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.

7 The True Person Has No Rank – The Zenosaurus Course in Koans

Zenosaurus Curriculum 7: The mind goes “label, label, label” until it doesn’t, and a different possibility appears. If you really show up in your own life, you don’t have rank.

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

PZI Zen Online: Zen has no insiders, no outsiders. The true person has no rank, no color, no designations. John reads from Garrett Cadogan’s essay, “Walking While Black.” Koans and vows as expressions of reality. The bodhisattva path. The space and light of the universe is already in everything and everyone, beyond categories. As recorded June 7th, 2020.

The True Person of No Rank

John opens the evening with the koan “The True Person of No Rank.” It goes something like this: “There is a true person of no rank who is always coming and going from the portals of your face.” Who is that person of no rank? Linji was a great teacher and the ancestor of most of the koan lines of Zen and this is a koan of his. It has been used since ancient times as a meditation both for beginners and advanced students. Probably the best way to work with it is to play with it. Don’t rank how you are doing. Just let it keep you company, like an animal would. You forget about it, but every time you look, there it is! And after a while it doesn’t go away. October 17, 2013.

Sudden Awakening

“In even the simplest life, pain and disappointment accumulate—and at some moment everyone longs to walk through a gate and leave the past behind, perhaps for an earlier time when the colors were bright and the heart carried no weight. The quest for a fresh start is so fundamental that it defines the shape of the stories we tell each other.” Article by John Tarrant published in Lion’s Roar magazine on July 1, 2007.

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.

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

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.

Gifts, Gods in Disguise, & Freedom

Buddhism is based in reality. When we lose what we thought we had, our panic asks, “What will happen to little me?” and any answer to that question is likely to be overwhelming and shadowed. It is human to panic out of habit, without asking ourselves what is really going on and what our true, deep reaction is. But the gods in disguise show that sudden change can happen in a positive direction. The path out of suffering is closely related to accuracy, to noticing what really is, as opposed to what we first thought.

Carl Jung’s Red Book

Jung’s journey is interesting, harrowing, ridiculous, pompous, incomprehensible, amusing, sad, frightening, wise—the whole range of the human is there. Jung’s point of meeting with Buddhism is that, at a time when darkness seemed and was near, he offered the example of a trust in the deepest possibility of transformation, and in the involuntary processes that we contain, and in the depths of what it is to be human.

Return to the (Political) World

Politics belongs in the general realm of imperfection, self-deception, desperate hope, and congenial affection we call civilization. That’s where the bodhisattva, who is interested in the fate of others, hangs out. Also, if you indulge in politics, certain personal implications accompany you; you don’t get away without being transformed by the material you are working with.

My Average Life

“I like finding features of popular culture that point the way out of the mind’s prison. It is as if a trail of breadcrumbs had been left where least expected.”

Spilling Down Through All the Realms: The Light Inside the Dark

Once you really have a good connection with spirit, it will always be available to you if you turn towards it in a dark time. I’m not saying spirit is a false promise. It’s a true promise, but it doesn’t do our living for us. That living is the part we have to do for ourselves. And when we do that, then the soul comes in.

A Beautiful Wish (You Are the Sun…)

The desire for a more beautiful life is ancient and enduring. In medieval times it meant dressing in bright silks and having long and colorful processions; the desire was poured into objects, too, into paintings and cathedrals with stained glass windows. Inside the desire for a more beautiful life is the desire for a more beautiful character.

The Paradox of Happiness

“Mostly, if a method for achieving happiness is not successful, people think something like, She should have loved me more. Or, I wasn’t trying hard enough. Or, I wasn’t holding my mouth right. Whether the needle on the blame meter points to yourself or to others, that particular machine will always seem to be malfunctioning. You try to do the method better, rather than looking at whether the method works. So let’s look at the method.”

Let Me Count the Ways

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.

Enter Here, Step Through

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.

Surprises on the Way: Article by John Tarrant

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.

The Great Turning – Solstice, Juneteenth, a Butterfly Flies Up!

John Tarrant’s Sunday morning Meditation & Talk: “So we rely on the spaciousness, we rely on not what we’ve already planned and schemed but we rely on what’s been opened up in our hearts. So 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 can rely on that.” Transcript from PZI Zen Online recording from June 21, 2020.

Free & Easy Wandering Series: Knock on Any Door

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.

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.

It Would Be a Pity to Waste a Good Crisis

It’s important not to discount the idea that in a crisis, you might be having the time of your life. Article by John Tarrant, published in Lion’s Roar magazine on March 23, 2018.

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 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.

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.

17 That Wild Girl Named Pang – The Zenosaurus Course In Koans

Zenosaurus Curriculum 17: A variant of this discovery is that falling on the ground, while terrible, is also wonderful—the taste of dirt, blood, coffee, oranges, tears, sweat—the taste of life itself.

Searching for What It’s All About – Zenosaurus

Zenosaurus: My Kaiser doc with solemn demeanor sent me to be scanned for cancer on the bone. I could tell the docs thought it was a likely outcome, and while I didn’t believe they were right, my mind did play the scenarios all by itself, without instruction from me.

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.

New at Pacific Zen Institute

News

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: Crooked Fishing, Straight Hook – Meditation & Talk with Jon Joseph

MONDAY SEPTEMBER 20th
PZI Zen Online: 6pm PDT
The Universe

Events

Register: The Visible & Invisible Companionship of Animals – Meditations with John Tarrant

SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 26th
PZI Digital Temple: 10:30am 
PDT The Universe

Events

October Open Temple: Meditation Temple Pass – Daily Community Practice

DAILY, OCTOBER 1-31
PZI Digital Temple
The Universe

Audio Recording

A Spell for Passing Through Danger – Turning Into the Difficulty with John Tarrant

You have to go through it otherwise you can’t have real resolution. Not fighting the difficulty of things and orienting yourself to the infinite. “A person on a raft flows on the stream by throwing themselves away.” The importance of the smallest things in the this-is-it dream. September 11, 2021.

Events

Register: PZI Talk LIVE! Further Conversations on Metamorphosis with Gaffney & Hitchcock

TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 21st
PZI Zen Online: 5pm PDT
The Universe

Events

October Intensive: October Is Open Temple Month – A Month of Deep Practice Together

OCTOBER INTENSIVE 1-30
PZI Digital Temple: 10:30am 
The Universe

Events

Register: Fall Sesshin with John Tarrant & Friends – Metamorphosis

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

Audio Recording

Where Do Songs Come From? – A Musical Conversation with Jordan McConnell & Jesse Cardin

Musicians Jordan McConnell and Jesse Cardin join Jon Joseph to share elements of musical practice and their creative relatedness to koan work.

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