The Great Way Is Not Difficult

Zhaozhou taught, “’The great way isn’t difficult if you don’t pick and choose.’ As soon as I speak,
you’ll think, ‘That’s picking and choosing,’ or ‘That’s clear.’ But I don’t identify with clarity. Can you live like that?”
A student asked, “If you don’t identify with clarity, what do you live by?”
“I don’t know.”

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W E L C O M E  to the PZI Events Calendar! Here you will find all upcoming events and registration links for PZI Zen Online retreats, sesshins, and weekly meditations & talks. Search by individual event, day, or month. Save to your Google Calendar or iCal Calendar. No experience required to participate. Questions? Contact


Sunday Zen with Guest Host Jesse Cardin: August 21st

Weekly Meditation & Talks: Monday – Thursday, join us

Alternating Tuesdays: PZI Talk LIVE! with Gaffney & Hitchcock return in September

Upcoming Retreats: Open Mind w John Tarrant & Tess Beasley

Open Temple: August 1st – September 30th

Next Sesshin: Door After Door Opening Inside w John Tarrant & Friends, October 4-9



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A River of Soft Sound: Monday Meditation with Jon Joseph

August 15 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

Free – $10


A student asked Zhaozhou, “Does a newborn baby have consciousness?”
Zhaozhou said, “It’s like tossing a ball into rushing waters.”
The student went on to ask Touzi, “What does ‘tossing a ball onto rushing waters’ mean?”
Touzi said, “Moment after moment, it never stops flowing.”

—The Blue Cliff Record, Case 80

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it,” wrote Normal Mclean. I have been feeling immersed in that river lately.

Late, a couple of nights ago, in the light of a waxing Sturgeon moon, we took our dog for a walk. We turned onto a long, dark, and meandering road, overhung by ancient trees, with only an occasional house light to illumine the sidewalk. The street follows a creek bed, and coyotes, bobcats, and mountain lions are known to travel along the waterway. We switched off the flashlight and took in the night sights, smells and sounds.

At one point, a great horned owl called from high in the oak trees to our right. A hundred yards later, a softer call responded, “Hoo! hoo!” Then several hundred yards beyond that, another call, and a few minutes later, a fourth owl called out. The owls were offering a river of soft song, flowing up the wandering street. There were no words for it.

In his commentary on the above koan, Yuanwu writes:

A person who studies the Way must become like an infant who knows nothing of good and evil, long and short, right and wrong, or gain and loss.

In the midst of no activity, she carries out her activities, accepting all favorable and unfavorable circumstances with a compassionate heart.

This is not unlike Linji’s observations:

Followers of the Way, what more is there for the resolute fellow to doubt? The activity going on right now—whose is it? Grasp and use, but never name —this is called the ‘mysterious principle.’ Come to such understanding as this, and there is nothing to be disliked.

The mysterious principal can be grasped and used, but never named.

—Jon Joseph

Jon Joseph Roshi


Sit with us this Monday night, without words like gain and loss, inside and outside, self and other. Join us for a koan, meditation, dharma talk, & conversation. All are welcome. Register to participate.

—Jon Joseph


August 15
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Free – $10
Event Category:


PZI Online Temple


Jon Joseph Roshi
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