PZI Teacher Archives

A Spell for Passing Through Danger


“You must in the destructive element immerse…” You have to go through it otherwise you can’t have real resolution. Not fleeing the difficulty of things, and orienting yourself to the infinite. “A person on a raft flows on the stream by throwing themselves away.” The importance of the smallest things in the this-is-it dream.


The spell is for “turning into” the destructive element. To turn into the difficult moment, not fleeing the difficulty of things.

A quote from Zen teacher Yamakawa Sogen:  “…the way of saying, in Japan, that a person on a raft flows on the stream by throwing themselves away. If you are paddling a canoe, you might know that you are afraid of strong current or rocks, you might not make it down the river. But if you just forget about the canoe and become one with the river, you can make it.” More about Sogen and his struggle with severe back pain, during zazen in a rigorous monastery schedule, and about finding his way to the “good two hours of sleep” that changed him.

From Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad, a quote: “In the destructive element you must immerse, and by gentle movements of your hands and feet, keep yourself afloat.”

Keeping company with the koan:

What do we do when cold and heat visits us?
Go where there’s no heat and cold!
Where’s that?
When it’s cold, let the cold kill you.
When it’s hot, let the heat kill you.

PZI members report on dreams and John shares one of his own. The tenderness of all meetings, even in dream, or in parting. The “small” is important in the this-is-it dream world. Acknowledging the simple and the things we overlook. The temple bell…the sound of emptiness and silence.

A dream or a meditation experience is never the same. A sense of wonder allows the moment to seize us. We don’t have to exclude anything, there is spaciousness inside. We can be happy when we orient toward the infinite. HERE is the same as ever—the totality of being, that which we share with the galaxies and the ants. When you are here you are in the vastness of the moment that is for you.

The river flows and carries us—we are all connected. Life reveals itself.

Music during meditation from Jordan McConnell on guitar, and Michael Wilding on saxophone.

Verses and readings from Conrad, Santoka, William Merwynn and others.

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