Finding the self and forgetting the self. 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.
Why did Bodhidharma come from the West, and return to the East? Why are we born, and why do we die? Emperor Wu regretted his interview, but no one could bring Bodhidharma back. We all come and go. Jon’s talk, meditations, and student comments & stories. As recorded August 2, 2021.
Special Program on The 4 Boundless Vows: John Tarrant, Jon Joseph, & Michelle Riddle chant the 4 Boundless Vows in English and Sino-Japanese. Excerpt from the Sunday program recorded August 1, 2021.
Part 4: I vow to live the Great Buddha Way. Michelle Riddle takes up the 4th of the 4 Vows. What seems impossible may not be possible to ignore! Koans and sutras give many instructions on how to live, but you must live the Great Buddha Way as you. Like great art, it is an intimate and particular expression, but speaks to something we all feel, and something we all must do: realizing we are here! Excerpt from the Sunday session recorded August 1, 2021.
John Tarrant’s welcome and introduction to a special program on The Four Boundless Vows and the Bodhisattva path. We are each in the true temple; it’s always happening here, and everyone holds it. Meditation and opening words: the beauty of practice and of the path, the way we teach through stories in Zen, and inclusion of the Daoist view that “the world does fine on its own.” Excerpt from the Sunday session recorded August 1, 2021.
Part 3: I vow to walk through every wisdom gate. Jon Joseph talks about the 3rd of the 4 Vows, and asks, What is a wisdom gate? How do we walk through? The impossibility of the vow, the impossibility of our lives—this is exactly where we should be. The endless nature of unfolding and of always-appearing wisdom gates. What is my part in the world? By becoming a koan, or a vow, we set up a resonance with it, and begin to soak in it—not separate! Excerpt from the Sunday session on August 1, 2021.
Part 2: I vow to set endless heartache to rest. Tess talks about the 2nd of the 4 Vows, the richness of heartache, and how we are drenched in tenderness and love for the world. Fearing drowning, we put up walls: “This shouldn’t be happening.” Seeing the endlessness of it allows it to move through, trusting the great river which carries us along. Setting heartache to rest is setting a kind of certainty to rest. Excerpt from the Sunday session on August 1, 2021.
Part 1: I vow to wake all the beings of the world. Allison Atwill leads with the 1st of the 4 Vows, noticing the grandeur and awe of an “impossible task.” Notions of one’s “own room” expanding outwards, vow as prayer in service of awakening. How to save all beings? By including them, now. That which has already been born—allow it to be here and find its place. Excerpt from the Sunday session on August 1, 2021.
Allison Atwill, John Tarrant, Jon Joseph, Jordan McConnell, Michael Wilding, Michelle Riddle, Tess Beasley
On practice and path: become the Way, and illumination is always with you. A dive into the sources, history, and meaning of the 4 Great Bodhisattva Vows; how PZI teachers and students work with them towards the ceremony of Refuge and taking up the path. Each teacher takes up one of the Vows. Teachers chant and intone Vows in English and Sino-Japanese; Michael Wilding recites, Jordan McConnell singing and on guitar. Complete session recorded August 1, 2021.
We are exhausted by our own agendas; in Chan and Zen the Bodhisattva of Great Mercy vows to stay until all beings are awakened. Her primary bond is with uncertainty. Your recipe for awakening is only for you.
Tess Beasley “Opens the mouth of the dead,”— a quote from Carl Jung—and contemplates the big questions at the heart of Zen, like,”‘Who am I?” and “What is the Way?” through the turning words of Zen masters that were handed down at the Blue Cliff.
John Tarrant introduces us to the great collaborative group of teachers, including Yunmen, who gathered at the Blue Cliff with Yuanwu to develop The Blue Cliff Record.
You are a stowaway in a wild koan journey of picking & choosing, told by John Tarrant. He recounts the adventures, awakenings and conversations of the great teachers that were gathered at the Blue Cliff with Yuanwu.
John Tarrant and Tess Beasley welcome everyone to Summer Sesshin. Participants add their voices, forming the vessel of sesshin. Music from Jordan McConnell, Cantor Amaryllis Fletcher, and closing words from Jon Joseph.
Second evening talk of Summer Sesshin 2021: John Tarrant introduces the great master of the Blue Cliff and the great questions and koans of his awakening.
Summer is a time of dreams. Dreams, summertime, and koans have a lot in common. It is a time of permeability, to feel your way. Things that come out of the depths are what will get us through, but we can also have a strange resistance to them! The imagination is the bridge to the new. John shares Yangshan’s dream koan of being asked to teach from the third seat.