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F E A T U R E D

June 23 Sunday Zen: with John Tarrant & Friends

July 1 Zen Luminaries: David Hinton in Conversation with Jon Joseph & Friends

August 8–11 Open Mind Retreat: with John Tarrant, Allison Atwill, & Tess Beasley

 

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THURSDAY ZEN: A Question for a Question – with David Parks

September 21, 2023 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Free – $10

REGISTER


A Question for a Question

A monk asked, “What is liberation?”
Shitou said, “Who has bound you?”
Another monk asked, “What is the Pure Land?”
Shitou said, “Who has polluted you?”
Another monk asked, “What is nirvana?”
Shitou said, “Who has given you birth and death?”

Students ask, “What is … ?” They may ask about liberation, the Pure Land, or something called Nirvana. It would be easy to give an answer, a definition—yet definitions tend to look outward.

Instead, in our koan, Shitou goes the other way, and elects to be helpful in answering the question with another question. He encourages the student to turn the light inwards—“Who has bound you?”—with the hope that they might open to the indwelling freedom that partakes of the mysterious dark: receptive and responsive to the moment.

What about the Pure Land? A definition will erect walls around what’s here and now, splitting purity off from impurity, the virtuous ones apart from those who lack virtue, discounting uncertainty, creating walls of division within the pattern of things. Defining heaven, we also get hell.

Yeah, that would be easy, and we see it done all the time. Ah, but Shitou brings a question to the question, stopping us. “Who has polluted you?

Oh, yes, and nirvana—we could define that, too, creating a state apart from others, one that we believe might lead to freedom, prop open the gates to the Pure Land, and solve the question of birth and death. Ok, that’d be nice, but there it is again: something special, split off, about which one could say, “I have it and you do not.” With division like that comes a whole world of hurt.

So, Shitou brings his question, “Who has given you birth and death?” Our universe is vast, dark and mysterious, all pervading.

Shitou writes in his poem, “Taking Part in the Gathering,”

If you don’t see the Way with your own eyes,
you won’t know the road even as you’re walking on it.
Walking the Way, we’re never near or far from it;
deluded, we are cut off from it by mountains and rivers.

Join us on Thursday. Exchanging the question What? for Who?, we face what cuts us off from Way. Opening to what is, floods subside, mountains become plain. Never far nor near, Way is open, our footfalls echoing the voice of dragons.

—David Parks


David Parks Roshi

 

COME JOIN US at 4 pm on Thursdays for koan meditation, dharma talk and conversation.
Register to participate. All are welcome.

David Parks Roshi, Director of Bluegrass Zen

Details

Date:
September 21, 2023
Time:
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Cost:
Free – $10
Event Category:

Organizer

David Parks Roshi
Email:
dparksbluegrasszen@gmail.com
Register here to attend:
https://www.pacificzen.org/product/thursday-zen-september-21st-with-david-parks/