PZI Teacher Archives

Xuefeng's What's This? (BCR51)


Once when Xuefeng was living in a hermitage, two students came to pay their respects.
When Xuefeng saw them coming, he slumped against the hermitage door and then came out.
He asked, “What’s this?”
One of the students said “What’s this?” back to him.
Xuefeng hung his head and returned to the hermitage.
Afterwards, the students went on to Yantou.
Yantou asked, “Where have you come from?”
“From Lingnan,” one student replied. “Did you get to see Xuefeng?”
“I did.”

“What did he have to say?”

The student told the story.

Yantou asked, “Then what did he say?”

“He didn’t say anything; he hung his head and went back inside.”

Yantou said, “Too bad! I’m sorry that years ago I didn’t tell him the last word.
If I’d told him, no one in the world would be able to touch old Xuefeng.”
This student stayed through the end of the summer retreat,
and for the second time recounted the story and asked for help with it.
Yantou asked, “Why didn’t you ask me earlier?”
“It’s not as easy as that.”
Yantou said, “Although Xuefeng and I were born on the same branch,
he won’t die on the same branch as me.
If you want to know what it’s all about: ‘It’s just this.’”

—Blue Cliff Record Case 51

(transl. by John Tarrant & Joan Sutherland)

Audio May 4, 2023

Your Thoughts & Feelings Are the Buddha

John Tarrant

There is a restlessness in the question, “What is Buddha?” If we look beyond what we think we know of as Buddha, the answer can be anything. A Zen master answered this question with, “dried shit stick!” Nothing is excluded; the jewel can be anywhere. Complete Sunday Zen session, with poems from Li Bai and John Tarrant. April 28, 2023.

63' 17"
Audio March 13, 2023

Everywhere – It’s Everywhere You Look

John Tarrant

“Feeling the time,” is a line from the poet Du Fu—the time is always with us. And it’s always too early to despair. We’re just here. Not wanting anything to be different. Objections are full of knowing! You step out of the way you are perceiving the world, the dream of who you are, you turn the light backward. Recorded February 26, 2023.

63' 5"
Audio February 17, 2023

In Front of the Dead Tree Cliff, Flowers Are Always Blooming

John Tarrant

Gifts are outside of usual commerce and exchange. What is it to receive one? What comes with that? Something is always vast and still, something is always blooming. Includes the story of an olive tree delivery, Denise Levertov’s poem The Gift, and music from PZI musicians. Complete Sunday Zen session.

61' 42"
Audio February 15, 2023

Something Is Always Blooming

John Tarrant

Something is always vast and still, something is always blooming—the joys and pains of life, of forgetting and remembering. Gifts are outside of usual commerce and exchange, and life is a gift. Just accept it, like the flowers at the foot of the cliff. Complete Sunday Zen session.

61' 42"
Audio February 9, 2023

Great Silence at the Beginning: Always Home

Tess Beasley

We have made it out of deep winter to the new year, and there is something new appearing. How do I hold the Zen paradox of form and emptiness as I live my life? With dreams, poems, comments, and Jordan McConnell playing music for meditation. Complete January Sunday Zen session, Part 1.

66' 45"
Audio July 15, 2021

Yuanwu & the Great Masters of the Blue Cliff

John Tarrant

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.

57' 57"