In Japan, long ago, a great minister, a high government official called Yu Di asked a master who was called Xi Yu Daotang about a line in the scripture.
“What is meant by, ‘Because of unfortunate circumstances, fierce winds blew the ship off course and set it drifting toward the land of the flesh-eating demons?’”
[Rakshasas, they call them. They are demons whose existence is to eat human beings.]
And the master replied, “Minister, why are you so ignorant? Why are you asking about that?” And the minister’s face turned white.
And the master said, “Because of unfortunate circumstances, fierce winds blew them off course and set them adrift toward the land of the flesh-eating demons.”
And the minister understood.
—Entangling Vines, Case 42
Michael Wilding’s transportive original composition, an interlude for meditation, on flute. As recorded September 19, 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.
We travel in the dark and find treasure—the hidden jewels of practice. The difficulty we would like to avoid is the gate. Sappho said, “Enter the way, enter here.” Meditation is the container, the alembic of change. Poems and music during meditation from Michael Wilding. Ryan McCoy sings the vows. PZI Zen Online, as recorded March 7, 2021.
Inquiring into being a Me, a Who, a Somebody, into What am I?, I lose ‘myself’ and then ‘Everything is true’! Why doesn’t that awareness stay? More interesting to have fun than to be ‘somebody’, but we cling to that. Asking ‘Who am I?’ has a subversive quality: it undoes the world you’re in, your identity. Then the radiance of the universe comes towards you, you’re drenched with the universe, because you’re not in the way.
Recorded Friday evening at PZI’s Winter Sesshin January 2017 on the eve of the inauguration. John Tarrant talks about waking up in a difficult time – when the ship is blown off course into demon country!