Zenosaurus Curriculum 6: The koan shows the enormous life-changing possibility that we might be making fine decisions, and the universe might be carrying us along very nicely if we are not jostling and worrying and striving.
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 – Guanyin in the Pavilion Under the August Moon -The winged pavilion of summer. The various ways compassion can manifest. Water offers compassion at unfathomable depths and in reflections. As recorded Aug 16 2020.
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
Audio: PZI Zen Online – Guanyin in the Pavilion Under the August Moon with Sarah Bender Roshi manifesting Guanyin as air with ‘Breath Sweeps Mind’ and the call and response we employ meeting her compassionate nature. Appropriate response is Guanyin’s territory. Fayan’s …’the fresh breeze that arises when the great burden is set down.’ Sarah presents her field notes on Guanyin as wind, breath, release, and the Sutra of Endless Life. Michael Wilding on flute, Ryan McCoy on 4 vows, vocals and guitar. As recorded August 23 2020
Audio: Guanyin in the Pavilion with Tess Beasley. Guanyin’s watery nature. Water: ‘the softest compound that can overwhelm the hardest’. Compassion dissolves and connects us. The ‘call and response’ of our relationship to Guanyin. A force greater than any striving. Like Buddha at the brink of starvation opening to the offering of milk. We can’t know how she will call us or what our response will be. The great intimacy & spaciousness of abiding nowhere together. She enters when we need a new path. Michael Wilding on flute, Jordan McConnell guitar, Amaryllis Fletcher, Cantor on violin. Aug.16 2020.
Audio – PZI Zen Online – Guanyin in the Pavilion with Michelle Riddle Sensei -Touching earth as Guanyin. Falling – Layman Pang and his daughter Ling Zhao fall together. The subtle and varied flavor of Guanyin’s manifestations – her/his shape/form/gender shifting qualities. As recorded August 9 2020. Michael Wilding on flute, Jordan Guitar. Amaryllis Fletcher, violin.
PZI Zen Online – We are in a time ‘before moonlight’ with covid and massive unemployment that has resulted- with great unknowns ahead. Dreams in zen are not so different from waking life. We make up stories about what will happen. But we are passing through a gate of meeting and not recognizing. How do you make your way? Step by step. As recorded May 25.
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.
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.
Roshi John Tarrant gives the third of three koans for Bare Bones retreat. The head of the koan is: “What is the sharpest sword or the sword which will cut even the finest piece of hair in two?” The response to the question is, “Each branch of coral holds up the moon.” February 22, 2013.
Allison Atwill Sensei describes the making of her amazing art piece inspired by the koan, “Each Branch of Coral Holds Up the Moon.” January 24, 2013.
One of the places I think this really appears for me that I find interesting is, if I take that koan view of there’s not really a ground for this, it’s all coming up out of the vastness, it appears like the moonlight, it’s just there. I didn’t make it appear.
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 Fall Sesshin Audio Excerpt: Tess Beasley Sensei’s opening talk. Harvest Moon and leaning into the images that hold us for sesshin, the ancient vessel. Moon haikus, “Where is Your Light?” As recorded October 1, 2020.
Zenosaurus Curriculum 18: Gratitude comes with a feeling of openness, shyness, vulnerability. The person who is grateful can be hurt or rejected, she is taking a risk. With gratitude, there is more at stake, life is not small.
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 11: This koan offers offers the chance of finding that there is a home in traveling, in the smell of toast, the chill of the morning air and even in the feeling of being far from home.
Zenosaurus Curriculum 3: How is my hand like Buddha’s hand? This koan asks us to let the whole of our being fall into it, to love without reservation the experience of being made of flesh.
Zenosaurus Curriculum 4: War was a fact of life for those who invented the koan system, just as it is for us. The first step in stopping the war is noticing the war. It’s also good to notice what peace might be.
Zenosaurus Curriculum 1: When the Buddha was growing up, his father kept four sights from him. The forbidden sights were a sick person, an old person, a corpse, and a pilgrim dedicated to the meditation path.
PZI Artwork – From an installation: Ancestors, Mothers & Muses by artist Piper Leigh of Santa Fe, NM.
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.
Transcription: Series 2 Class 6 – Vast Emptiness. The entire session as recorded July 25 2020. Please do not share this curriculum record.