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 [email protected].
F E A T U R E D
Sunday Zen: The Red Thread with John Tarrant on March 26
Zen Luminaries: with special guest Earthlyn Manuel on March 27
In Person! GREAT SUMMER SESSHIN coming soon, June 12–18
- This event has passed.
WEDNESDAY ZEN: Choosing ‘Here’ with David Weinstein
March 15 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pmFree – $10
“The Great Way is not difficult, it just refrains from picking and choosing. As soon as these words are spoken, you might judge that this is picking and choosing, or that it is clear. I do not dwell in clarity. Can you stand by this and give me a response?”
—The Blue Cliff Record, Case 2
I have been enjoying morning meditation in the Open Temple, and have been particularly enjoying staying with one koan for the week. It gives me the chance to sink into the koan and let it sink into me. However, I do miss the opportunity to have conversations about spending time with the koan. “No conversation about koans equals no Zen,” was the opinion of the founding teacher (Yasutani) of the Sanbo Zen lineage, whose DNA runs through our PZI practice.
During the month preceding Winter Sesshin, I brought the Open Temple koan to our Wednesday gatherings, and appreciated the opportunity to have conversations with folks about their experience with it.
Beginning this week, I will be bringing the Open Temple koan (of the same week) to our Wednesday evening gathering, and will continue to do so each week until the end of April, when the Spring Open Temple closes. That way there’s time, prior to our gathering and also afterwards, to be with the koan, noticing what we notice after having conversations with others about their experiences.
This koan about picking and choosing comes up four times in The Blue Cliff Record. No koan other than this one appears more than once. Xuedou, who originally compiled the one hundred koans that later became The Blue Cliff Record, must have found the message of this koan to be particularly important. I also find this theme prominent in the teaching of Yuanwu, who took Xuedou’s one hundred koans and commented on them. It is Yuanwu’s compilation that we call The Blue Cliff Record.
When Yuanwu encourages us to “… just let things be …” I hear echoes of “not picking and choosing.” If we are struggling with letting things be, Yuanwu’s advice is to let that be, too. It is not a quick fix toward serenity, but it is the way to finding serenity in the midst of the struggle. This path is sometimes called the Middle Way, but that is not some midpoint between two extremes. It is a middle way in the sense of being in the middle of it, in the thick of life, fully and completely. When Yuanwu points out that walking the Great Way and pursuing the mystery is “… right where you stand,” any ideas, any picking and choosing that I have, about what the Great Way is, don’t stick. Any ideas about who I am don’t stick, either.
Zhaozhou expands further on what not picking and choosing looks like when he says he does not “dwell in clarity.” There is nothing wrong with clarity, it is the dwelling, the attachment, that’s the problem. In a way, this koan about picking and choosing is another version of the koan about not knowing being most intimate, and I am reminded of the first instruction I received about koan practice, “Make your mind a question mark.”
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