Thanksgiving weekend dharma talk on the many-layered and mysterious qualities of gratitude: aspirational, strategic, innocent, etc. The act of giving is pure —any gift is good. A koan story: A teacher gives a student a yearlong task on feeling gratitude. Music for meditation from Michael Wilding and Jordan McConnell, Cantor Amaryllis Fletcher on violin introducing the Four Vows.
Who wants to be the worst horse? No one. But Buddha loves the worst horse. John Tarrant on worst horse experiences and the merits of not striving to go beyond where we are. If I am the worst horse then my Buddha nature is there. Music from Michael Wilding, Todd Geist sings vows.
As recorded Monday, November 1st, 2021, as part of a series of conversations with important Zen (Chan) voices: translators, writers, scholars, and practitioners.
Whatever conditions you find yourself in are your own awakening appearing, not something you need to “get over.” This is the key: We can let experience soak us without knowing what will come of it. As recorded Saturday evening, October 23, 2021, at Fall Sesshin.
Tess recounts the twists and turns of the life of Taneda Santoka—a perpetually drenched, wandering poet-priest touched deeply by life and the kindness of others. Every breadcrumb in life, every thread is important in the weave. For Santoka to be Santoka, who he actually was was enough. This was the Way, his Way. Dharma talk as recorded Saturday morning on October 23, 2021, at Fall Sesshin.
As recorded on October 22, at PZI Fall Sesshin 2021. Bird tracks and a crane story from long ago in China. Four vows are sung and played by Amaryllis Fletcher & Jordan McConnell. Allison Atwill gives a closing poem.
What is the world? Just this! Eduardo Fuentes talks about the beautiful, mysterious lives we lead, and how “don’t-know mind” is hidden inside and underneath names and symbols. As recorded at Fall Sesshin, Friday, October 22, 2021.
John Tarrant gives an evening dharma talk on the incalculable value of descent and return. We take up the task set by the ancestors: that’s what we came here for. As recorded in Fall Sesshin, October 21, 2021.
Jon Joseph gives the morning dharma talk about his dreams of the ancestors. A relationship continues beyond death. How is this so? It does not need to be explained, it only asks to be lived. As recorded in Fall Sesshin on Thursday morning, October 21, 2021.
David Weinstein gives a morning dharma talk on being captured by the mystery and the koan, “Things are not as they appear, nor are they otherwise,” and on the metamorphosis of Monarchs on his windowsill. Constant change and the constancy of who you are do not contradict each other. As recorded Wednesday, October 20, 2021, in Fall Sesshin.
John Tarrant talks about Ikkyu’s “no shadow or form” in his evening dharma talk in Day 2 of Fall Sesshin. Amanda Boughton sings the 4 Boundless vows. As recorded Wednesday, October 20, 2021.
Befriending your life, your koan, your own heart mind—not using your meditation for anything: no intention to improve yourself; not getting on board with the mind. Zen & The Art of Meditation, Part lll: October 17, 2021.
Dharmakaya koans open the body of reality—this is one of those koans: Yunmen’s “What is your light?” The light is always happening, so it is a good thing to notice. In times like these, this koan is one to ally with. Is there an art of meditation? It begins and ends with you. Music from Michael Wilding, Amaryllis Fletcher & Jordan McConnell.
Thomas Kirchner has translated, annotated, and edited great works in our Chan lineage, including Entangling Vines: Zen Koans of the Shumon Kattoshu, The Record of Linji, and more. He is a longtime Zen practitioner, was born in the US, and has lived most of his life in Japan. He joins Jon Joseph for a wide-ranging conversation about his life in Zen.
John Tarrant reads poems and haiku from Issa, Walt Whitman, Christopher Smart, William Merwyn and others. From Sunday Talk: The Animal Heart Mind. 12 minutes.
With all the crises of our time lined up, like a caravan demanding our attention, what if the moments of beauty, friendship and peace are the real, important moments? Animal koans are really about you, and the question, What is it like to have a self? Poem and haiku readings from John, Issa, William Merwynn, Walt Whitman, Christopher Smart, & PZI friends Jeanne Foster and Adam Walsh. Music from Jordan McConnell.
To befriend the dream, or koan, or your life, is to participate in it and enter its imagery and mood. Befriending begins with a plain attempt to listen, to give it time and patience, drawing no conclusions. Tess Beasley reads from Jungian analyst James Hillman’s “Dreams and the Blood Soul,” during John Tarrant’s Sunday Talk, The Animal Heart Mind, on September 26. Excerpt.
Michael Wilding’s transportive original composition, an interlude for meditation, on flute. As recorded September 19, 2021.
A beautiful version of the 4 Boundless Vows for 2 harmonizing voices. It blooms! Thanks to Rose Joseph & her friend Delfine. As recorded during Jon Joseph’s Monday evening talk on September 20th, 2021.
Everyone is assailed by demons right now. Demons have a long history in the culture. If you’ve got demons, you’re alive! But you don’t have to get on board with them. Demons come out of your own heart, just like enlightenment. Tess Beasley reads from James Hillman’s “Dreams & the Blood Soul.” Michelle Riddle & Jon Joseph chant a Zen spell for dispelling demons, the Sho Sai Myo Kichijo Dharani. John reads Keats and Coleridge.
We’re in a time that is difficult, but it is our time—and difficulty is not the only thing going on. Creativity is also present, but it is easy to be crazy right now. The old masters understood this situation. September 5, 2021.
“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.
Musicians Jordan McConnell and Jesse Cardin join Jon Joseph to share elements of music practice and their creative relatedness to koan work.
Meetings in Zen can feel risky just like meeting a “tyger” or a mountain lion on a footpath. And yet that is the open gate, the place where we become available to the gifts of the universe. When barriers to experience are down, anything can happen. Guishan’s enlightenment did not stop his travels, and a tiger helped him think twice about leaving his monastery.
Dreams help us to find our way – Danxia on pilgrimage dreamed of a great light. And a diviner asked him a question that changed his life. His practice became a path.
What is the gift of the universe? We receive unexpected help when we are “living down a level,” living things before we construct them. Not constantly consulting your “me,” you open to the invitations and gifts that appear; trusting in the Dao.
The small self is always trying to hold off the world. But we are really a kind of flow. We feel the warm empathy at the bottom of all things. All things have Buddha nature. Not opposing reality is the beginning of all awakenings.
Make the Mountains Dance! Enjoy the life you have—side with the wisdom field, side with the koan. All of life is solved already. What do I do next? Keep meditating!
There is a rhythm in life that we sometimes hear face-to-face—but often it is like a melody playing somewhere and we can’t make it out. Our secret fidelity to what is most important allows us to hear it.