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 Corey Hitchcock.
F E A T U R E D
SUNDAY Zen: with John Tarrant on June 11
MONDAY Zen Luminaries: Next Guest Ocean Vuong in conversation with Jon Joseph on Sept. 18
INTO SUMMER Open Temple is here! May 1–June 30
FALL Open Mind Retreat: with John Tarrant & Tess Beasley, Sept. 7–10: SAVE THE DATES
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WEDNESDAY ZEN: Flowers Fall – with David Weinstein
April 19 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pmFree – $10
One day, Changsha went wandering in the mountains.
Upon returning, when he got to the gate, he was asked, “Where are you coming from?”
Changsha said, “From wandering in the mountains,”
“Where did you go?”
Changsha said, “I went pursuing the fragrant grasses; I returned following the falling flowers.”
—Blue Cliff Record, Case 36
My plan to bring the Open Temple koan-of-the-week to Wednesday Zen has been interrupted by the recent death of my first teacher, Lama Zopa. That’s what happens: life interrupts our plans for life. That’s what meditation practice does, it interrupts our habitual ways of moving through life.
I learned about Lama Zopa’s death during a retreat this weekend. The koan we were sitting with was this one about scented grasses and falling flowers, words often quoted to accompany a person as they leave this world.
In the past, when I’ve spoken about my time with the Lamas, I usually talk about Lama Yeshe. But it was Lama Zopa whom I first saw at my first meditation retreat. He entered the meditation tent to give the first talk on the first morning, and my immediate impression was, “This is a holy person.”
Not the kind of thought I would usually have. But he somehow fit a teacher archetype I didn’t know I had in me. He was slight of build and looked fragile as he walked towards the high seat. I couldn’t tell if the way he looked down came out of being humble or from being careful to not step on insects, or perhaps both.
What he spoke about was death. And the way he spoke about it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Not in alarm, though there was something about the matter-of-fact way he spoke about death that was alarming. There was also the thrill of hearing someone talk about something I had often thought about since early childhood, but had never spoken about: that we’re all going to die.
When I had questions, I went to Lama Yeshe. Nonetheless, I felt a great affinity for Lama Zopa. I participated in two three-month meditation retreats with the Lamas in that first year of my practice. I also went on a short trip with Lama Zopa to a lake considered a manifestation of Padmasambhava. I trekked with him and others to his home village of Lawudo to participate in a retreat in his cave. Lama Zopa was considered the reincarnation of the Lawudo Lama, a hermit monk who had lived in that cave. He was also considered a reincarnation of Padmasambhava.
Hearing about Lama Zopa’s death, together with this koan about scented grasses and falling flowers, reminded me of all the other fallen flowers: My other first teacher, Lama Yeshe, my first Zen teacher, Shibuya-san, my first koan teacher, Kusan, my second koan teacher, Aitken Roshi, and my “three is a charm” koan teacher, Yamada Roshi.
I met Lama Zopa when I was “wandering in the mountains” and I “followed the scented grasses” with him and Lama Yeshe. Now I’m returning, following the fallen and falling flowers, appreciating their scent.
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