The Dragon at Year's End

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PZI Events Calendar

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 Karin Pfluger


March 3 Sunday Zen: with John Tarrant & Friends

March 4 Open Temple: through April 26th – coming soon

March 27 Zen Luminaries: Poet Jane Hirshfield


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MONDAY ZEN: Feeling Your Way in the Dark – with Jon Joseph

April 3, 2023 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

Free – $10


Join us on Monday night to sit together and talk together about feeling our way in the dark.

Don’t light a lamp—there’s no oil in the house.
It’s a shame to want a light.
I have a way to bless poverty:
Just feel your way along the wall.

—Yinyuan Longqi, PZI Miscellaneous Koans, Case 71

In taking up koans, sometimes we find one that perfectly expresses our current condition, yet may, on the face of it, appear unrelated. In some strange way, these “dog koans for cat problems” are often more intimate and meaningful than they seem.

Don’t light a lamp—there’s no oil in the house. 

I recently caught up with a friend who had been away for some weeks. For the past decade or so, he has suffered from an illness which afflicts the inner ear, called Meniere’s disease. At times his vertigo was so bad that if he moved even the least bit in bed, he vomited. His tinnitus sounded like a train running through his head. And his migraines were utterly debilitating, sending him to bed for days on end. But about two years ago, Messrs. Meniere, as he calls the visitors, largely went away. A couple of weeks ago, the Messrs. returned.

Lying in bed for hours, various koans would come to him. It was the above koan, “Don’t light a lamp—there’s no oil in the house,” that mysteriously seemed to resonate with his condition.

It’s a shame to want a light. 

My friend, a long-time Vipassana teacher, said, “I often taught that meditation is about feeling our way in some sense; we feel our way in the dark, and discover and learn things through that process.”

I have a way to bless poverty. 

He would often use a teaching metaphor: As meditators, we wake up in a dark hotel room and stumble over the furniture searching for the light switch. “Teaching that,” he says, “I thought I needed some kind of control,” and standing in the way was the furniture and lost light switch—both being obstacles that required a workaround. He no longer sees these kinds of obstacles in his life and practice—like Meniere’s—as barriers. “I now know that avoidance isn’t the way to practice, it isn’t the way to live.”

Just feel your way along the wall. 

“Even when I’m lying in bed with Meniere’s, not doing well, I don’t feel separate from everybody else.” He feels a natural sense of support from ancestors, relatives, friends and all other things. “It’s the support of the koan No, the support of ‘What was my face before my parents were born?’ It’s hard to explain, but I’m feeling my way in the dark with my hands, and there are no obstacles, and I’m not doing it alone.”

I suggested to my friend that ours is a collaborative universe. When a friend or family member becomes ill, in a way, we too become sick. And when they become well again, we too heal. 

“Yes,” he agreed, “We move in the dark, hand-in-hand.”

My Body Effervesces
by Anna Swir
(English version by Czeslaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan
Original Language Polish)

I am born for the second time.
I am light
as the eyelash of the wind.
I froth, I am froth.

I walk dancing,
if I wish, I will soar.
The condensed lightness
of my body
condenses most forcibly
in the lightness of my foot
and its five toes.
The foot skims the earth
which gives way like compressed air.
An elastic duo
of the earth and of the foot. A dance
of liberation.

I am born for the second time,
happiness of the world
came to me again.
My body effervesces,
I think with my body which effervesces.

If I wish,
I will soar.

Jon Joseph Roshi

Join us for a koan, meditation, dharma talk and conversation.
Register to participate. All are welcome.

—Jon Joseph


April 3, 2023
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Free – $10
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