PZI Teacher Archives
A student asked Yunmen, “What is the teaching that lasts a lifetime?”
Yunmen said, “Say something in response.”
—Blue Cliff Record Case 14 (transl. by John Tarrant & Joan Sutherland, title: Yunmen Says Something in Response)
Takuan Soho, creator of the renowned golden yellow daikon pickle, was a poet, artist, calligrapher, master of the tea ceremony and Zen priest of Tokai temple—a master of the creative response. The arts of Zen are responses to our meeting whatever circumstances arise—death, war, love, loneliness, natural changes.
Takuan Soho—whose death poem was one character: dream—taught the dangers of a distracted mind. Son of a samurai, he understood how to lose your life. Circumstances need not be extreme. We can lose our lives any moment when we rely on devices or install veils between us and the unfixed motion of reality.
Falling into the well of sesshin involves dissolving the you that had the problem. In Zen we are solving things one level down. We all have this ability, though it can be hard to see. John retells Jiashan’s strange journey toward awakening: He was falling and found purchase with an unexpected teacher, the mysterious Boat Monk. Comments and “teach us!” responses from teachers and sangha are included. Complete session from October 5, 2022.