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April 28 Sunday Zen: with John Tarrant & Friends

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June 10–16 Great Summer Sesshin: The Summer of Zen! Meeting the Inconceivable with John Tarrant & PZI Teachers

 

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THURSDAY ZEN: Life Meets Life with David Parks

April 4 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Free – $10

REGISTER


Master Rock-Frost said,

On top of the dharma-talk flagpole, a thousand feet up,
how do you step out beyond?

An old master of mirror-sight clarity said,

“If you sit grounded in meditation atop the dharma-talk flagpole,
you’ve begun. But it’s far from clarity absolute. A thousand feet
up on that flagpole, at the top, step out beyond—then you’ll see
these ten distances of time and space reveal your very self entire.

—Life Meets Life, No-Gate Gateway, Case 46 (transl. David Hinton)

As many of you know, I live on a farm in central Kentucky: sixty acres, nine chickens, three dogs and two horses. Lots of life—many beings, quite a sangha. We live together, and ever the bodhisattva, I care for them, blessing their lives as I can.

I love my morning routine:

Get up, drink coffee.
Pull on the work clothes.
First the chickens: I come to their gate, they know me,
swarm around my feet as we go to the food.
I throw out the feed; they cackle and eat.
I notice what they like.

I tramp across the dew covered grass to the horse barn. They are out in the paddock; I come to the fence to give them feed. Ruby comes the fence, I lean in, she smells me, her warm breath on my arm—call and response. I place my hand on her neck, she puts her head over the fence and then over my shoulder.

I notice some dried mud on her coat,  get into the paddock and begin to brush her. She leans into the brush, into my body. That is how it goes for awhile; the horses are fed and loved and then I go to the small zendo in my basement and meditate with a koan, sitting still in the morning air, with David.

This is how it is with practice. How do you meditate? I don’t know how to tell you to meditate. Don’t grab hold, just allow the meditation to come to you. Same with koans, they will come. It is like a dance, a call and response. Life meets life.

Road of Compassion

As you know, recently I stayed in the hospital for a total of five days receiving a pacemaker before I could be discharged. My time in the hospital and reaction to my illness is interesting for me. As I walked through the sliding doors of the hospital I can say now that I was actively engaged in a personal strategy to not engage with what was happening to me. When the ER doc told me that I’d be admitted, my reaction was one of incredulity: “You are kidding me.” “Nope,” was the reply, “we have a place for you in the ICU. You’ll be getting a pacemaker on Monday.”

In the ICU, while glad I was being watched, I played some of the same games, avoiding what was happening. That night my heartbeat went down to twenty-one bpm, causing the nurse tending my needs to administer a drug to speed up the beat. I fell asleep to awaken anxious and afraid two hours later. “This is real, the life you are having.” There was no drug this time. Instead, the nurse talked with me a bit and I was able to meet the life I was having. It was like I had jumped into my body.

Later, my cardiologist let me know that I might have died that night. Here it was, the question of life and death and here I was meeting it on the 3rd floor of St. Joseph’s East Hospital.

On Being All In

The first step for the bodhisattva on the road of compassion seems to be to have compassion for oneself, a life lived in a body, inside the question of living, acknowledging the intimacy of life’s big question, one’s personal living and dying.

Like Alice as she falls down the rabbit hole, picking things off the shelf as she falls, we meet the circumstances of life, responding to each in turn. After all, our lives are in free fall. We don’t know what we will meet next. This free fall is ultimately mysterious our intimacy with our lives coming as we meet each moment, as life meets life.

Atop the pole, we are not all in. We are in according to our terms. To step off the pole is the embrace this life that is mystery to us, that is always coming to us. It is to embrace this life that has already embraced us and which finally cannot be avoided.

—David Parks


David Parks Roshi

 

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

David Parks Roshi, Director of Bluegrass Zen

Details

Date:
April 4
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-april-4th-with-david-parks/