life – with Atwill, Beasley & Cardin: Part 2 of 3

MONDAY JUNE 14
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Register: PZI Talk LIVE! To the Rescue! Fixing the Fan – with Gaffney & Hitchcock

TUESDAY JUNE 15th
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News

Noppera-Bo by Denise Fujiwara, William Yong: Fujiwara Dance Inventions, W Zento Production

PZI Member Denise Fujiwara has choreographed a haunting new dance piece: Noppera-bo (Faceless Ghost) in collaboration with filmmaker William Yong, presented by National Arts Center of Canada. All those hands and eyes! Facing the fears of our time.

Audio Recording

Dragons of the Blue Cliff Retreat: Hands & Eyes Everywhere, Parts 1&2

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 morning & afternoon sessions in our 2-part Dragons of the Blue Cliff 1-Day Retreat, June 6 2021.

Audio Recording

Put Out the Fire! A Panel on Koan Practice & Pain

Roshi Jon Joseph in conversation with an assembled panel of 4 PZI meditators, who deal with various experiences of chronic and severe pain. Koan meditation helped all of them find a way to allow the pain – not to exclude it, and to see it as a profound teacher and ally. PZI Zen Online, as recorded May 31, 2021.

Audio Recording

Free & Easy Wandering Series: Knock on Any Door – with Allison Atwill & Tess Beasley

Allison Atwill & Tess Beasley on being at a threshold—knocking on doors not knowing who will answer, and how the gifts of the universe appear. PZI Zen Online: recorded May 30, 2021.

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